On 17 November, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, held her third annual Democracy Challenge, a debating competition for local secondary school pupils. Kindly hosted by Cherwell District Council at their offices in Bodicote, teams participated in two initial rounds debating social media abuse and the role of private providers in the NHS. The two highest scoring teams then battled it out in a final debate on tuition fees.
The winners for the second year running were the impressive team from The Warriner School of Emily Thompson, Lucy Dunlop, Alfie Bullus and Daniel O’Toole, although they faced stiff competition from Sibford School in the final.
Victoria was joined on the judging panel by other local elected officials and members of the community, including councillors, journalists and a Thames Valley Police inspector. While the finalists were preparing for their debate, other students participated in a Q&A session with the judges, which involved a lively discussion about student loans.
Speaking after the event, Victoria commented: ‘The Democracy Challenge is fast becoming one of the highlights of my calendar. I continue to be impressed by the high standard of debating, which improves year on year. The Warriner were a formidable team, but everyone who participated made some really excellent and thought-provoking contributions. Cherwell District Council are always so supportive in hosting us; it makes such a difference for the students to experience the atmosphere in the Chamber. Democracy has a bright future in North Oxfordshire.”
Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, has welcomed plans for further restrictions on the use of pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators.
Following advice from the UK’s pesticides advisory body, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Rt Hon Michael Gove, has announced restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides as part of his commitment to maintain environmental standards across the UK.
Victoria commented: “Bees have been a big issue since I was first elected. Nearly 200 constituents have taken the time to contact me to express concerns about the impact of pesticides on bees. As the proud owner of three hives, I understand the importance of ensuring the safety of pollinators across the UK and the positive environmental impact that they have. I know many of my constituents will join me in welcoming this announcement.”
On 7 November, Victoria Prentis’ cat, Midnight, was named the winner of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s annual ‘Purr Minister’ competition. Each candidate submitted a ‘Manifursto’, and the final winner was decided by public vote. Midnight’s pledges included a compulsory cat-related Purr Minister’s Question every Wednesday, a new Feline Select Committee, and a promise to monitor Buttons the office mouse.
Victoria said: “I am thrilled that Midnight’s dedication to the campaign has paid off. I know that he will be getting to work on implementing his manifursto commitments straightaway. Finding good homes for all the rescue cats currently living in temporary accommodation is a top priority. No doubt Midnight’s first Purr Minister’s Question Time will be a lively affair.”
Over five years since the first residents moved into the Kingsmere estate in Bicester, a post box has finally been installed following pressure from Bicester’s Member of Parliament, Victoria Prentis, and the Residents’ Association.
The Post Box, situated outside newly built St. Edburg’s Primary School, will serve locals and those using the community facilities expected to open in March 2018, including the Community Centre and shops.
Victoria Prentis has been petitioning Royal Mail for post boxes on all new estates across her constituency, including Elmsbrook and Graven Hill in Bicester, and areas such as Longford Park in Banbury, raising it during a recent exchange with the Prime Minister during questions in October. With North Oxfordshire experiencing some of the highest levels of growth in the country, it is important that community facilities such as post boxes are provided in conjunction with house building.
Yesterday (2 November 2017) marked the opening of the post box in Kingsmere, and Victoria along with Viki, Co-Chair of the Residents’ Association went along to mark the occasion. Victoria commented: “While some people may think that the issue of post boxes is a trivial matter, they really are vital for residents’ continuing their normal day to day lives after moving to a new area. I understand that a lot of correspondence is dealt with online, but my constituents still regularly send letters, particularly the elderly.
North Oxfordshire is experiencing unprecedented levels of growth and I will continue to push for services such as post boxes, adequate health care and sustainable road infrastructure. I look forward to meeting Royal Mail later this month to discuss this further with them.”
On Friday 13 October, Victoria Prentis MP was joined by ninety schoolchildren from across North Oxfordshire for a Shakespeare Workshop led by actors and directors from the Royal Shakespeare Company. The workshop, funded by Cherwell District Council, was hosted at Broughton Castle, an historic and atmospheric venue that helped scenes from this year’s featured play, Julius Caesar, come to life.
The children were taken through a number of extracts from the play, with the RSC explaining the choices they made when interpreting the text. There was the opportunity to get stuck in to some acting in smaller breakout groups, before all coming back together at the end to go through what they had learnt.
Speaking after the event, Victoria said: ‘This is the second year I have worked with the RSC to bring Shakespeare to the children of North Oxfordshire, and it is fast becoming an annual fixture. The actors and directors are so brilliant at bringing the characters and storylines to life, and it was fantastic to see every child fully immersed in the work of Shakespeare.
I am very grateful to the Fiennes family for hosting us at Broughton Castle again. It is an amazing venue, and I can’t think of a better place to hold an event like this. The generous support from Cherwell District Council is also very much appreciated.’
On Friday 6 October, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, visited the Heyford and Bicester Veterans Group.
The Group aims to provide vital support for veterans and their families. It has joined forces with advocacy group SEAP, the Royal British Legion, Veterans UK, mental health charity Rethink, Help for Heroes and a housing specialist to make sure that all those involved in the military have access to essential help and support, both during and after service.
Victoria commented: ‘I thought it was a brilliant service, and it was great to meet everyone involved. I was particularly glad to see such a joined-up approach, providing excellent all-round support. It was heartening to see people from all around the county coming together to deal with issues, offer help and advice, and to share their experiences.’
On Tuesday 26 September, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, attended a Community Partnership Network (CPN) meeting at Bodicote House in Banbury.
CPN is a Better Health Care programme for Banbury and its surrounding area, and draws together key stakeholders from the Cherwell region to discuss matters relating to health provision, ranging from GP services to the closure of beds.
In January 2017, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) put forward their proposals for the future of health in Oxfordshire in their Big Health and Care consultation. A decision was taken to split the consultation into two phases, with Phase One being delivered this year and Phase Two following in 2018. It was argued by many that the issues across both phases were interconnected and members of the public could not make an informed decision without knowing the whole picture.
Banbury’s MP has continually pushed for the consultation to be halted until both phases can be delivered together, particularly with a referral to the Secretary of State and Judicial Review of the process on the table. In today’s meeting, Victoria asked whether the CCG would consider stopping the implementation of Phase 1 and rolling it into Phase 2 of the Transformation Programme. In response, Dr Walsh, the Clinical Development Lead for the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, replied stating that he would take it back to the CCG board for consideration and understands the strength of feeling in North Oxfordshire.
Following the meeting, Victoria commented: “It is certainly a glimmer of hope that the CCG are finally listening to my requests and will be rethinking their plans for the consultation process. Without a clear vision of the future of health services and proper thought-out proposals, it is impossible for my constituents to put forward their views about the plans. The CCG are facing a referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) regarding permanent changes to maternity services in Banbury, and the Council have put forward a judicial review against the consultation process. I really hope that the CCG listen to our concerns, take a step back and re-evaluate the split nature of the consultation.”
On Friday 22 September, Victoria Prentis MP opened Cleenol Group Ltd’s new Export Warehouse.
Cleenol Group Ltd manufactures an extensive range of quality cleaning & hygiene products for professionals. In addition to supplying customers throughout UK they export to over 40 countries. These include EU member states, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Export sales grew by nearly 20% last year and now represent over 12% of the company’s turnover. To manage this increase Cleenol have invested in a new 12,500 sq ft export warehouse, adjoining its other 3 warehouses on the Tramway Industrial Estate.
Managing Director Richard Greaves said: “We have been exporting for over 25 years. Our customers recognize the quality of the products we manufacture and the service we provide. Since Brexxit the fall in the value of the pound has made our products even more attractive and we have seen significant sales growth as a result. Our export markets recognize and respect the value they get from British manufactured products. They provide them with quality and consistency of performance, and cost in use savings. Many are now looking to be environmentally responsible, and our products and systems help them achieve this. We anticipate further export growth in the coming years and have invested accordingly. “
Victoria Prentis MP commented: “I was delighted to be asked to open Cleenol Group Ltd’s new Export Warehouse and visit their manufacturing plant. They are one of the largest employers in Banbury, and it is great to see a local company doing so well and continuing to provide jobs for people in the Banbury area. It was particularly interesting to meet Richard and discuss plans for the future, I am sure that the new warehouse will play a big part.”
Cleenol has been manufacturing cleaning and hygiene products for industry for over 65 years. It has been in Banbury for over 40 years. The company now employs over 120 people, holding both the ISO9001 quality and ISO14001 environmental accreditations.
They are market leaders in the manufacture of environmentally friendly concentrated products and dispensing systems for industry and an extensive range of cleaning products for a large range of applications. These include products for industrial laundries, dishwashing chemicals for restaurants and canteens, liquid soaps and sanitizers, floor care products and bactericidal surface cleaners. Their customers include the hotel, catering and leisure industries, laundries, hospitals and care homes, as well as supplying government and local authorities, manufacturing products under customers own branding as well as their own.
On Friday 15 September, North Oxfordshire MP decided to try out a new location for her constituency surgeries – Barclays Bank in Banbury.
While she usually organises ‘Supermarket Surgeries’ in Sainsbury’s cafés, Victoria was kindly invited to hold one of her regular constituent drop-ins in Barclay’s Banbury Branch. With friendly staff and a private room, it was a success with a number of local people popping in to have a chat to Victoria about issues ranging from help with visas to mental health support.
Surgeries are an important part of an MP’s job, giving constituents valuable face to face time with their elected representative. Talking to an MP is quite often people’s last resort and they come with a wide range of issues and concerns.
After the surgery, Victoria commented: “The setting in Barclays Banbury was ideal for meeting my constituents, particularly those with quite complex cases. The staff were very helpful, providing a private room to conduct each appointment in. I am keen to ensure that my surgeries are accessible, so holding them in places such as banks on the high street and supermarket cafes works well. While my diary is very busy, I thoroughly enjoy holding surgeries and meeting constituents, alongside my more rural ‘pub tours’.”
For more information on Victoria’s upcoming surgeries, please visit www.victoriaprentis.com/contact/surgery-appointments/.
David Wilson Homes has welcomed Victoria Prentis MP to its development in Deddington for a hands on ‘hard-hat tour’.
The housebuilder invited Victoria Prentis, the MP for North Oxfordshire, to visit Deddington Grange to experience a morning as a builder at the David Wilson Homes site, practicing bricklaying and also enjoying a typical builder’s breakfast of a bacon sandwich.
During her visit Victoria spent time meeting the team behind Deddington Grange and hearing about how construction is progressing.
Deddington Grange will consist of 84 three, four and five bedroom homes once complete.
Victoria Prentis MP, said: “North Oxfordshire has one of the highest growth rates in the country, so it was really interesting to look around David Wilson’s Deddington Grange site on Friday and lay a brick for one of the houses.
“It is always helpful to discuss with developers what housing options they are making available for local people, and what their plans are for affordable housing. It was interesting to look around the show home and I am sure it won’t be long before I am hosting one of my ‘New Residents Roadshows’ on the site.”
John Fitzgerald, Managing Director at David Wilson Homes Mercia, said: “We were delighted to welcome Victoria Prentis to our site to show her first hand the work that goes into creating a development such as Deddington Grange.”
Deddington Grange is a beautiful new development in the desirable Oxfordshire village of Deddington. The new homes border open fields and glorious countryside while still boasting excellent commuter links, with Banbury just four miles away and Oxford reachable in just half an hour.