Councillor asks for Banbury MP's name to be removed from a Horton motion amid 'obvious electioneering' claim

A Labour councillor is hoping to get Banbury MP Victoria Prentis' name removed from a Conservative motion on the Horton General Hospital at next week's Oxfordshire County Council meeting.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 12:44 pm
County councillors will debate a motion calling for action on a masterplan for redevelopment of the Horton General Hospital

Cllr Mark Cherry (Banbury Ruscote) said inclusion of the MP's name in the motion - which calls on the county council to push for greater speed towards a masterplan for the Horton's future - is 'obvious political electioneering', coming a month before local elections.

But the Tory councillor presenting the motion, Cllr Eddie Reeves (Banbury Calthorpe) described the bid as pathetic and unsubstantive and said all parties should be 'travelling the same road' in trying to see the Horton developed as a hospital to complement the JR for Banburyshire.

Mr Cherry said: "I will propose an amendment to take out the sentence naming Victoria Prentis. This is obvious political electioneering before the local government elections.

Cllr Mark Cherry who wants Victoria Prentis MP's name removed from a Horton motion at Oxfordshire County Council's meeting on Wednesday, April 7

"I was born at the Horton General and support the Horton General and have in the past taken part in demonstrations against cuts to services at the hospital. But I cannot support the sentence in Eddie Reeves' motion with Victoria Prentis in it when NHS workers, who have worked tirelessly during the ongoing Covid-19 virus pandemic, will only receive a meagre 1 per cent pay rise which we feel is intolerable when NHS workers will receive 4 per cent in Scotland."

Mr Cherry said if Mrs Prentis' name was not removed he could not support the motion and believed the Labour group would abstain from a vote.

The paragraph concerned says: "This Council is encouraged that Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) have listened to the strong representations of residents, councillors and community groups (notably Keep the Horton General) in recent years and those of Victoria Prentis MP and this Council welcomes steps taken by both OUHFT and OCCG to develop a masterplan for the Horton without delay."

Mr Reeves said his motion was meant to apply 'helpful pressure on those with influence at the Horton' to come up with a plan for the hospital to improve facilities for the four counties that use it - as a complement to the JR in Oxford.

Cllr Eddie Reeve says the Labour amendment is 'unsubstantive'

"(The amendment) is pretty personal. I think singling one person out is not very savoury. I think women MPs get a tough deal anyway. Every time Victoria Prentis sees Matt Hancock she mentions the Horton. I don't feel any 'heavy lifting' is being done by the clinicians around the hospital development. We need to dial down a bit on the brinkmanship around the Horton."

Mr Reeves said electioneering was not an argument as Mrs Prentis is not up for re-election for several years. "To take her name out of the motion suggests this is vindictive and borders on sexism. It's an amendment that adds nothing to the substance of the motion and I'm minded to dig my heels in and vote it down. Victoria does care about the Horton and she has campaigned for the Horton since before she was in politics.

"We've got to try to shift the dial and I don't think pathetic unsubstantive amendments are the way. The Horton is not a party political issue and the day it becomes one we're in trouble. We all need to be travelling in the same direction," he said.

Mr Reeves said he thought electors had made up their minds about how they will vote on May 6 and he did not feel they would change their minds on the basis of a motion about the Horton.

The full motion can be seen on the agenda for the extraordinary meeting, slotted in to hear business that was abandoned after a highly emotionally-charged debate on domestic violence last week.