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Annual Report 6 Mar 2024 (OCC Updates) Dan Levy's summary of the past 12 months to the Eynsham PC annual meeting.

County Council

The administration at County Hall began the year being an alliance of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens.   It currently comprises Lib Dems and Greens.

In October, the Labour party chose to leave the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance, over the issue of the insistence of the other parties that it was necessary to change the cabinet responsibility for Children after a report highlighting failures in our Special Educational Needs service.   We now have a dedicated SEND improvement cabinet member.  We are improving both outcomes and communications in this key area.  A former headteacher is now acting as Cabinet member for Children.

The new partnership has the same objectives as the old one, with a vision of making the county greener, fairer and healthier. 

 

It is more difficult to make progress as a minority administration, but we passed a budget in February that was true to this vision, with Labour backing, and will deliver additional funding for adult social care, children’s service, roads and gulleys.

Since October I have been the Cabinet member with responsibility for finance and property, and it has been challenging.

50% of County Council spending is on Adults and Children’s social care, which leaves inadequate funding for other things.

 

 

 

Roads and Railways

 

Botley Road

The year has seen Botley Road closed to motor traffic at the railway bridge.   This work is due to finish in October (and Network Rail say they are now on schedule).  We will be left with a much better station, with trains to Milton Keynes as well as the current services.  

A40

The A40 improvements are the subject of discussion between the potential funder, Homes England, and the County Council.  This is extremely frustrating, but the scheme was built on the commitment of the government to provide the funding.  We await developments.

Once the A40 is developed and West Eynsham is built (subject to planning approval of course) vehicle access to the new housing at the Old Nursery will be via West Eynsham and the A40, and not up Old Witney Road.

 

City

Once Botley Road is reopened, the traffic filters will be installed, making the centre of Oxford a no-cut-through area.  Everywhere you can currently drive will remain accessible.   You just need to come in on the route closest to the Ringroad, so for instance if you wanted to drive to Cowley Road, you would go via the ringroad to the BMW plant.  Exactly as most people currently do.

This will free up buses to move more quickly and encourage people out of their cars as the bus service improves.   You may already have seen the electric bus fleet used in central Oxford. 

 

Road maintenance

Road maintenance remains underfunded.  It would take c £45m per annum just to preserve a steady state.  The government awards Oxfordshire about £20m per annum for the task.  Nonetheless, despite this lack of funding, many roads have been resurfaced, including the A40 at Barnard Gate and past Cassington. 

And those who cycle along the A40 bike path will notice that, after decades of neglect, the path has been restored to the correct width, which makes it much more usable.   This is one of a number of improvements to the cycle network, including a path along the road from Witney to Bladon ia Hanborough Station.    We have developed a plan for a strategic active travel network, linking all the major villages and towns – and it will be built as money becomes available.

 

20mph

All the parishes in the Eynsham Division chose to apply for 20 mph zones, and I was pleased to support this.  Slower speeds make it easier for people to cycle and walk, and much safer to cross the road.  Certainly in Eynsham speeds do seem to have come down.

 

Rail

Included in the budget was a small commitment to support the next stage of development of the Witney Oxford rail project.   Rail would make a huge contribution to easing travel from Eynsham.   It goes alongside the East-West rail project, the reopening of the Cowley Line and reopening a station near Wantage.

 

Elections.

The next County Council elections are in May 2025.  These will be held under new boundaries, being finalised at present by the Electoral Commission.  Because of the growth in the number of electors, the Eynsham Division no longer contain the areas covered by the parishes of Aston and Standlake.

The parliamentary constituency for Eynsham will be the new Bicester and Woodstock constituency, stretching in an arc around the north of Oxford.  It contains many places with similar characteristics to Eynsham.

Could I remind people to register to vote and to ensure that they have the ID now required to do so.  Details are on the West Oxfordshire District Council site at www.westoxon.gov.uk 

 

 

Contact details

Do contact me with comments, queries and concerns. 

dan.levy@oxfordshire.gov.uk

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