Lovely evening for a get-together – many thanks to Jane and Tony.
Pictures by Helen Mears
Lovely evening for a get-together – many thanks to Jane and Tony.
Pictures by Helen Mears
Neithrop and Ruscote Labour Councillors gathered at Boxhedge Road West on the 15th July 2017 for a street surgery, litter pickers at the ready! Councillors Surinder Dhesi, Mark Cherry, Hannah Banfield and Steve Kilsby, aided and very ably supported by Helen Mears, valiantly picked up litter, and had some fruitful and enlightening conversations with residents.
Some great work has been carried out in this road by its’ residents recently, with help from the Councillors, and the road looks a lot better than it used to. There are still issues of anti-social behaviour, parking on verges, and of fly tipping which the Councillors are looking into, but things are much improved.
County Councillor for Ruscote, Mark Cherry said, “I am honoured and proud to be part of this Labour team that gets things done. We all work together well in this area.”
District Councilor Surinder Dhesi echoes that; “The residents really appreciate the help and support we can give them, and it is great to see the street looking so good.”
District Councillor Hannah Banfield said, “I always litter pick around my local area, and this is a great way of spreading the word to others about keeping our streets tidy.”
Town Councillor Steve Kilsby says “I have known this area well for more than 25 years, and I have never known it look so good. It is a credit to the residents that it does.”
Cllr Sean Woodcock, Labour’s leader of the opposition on Cherwell District Council, has said that he is “incredibly disappointed” that Banbury’s MP Victoria Prentis voted against a Labour Party amendment to the Queen Speech about ending the public sector pay freeze.
For the last seven years, dedicated public sector staff, including nurses, police officers and fire fighters, have had an effective real-terms pay cut, whilst there are ever increasing demands on their services.
We have seen recently that whenever there is a terrorist incident or a tragedy like the Grenfell Fire, the Conservatives are never short of praise or platitudes for how much they value the work done by frontline staff in our public services. Yet when it comes to ensuring these same people are paid properly; they continue to come up short.
Co-operative approaches in local government – a quiet revolution
The U.K’s housing crisis and possible solutions were the main focus of the Co-op Party Local Government conference in Birmingham last weekend (24 June 2017). The conference was told that, “a revolution is taking place in local government where increasingly, co-operative approaches are used to shape local economies and services and to put local people in control.”
Two Labour Party Councillors Sean Woodcock and Surinder Dhesi attended the conference at which representatives of the not-for-profit, South Oxfordshire Housing Association, which has 50 properties in Cherwell, explained how they are providing social and affordable housing, as well as shared ownerships, for people struggling to afford housing in the private rental sector.
Councillor Surinder Dhesi said, “Through tenant’s forums and representation on Governing Boards, co-operative housing empowers tenants to be more involved in decision making and improving their environment.”
Councillor Sean Woodcock says, “In the wake of the awful tragedy at Grenfell, concerns are rightly focused on how effectively housing providers engage with and are responsive to their tenants. Co-operative housing offers a real alternative way forward.”
Labour’s leader on Cherwell District Council Sean Woodcock (above) has called on Banbury’s re-elected Tory MP Victoria Prentis to “hold the government to ransom” in order to save services at the Horton Hospital.
Councillor Woodcock, who was the Labour candidate in the recent general election as well as in 2015, said “In her victory speech just two weeks ago; Victoria Prentis said that she wanted to work with Labour in order to protect services at the Horton. Well I am asking her to listen to Labour now and hold her government to ransom if necessary in order to protect the services there.”
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) held a meeting this week to discuss the first phase of the consultation, which ran earlier this year and included issues such as Maternity services. The OCCG board are set to make a final decision on the 10 August.
He continued, “Victoria is right to raise concerns about the process and findings of the consultation run by the OCCG. Yet behind this consultation is the Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP). And the primary driver for the STP is under-funding of health and social care in the face of increased demand.
Since being elected two years ago Victoria has supported Conservative budgets which have implemented cuts in these areas, voted consistently against motions to give more money to the NHS and social care and voted against the STPs being open to greater public consultation.
We now have a hung parliament and a weak Prime Minister scrabbling around to do a deal with the Democratic Unionists. So Victoria has potentially more influence than any Banbury MP for a number of decades. She must be very clear that her support for the government, and her vote, is conditional on retaining key services like maternity, at the Horton Hospital.”
Last week, the Banbury and Bicester Labour Party Supper Club hosted Barry Gardiner, who is MP for Brent North, and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. Labour’s parliamentary candidate, Councillor Sean Woodcock, welcomed him to Banbury. Our Fund Raiser Mary Evans Young said “I booked Barry in September of 2016, and was worried that he would be too busy after the General Election to come to us, but he told me, “I made that commitment, I’m not going to let you down.”
Before we got going at the supper club Barry went round all the tables introducing himself to members and guests, which was very much appreciated.
During his speech he said, “When Tories are back in government we will harry them, table different amendments, and seek to undo that unwilling coalition within the Tory party.”
Barry has gained prominence from his many television appearances during the recent General Election campaign. The New Statesman said recently, ‘His fiery media interviews have made him the unlikely star of Labour’s campaign” and quoted Barry as saying, “I am absolutely cool with the media being tough. But if they’re gonna get tough with me, then they shouldn’t expect me to just roll over and have my tummy tickled.”
Reflections on the General Election result
He said this was a most extraordinary election, in which the party emerging with the most seats feels it has lost and the party with fewer seats feels they have won.
When asked the reasons for the surge in the Labour vote, he said, “It was the arrogance of the Tories and their assumptions that they could walk straight back into Downing Street and that the electorate had nowhere to go except to vote for ‘me’ (Theresa May). None of us like being taken for granted.
But the turning point was our manifesto – in my 41 years as a Labour member I have never seen one like it. And it was Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning. In my constituency of Brent North, which is a mixed community with people on low incomes and half of my constituents are immigrants or refugees, people are coming up to me saying they are praying for Jeremy to be Prime Minister. They trust his integrity; they trust him and they believe he will deliver on his promises.
Barry said, “Whenever Labour MP’s were interviewed on television they were strongly challenged over the manifesto, but because we had costed every single promise we were able to defend them.”
“A good example” he said, “is free tuition fees, which Labour has costed at £13.2 billion per annum. We want young people to have a good start in life but the U.K.’s low corporation tax means that multinational companies are sitting on huge cash piles and paying out dividends to shareholders, with no investment in apprentiships or training. We know and understand that if we don’t support disaffected young people we are storing up problems for the future.
“The British economy and jobs are our top priority”
On Brexit he said, “As a party we didn’t support Brexit but accept the result. Brexit was all about political objectives – to be out of the European Court of Human Rights, to regain our sovereignty and to control immigration – we are now paying the price of these political objectives.
The EU’s four freedoms go – the free movement of goods, capital, services and labour, but equally so do the benefits. Right-wing Tories want deregulation; we want environmental protections, social protections and workers’ protections.
We must complete Brexit negotiations before the 2 years are up otherwise we will be ejected from EU. Because the EU wants to stay united they can’t give us a better deal outside than we had inside, so we have to minimise economic damage. The British economy and jobs are our top priority, not based on a first principal of controlling immigration, and we want a reformed relationship with EU. But everything else is secondary to capturing most of the benefits we have now.
The tone has to change in our negotiations with Europe and the Labour Party will communicate to the country, a positive agenda to grow our economy and boost jobs for all.”
Sean Woodcock said, “Barry was one of the stars of the election campaign for Labour and it was great to have him here to rally us for any potential future election.
He made it clear that the Tories are on the back foot having been shown as arrogant and out-of-touch. Banbury & Bicester Labour are ready for the next encounter.”
“The Grenfell Tower fire is an awful tragedy and my heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones, been injured or find themselves without a home.
The highest of tributes must go out to both the emergency services who once again showed off their incredible professionalism, dedication and bravery.
I and the other Ruscote Labour councillors have already made contact with Sanctuary Housing for reassurance that the maisonettes on Bretch Hill are properly protected.
Obviously we do not yet know the full facts, however a fire of this magnitude and devastation should not be happening in this day and age.
Yet it’s highly likely that a combination of three things contributed to this appalling incident; rank incompetence, inadequate legislation and under-funding.
The investigation will bring out the facts and any possible charges for the first, and the second is where the independent inquiry comes into play.
However the third will only be solved by a change of government; to ensure that our homes are built to the highest health and safety standards and landlords, housing associations and councils have the time and resources to carry out proper checks of our housing estates and tower blocks.”
Leader Labour Group Cherwell Council
Carmen Negrin, granddaughter of Juan Negrin, the last prime minister of the Spanish Republic, laying a wreath on the newly unveiled memorial in Oxford.