Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire


Vodafone is launching a new scheme to give indoor mobile coverage to rural community hubs; from pubs to village halls or community-run shops all across the UK. This will enable community hubs with limited access to mobile coverage, to receive 3G phone signal.

The Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme aims to provide reliable indoor 3G and data coverage to a number of rural hubs within the UK. Vodafone will be picking 100 worthy rural centres, to benefit from the scheme. This is being run alongside Vodafone’s planned improvement investment of £2 million over the next three years in the UK.

Victoria commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for pubs and community buildings to offer strong phone connections in rural areas. I would encourage rural hubs in North Oxfordshire to apply for this scheme- not only does it allow businesses to provide an extra service to their customers but encourages people to visit their local hubs, allowing the community to flourish.”

Successful applicants (who must be the broadband bill payer) will need an unlimited broadband package with download speeds of at least 4Mbps and a plug-in power point. The CISS unit plugs into a standard broadband router.

Local community hubs can apply online at Applications close 1st September 2016.

More information can be found at 


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On 30 July 2016, Victoria Prentis MP will be joining the Save our Horton Campaign, led by the Keep the Horton General Group (KTHG), and Councillors from across the political spectrum, in a demonstration to show solidarity against plans to turn the Horton Maternity Unit into a Midwife Led Unit.

The demonstration has been organised as a result of an announcement from the Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHT) last Friday.

Contingency plans have been put in place by OUHT to turn the currently consultant-led maternity department at the Horton into a midwife led unit if the Trust fails to recruit enough obstetricians by September. If implemented, a vast majority of births will be transferred to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, leaving hundreds of expectant mothers having to deliver their babies in Oxford instead of Banbury. Any unexpected delivery problems will result in mothers having to be transferred by ambulance, mid-delivery, to the JR.

Victoria commented: “I was very disappointed and upset to read the statement from Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I was born at the Horton and have long been a supporter of retaining its vital services. While I understand a maternity unit needs a safe number of obstetricians on hand at all times, I am certain a solution can be found to maintain current Horton maternity services.

I would strongly encourage expectant mothers in Banbury and the surrounding areas, alongside new mothers who have recently delivered at the Horton, to come along to the demonstration on Saturday. These planned changes will affect a vast number of people in North Oxfordshire and beyond- we must stand together against these proposals and show support for the hospital.”

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, was sorry to read the press release from OUHT and said: “The OUHT contingency plans are a real concern not only for people in Banbury but surrounding villages. I urge everyone to stand by their elected representatives and Keep the Horton General group to fight these plans and keep the Horton thriving”.

Cllr Sean Woodcock, Leader of Cherwell District Council Labour Group and Banbury Town Councillor said in response to the announcement: “I was angered by the statement that the Trust put out last week which seems at complete odds with what they have said previously.

Like Victoria I was born at the Horton and made a promise when I got into politics that I would always defend it. That’s why I am pleased to stand shoulder to shoulder with her in this campaign to protect services at the hospital. I call on the rest of Banbury to join us.”

Cllr Steve Kilsby, for Cherwell District and Banbury Town Councils, is very concerned about the plans and stated: “We hear that plans to adapt the JR to develop additional bed spaces are quite advanced, so are we looking at a fait accompli before the formal consultation has even started? The people of Banburyshire need to be girding their loins, as Keep the Horton General have been advocating, and as a local politician, I want to ensure we are part of this fight.”

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG, pointed out that: “If the services transferred, then it may prove almost impossible to reinstate it at the Horton. Three out of six Clinical staff have already resigned, following the Trust releasing their early options document in June. It’s only a matter of time before the other three move on to obtain job security. We must all unite to prevent this unthinkable downgrading of the Horton.”

The demonstration will involve a photo shoot with expectant mothers and mothers who have recently given birth at the Horton maternity unit. It will take place on Hightown Road outside the entrance to the Horton Maternity Unit on Saturday 30 July at 7.45pm.


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I have been very upset and disappointed today to read the statement from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) regarding the possible suspension of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital.

As many of my constituents know, I was born at the Horton and I have long been a supporter of retaining the vital services it provides to Banbury and the surrounding areas. I understand the difficulties in recruiting obstetric doctors, but I firmly believe that a solution can be found that will ensure the continuation of a consultant-led unit at the Horton. Banbury needs high quality maternity care at a level that a midwifery-led unit cannot provide.

I have been in discussions on this matter over the last few weeks, and these will resume with the goal of keeping the current Horton services. I look forward to discussing options with all those involved, and I am happy to talk to any concerned constituents.

I will be organising a ‘Hands Around Our Horton’ event for all local people to come and show their support for the hospital. This will be held at 10.30am on 21 August, shortly before the Banbury Food Fair. Details will be publicised when further arrangements have been made.


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As the school holidays approach, local MP Victoria Prentis is supporting a campaign run by charity The Reading Agency to encourage all primary school children to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

The initiative is a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK to encourage reading among primary school-age children. Last year over 780,000 children got involved by borrowing, reading and talking about their favourite books.

This year’s challenge is delivered in collaboration with The Roald Dahl Literary Estate, to celebrate 100 years of the world’s favourite storyteller. “The Big Friendly Read” will feature some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved characters and the famous artwork of his principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake.

To take part, all children need to do is sign up at their nearest library. They will then receive a special collector’s folder and, as they borrow and read at least six library books over the summer, they can collect six special cards towards the challenge. The cards all feature original Quentin Blake illustrations and explore some of most popular themes in Roald Dahl’s books such as invention, mischief and friendship.

Victoria Prentis MP said: “My children and I love reading books, particularly over the summer. The Summer Reading Challenge provides the perfect opportunity for children to read and talk about the books they borrow from their local library. Last year, 8395 children in Oxfordshire took part in the Summer Reading Challenge; I really hope even more children will get involved this year, and make use of their local library.”

Children can use the special website to find out more and get suggestions about what book they should read next via the digital Book Sorter which already offers over 500,000 peer to peer children’s book recommendations in child-friendly categories.  Families, libraries and schools can also download a free mobile app which will use the original Quentin Blake illustrations to trigger audio clips, including rare recordings of Roald Dahl sharing his writing tips and reading aloud, and unlock game content.



The pace of life in one North Oxfordshire village is set to speed up following a major fibre broadband boost.

Steeple Aston residents, businesses, children and community groups were joined by Victoria Prentis MP on Friday 15 July to celebrate even more of the village getting better access to the information superhighway.

The historic village is the first community in Cherwell to benefit from the second phase of the multi-million pound Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme.

The roll-out, which is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, is led by Oxfordshire County Council and BT, supported by Cherwell District Council, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEM LEP) and OxLEP (Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership).

Eighty-five premises in Steeple Aston have benefited from the recent upgrade work. This means more than 500 homes and businesses in the village are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband as a result of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme.

The news was welcomed by Victoria Prentis MP during a visit to see first-hand how the roll-out was progressing.

Victoria Prentis MP said: “I know how important a good internet connection can be to homes and businesses. It is great that more of my constituents are getting access to high speed broadband which is increasingly used by people of all ages. It is clear that there is still more work to be done as there are still many properties and businesses without access to this important infrastructure.

“Better Broadband for Oxfordshire has done great work so far, and I look forward to welcoming more progress in the future. I have no doubt that the residents of Steeple Aston will love using this new service.”

The arrival of faster fibre broadband has been welcomed by Graham Porcas, who has been running his two businesses – Proma Machinery Ltd and Plasmatreat Ltd – from his home office in Steeple Aston for more than 10 years.

He said: “Good broadband access has been vital to enable me to do this successfully and, with the increasing use of internet-based services requiring more reliable connection and higher speeds, I am very pleased to now be connected to fibre.”

Councillor Michael Waine, Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I’m delighted to see another Oxfordshire community able to connect to faster broadband speeds as our roll-out continues at pace with our Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme. This is about improving opportunities for learning, leisure, employment and access to services for people in Oxfordshire.”

Stacey King, BT’s regional manager for Oxfordshire and the South East said: “The roll-out of fibre broadband across Oxfordshire is progressing well and reaching increasingly more remote parts of the county. When combined with BT’s own investment, the total number of premises in Oxfordshire able to access fibre broadband is more than 274,000.

“Every day we’re hearing how the technology is changing people’s lives for the better. Whether it’s giving people the flexibility to work from home or families wanting to connect several devices to the internet at the same time for online shopping, homework, hobbies, streaming videos and music – everything is easier, better and faster with fibre broadband.”

Residents and businesses can follow the progress of the roll-out via the project website:


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On Tuesday 5 July Victoria Prentis hosted the Parliamentary launch of Singing for Syrians 2016. At the event, MPs found out more about what they can do locally to encourage constituents to get involved in any way they can. Whether it’s organising their own event or even just passing a bucket around at a pre-planned carol concert, every little helps.

The flagship Parliamentary concert will take place in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Tuesday 13 December 2016. All money raised will go to fund medical teams on the ground in Aleppo and to prosthetic limb clinics in the region. It is currently estimated that over 50,000 Syrians are amputees in urgent need of treatment.

This is Singing for Syrians’ second year; last year, £90,000 was raised with the support of match-funding from the Department for International Development. Over 300 people came to St Margaret’s to sing carols and show their support. Sadly, the need is even greater this year so it is hoped that this will become a nationwide initiative.

Victoria was delighted with the support shown by MPs at last year’s fundraising and commented: “It was so exciting to see the level of enthusiasm shown by my colleagues from all sides of the political spectrum at the launch event in Parliament. It is already looking like Singing for Syrians is going to be bigger and better than before. It is a fantastic initiative and one that I am very proud to be launching again in 2016.

With everything going on in UK politics at the moment, it is easy to forget the terrible events happening elsewhere in the world. The civil war in Syria is worse than it has ever been. Singing for Syrians is a positive way of helping Syria’s most vulnerable people, whose lives have been devastated by the war. Through fundraising, we can make a real difference to the victims of this terrible crisis. I would encourage everyone in North Oxfordshire to get involved as much or as little as they can. Singing together is a joyful way to express our solidarity and to take a hopeful stance against the horrors of terrorism.”


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Collective support to secure the future of local hospital

On Saturday 9 July, local elected representatives met at Banbury Town Hall to discuss the future of the Horton General Hospital.

Labour Party Councillors Sean Woodcock and Steve Kilsby joined Conservative leader of Cherwell District Council, Barry Wood and local Member of Parliament, Victoria Prentis, at the meeting during which they voiced their thoughts and concerns about plans for the structure of services at the hospital, and agreed on an action plan going forward.

Speaking afterwards, Victoria said: “It was really helpful to sit down in the same room with Barry, Sean and Steve and talk about what needs to be done to secure the future of the Horton General Hospital. The Horton is loved and valued by everyone in Banbury – both Sean and I were born there. I am keen to ensure that there is cross-party consensus so that we can work together to keep our Horton general. This is an issue which unites our parties. It was clear that we are all on the same page; collectively, we will do what we can to get the best result for Banbury.

Sean Woodcock added: “The success of previous campaigns to preserve services at the Horton has been built upon cross-party support. This latest fight will be really tough. Possibly the toughest that has yet been fought for the hospital. For once Victoria and I are united on an issue. We both want to protect the hospital that we were born in so that it can continue to serve future generations.


Primary Schools in North Oxfordshire are being offered the chance to plant free trees with help from the Woodland Trust.  Children can look forward to planting small groups of trees or hedges, which can provide a wild harvest, or a burst of year round colour.

Over the next four years, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is supporting The Woodland Trust to offer 400,000 British native trees to up to 7000 state funding primary schools in England. As well as free tree packs, protection to help the trees grow and online curriculum resources to support teachers’ lesson plans.

Victoria Prentis MP said: “This is a great opportunity to help schools improve their local environment, enabling children to learn about nature. Trees bring enormous benefits to our environmental surroundings and this scheme will provide children with a unique learning experience”.

Primary schools can apply for a free tree pack by visiting the Woodland Trust Website,  or search ‘School tree packs’ on-line;

The closing date for applications is September 9th 2016 for tree delivery in November. Any enquiries email


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On Monday 4 July, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Historic Vehicles organised a classic car run from Bicester Heritage to the Palace of Westminster. Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, took part with her husband Sebastian, who drove their British racing green Mini Cooper. They were joined by fellow Parliamentarians and members of the Group, including chairman Greg Knight, Nigel Adams and Lord Steel.

Victoria commented: “It was brilliant to take part in this uniquely British event. Seeing all those magnificent classic cars in the Palace of Westminster was quite a sight. It was great that the Historic Vehicles group chose Bicester Heritage as the starting point and I was very proud to be there as the local MP. We love driving our Mini, although it was a rather bumpy journey down to Westminster on what was a very warm day!”

NHS TO HOLD Big Conversation Roadshows IN OXFORDSHIRE

The NHS in Oxfordshire is calling on people, parents, carers and people who live and work in Oxfordshire to have their say on how health care is delivered.

Events are being held to encourage people to ‘drop-in’ and have informal conversations with NHS clinicians and staff to share their ideas on how NHS services in Oxfordshire can deliver high quality care now and in the future.

Victoria Prentis MP is encouraging her constituents to share their views on how local GP, community and hospital services should develop so that services are of high quality, closer to home, more convenient with better access and can overcome a £200m funding gap by 2020/21.

The events are informal ‘drop-ins’ with NHS clinicians and staff on hand to take questions and feedback.

They will focus on:

  • the financial health challenges within Oxfordshire
  • how we can improve the overall health of people in Oxfordshire
  • how we can prevent people from getting ill
  • how we can improve quality
  • make best use of tax-payers money
  • how you can get more actively involved including hearing about our plans for public consultation later in the year around models of care across Oxfordshire.

The Big Conversation Roadshows are being held on:

  • Tuesday 12 July, 6pm – 9pm, at Banbury Town Hall
  • Monday 18 July, 6pm – 9pm, at The Beacon in Wantage
  • Thursday 21 July, 6pm – 9pm, at Oxford Town Hall
  • Tuesday 26 July, 2pm – 5pm, at St Mary’s Church, Wallingford
  • Thursday 28 July, 2pm – 5pm, at the Littlebury Hotel, Bicester
  • Thursday 4th August, 11am – 2pm, Methodist Church, Witney
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