On Friday 7 July, Victoria Prentis joined Bicester Mayor, Cllr Les Sibley to reopen Bicester Green at their new purpose-built premises next to Garth Park.
Bicester Green is a local organisation supporting waste reduction by taking bikes, furniture and electrical items from landfill to refurbish and repair. As a body reliant on volunteers, Bicester Green brings together a variety of skills from within the community, as well as providing education and training for its members.
In addition, Bicester Green is now advertising practical training courses for anyone who is unemployed and wants to develop new skills and widen their career opportunities.
Following the opening, Victoria commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed looking around Bicester Green’s new, purpose-built premises and meeting volunteers. It was a pleasure to join Cllr Les Sibley for the opening, and get involved in this exciting new era for the group.
Litter and waste are important issues for me, and Bicester Green is a prime example of a valuable community asset that is totally committed to tackling social problems.”
For more information about the work of Bicester Green, visit www.bicestergreen.org.uk/.
On Friday 7 July, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, opened the first Shelswell History Festival. The festival, which took place north of Bicester, compromised of re-enactments, talks and guided walks intended to increase the interest and knowledge about the history of the local Shelswell area.
During the opening, Victoria spoke to the volunteers who helped put the festival together, and visited a number of stands detailing the history of villages in the North Oxfordshire constituency. The event was also well attended by local food producers, including freshly squeezed apple juice from the Shelswell Park Estate and local ice cream.
Speaking after the opening, Victoria said, “Having grown up in the area, I am proud of North Oxfordshire’s history. It is events like this allow for both education and community spirit. It was a pleasure opening the festival, and meeting all the volunteers who put an enormous amount of hard work into the weekend. I look forward to many more in future years.”
For more information about the Festival, please visit http://www.shelswellhistoryfestival.org.uk.
On Friday 30 June, Victoria reopened the Sibford Village Hall following a £30,000 transformation. The upgrades include energy efficient windows and doors, new insulation and state-of-the-art, low energy LED lighting. In order to accommodate hearing impaired users, there are further plans to introduce an audio-visual system.
Organisations that helped to fund the refurbishment include the Big Lottery Fund, the Midcounties Co-Operative, the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, the Doris Field Charitable Trust, the Town Estates Charity and village Parish Councils. The villagers even rolled up their sleeves to help with decorating and final touches.
At the opening, Victoria commented: “I was delighted to be asked to reopen the village hall in Sibford, and celebrate the hard work of the community and local organisations. Their support has enabled such a successful refurbishment, creating an accessible and welcoming community space. Having grown up, and now living in a village, I know how important village hall facilities are and I look forward to visiting the hall again in the future.”
David Allen, Development Funding Manager for the Hall added, “Much of the funding for our £30,000 project has come from charitable grants and we are hugely grateful to the Big Lottery Fund, the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, Grundon Ltd, the Midcounties Co-operative, the Doris Field Charitable Trust, the Town Estates Charity and our village Parish Councils for all their invaluable support”.
“News of David Smith’s retirement from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group later this year has come as a surprise, particularly as he will leave when we are only half way through the Transformation Programme process. We have never had an easy relationship in my time as an Oxfordshire MP, particularly when it comes to the Horton General Hospital. I am also disappointed that Dr Joe McManners has decided not to seek re-election, although I understand his position given the difficulties general practice is currently facing.
My constituents and I are still waiting for decisions to be made regarding the Phase One consultation. It had been anticipated that Phase Two would start at the end of this year. I am not sure how a change in management will affect this. I remain concerned about the future of health services in Oxfordshire, particularly in the north of the county. David Smith and Dr McManners had a key role in compiling the consultation document yet they won’t be around to see any of the changes through. The consultation process must be stopped. While such uncertainty could delay matters further, I am hopeful that a change in leadership may allow the opportunity for a new vision for health services, ensuring that they remain safe, kind and close to home. The Horton General Hospital remains my number one priority.”
On 23 June 2017, Victoria Prentis attended the opening of the Bicester Technology Studio. The new school offers 110 places for students studying both GCSEs and A-Levels, with a particular focus on business and engineering. With a variety of opportunities available, the Studio aims to ensure that every student leaves with the skills to continue into further education, start an apprenticeship or enter the world of work. The Bicester Technology Studio is generously supported by local employers and industry partners, including Ror Creative, Chiltern Railways, and RED Engineering.
Commenting after the grand opening, Victoria said: ‘It was a real pleasure to open the new Bicester Technology Studio. I was very impressed by the hands-on, small-group learning approach, and I hope to see pupils flourish into future business leaders and innovators. North Oxfordshire is a fantastic place to do business and it is really exciting to see a greater focus on green and developing industries. I wish the Bicester Technology Studio, and its pupils, staff and partners, the best of luck with this new opportunity.’
On Friday 23 June, North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis visited Wyndham Hall Care Home, one of Bicester’s newest care homes.
While she was there, Victoria talked to staff about the pressures on social care, and recognition of workers. They also discussed care assessments and the needs of residents in nursing homes across Oxfordshire.
Victoria’s visit came a week after the National Care Home Open Day, an awareness day to encourage local communities and the residents of care homes to come together with the aim of reinforcing how residents and staff should be an integral part of their local community.
“It was a privilege to meet the residents and staff at Wyndham Hall. My visit provided me with the opportunity to speak at length with carers, all of whom show great dedication and commitment to delivering outstanding care.
“The visit also allowed for a discussion of the current pressures facing social care which relies on there being sufficient staff because of the high level of support many people need. It was really clear from my conversations that it is important for care homes to interact with local people to avoid isolation and enrich the lives of residents. Schemes such as National Care Home Open Day are crucial because they connect residents to their communities and include them in what is going on outside of their care home. It is essential that we raise awareness of these issues.”
More information on National Care Home Open Day and their cause is available at:
On Tuesday 20 June, North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis attended the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s Board meeting during which the Transformation Programme Phase One consultation report was discussed.
While the meeting was in public, attendees were unable to ask questions. However, Victoria had written to Chief Executive David Smith beforehand to raise a number of points regarding the subsequent consultation process, and how the proposals would be taken forward. Speaking after the meeting, Victoria said:
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend the meeting, and to hear the Board discuss the consultation report. A wide range of questions were asked about the process and the findings. While I was disappointed to hear the Board reach the conclusion that the consultation process has been adequate, I remain concerned about the two-phase approach and how proposals will proceed. It is quite clear from the report that there is insufficient support for any of the plans in the north of the county.
“My understanding is that the CCG is now going to look at their proposals again, and carry out some further work to look at their feasibility before they make recommendations which will be considered at the next extraordinary Board meeting on 10 August. They have also commissioned HealthWatch to undertake their own travel survey about the distances people are travelling to get to the Horton and the John Radcliffe. I am worried that this is a case of too little too late. I urge the CCG to keep us updated with progress over the coming weeks, so we have a better understanding of the way forward before any final decisions are made in August.”
Following the publication of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s report on findings from their Phase One consultation, North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has commented:
“I have read the Clinical Commissioning Group’s report and think it provides a comprehensive overview of the Phase One consultation findings. While I appreciate that CCG Board members will have the opportunity to look at the report when they meet next week, I am keen to understand what the next steps will be as soon as possible.
“We know that the Board will be making decisions in August, but at the moment we have no idea what the final proposals will look like. It is quite clear from the report that consultees were not given sufficient information to provide informed responses. I continue to be extremely concerned about the split nature of the consultation.
“How we move forward remains unclear, but I will be doing all I can to get the answers we need and to retain acute services at the Horton General Hospital.”
Victoria has also written directly to the Chief Executive of the Clinical Commissioning Group to seek clarification on the timetable going forward.
The Consultation Report is available at: http://www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/documents/meetings/board/2017/06/2017-06-13-final-consultation-report.pdf
Victoria’s official response to the consultation can be found at: http://victoriaprentis.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/170407-Victoria-Prentis-MP-Oxon-CCG-Transformation-Programme-submission-FINAL.pdf
Conservative candidate, Victoria Prentis, has been re-elected as the Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire.
Speaking after the result was announced, Victoria said:
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to represent the area in which I have always lived once again. Turnout was brilliant, as we have seen across the country. Regardless of what my opponents have said throughout the campaign, I am committed to fighting for the future of the Horton General Hospital, and hope to be able to continue to work cross-party with Labour going forward.
“We must also focus on Brexit given that we start negotiating in just eleven days. This is the future of our area that we are talking about. It is vital that we get the best deal. I will be a vocal champion for North Oxfordshire at Westminster.”
On Sunday 4 June, Victoria Prentis joined other local candidates for a hustings event organised by Churches Together in Bicester. Given the horrific attack in London the previous night, it was a difficult event for all involved and much consideration was given to the decision to go ahead. Victoria made it clear that her focus was on answering questions from the public rather than political point-scoring.
The hustings covered a wide range of topics, from the local to the international. The issue of the Horton General Hospital was raised, and Victoria reaffirmed her commitment to keeping vital services. Discussions covered education funding, Brexit, foreign aid and national security, among others.
Speaking after the event, Victoria said: ‘I wasn’t sure if the hustings should go ahead, given the terrible events in London. However, I do think it is important that people have the opportunity to hear the views of all their local candidates. It was an interesting discussion under very difficult circumstances.‘