Some readers may have noticed there has been a change of political control at Oxfordshire County Council after a fiery falling out between the Lib Dem and Labour county groups.
The county council was recently hit hard with a truly shocking report into SEND (Children with special educational needs and disabilities) services in Oxfordshire. This report highlighted significant failings of the council and comes off the back of local parents telling the council for many years that the service is failing but these complaints shockingly fell on deaf ears.
The Labour Deputy Leader of the council was also the cabinet member for children services so was ultimately overseeing the department which had failed. A political battle then erupted at county hall between the two parties with the deputy leader refusing to resign.
The end result was the Labour group packed up their bags and left the coalition leaving the Lib Dem and Green councillors in place to now run the county council. Many residents in West Oxfordshire rightly then asked what will happen to the District Council here because don’t forget a lot of these councillors at the county council, much like myself, are also councillors at the district council.
The Conservative group was left wondering how can they loathe each other at county hall but pretend to be friends at the district council – surely this is just a recipe for disaster?
Fear not District Dossier reader, for these coalition politicians have a unique skill in being able to pretend that all is great amongst the district coalition. In fact, Labour Councillor Duncan Enright was quoted saying, “We believe the county alliance is over, because we can’t trust the Liberal Democrats. But we will continue to work with them in West Oxfordshire.”
I could have told Duncan years ago that he couldn’t trust a Liberal Democrat but I’m glad he’s seen first hand now that their only interest is power at all costs.
Of course, this hasn’t been the only headache for the Labour Party in Oxfordshire with 9 councillors from Oxford City Council resigning over Keir Starmer’s comments about the conflict in Gaza. This has now resulted in the Labour group losing their majority at the council for the first time in decades.
If all this chaos is how they run our local councils just imagine if they do get the keys to No10 with Sir Keir flip flopping on policy depending on what the Corbynista MP’s or trade unions want him to do.
Locally here in West Oxfordshire the Conservative group led by Cllr Michele Mead and myself has continued to campaign on important local issues. Just last week we launched our campaign to get another river crossing for Witney after plans submitted by the Witney North developers have axed the West End Link Road scheme which has been a proposal for many years now.
Whilst Labour, Lib Dem and Green councillors are fighting for who is in control, they’re letting developers off the hook with paying for the infrastructure our communities need. As we look towards local council elections next year, we know we will have a fight on our hands and our opponents will want to focus on the national political picture.
We are local councillors and residents who care about West Oxfordshire and that is what we are fighting for. We have seen first-hand that these coalition councils just don’t work and do nothing but waste your money on pet projects like buying a shopping centre or refurbishing the council chamber at a ridiculous cost.
Through our campaigning efforts we have already forced the coalition to drop any plans to review charges for parking in our council car parks after they embarrassingly dropped the question from their recent car park survey.
We can achieve so much more with your support and if you want to join us with this fight.
Cllr Liam Walker
County Councillor for the Hanborough & Minster Lovell division and District Councillor for the Hailey, Minster Lovell & Leafield ward