Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire

MP TAKES TO THE WATER TO TOUR NORTH OXFORDSHIRE

Victoria, Colin & Vicky canal boat tour Cropped

Last week, Victoria Prentis MP toured her North Oxfordshire constituency from the deck of the ‘Dancing Duck’ canal boat. Starting from Tooley’s Boatyard in Banbury, the narrowboat travelled to Cropredy along the Oxford Canal, where Victoria stopped for lunch. She also had the opportunity to walk around the village and meet constituents.

During the trip, Victoria discussed the work of the Canal & River Trust with South East Waterways Manager, Vicky Martin. They talked about a range of issues including the importance of volunteering, and opportunities for community groups to make the most of the canal. Victoria was particularly interested to hear that businesses could have a ‘Corporate Adoption’, and Scout groups a ‘Pocket Adoption’ of their local waterway. Colin Garnham-Edge of the Banbury Canal Partnership expertly navigated the narrowboat throughout the day, entrusting Victoria to steer from time-to-time.

Speaking afterwards Victoria said, “While I have been on the canal many times before, I had never explored the stretch between Banbury and Cropredy. It was really interesting to tour the north of the constituency from the deck of a narrowboat. It gave a completely different perspective of our local area. We are extremely lucky to have the canal and I am keen to ensure that we do everything we can to make the most of it. I am incredibly grateful to both Vicky Martin and Colin Garnham-Edge for their expertise and experience. I think I am probably one of the first MPs to conduct a “floating surgery” with constituents!”

Victoria steering canal boat

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP WELCOMES FUNDING FOR COUNCILS TO FILL POTHOLES

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, has welcomed new dedicated funding from the Government to fill nearly 1 million potholes across the UK, including £1,036,000 to fill an estimated 19,547 potholes in Oxfordshire.

Local motorists will benefit from the dedicated funding after it was announced that nearly £50 million of funding will be made available to local councils over the next 12 months.  This is part of a wider move to fill 157,282 potholes across the South East, with over 100 councils in England receiving funding.

The funding has been made available to councils as part of the Government’s £250 million Pothole Action Fund included in last month’s budget, which will see over four million potholes fixed by 2020/21, and is part of the Government’s plan to invest in infrastructure to secure a better future for our economy.

Victoria commented, “The state of our roads is often raised with me by local residents and remains a great source of frustration for drivers, myself included. In my own village there are several potholes that I am hoping will be filled now that this scheme has been announced.

This new funding is welcome news for families and businesses in North Oxfordshire who rely on our roads to get around.

I’m glad that the Government is investing both nationally and locally to improve roads across the UK. The rapid increase in population in North Oxfordshire means that there is greater demand than ever before for adequate infrastructure and services to support local communities, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.”

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MP ASKS FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR CHURCH ROOF APPEAL

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Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited St Mary’s Church in Banbury this Tuesday. She was met by Associate Minister Revd Jeff West and Churchwarden Camilla Finlay, who drew to her attention the critical condition of the church’s roof.

She learnt from Jeff and Camilla that having started a roof repair project funded by a central government repair grant, they discovered the timber roof structure to be in a dangerous state, riddled with deep decay and dry rot.

Churchwarden Camilla Finlay made clear that they had been very fortunate to have started a repair project and uncovered the decay, as there was a very real risk of a catastrophic collapse within the church.  However it means that the funds already raised for the works are now not enough.

The decayed roof timbers are directly above the church organ. To protect the instrument, it has been dismantled and moved to the aisle of the church and there are growing concerns about the condition of other roofs.

Victoria, very concerned by the situation she saw, commented “St Mary’s Church is the iconic building in Banbury, and a huge part of the town’s history. This is a moment of crisis and I hope that the town will pull together to help the church with it.

“With costs mounting every week, including scaffolding costs of over £1000 a week, the eventual end cost of the project is unclear. It is vital that as much money is raised as possible before the beginning of June, to ensure that the roof coverings and organ can be reinstated this summer”

Camilla Finlay, Churchwarden, said “An emergency appeal has been launched for an additional £60,000 to complete the essential work to stabilise the roof structure and protect the organ. We really need the support of the local community at this time.”

Reverend West commented “St Mary’s is Banbury’s only Grade 1 listed building and is included on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. We need the support of the community to enable St Mary’s to continue to serve the people of Banbury.”

MP WELCOMES BOOST TO THE LOWEST-PAID IN NORTH OXFORDSHIRE AS NATIONAL LIVING WAGE BEGINS

Victoria Prentis MP has welcomed last week’s launch of the Government’s new National Living Wage – giving a big boost to the lowest-paid in North Oxfordshire.

Workers aged 25 and over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship are now legally entitled to at least £7.20 an hour under the National Living Wage. This will mean an extra 50 pence an hour compared to the National Minimum Wage, which equates to a £20 a week pay rise for a full time worker.

The National Living Wage, which came into effect on 1 April, is likely to benefit 1.3 million hardworking people across the country and is set to rise to £9 an hour by 2020. Meanwhile, 6 million more could see a pay rise as a result of a ripple effect pushing wages up across Britain.

At the same time, the tax-free personal allowance will be increased. From 6 April 2016 the personal allowance will rise to £11,000 – a saving of £80 – and from April 2017 it will rise again to £11,500 – taking 1.3 million of the lowest-paid workers out of income tax altogether and giving a tax cut to 31 million across the country. Workers and employers can find more information online at www.livingwage.gov.uk.

Victoria commented: “North Oxfordshire deserves a pay rise and I’m very proud to be part of a Conservative party that is delivering the higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare economy we all want to see.

Boosting wages and making sure that more families have the security of a decent, regular pay packet, while ensuring that people are always better off in work, are at the heart of our long-term plan. We have virtually no unemployment in Banbury, Bicester and the surrounding villages. This is something we can be proud of, and the new National Living Wage will support this positive development.

While I understand that this will be an adjustment for some employers, it is a crucial step in the right direction for both North Oxfordshire and the rest of the UK. We are backing hard work and aspiration, creating opportunities for hardworking people.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP TO VOTE AGAINST HS2 TODAY

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)

VICTORIA VISITS FANTASTIC NORTH OXFORDSHIRE SCHOOLS

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.

MP ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE

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.”

MP TEAMS UP WITH SCHOOLS TO CLEAN FOR THE QUEEN

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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’S BIG WEEKEND IS HERE!

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

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