Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire


Victoria Prentis MP writes about her concerns ahead of the House of Commons vote on the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill.

Our area was scarred by the building of the M40 when I was 16.  29 years on and the gash is still as visible, and as noisy, but we have reaped economic benefits that make our area one of real growth and almost no unemployment – an area of which this Government is justly proud. We are not nimbys; we welcome development when we can see its benefits, and are coping with unprecedented housing growth.

By contrast, HS2 brings us nothing but eight years of significant disruption, followed by permanent dissection. It will destroy beautiful habitat, ancient woodlands and pasture. Its construction will cause traffic gridlock to Banbury. And all for what?  If it were to give others the connectivity and economic success we enjoy, we might try to grin and bear it.  But I can’t look my constituents in the eye and tell them it is for the greater good. 

HS2 will not, sadly, heal the north-south divide. Rather, it will reinforce the dominance of London. It will certainly cost us all money – at least £1000 per household. It won’t really save time. In Birmingham, the proposed interchange station in Curzon Street is separate to the primary West Midlands hub at New Street, only accessible via tram or a 15 minute walk in an underpass. The link with Heathrow has been abandoned, and it doesn’t connect with the Channel Tunnel. Euston won’t be ready before the line is expected to open so rail users will have to disembark at Old Oak Common, a station in the suburbs.

Most tragically, it is bad for the environment. Over 130 wildlife sites on the first stage will be affected, including 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 50 ancient woodlands. It is supposed to encourage passengers to give up more carbon intensive forms of transport. However HS2 Ltd’s own projections suggest a shift of only 11% from car or air to high-speed rail.

I can look at the M40 and see the benefits. My successor in 30 years’ time will look at HS2, if it goes ahead, and see only division, noise and disruption, and no significant benefits gained for the rest of the country.  That is why I will be voting against this Bill this afternoon.

Victoria Prentis MP (23 March 2016)


VP with SCAS, Paul Silver, and Heyford Park Free School 21.03.16 Cropped

MP for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, used a rare Monday away from Westminster to spend time with the young talent of North Oxfordshire at their schools.

She began by visiting Heyford Park Free School, where two defibrillators were presented to the local community by Paul Silver, CEO of Dorchester Living. The defibrillator at Heyford Park Free School, on the side of the specialisms campus, will provide a useful resource for those in the area to use in case of emergency.

Victoria then attended the opening of the new site for St Edburg’s C of E Primary School, on the Kingsmere development in Bicester. After receiving a tour of the school, Victoria planted a tree with some pupils, and the Acting Bishop of Oxford, Colin Fletcher officially opened the site. The historic school bell, restored and engraved to mark the occasion, was rung by everyone present.

Finally, Victoria met staff, and was quizzed by pupils at Swalcliffe Park School. The school, rated Outstanding by Ofsted, is a centre of excellence and residential school for boys aged 11 to 19 who have been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Questions were fired at Victoria on subjects including why she became an MP, the impact of HS2, and the Budget 2016.

Victoria commented “I really enjoy visiting schools and taking part in celebrations or other events they are organising. I visited three very different schools today, each with something special to offer its students. I am proud of our schools in the constituency, and want to work closely with them to help them grow and achieve even more.

Heyford Park Free School has some incredibly exciting new facilities, and a team of teachers ready to welcome children into this new community.

St Edburg’s brings a wealth of history from its Victorian building to a new part of Bicester. The old bell will remind them of this. It was a pleasure to participate in the opening ceremony.

Swalcliffe Park has the most welcoming feeling when you arrive. In a stunning setting, it provides a great environment to support children with extra needs at school.

Victoria Prentis MP with students planting a tree at St Edburg's new school site

Victoria plants a tree with pupils at St Edburg’s C of E Primary School, Bicester.


Victoria Prentis MP is encouraging constituents to check that they are registered to vote in elections.

In 2014 the government introduced Individual Electoral Registration (IER) to replace the outdated whole household registration system. This means each individual is given control over their own registration, which can be done online.

In July 2015, it was reported that over 10 million people had registered with IER, and 77% of those registrations were done online.

Victoria commented, “Voting is our democratic right and everyone who is entitled to vote should be able to. This year is a very important year in terms of democracy, locally and nationally. Cherwell District Council has all-out local elections following boundary changes, and Parish and Town Council elections will take place in some locations across the constituency, including Banbury. On 23rd June we will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not we remain a member of the European Union.

“Everyone should be able to use their democratic right to vote for who they would like to represent them. I would encourage everyone to check that they are registered, and to get in touch with Cherwell District Council if they have any concerns on 01295 227005. I understand that some addresses on new build estates in particular are experiencing difficulties registering to vote.”

Bicester Garden Town launch event

Cherwell District Council are consulting with residents, businesses, schools, and other local stakeholders on the future of Bicester. They want to know what people want to see in a Garden Town.

I was sorry not to be able to attend the launch event on Wednesday evening, but hope many residents will go along to the exhibitions taking place through the remainder of the week.

I sent a statement to the event, which was read by Cherwell District Council leader Councillor Barry Wood. A copy is below.

Victoria Prentis MP (March 2016)

“I am incredibly proud of Bicester, a town I have visited more than any other in my life as a commuter, shopper, and local service user. It is a pleasure to watch it blossoming into a Garden Town.

I am taking every opportunity to promote the Garden Town, and used my first Parliamentary Question as an MP to ask the Prime Minister to ensure that the promised funding for infrastructure is provided in step with development. The Prime Minister himself knows Bicester well, as do a very large number of his constituents who travel from its stations into London.

Since that question, we have received a commitment of £19 million to support Bicester’s growth as the second Garden Town in the country.

We know that growth is not without its challenges, and the speed at which Bicester is expanding means we will experience growing pains along the way. We are a resilient and supportive group of people, and I hope you all share my view that the inconvenience of living in a building site will in the end bear fruit.  Bicester will be firmly on the map, for all the right reasons.

Cherwell District Council has consulted extensively on its plans, and will continue to do so. I will continue to press for the recognition that Bicester needs and deserves in Westminster. Be assured – Ministers in DCLG know that when I approach them, Bicester is generally the first or second word from my mouth. It will continue to be so for as long as is needed.

I hope we see many residents at the exhibitions being held over the remainder of the week. Bicester is our town, we are proud of it, and we want to be part of the decisions about its future.”


Hill View Cropped (1)

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, spent Friday 4th March travelling around her constituency litter picking with children at schools. A number of schools across the constituency have been working to tidy up their local area, as part of Clean for The Queen.

Victoria visited Bure Park Primary School in Bicester, Christopher Rawlins School in Adderbury, and The Grange School and Hill View School in Banbury. Victoria has received pictures and reports from other schools, including St John’s RC School in Banbury.

Clean for The Queen is a national campaign to clear up the UK in time for Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday, which will be officially celebrated in June 2016. Across the country, it is hoped that groups and individuals will help to tidy up their communities, in celebration of Her Majesty’s long life of dedicated service.

The flagship weekend of events took place between 4 and 6 March 2016, but smaller events will be held throughout the year.

Victoria said, “It is brilliant that so many schools in North Oxfordshire have supported the largest community action against litter this weekend. Encouraging children to pick up litter through Clean for The Queen will show them not to throw litter when they grow up. I really hope that we can make some form of “National Spring Clean” an annual event.”

Christopher Rawlins

Victoria with pupils at Christopher Rawlins C of E Primary School in Adderbury.


Clean for The Queen Cropped

Victoria Prentis MP is encouraging North Oxfordshire’s residents and businesses to get involved in Clean for The Queen’s national weekend of litter picking events. The campaign aims to help tidy up the UK in time for Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday in April. The initiative is being supported by councils, MPs, schools, businesses and charities in every corner of Britain.

Clean for The Queen’s main weekend of events is taking place between 4 and 6 March. Today Victoria is joining hundreds of primary school pupils in the constituency who are taking part in local litter picks. She will be out again on Saturday and Sunday with constituents who are helping to tidy up Adderbury and Banbury.

To search for an event near you, visit Clean for The Queen’s website here and type in your postcode.

Bure Park

Victoria with eager litter pickers from Bure Park Primary School, Bicester


Oxfordshire’s MPs have issued a joint statement following the announcement by Oxfordshire’s District and City Councils to pursue District Based Unitary arrangements. The proposal would see the disbandment of Oxfordshire County Council.

The Prime Minister, together with the Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith MP, John Howell MP, Ed Vaizey MP, Nicola Blackwood MP and Victoria Prentis MP said: “This is a very interesting proposal – and one which all of us, as Oxfordshire’s MPs, feel has a lot of merit”.

The Prime Minister, and MP for Witney, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP added: “West Oxfordshire is one of the best run and most cost effective councils in the country and we are, after all, the gateway to the Cotswolds so I see a lot of advantages in exploring this option.”

Wantage and Didcot MP, Ed Vaizey, said: “The time to look at unitary local government for Oxfordshire is long overdue.  This is certainly a compelling proposition, which deserves consideration.  No doubt there will be a debate, but we must not lose the prize of single-tier local government.”

Henley MP, John Howell, said: “I think this is a very exciting development. It is clear that there are a number of local authority services that are in need of radical overhaul. Merging health and social care is a good place to start, but tackling issues like the backlog on roads infrastructure, the mismatch in job skills and simplifying local government will make a big difference for everyone. I’m pleased that our district council leaders are thinking about these issues and they have my full support.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood said: “I think many will welcome a simplification of our local government structure, and of course we must take care to ensure the quality of our service provision remains high. I look forward to learning more about the detail of the proposals and will be following developments closely.”

Oxford East MP, the Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith said: “This can bring local government closer to the people, cut confused responsibilities and better meet the distinctive needs of each community. Great care will need to be taken to ensure that vital services like child protection presently provided by the county are properly safeguarded.”

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, said: “I welcome this proposal. Cherwell and South Northamptonshire District Councils already have a well-established working relationship. I know that they have a lot of new ideas that could improve service delivery and save money. I look forward to seeing how plans progress.”


Victoria watching baking activity Cropped

On Friday 12 February 2016, Victoria Prentis MP visited Agnes Court care home in Banbury. The purpose-built home, which was opened in 2008 by Her Majesty The Queen, provides a range of services for adults with physical disabilities. It has accommodation for 24 residents, who have access to 24/7 nursing care. They are all provided with large rooms enjoying en-suite facilities.

Victoria spent the morning at the home, and was given a tour of its impressive facilities by Sue Northcott (Service Manager), Maureen Carney (Chair of the Friends of Agnes Court) and resident Louise Maxfield. Victoria had the opportunity to spend time with several of the residents during their weekly baking activity session, and enjoyed speaking to them about living at Agnes Court.

Agnes Court is equipped with assistive technology, which enables residents to open doors, control lighting and enjoy other facilities independently. Residents are supported to live as independently as possibly, and have access to several communal areas, including a garden, physiotherapy room, computer room and TV room. There is a regular program of events and activities for those residents who wish to participate.

Victoria said, “I was very impressed by the high quality of care offered by Agnes Court. The home has a wonderfully warm atmosphere, and it is clear that the staff are committed to supporting the residents to live as independently as possible. I really enjoyed meeting some of the residents and having a look at the brilliant facilities on offer.

I am very grateful to the residents who made me feel so welcome in their home, and I look forward to visiting again in the future.”

After the visit, Agnes Court’s Service Manager, Sue Northcott, said, “It was a pleasure to be visited by Victoria Prentis MP. She clearly enjoyed speaking to all the residents, as did they to her. We have been supported by Victoria in the past when she helped with fundraising events to help finance the new home, and we look forward to having Victoria’s support over the coming years.”

Agnes Court is owned and managed by Leonard Cheshire Disability, a charity which supports disabled people in the UK and around the world.

Maureen Carney, Sue Northcott, Louise Maxfield and Victoria Prentis MP

Maureen Carney (Chair of the Friends of Agnes Court), Sue Northcott (Service Manager), resident Louise Maxfield and Victoria Prentis MP at Agnes Court.

Victoria talks about flooding and water quality with EA’s new Chief Executive

with EA Sir James Bevan in Osney EA depot 040216. Cropped

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited the Environment Agency’s Osney depot on Thursday 4th February 2016. Victoria had the chance to speak with interested parties in the county, and meet the new Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan.

Victoria was able to discuss flooding, and in particular the success of the Banbury flood alleviation scheme. The scheme, ground breaking as a public / private partnership, has been effective to date. She also raised awareness of flood management and how this is given attention as Bicester grows into a Garden Town. She raised concerns about water quality in the Cherwell, and will continue to work with the Environment Agency on this.

After the meeting, Victoria said, “It was a pleasure to speak with Sir James and others who were present at the meeting. I wanted to highlight concerns about water quality, and also make sure my constituency is well protected from flood risks as it continues to see more housing and business investment. I will remain in regular contact with the EA, and look forward to future meetings.”

MP and County Council Leader visit Heyford Park Children’s Centre

Victoria Prentis MP with Councillor Ian Hudspeth at Heyford Park Children's Centre 050216 Cropped

Victoria Prentis MP visited Heyford Park Children’s Centre on Friday morning with Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council.

The meeting gave Councillor Hudspeth the opportunity to speak with staff and parents about the centre and the resource it is to the community. It was also an opportunity to look at what the centre may be able to do to continue its operations if Council cuts come forward.

After the visit, Victoria commented: “I think it is important that we look at what services we offer in our community, and see if there may be ways we can improve how they are operating. There are some areas, for example, where we see service duplication.

Heyford Park Children’s Centre does a great deal of outreach work in the villages in this area, and is a great asset to our communities. I remain committed to doing what I can to ensure those services can continue.

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