Local elections in the United Kingdom are due to be held on 6 May 2021 for 145 English local councils and approximately 5,000 seats are due to be contested. With so much unwanted development being forced onto district councils, this election is set to be a barometer for the response from voters as they will no doubt show their displeasure at the ballot box.
Oxfordshire is one of the counties where unwanted development is high on the agenda, with housing numbers for development being set at twice the national average. Pressure from central government and the Oxfordshire Growth Board will, over the next 15 years, see an unprecedented number of houses being built. Why are the numbers of houses so high you might ask? This is due to a calculation based on supposed unmet need and the expected growth driven by the new OxCam arc plan where our region is set to become an area of technical innovation.
How then does it affect you?
- Most villages are already seeing high levels of housing development, way above organic growth and this is set to dramatically increase.
- Virtually all development has no plan for the supportive infrastructure required to support it so we will all see higher levels of congestion, road degradation, pressure on local services and higher levels of pollution in a county already high compared to the national average.
- Much of the new development proposed is on protected greenbelt, against previous commitments to protect it, so we will see our beautiful countryside destroyed.
New development is set to escalate to far higher levels with the 2034 and 2050 plans adding vast levels of housing (up to 100,000) which will reshape our beautiful county to urban sprawl akin closer to the M25.
The 2034 plan has been unpopular in many districts of Oxfordshire, especially in South of the county where it was contested by the voters in 2019 who ejected many of the district councillors who developed and supported the plan in the elections that year. These were replaced by Green and Lib Dem councillors hoping they would change the plan, which they duly tried to do, only to find the Home secretary for housing, Robert Jenrick, removed their powers in an undemocratic move which The Oxford Times described on 17 Dec 2020 as “an extraordinary affront to local democracy.”
Things escalated further when, challenged by the district council, Robert Jenrick moved to possibly remove power indefinitely for the management of the plan and give it to the predominantly Conservative council to ensure its implementation.
This led to an unprecedented council meeting where local councillors and citizens of Oxfordshire made an impassioned plea to protect democracy and Oxfordshire countryside and urged county councillors to vote not to accept the powers from the Secretary of State, if indeed, they were offered.
What resulted can only be described as an afront to democracy as one by one Conservative and Labour councillors ignored the will of residents of Oxfordshire and their elected district councillors and voted to accept the powers should they be offered. Even more insulting was the response of Councillor Eddie Reeves of Banbury Calthorpe, where he called residents of Oxfordshire ‘A bunch of malcontents and Ne’er-do-wells’. Quite shameful for an elected councillor.
Interestingly 22 of the councillors who voted in favour are not standing again, probably fearing the worst and others have moved to an independent position.
We urge all residents of Oxfordshire to review the list below and use the information to inform their decision-making process when standing in in the voting booth on May 6th. We would suggest a change is required to have councillors do what they are elected and that is to:
- Listen to the will of their residents
- Look after the environment
- Respect local democracy