Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire

SCHOOLS CELEBRATE DEBATING IN FIRST CHERWELL DEMOCRACY CHALLENGE WITH MP AND COUNCIL LEADER

Students at the Cherwell Democracy Challenge

On Friday 20th November six schools from across the Cherwell district competed in a debating contest, at Cherwell District Council, to celebrate democracy as part of Parliament Week.

The schools – Banbury Academy, Gosford Hill School, Sibford School, The Cooper School, The Warriner School, and Tudor Hall School – competed in two rounds on local and national issues. Teams were judged by local councillors and members of Cherwell’s Democratic Services team.

The teams from each school were as follows:

Banbury Academy Dellen Attwood

Amy Degg

Will Pascoe

Callum Scobie

Gosford Hill School Maryellen McBride

Alice Bickmore

Alohan Chudry

Robert Sanson

Sibford School Finn Ridley

George Lindsay

Julia Beaumont

William Edmonds

The Cooper School Chris Guttridge

Niall Murphy

Joel Reynolds

Ben Stoddart

The Warriner School Will Thompson

Nimrah Sharif

Kit Lamb

Ellie Gordon

Tudor Hall School Greta Scott

Georgina Woodward

Lucinda Mills

Harriet Hope

After scoring was over and the two finalists were announced, the remaining schools participated in a ‘Question Time’ style event with local representatives. The students had the opportunity to put questions to Victoria, Councillor Barry Wood, Paul Angus (Managing Director of Banbury Sound), and Councillor Barry Richards. Questions focussed on international security and terrorism.

The Question Time event

The Question Time event

The two final teams were The Cooper School against Tudor Hall. The teams competed in the Council Chamber, where all other teams were able to observe and intervene when appropriate. Locally elected Councillors were also invited to join this session. The motion was “This House believes that only clever young people have a right to learn.”

The final was judged by a panel comprising Victoria, Councillor Barry Wood, and Anita Higham. The panel’s vote constituted 60% of the final score, with 40% coming from a ballot of students in the audience. Finally, the winners were announced as The Cooper School team – Chris Guttridge, Niall Murphy, Joel Reynolds, and Ben Stoddart.

Debate preparation

 

Victoria commented “it was lovely to watch these very talented young people in action today – a privilege in fact. I was impressed with the determination and commitment I saw, and the willingness to take on board feedback that was given throughout the day.”

 

“The two finalists led a very impressive debate, equalling one another with regard to drive, persuasiveness, style, and clarity. It really was the vote from the audience that decided the winner – no truer a sign of democracy in action. I cannot wait to meet more students at next year’s event!”

 

Councillor Barry Wood addressing students

Councillor Barry Wood addressing students

 

Councillor Barry Wood, as Leader of Cherwell District Council, commented: “Cherwell District Council is proud to have been part of the Cherwell Democracy Challenge alongside our MP. We look forward to organising the challenge again next year. It was inspiring to watch the young people push themselves and showcase their debating skills. I was grateful to have the chance to judge the final teams; but want to also extend a thank you and well done directly to each young person who participated – you were all very impressive.”

MP VISITS BUILD! PROJECT SITE IN BANBURY

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On Friday 13 November, Victoria Prentis joined Councillor John Donaldson, Cherwell District Council’s Executive Member for Housing, at the Build! Project site in Banbury. Build! offers individuals and groups the opportunity to either build or renovate a property. Those who participate in the project can benefit from a reduced price on purchases or lower rental rates.

Victoria toured The Orchard Build! location and met with many of the builders there. She was given a real insight into what this ambitious project is trying to achieve. By the end of 2015, 250 new homes will have been constructed throughout Banbury and Bicester through Build!.

Speaking about the Build! Project, Victoria Prentis MP said: “It is brilliant that people are being given this fantastic opportunity to build their own homes. Having completed my own self build, I know how rewarding such tasks can be. This level of personal involvement in the building of a house, truly makes it a home. I am looking forward to seeing the transformation of the chosen Build! areas as more people complete their homes and move in.”

More information about the Build! Project can be found at: http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/build

Victoria observes Remembrance events in Banbury

On Sunday 8 November, Victoria Prentis MP joined veterans and Banbury residents to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Several hundred serving soldiers, veterans and civilians paraded through the streets of the town, watched by a large crowd. The parade was followed by a service at St Mary’s Church, after which over 60 wreaths were laid at Banbury’s war memorial in People’s Park. Victoria placed her wreath in her capacity as the Member of Parliament.

Victoria said, “I was honoured to be a part of a very moving ceremony on Sunday. There was so many people present, showing their respects too. It was great to see the people of Banbury marking this solemn day and remembering, with pride, all those who have served and died so that we can live in freedom.

In coming years, Victoria will be attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Bicester and Upper Heyford, as well as Banbury.

On Armistice Day, Victoria observed the national two minute silence at Blessed George Napier Roman Catholic School. Victoria joined staff and pupils at a special whole-school service, during which the students were encouraged to focus on their own experiences of bereavement, in order to help them understand the sacrifices made in war on their behalf.

Victoria comments on maternity services at the Horton General Hospital

Victoria has spoken in the Banbury Guardian this week, outlining her views on maternity services at the Horton General Hospital. Her full statement is below.

“I am committed to supporting Consultant-led maternity services at the Horton, and remain in regular contact with OUHT on this and many other issues. Indeed, I sought clarity from OUHT on the number of births at the Horton this year, and was very pleased to see directly that from February to September 2015 there have been more births at the hospital than in the same period in 2014. I was myself born in our unit, and am pleased that most of our local babies come into the world there.

“The Horton provides fantastic Consultant-led maternity services to those in and around Banbury. However, it is critical that safe choices are made in maternity, and that mothers always get the best care for themselves and their babies. If that means that there are risks that could be accommodated more effectively and efficiently at the JR, or indeed elsewhere, it is absolutely right that these expectant mothers go there. We cannot risk one single mother or baby’s life, under any circumstances.

“Pregnancy, maternity, and post-natal care are issues that I will always be involved in locally and nationally. I’m acutely aware of maternity risks, fifteen years ago having myself almost died giving birth to a son who died soon after he was born. With my next two high risk pregnancies I was happy to accept the local, county and national care offered to me, even though this meant a great deal of travelling to appointments. The successful outcomes were more than worth it. I am now a patron of the Action on Pre-Eclampsia charity, which helps those who suffer from this major cause of maternal and baby death. This week alone in Westminster, I attended the Adjournment Debate on maternity care on Monday, and I spoke at length on Tuesday with Ben Gummer, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health, on changes that can be made to improve service delivery. I went to the launch of the Leading Safe Choices report by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists on Tuesday afternoon.

“I will continue to monitor this very closely.”

VICTORIA ENCOURAGES ‘SINGING FOR SYRIANS’ FUNDRAISING CAROL CONCERTS

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Victoria Prentis, the Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, is encouraging people around the UK to come together and sing to help support the people of Syria in their desperate time of need.

Victoria has been working with the artist, George Butler, to organise a nationwide series of carol concerts this Christmas to raise money for Christian Aid and the Hands Up Foundation, of which Mr Butler is a trustee. Both organisations are currently involved in aid relief in Syria, where the conflict has created the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. As the violence continues and winter descends, the needs of the millions of Syrians forced to flee their homes will only intensify.

Singing for Syrians is a new initiative encouraging individuals, churches and communities from across the UK to come together and host fundraising carol concerts to help people whose lives have been torn apart by the terrible conflict. Basil Eastwood, the former Ambassador to Syria, has championed the concept.

The funds raised will be used to help Christian Aid and the Hands Up Foundation meet the urgent and ongoing needs of Syrians affected by the devastating conflict. Working through partner organisations inside Syria, as well as in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Iraq, this support includes providing emergency food, water and sanitation, as well as education programmes, psychosocial support for women and children, and support for medical teams inside Syria. During the bitter winter months refugee families will receive much needed blankets, warm clothing, food stoves and fuel for cooking.

Speaking about Singing for Syrians, Victoria Prentis MP said: “Before I was elected, I found that carol concerts were a great way to raise money while having a good sing.  It therefore seemed obvious to me that concerts would be a good way to raise money for the most desperate people who remain in Syria.

I am particularly concerned about the elderly and those with poor health, who are too weak to contemplate leaving the country. Hands Up and Christian Aid are doing some great work on the ground in Syria and the surrounding countries. Singing for Syrians provides a brilliant opportunity to raise funds for these charities to help these people. Whether you pass around a bucket at an already planned carol concert, organise your own event from scratch, or come to the St Margaret’s concert on 15 December, I really hope people will get behind this initiative.”

Organisers of Singing for Syrians concerts around the UK will be invited to a special carol concert in St Margaret’s Church, in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, on 15th December. Tickets are available via Biletto with a suggested donation of £10. There will also be a private reception at Speaker’s House.

Members of the public are invited to contact singingforsyrians@gmail.com to receive a free ‘How To’ pack full of ideas on how to organise your own concert, and for any other enquiries.

If you would like further information please contact George Butler at singingforsyrians@gmail.com or call 07789 713 115.

MP WELCOMES NEW TRAIN LINK FOR OXFORDSHIRE

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On Monday 26 October, Victoria Prentis joined the Prime Minister and other Oxfordshire MPs at the opening of Chiltern Railways’ new line between Oxford and London. The service will run on the first new rail link between a major British city and London in over 100 years, and has cost £320 million. The huge infrastructure project has seen the construction of one new station – Oxford Parkway – while two other stations have been completely rebuilt, including Bicester’s renamed ‘Bicester Village’ station.

Victoria travelled between Bicester Village and Oxford Parkway for the ceremony at which David Cameron officially opened the line, describing it as “an historic moment” for Oxfordshire. Victoria and the Prime Minister then took the train to London Marylebone via Bicester. With two new fast trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village station and London Marylebone, the line has been widely welcomed by residents of Oxford and North Oxfordshire.

Speaking after the opening ceremony, Victoria said, “I am thrilled that Oxfordshire was the county to benefit from this investment. This new route will be a fantastic boost for North Oxfordshire too. Not only will local people be able to get to London more quickly and conveniently, but the line will enable many more tourists and visitors to travel between London, Oxford and Bicester Village.

“This level of infrastructure investment is great for our area, and I thank Chiltern Railways for their work.  I know Bicester residents will be glad the work is complete, and will see the benefits of this investment in Bicester in the years to come.”

 

MP VISITS CHILDREN’S CENTRE IN BLOXHAM

On Monday 5 October, Victoria Prentis visited the Butterfly Meadows Children’s Centre in Bloxham. Victoria was given a tour of the facility and met some of the many mothers and children who use the centre. She saw first-hand how the centre is used by families as both a venue for socialising, and as an important source of information and support.

Since Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) announced plans to close many of the county’s Children’s Centres, Victoria has worked to ensure that vital frontline services are maintained in areas of deprivation, where they are so desperately needed. She has already met with representatives of OCC on several occasions. Last month she took members of the Children, Education and Families team to listen to the views of staff and parents at a Children’s Centre in the constituency. She will soon be having a further meeting with Cllr Ian Hudspeth, the leader of OCC, to discuss options for the Council, which is required to make considerable savings in its budget. Later this week, Victoria will be visiting a centre in Banbury.

Victoria said, “I have seen for myself how our Children’s Centres deliver far more than a space for children to meet and play – they offer professional advice and expertise, guidance to troubled families, and generally a supportive face and attitude for all who enter their doors. I have seen many examples of how the centres have been a vital resource to parents and children across the constituency.

I am pleased that Oxfordshire County Council will consult extensively on this issue before making any decisions. I understand the public consultation is in progress, and I encourage my constituents to take part in it. I will continue to monitor the matter closely.

VICTORIA VISITS ARMY RESERVE SQUADRON IN BANBURY

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On the evening of Tuesday 29 September, Victoria Prentis MP visited 142 (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars) Vehicle Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps, at their base in Banbury.

Victoria was given a tour of the facility by the Squadron’s commanding officer, Major Jeremy Burnan, and met soldiers as they participated in training. She was given a comprehensive briefing about the history and role of the Squadron, and spoke to officers about local recruitment and the enhanced role of the Army Reserve following recent restructuring. Alongside Banbury Town Mayor, Cllr Tony Mepham, Victoria then presented service medals to two serving members of the Squadron, before addressing the assembled soldiers to thank them for their work.

The Squadron is the only Army Reserve unit based in North Oxfordshire, but currently has soldiers drawn from across the region. It was previously based at Grantham in Lincolnshire, before relocating and re-forming in Banbury as part of the Army 2020 restructuring. Upon moving to Banbury, 142 Vehicle Squadron inherited the Colour and traditions of the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, the regiment in which Sir Winston Churchill served for thirteen years.

Victoria said, “I was extremely honoured to be invited to spend time with 142 Vehicle Squadron. It was apparent that the unit is a tight-knit and supportive group, who take great pride in their work. I was very impressed with the range of skills I saw demonstrated, and it is clear that the Squadron fulfils a vital role within the British Army. Our Reservists serve with dedication and professionalism, and I know that the people of Banbury are extremely proud of 142 Vehicle Squadron.”

During the visit, Victoria also met Lieutenant Colonel Simon Stevenson, the Commanding Officer of 1 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps. The regiment has recently moved to St David’s Barracks in Bicester following their withdrawal from Germany.

MP BUSY IN NORTH OXFORDSHIRE OVER CONFERENCE RECESS

For the last two weeks Parliament has been in recess for the party conferences, and Victoria has been busy with a variety of engagements throughout North Oxfordshire.

On 18th September, Victoria spoke at the Low Carbon Maintenance & Buildings green breakfast event. The event, held at Bloxham Mill, was attended by numerous local businesses. They discussed and exchanged ideas regarding green policies, and future development and growth in the area. As the guest speaker, Victoria spoke about a range of subjects, including the Government’s current green policies, the economy and the constituency’s green strategies, such as the Bicester eco-town.

On Tuesday 22nd September, Victoria held a surgery in Banbury where she spoke to several constituents about a variety of cases. The following day, she enjoyed a visit to Brookside Primary School in Bicester, where she met pupils and had a tour of the remarkable school. She admired the school’s various initiatives to promote reading, and particularly appreciated the success of their updated library. The following Thursday, Victoria had a very productive meeting with local GPs, during which they discussed the pressures faced by the NHS and plans for expanding medical services in North Oxfordshire.

Over the weekend Victoria was honoured to celebrate Eid with a family in Bretch Hill. The family welcomed Victoria to their celebrations with open arms, and she enjoyed learning more about this important religious festival from them.

On 28th September, Victoria held the most recent of her ‘Pub Tour’ visits, spending the evening at the Black Boy Inn in Milton. While there, she met Bruce Duncan, the author of The Lone Soldier. The book chronicles Duncan’s time and experiences in the military. She was amazed when she heard the details of some of his adventures!

During the day she had spent time at the Thames Water treatment plant in Banbury, where she was told about the water cleaning process on-site. Victoria found the staff to be delightful and particularly enjoyed riding in one of the treatment lorries. Following this visit, Victoria headed to Banbury Academy where she thoroughly enjoyed teaching an A level English class on Othello. She was blown away by the students’ enthusiasm to learn and participate in class and found the discussion to be insightful and developed.

Victoria will continue to have engagements in the constituency before attending the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester next week.

MP SPEAKS AT BICESTER’S WEDNESDAY BUSINESS CLUB

Victoria addresses the WBC in Bicester.

Victoria Prentis addressed the Wednesday Business Club (WBC) in Bicester on 23rd September. The WBC is a not-for-profit business networking group that meets every week over breakfast to exchange ideas and information of interest to local businesses.

The meeting, at the Littlebury Hotel, was attended by a great variety of local businesses and entrepreneurs. Mrs Prentis spoke to the Club about a range of subjects, including local development and growth, the national economy, mental health and engaging with social media.

After the event, Victoria said, “It was a great pleasure to speak to so many local businesspeople, and to learn more about the fantastic variety of businesses operating in and around Bicester. Our small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of the local economy, and the WBC is a great forum for them.”

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