Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire


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Victoria visited Bardwell School on Friday 29th January. She had the chance to see staff and students during lessons, and look at the facilities the school has on offer.

After spending some time in the early years class looking at image and sound associations, Victoria was taken to meet students who had just had a swimming class at the school’s pool.

Victoria visited the post-16 centre to speak with students about their work, and be given a tour of the new classrooms. She was also able to discuss work experience opportunities the young people were pursing, with companies such as Sainsbury’s.

After the visit Victoria said, “It was such a pleasure to see the students really enjoying the school day. I was pleased to see such a good variety of teaching methods catered to the individual needs of the students, including adapted spaces, visual stimuli, and sound recognition. The pool looked lovely and warm too!

The post-16 student centre was brilliant. We sat together and had a drink during break time, and spoke about work experience and making the right choices in life. I had a fantastic time, and look forward to visiting again soon.”


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On the morning of Friday 22 January, Victoria Prentis MP helped to launch North Oxfordshire’s Clean For The Queen campaign at Spiceball Park in Banbury. Victoria joined Councillor Kieron Mallon (Leader of Banbury Town Council), councillors and supporters at the event, which marked the beginning of the local ‘clean-up’ campaign to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

The campaign is backed by dozens of major British businesses, local authorities, Members of Parliament, schools and community groups across the UK. The flagship weekend of events will take place between 4 and 6 March 2016, but smaller events will be held throughout the first half of the year. Groups and individuals are being encouraged to collect rubbish and tidy up public areas ahead of the Queen’s birthday, which will be officially celebrated in June 2016.

Speaking at the event, Victoria said, “Although the big litter pick will take place over just three days, people can get involved whenever they like. While it will be fantastic to see the country coming together in March, it is the support and action people are taking, and not the dates, which are important.”

Victoria has also been busy promoting the campaign among her colleagues in the House of Commons. The local campaign is being led by Cherwell District Council and Banbury Town Council. You can find out more by visiting the Clean For The Queen page of the website here.

MP opens South Central Ambulance Service’s recruitment day

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Victoria opened the South Central Ambulance Service’s recruitment day on Saturday 16th January, with Chief Executive Will Hancock, at the Talisman Road HQ in Bicester.

The event, which ran from 10am to 2pm, gave people the chance to find out what jobs are currently available, and chat to existing staff employed at SCAS. There were also live demonstrations and vehicles on site.

Victoria said “The recruitment day was brilliant. I have visited the Headquarters on Talisman Road twice previously, and have seen just how rewarding and demanding the response team’s work is. I was keen to see what jobs were available too. We are very fortunate to have a strong and committed Ambulance Service team, which supports thousands of people across the area. I believe over 400 people attended the event, and around 50% have either applied for or requested applications for jobs that were advertised. That’s a fantastic uptake, and I really hope we see a number of new recruits working for the service soon.”


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On Monday 11th January Victoria visited local concrete firm in Bicester.

The plant at Bicester has been operational since the 1980s, including the last 12 years as part of Aggregate Industries. It supplies a wide range of standard and specialist concrete mixes across the constituency, and further afield including Oxford, Buckingham and Aylesbury.

After the visit, Victoria commented “It is so interesting to be able to see the variety of mixes on site. Bicester is developing into a Garden Town and growing at a great pace, with thousands of houses being built in the coming years. Having a variety of different industries and jobs available in the area, will make it that much more desirable a place to live. Thank you to everyone at Aggregate Industries for allowing me to visit, and for explaining more about what is done at Bicester.


Victoria Prentis MP has given her backing to a campaign organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and ABTA (The Travel Association) to highlight the importance of adequate winter travel insurance.

The campaign comes after new research from ABTA showed that over a quarter (28%) of people across the South East of England fail to check whether they have the correct insurance to cover winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.

Taking out the correct winter sports insurance is more important than ever. There were 45 British deaths from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the FCO in the last three years, with thousands more having suffered injuries both on- and off-piste. To help raise awareness, ABTA and the FCO have also teamed up with former British Olympic skier, Chemmy Alcott, to provide the latest travel advice from pre-departure to après ski.

More information about ABTA and advice for people heading on a winter sports holiday can be found on its website.

Commenting on the campaign, Victoria said, “Winter sports holidays are very popular, and I know many people from North Oxfordshire will be taking one in 2016. However, medical costs arising from uninsured accidents abroad can be very high. It is crucial that when we do travel overseas, we are covered in case of something going wrong. Travel insurance, especially for sports holidays, is a travel essential, which is why I am very happy to support this campaign.


What can the FCO do for people who have problems when travelling abroad?

The FCO can:

·         Issue you with an emergency travel document

·         Provide information about transferring money

·         Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime or are ill or in hospital

·         Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors

·         Contact you if you are detained abroad

·         Contact friends and family at home for you if you wish

·         Provide help in cases of forced marriage

·         Assist people affected by parental child abduction

The FCO cannot:

·         Help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas

·         Give you legal advice or translate documents

·         Investigate crimes or get you out of prison

·         Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people (but we will raise concerns if treatment falls below internationally recognised standards)

·         Pay any bills or give you money

·         Make travel arrangements for you

For more information from the FCO, please visit their website.

A New Year message from Victoria Prentis MP

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2015 was divided into two for me: before and after the election. Before May I appreciated being able to spend six months visiting businesses, schools and charities in the area in which I have lived all my life, learning more about what matters to people locally.

Since May I have continued those visits, but with the small Government majority, and its determination to press through substantial legislation, most of my week is in Westminster. There, my focus is firmly on ensuring that the growth in our area, visible all around us, is sustainable and strategically planned, ensuring that we have the best transport, schools and hospitals possible.  My first PMQ was therefore directed at obtaining proper funding for infrastructure in Bicester, and in January I will be petitioning the HS2 committee for the provision of appropriate mitigation for North Oxfordshire, should that project go ahead.

Having a background as a Civil Service lawyer has been a huge advantage in understanding how Westminster operates.  It has also led to my appointment as a member of the Justice Committee, where among other things we will be considering the future role of the Human Rights Act.

I have been pleased with the progress of two other campaigns with which I have been involved.  Fairer funding for local schools is going to become a reality, removing the wide discrepancy between what the Government spends on the education of a child in an inner city (a lot), and what it spends on those in North Oxfordshire (considerably less).  That will be of direct benefit to our students.  The campaign for fairer mental health funding, especially perinatal mental health, is longer-term, but it is now higher up the agenda and being taken seriously.

Next year, against the background of a continued fall in unemployment, I intend to promote work opportunities for the disabled as part of Disability Confident.  I will also again be promoting the Cherwell Democracy Challenge, as a showcase for students’ debating skills.

Inevitably, though, outside events also affect what we concentrate on in Parliament.  In September I started a fundraising initiative called “Singing for Syrians”, which raises money to pay the salaries of the local medical teams helping the most vulnerable people left in Syria, and to provide prosthetic limbs.  It is a simple idea which has expanded all over the country, leading to well over £60,000 in donations (and counting).  I wish I could say that I did not think it would be necessary to do the same next year.

I wish you a prosperous 2016!

Victoria Prentis MP (1 January 2016)


I am fully aware of the feelings of discontent in the village of Hook Norton (and further afield) after a decision was made by the Secretary of State to approve an application for 54 houses. I share the frustration that villagers feel. Unfortunately, planning falls outside the jurisdiction of a Member of Parliament, and is a quasi-judicial matter devolved to local authorities.

However, I am very keen to do what I can to help. I have spoken to Councillor Barry Wood as Leader of Cherwell District Council to discuss what options might be open to us to challenge this. Councillor Wood and Cherwell District Council are seeking some legal advice. If they decide to take any action, I will of course offer my full support.

I visited Hook Norton on Saturday 12th December. The variety of Christmas trees in the church was astounding – I particularly liked the History Society one. While my husband took the opportunity to stock up on Hooky for Christmas, and my daughters were trying to win on the tombola, I spoke at length with a number of constituents to ensure I understood the particular concerns of the village clearly.

Today I asked a question in the Department for Communities and Local Government session in the House of Commons.

The transcript is below:

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): “The interpretation of neighbourhood plans appears to be causing difficulties, in particular in the beautiful village of Hook Norton in my constituency. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how villages can ensure that the neighbourhood plan is adhered to?”

Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Gov. Minister): “A great village that Hook Norton is and is the home to a fantastic brewery. But I do hear what the Honourable Lady says and I will certainly undertake to meet her, or I am sure my honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning will.”

I am glad the Minister recognises my concerns and has agreed to meet me. I was delighted to hear of his support for the brewery (echoed by many sitting in the House).

I will ensure residents are kept updated as I continue to have meetings and discussions on this issue.

Victoria Prentis MP (14 December 2015)


On Saturday 5 December, small businesses in North Oxfordshire marked ‘Small Business Saturday’ (SBS), a national campaign which highlights small business success stories and encourages people to shop locally.

Now entering its third year, SBS is the UK’s most successful small business campaign. Last year, 16.5 million people shopped in a small independent business, spending more than £500 million on the day.  The initiative is supported by all major political parties and has been growing in popularity since 2013.

Speaking on the day, Victoria said, “We are very lucky to have a brilliant variety of small businesses in North Oxfordshire, not only in our towns but also in the rural areas. Small businesses are a vital part of British society and deserve our support all year round. It is very encouraging that the number of small businesses in our area is continuing to increase as confidence returns to the economy.



On Saturday 5 December, Victoria joined retailers, local dignitaries and Banbury residents at the official opening of Banbury Gateway Shopping Park. The event took place in Ed’s Diner, one of 14 leading high street shops which have opened in Banbury’s newest shopping park. Victoria spoke about issues surrounding recruitment and parking, and welcomed several new brands to Banbury, which she said would complement the brilliant variety of business already operating in the town.

The opening coincided with Banbury Gateway’s ‘My Wild Winter’ event, which saw a day of free activities at the shopping park, as well as discounts and offers in the shops. Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust were there to educate shoppers on how to look after local wildlife this winter, and Victoria tried her hand at outdoor ice-sculpting. ‘My Wild Winter’ was organised by The Crown Estate (the owners of the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park) and the Wildlife Trust in order to help promote wildlife and nature at its shopping parks.



Victoria meeting service users

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Bicester on Friday 27th November. Victoria was given a personal tour of the facility and met with many of the dedicated volunteers and those who use the services there. She saw first-hand how the Centre is used by people of all ages and abilities as a place of rehabilitation and for socialising.

Oxfordshire County Council is consulting on a number of proposals, linked to efforts to make significant savings in its budget. Many concerns have been raised over the potential closure of the Centre, which was described by one user as a ‘lifeline’. Victoria has met with the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Hudspeth, to discuss these issues further. The consultation on this issue is now closed, and an update is expected in December. More details can be found at the following website:

Following the visit, Victoria commented: “The Centre offers a number of vital support services to the local community. It provides those who are most vulnerable with a source of companionship and practical support. I was blown away by the enthusiasm and commitment of those who work and volunteer at the Centre. I am proud to have such a place in my constituency.”

 “I am determined that the needs of those who rely on the Centre will be met, and hope a solution can be found which allows the Centre to remain. I will continue to monitor this matter closely.”

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