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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: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/budget-201617

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.”


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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.


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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.”



VP @ Bliss Cropped

Victoria Prentis MP attended Bliss’ parliamentary event on Tuesday 20 October 2015 and spoke about the importance of support for parents. The reception was organised by Bliss, the special care baby charity, to launch Bliss baby report 2015: hanging in the balance. The report covers a range of topics including the supply of neonatal nurses and doctors and availability of psychological and emotional support for parents.

In particular, the report found that at 41 per cent of units parents do not have access to a trained mental health worker, despite parents of premature and sick babies being at far greater risk of postnatal depression. Moreover, one third of units were not able to provide overnight accommodation for parents of critically ill babies or those living many miles from the hospital. It is vital that parents are able to stay close to their baby as research shows that when parents are involved in their baby’s care, it improves their development and recovery, and eases the pressure on health professionals.

Bliss is now calling for urgent action from the Government, the NHS and health education bodies to address these issues and ensure neonatal units have the resources they need to meet national standards for quality and safety.

Speaking after the event, Victoria said: “An estimated 168 vulnerable babies are born premature or sick to parents in Banbury every year, and many more women with difficult pregnancies and births are transferred to the Radcliffe. Bliss has put together an interesting report which highlights some very important issues. Personally, I am very concerned about psychological support for parents.  Approximately 40 percent of mothers with a premature baby suffer from post-natal depression, compared to 5 to 10 percent of those who have a healthy baby. It is vital that all babies have the best possible chance in life, and that their families get all the support they need during what is an extremely difficult time.




Victoria Prentis asked a question during Prime Minister’s Questions today, focussing on Bicester and highlighting her desire to ensure sustainable infrastructure alongside new development as the Garden Town continues to grow.

Victoria used her first PMQ to bring her thoughts on growth and strategic development directly to the Prime Minister’s attention. She asked “Bicester is blossoming into a Garden Town, which welcomes sustainable growth. Would my Right Honourable Friend, who knows our area well, agree that the promised funding for infrastructure must be provided in step with development?”

Victoria commented: “It was great to be able to speak directly about Bicester, which is setting a strong example as a growing town. I was really excited to be able to use my first question to raise such an important local issue. The Prime Minister agrees that infrastructure and investment need to go together.

It was fantastic to hear the Prime Minister speak so highly of my predecessor, Sir Tony Baldry, who’s impressive and long-standing efforts have given me a great foundation on which to build.

I was so proud to hear the Prime Minister commend Cherwell District Council. He said if people think councils in the South shy away from positive development and growth, they should look to Bicester. He continued “Bicester shows that we can build, build sensibly, and provide the homes that we want to live in.” I am pleased we have received that recognition.



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.


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.”


o	Victoria Prentis MP with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Childcare and Education Sam Gyimah MP, and Heyford Park Free School Principal Mr David Castles.

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, welcomed Sam Gyimah MP to Upper Heyford on 2nd September, to meet students and tour the school. Mr Gyimah, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for Childcare and Education, was visiting the Free School as part of the government’s commitment to building more schools across the country.

Heyford Park Free School, which opened in 2014, has grown to welcome students from across the local area. Victoria and the Under-Secretary were greeted by Principal Mr David Castles. They met with pupils, and the Under-Secretary was invited to participate in a science lesson burning carbon dioxide from ceramic on Bunsen burners.

They visited the school’s impressive campus and facilities, which continue to grow in the area. Heyford Park Free School will soon be opening a new state-of the-art Sports Centre, which will include a sprung-floor basketball court, squash courts, football pitches, an athletics track, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and a fitness gym. The Under-Secretary was given a 3D whistle, printed on one of the school’s 3D printers, as well as a textile bird; both made by pupils at the school.

Victoria said “I am extremely impressed by this school, which is a great example of the success of the Government’s Free School program. I am looking forward to seeing Heyford Park Free School flourish in the future.”

“I took the opportunity to invite the Under-Secretary for lunch in my office, which is just next door. We were then treated to a brief tour of the former RAF base at Upper Heyford, a site which has seen extensive investment for its redevelopment since it was decommissioned in 1994.”

MP welcomes work experience students to new local office

VP with Work Experience students

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, has welcomed two young people from schools in her constituency to complete a week of work experience in her offices.

Luca Filippi (18) and Will Thompson (17) both completed a week in Victoria’s constituency office in Upper Heyford, and also spent a day in Westminster in her parliamentary office. Over the week, they were given the opportunity to prepare briefings for Victoria, draft correspondence, and prepare materials for online and internal office use. At Westminster, they had the chance to attend Select Committee hearings with speakers including Theresa May and George Osborne. They also observed a parliamentary debate in the main House of Commons chamber.

Luca, who has recently finished his A Levels at Blessed George Napier School, commented “The main reason I applied for this work experience was to gain a deeper insight into British politics, but I finished having also developed many useful office skills, which I know will be of great use in future employment. I would definitely encourage all young people to try and arrange work experience with their local MP.”

Will, who is set to continue his A Level study at The Warriner School, said “I really appreciated the more challenging and important nature of the work I was being set, as it meant I could genuinely learn and benefit from it, unlike many work experience opportunities for people my age.”

Victoria was extremely pleased with the first two students to complete work experience with her, since her election in May. “I was delighted to be able to welcome Luca and Will to my new office in Upper Heyford, to see first-hand the sheer variety of things that go on in an MP’s office over a week. I was very impressed with their dedication, and the quality of work they produced.

There will only be a few spaces available throughout the year, but I hope to welcome students from across North Oxfordshire to my offices for work experience on a regular basis. You will be able to find more information on my website.”

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