Labour leader calls on Cherwell to pull 'levers' to help struggling residents in Banburyshire

Cllr Sean Woodcock, leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District CouncilCllr Sean Woodcock, leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council
Cllr Sean Woodcock, leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council
Cherwell’s Labour leader has called on the Tory leader to pull all the necessary 'levers' to help struggling residents manage inflation in the Banbury area.

Cllr Sean Woodcock has publicised his appeal to Cherwell District Council leader, Cllr Barry Wood, to take action as inflation soars over ten per cent.

In an open letter he asks for

suitable council buildings to be opened as ‘warm spaces’ for residents in need of shelter from the cold

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Cllr Barry Wood (Conservative) leader of Cherwell District CouncilCllr Barry Wood (Conservative) leader of Cherwell District Council
Cllr Barry Wood (Conservative) leader of Cherwell District Council

immediate cross-party talks on measures to support residents - including use of the council’s financial reserves

and as council leader, for Mr Wood to lobby the Government and incoming Prime Minister for more support for local authorities to help needy families – and take national action to help people manage energy costs.

Mr Woodcock said if these things were done the Tories could expect the support of the Labour group.

Mr Wood this week said using council buildings was already under consideration and a cost of living discussion is planned for the council’s next scrutiny meeting.

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“Key to successful delivery are discussions (on council buildings use) with local groups so we better understand what is actually needed and thus will be welcomed and used.” he said. “We have a substantive discussion on the Cost of Living crisis planned for the next scrutiny committee to ensure we have a cross party approach to our critical activity. I am very happy to have additional conversations to develop any ideas further.”

Mr Wood said he had already written to Government, echoing residents’ concerns and reiterating the council’s wishes for a conversation ‘so we can be part of finding solutions to the rising costs of living we are all facing’.

“As Leader of the Council and a member of the District Council Network National Executive I will continue to vigorously lobby government to both recognise our contributions and for additional support."

Mr Woodcock said a record 10.1 per cent inflation rate – the highest for 40 years – was precipitated by energy prices.

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“It confirms what we have known for months and what has been on our daily news bulletins for just as long. The United Kingdom is facing a cost of living crisis. As we know, energy prices are a major factor in this record inflation,” he said.

“With the energy price cap set to increase not once but twice in the coming months; many Cherwell residents are facing the prospect of a winter in the cold.

“The charity Age UK has gone so far as to warn that pensioners will die if something does not change, and soon

“We can’t continue making working people pay whatever the big energy companies demand. So Labour would stop the price cap going up. That would save people £1,000 this winter. And we would invest in sustainable, home-grown energy to bring bills down in the long-term.”

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Mr Woodcock expressed concern that the ongoing contest for leadership of the Conservative Party was preventing clarity on what Mr Wood’s party was offering.

"This cost of living crisis is unsustainable, so some sort of action is needed now. Unlike at Westminster, leadership of the Conservatives in Cherwell is currently not in dispute. The levers that the council can pull to make things better may be limited but there are still some available to us.

“In July, the council took the decision to declare a food poverty emergency. This was direct acknowledgement of the issues facing many of our residents who can’t afford to eat properly. Now I ask that you show the same, correct, moral instinct in supporting my call for local action on the energy crisis.”

Mr Wood replied: “This is not a crisis that can be tackled by us as a district council alone but requires a coordinated approach both locally and nationally.

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“We have already provided over £6.7m of government funded resources through the Council Tax Rebate Scheme to support our residents and are working with our partners and communities to offer as much assistance as is possible. As you will be aware we have asked officers to update on the wide range of support we are already providing and further activity we can deliver with our partners over the coming months.”