This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 27th February 2019.
While events in Westminster currently keep us all guessing I wanted to use this week’s column to look closer to home and at the upcoming council elections in May. In particular I wanted to highlight some of the great work that has been done in the previous 4 years by my Conservative colleagues at Vale of White Horse District Council (VWHDC) and South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).
Recently I spent an afternoon with local councillors and candidates at The Beacon in Wantage. As we drew up plans for the upcoming election campaign it gave an opportunity to reflect on the successes that have been achieved locally since the Conservatives took the reins in May 2011.
Thanks to the introduction of 2 hours free parking in town centres shopping in our market towns has become more attractive to surrounding villages and encouraged business back into our once neglected town centres. Wantage, for example, has seen an influx of new businesses with only around 5 empty units today compared with over 25 in 2012.
Recycling rates have also climbed steadily in the past 8 years; Thanks to sound policy and investment from our local councils our recycling rate locally is in the top 5 of council areas across the country. We have also seen a rise in successful prosecutions for fly tipping across the area, as our enforcement officers are given the support and powers they need.
Conservatives have also been ensuring that Section 106 funds (a legal agreement between those seeking planning permission and the local council, often committing funds to local community projects or infrastructure improvements) are being allocated to the right local causes. For example, at the last meeting of VWDHC £305,095.74 of Section 106 funds was put towards a new combined village hall and sports pavilion for Marcham. This is fantastic news for local residents and I am particularly pleased as it is a project I have supported for a number of years.
THE VWHDC have also passed a motion to declare a Climate Emergency ensuring that, alongside other councils across England, we are doing all we can to combat climate change. I often receive correspondence on this topic, including recently from concerned pupils at Sutton Courtenay C of E Primary School, and I look forward to working with local councillors to continue to make improvements in our local area to tackle this vital issue.