New Liberal-Labour-Green coalition rubber stamped at West Oxfordshire District Council​​​​​​​

The changing of the guard at West Oxfordshire District Council has been rubber stamped with a Liberal-Labour-Green coalition signing an agreement this afternoon (Wednesday, May 11).

By Andy Mitchell, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 4:22 pm
The changing of the guard at West Oxfordshire District Council has been rubber stamped with a Liberal-Labour-Green coalition signing an agreement this afternoon (Wednesday, May 11).

It brought to fruition the expected outcome following last week’s local elections in which the Conservatives lost control having been ousted from seven of the 11 seats they were defending in West Oxfordshire.

Five of the seats went the way of the Liberal Democrats with Labour and the Green Party picking up one apiece, affording the trio the opportunity to form a new administration similar to the one that took control of Oxfordshire County Council 12 months ago.

Councillor Andy Graham, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on West Oxfordshire, will become leader with Labour’s Duncan Enright, the county's cabinet member for travel and development strategy, his deputy. The rest of the cabinet is set to be finalised next week.

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They were joined by Rosie Pearson, who was elected last week and is set to be the Green Party’s lead on the cabinet, another new face Lidia Arciszewska (Lib Dem), Joy Aitman (Labour) and Andrew Prosser (Green) to seal the deal at the district’s headquarters in Witney.

The group will be known as The West Oxfordshire Alliance.

Cllr Graham said: “What we learned from the election was that people did not always feel totally engaged in many of the things that happen in regard to local services, or in fact contacting the council.

“We want to make sure this is an open council. It is the people’s council, it belongs to the residents.

“We want to improve the consultation processes, the engagement with parishes and towns, and with individuals. Often people feel they are bounced from one authority to another and while other authorities offer different services, we can take that on for them and point them in the right direction.

“We will be looking to improve our websites and our communications to ensure this really does make a difference.”

Cllr Graham added that climate change “has to be given a real priority” with more partnership working with other councils, including “far more attention than in the past” on the thorny issue of river pollution.

“We are reaching out beyond what has happened in the past,” he added. “That way, real partnerships have depth, true understanding and a sharing of resources to meet objectives.”

He added that support for economic development would be “vital” in the district’s towns and villages and that the new group would “need to be on the front foot” with its review of the local plan.

Cllr Enright said the new administration would be looking to tackle the cost of living crisis “in every way we can” and highlighted the “significant” efforts of outgoing councillors, adding: “We know we will be picking up some work which we need to accelerate.”

Cllr Prosser spoke about “moving much more rapidly” on climate change efforts that could also help the cost of living crisis.

“We need to bring in additional funding from national government but we need to consider ways we can facilitate retro-fitting, reducing energy consumption in buildings and making people’s homes warmer, trying to reduce their energy costs as well,” he said.

Mental health, sports and recreation facilities and influencing the planning system were also raised by Cllr Prosser who added: “We are all really looking forward to getting down to work.”