• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

MP accused of stoking culture war with petition against county council’s ‘dogmatic’, ‘ideological’ agenda


Aug 23, 2022

Witney and West Oxfordshire MP Robert Courts is asking people to add their names to a petition calling on Oxfordshire County Council "to start listening to local residents".

The petition declares that the concerns of West Oxfordshire people have been ignored by the County Council on issues including the closure of Witney High Street, ending free parking in Woodstock and introducing 20mph speed limits across Witney.

One in three people who responded to the council’s consultation expressed support for the 20mph plans.

In the county council’s consultation on permanently closing a stretch of Witney High Street, a majority opposed the plans, including 36 out of 37 local traders.

In Woodstock, 404 residents expressed opposition to the county council’s plans to end free parking in the town, compared to 54 votes in support.

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It adds: "The petitioners therefore request that the Liberal-Labour-Green coalition running Oxfordshire County Council reconsider their current approach and immediately start listening to the people of West Oxfordshire."

On his website, Mr Courts said the 20mph speed limits in most streets in Witney is yet another example of county hall "ignoring the views of West Oxfordshire residents to plough ahead with their ideological agenda."

But one resident accused the MP of "stoking a pathetic culture war" and said the county council also has a much more recent democratic mandate than Mr Courts.

Gerry Dixon, from Witney, said Mr Courts should be concerning himself with more serious issues like the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency.

"Is this really what we're paying him for?," he wrote.

"There is also the fact that the proposed 20mph speed limit in Witney is not a blanket approach, as he claims, but limited to residential areas – roads like Deer Park Road, Burford Road, Station Lane, Ducklington Lane and Thorney Leys will, as I understand it, be 30mph.

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"You would hope that for £80,000 a year, Mr Courts could be bothered to take the time to learn the facts, instead of wasting his energy on pointless petitions and propping up Boris Johnson's failed remant of a Government."

However, others said Mr Courts was obliged to start the petition due to the "undemocratic" "arrogant" county council "inflicting its political dogma on Witney".

Nick Wilcock said: "Particularly with regard to Witney’s High Street closure and the County Council’s 20 mph speed limit proposals, as Phyllis Ransom wrote in the epilogue of her 1988 book Round the Square in Witney – 'Why couldn’t they leave it alone?'".

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