Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire


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.”


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.”


DSC_0004 Cropped

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:

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.”


S4S MASH UP Cropped (2)

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 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 or call 07789 713 115.


No10-2015-208-0077 Cropped

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.”


1 16 17 18 19 20 22