Dispute at Banbury coffee factory; more on Castle Quay; is flood defence decision too late and 'Banburyshire'. Your letters

Castle Quay - a failure of leadership. Recent revelations that losses at the Castle Quay shopping centre are now directly linked to cuts in services across Cherwell, show just how bad a deal council tax payers have received from the district council’s purchase of the scheme.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 9:37 am
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Some of this can be blamed on the pandemic, but with retailers already struggling, it’s clear the last thing Banbury needed was the council meddling with its prime shopping destination. Instead of bringing vision to the scheme, the leadership has overseen a 50 per cent fall in its value, some £30m, whilst largely abdicating control to external consultants.

As a retail analyst, I recently outlined this situation in a recorded interview for Radio Oxford. CDC’s lead member for financial management and Governance, Councillor Tony Ilott, was then invited to comment.

Whilst flippantly dismissing concerns about the losses, he struggled to recall exactly how much they were. He guessed at £1.3m but was corrected by the interviewer that it was in fact £1.6m. He went on to claim these were cumulative losses over fouryears, although the £1.6m is actually the predicted shortfall for the 2021/22 period, with similar losses reported for 2020/21.

The lead member for financial management being muddled about the exact financial position of the council’s largest single investment should beggar belief, but this ill-informed indifference is a characteristic trait of the council’s leadership.

A lack of competence and understanding that already hard-pressed council tax payers in Cherwell will be paying for as long the Conservatives remain in control.

Cllr Ian Middleton

Cherwell District Council member for Kidlington East

COUNCILS

No place for party politics

I am pleased to hear that, in the last council meeting, Cherwell District Council agreed to improve our flood defences. However, I can’t help but feel that this will be too little too late, as often seems to be the case. I worry that party politics interferes when it comes to making decisions and that councillors vote down motions passed by other councillors based solely on the fact that they are in 'opposing' parties, giving no regard to whether the motion is important or relevant.

Local councils really have no need for political parties – how are these relevant to local issues, like planning permission, libraries or allotments? Wouldn’t an independently run council be better, with councillors who do not need to tow the party line but instead work together and make decisions based on what the majority of their constituents want?

I hope this happens for Banbury and Cherwell. I’m going to try and get the ball rolling on this by running as an independent in Hardwick in the town and district elections this May. Hopefully in the next elections a few more people will join me.

Berenice Westwood

Banbury

BUSINESSES

Bad treatment now normal

I was very sorry to read last week of the appalling treatment of workers at the JDE factory. Unfortunately, this is the ‘new normal’ of ‘globalisation’ and international capitalism. Loyalty to one’s employer and ‘going the extra mile’ are quickly forgotten (eg the NHS. workers’ pay-rise).

Until we are all as cheap as overseas sweat-shop workers on zero-hours contracts, employers will never be satisfied. The simple solution is for more people to vote for a government that believes this unacceptable.

Neil Iden

Banbury

BANBURYSHIRE

We deserve a place on map

I totally agree with Simon Constant’s sentiments concerning 'Banburyshire' and Banbury's disappearance from the BBC South map. Banbury’s influence has always been of an unofficial county town. In fact on the left hand column of the Banbury Guardians letter page is a statement that has been printed in the Guardian ever since a past editor of the paper attended my mayoral charity evening in 2008 at our town hall where I printed it on the menu card, it’s been in the paper ever since (‘Why Banburyshire?).

Banbury is a place where three counties and three regions meet and its status and influence means it deserves to be on any of the South East, West Midlands or East England BBC regional maps. Like Mr Constant I think people who pay the licence fee should lobby BBC South for its restoration on the map.

Cllr Kieron Mallon

Leader, Banbury Town Council