Banbury councillor says Conservatives must be seen and heard locally if they are to recover from last week’s election losses

“We need to stick together as a party, redouble our efforts and get out there to listen to the concerns of residents and show that we are on their side.”

By Andy Mitchell, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 12:55 pm
The count for Cherwell District Council elections was held at Spiceball Leisure Centre (photo from Cherwell District Council Tweet)

New Cherwell councillor and political heavyweight Eddie Reeves says the Conservatives must be seen and heard locally if they are to recover from last week’s election losses.

Cllr Reeves, the Tory leader of the opposition on Oxfordshire County Council, was elected at district level (Deddington) alongside county colleague Donna Ford (Bicester East).

They were among the fresh faces that helped the Conservatives to hold on to half of the 12 seats they were defending, although losses saw a near two-thirds majority on Cherwell District Council cut to just two, meaning opponents have greater numbers to challenge policies they don’t like.

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That came hours after West Oxfordshire District Council fell into no overall control with the ruling Tories set to make way for a coalition of Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Labour councillors, similar to the way power shifted at County Hall a year ago.

It was a bruising night nationally with 488 Tory councillors ousted and the loss of overall control in 11 authorities but Cllr Reeves insisted a focus on local issues would reap rewards over time.

“It is a tough national picture, evidently, and it is always regrettable to lose valued colleagues whether it is to the west or here in Cherwell,” he said.

“Demographic shifts are not in our favour, however, the position in West Oxfordshire and Cherwell is eminently recoverable.

“We need to stick together as a party, redouble our efforts and get out there, whether that is in urban or rural wards, to listen to the concerns of residents and show that we are on their side.

“The sunny side is that the Conservative members who were elected are of excellent quality, and I don’t refer to myself in that.

“I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that our wins are in any way adequate compensation for the loss of colleagues. On every council in any year, you need a reasonable turnover of members to ensure that fresh ideas come in and that people are asking the right questions of those with power on the authority.

“For my part, I will support the Conservative cause in any way I can. We (Cherwell) went into the election as a Conservative council and we remain a Conservative council. We are now the only Conservative authority in Oxfordshire and that is regrettable.”

One criticism that opponents level at the Tories in Cherwell is a over a perceived lack of meaningful dialogue over policies.

Opposition councillors walked away from a working group set up to review the council’s constitution, claiming their ideas had been gunned down without due consideration, with Cllr Reeves keen to tackle such perceptions.

“It is no bad thing to be accountable in politics,” he added.

“Indeed, I would argue we have to be accountable for the decisions we take, and the consequences of them. The main lesson we are taking is that we need to get out into our communities and answer to our constituents.”

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Cherwell District Council election: Conservatives cling to power with a majority...