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Working for Our Communities in Oxfordshire

County Council Liberal Democrat GroupThis is the website of Oxfordshire County Council Liberal Democrat Group. There are 11 Liberal Democrat Councillors on Oxfordshire County Council.

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We hope this site is a useful resource for local people to find out more about the Oxfordshire Liberal Democrat Group and what we are doing on the Council. However, we would like the site to be more than this. Online you can:

Recent updates

  • Article: Sep 14, 2016
    By Cllr Richard Webber

    Councils across Oxfordshire have spent considerable sums of public money on two separate, independent reports into Unitary Local Government across Oxfordshire.

    The 2 reports arrive at many of the same conclusions including:

    1. The status quo is no longer acceptable and Oxfordshire can no longer afford 2 tiers of Local Government with their multiple sets of offices, officers and property.

  • Article: Sep 13, 2016
    By Zoe Patrick

    Oxfordshire County Council Liberal Democrats have called for a new fast rail service to go from Bristol to Swindon and Milton Keynes. This could open an opportunity for re-opening a new railway station at Grove/Wantage. County officers are asked to discuss with Network Rail and the DfT for the inclusion of this new station during the next control period starting in 2019. Th station will reduce wear and tear on local roads and reduce commuting time between the rapidly growing communities in South Oxfordshire.

  • Article: Sep 13, 2016
    By Cllr. Janet Godden

    On Tuesday 13 September 2016 Oxfordshire County Councillors debated the issue of safety on A34. They called for Oxfordshire joining with Berkshire and Hampshire to urge ministers and Highways England to take speedy decisions to improve conditions on this busy and congested route, especially in the wake of recent serious accidents.

  • Article: Aug 29, 2016
    By Cllr John Howson in The Oxford Mail

    What is the nature of the contract between the State and those parents that entrust their children's education to the government? As we approach the 150th anniversary of the State's offer of free education, a right that was originally introduced by the Liberal government after 1870, this question is as real today as it was then.

    Indeed, with the local Tory enthusiasm for the re-introduction of grammar schools, as outlined by Oxfordshire's Cabinet member with responsibility for education in this paper last week, the issue is of real concern to many parents locally. I did wonder whether the enthusiasm with which the local Tories have embraced grammar schools is just a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from other cuts in the education funding and early years' budgets, including the removal of much of the Children's Centre work from rural areas and my own division in north Oxford rather than a genuine desire to turn back the clock.

    Grammar schools became a core part of Tory Party policy after the passing of the 1944 Education Act, although it was the Labour government of the late 1940s that laid down the basis for the transformation into the system of grammar and secondary modern schools. With many school leavers at that time still destined for field, factory or, for many girls, family life, grammar schools satisfied the needs of a largely muscle-powered economy for a small number of more educated individuals.

    Now, fast forward seventy years and we have an entirely different economy; young people are staying in education longer and our economy requires a much better educated workforce. The market porter of yesterday, pushing a barrow, has been replaced by the fork-lift truck driver and even they are increasingly being replaced by computer operatives running automated warehouses staffed by robots such as those seen in the recent BBC TV series on how modern factories operate. Less muscle, more brain power is the key to the modern economy.

    In Oxfordshire, the demand for educated individuals to staff the wealth-creating and knowledge generating industries cannot be satisfied by selecting a fraction of the school population at age eleven. There is a case for recognising that between 14-16 pupils can make judgements about their future intentions, but even then closing doors too firmly, as grammar schools so often do, isn't a good idea.

    There are far more important ways to spend limited funds on education than introducing grammar schools: better careers advice, ensuring enough teachers for all children to be taught by a properly qualified teacher and creating a curriculum designed for the twenty-first century are just three of the more important uses for education funding.

    However, the most important reason many supporters of grammar schools put forward for their re-introduction is the desire to improve social mobility. Too often there is no evidence to support their argument other than anecdotal recollections of individuals who prospered in the so-called golden age of grammar schools. To test the current picture I looked at the percentage of pupils with free school meals in the 163 grammar schools across England in January as a possible proxy measure for social mobility.

    Nationally, 14.1% of secondary pupils were eligible for free school meals. No grammar school reached that figure; indeed only six grammar schools had more than 6% of their pupils eligible for free school meals; 66 grammar schools had less than 2% of pupils on Free School Meals.

    It is time for us to work together to create an education system that works for the benefit of all, not the advantage of the few: that means a fully comprehensive system with opportunities for all from primary school to post-16 provision.

  • Article: Jul 22, 2016
    By Cllr. John Howson
    The Education Secretary, Justine Greening, has announced that the new National Funding Formula for schools won't now come into force next year, but in 2018-19 at the earliest. It will be introduced then only after a consultation sometime in the autumn.
    This is bad news for Oxfordshire schools that might have expected to be winners out of any new formula. The government shouldn't have raised hopes by starting a consultation process this spring that they couldn't finish within the announced time scale.
    Cllr. John Howson, Spokesperson for Education says "Raising hopes only to see them dashed won't win the Tories many votes, especially as the announcement was slipped out at the end of term in a written answer. Lib Dems believe that our schools in Oxfordshire need proper funding"
    Cllr. John Howson
    Lib Dem spokesperson on Education
    Oxfordshire County Council
  • Article: Jul 18, 2016
    By Cllr. Jean Fooks in The Oxford Times

    At the County Council meeting on April 1st 2014, Cllr Jean Fooks proposed a motion asking the Council to make reducing pollution by traffic a priority . It was supported by all Liberal Democrats, Labour, Green and Independent councillors - though most Conservatives just sat on their hands! Public Health officers were very pleased to have Council approval for working on this issue and the latest version of the Local Transport Plan (LTP4) has a new chapter detailing the work to be done to reduce the risk to health. In September 2015 at the full council meeting, Cllr. Jean Fooks' amendment was finally accepted and resulted in this separate chapter to the new plan. This recent version of LTP4 was voted through unanimously by all councillors at the full council meeting in July.

  • Article: Jul 13, 2016
    By Cllr. Richard Webber

    At the full Council meeting of Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday 12th July, the Liberal Democrats amended motion on Children's Centres was passed unanimously.

    The motion as amended is below:

    Council continues to supports the general principle that those in greatest need should have the highest priority. However, Council regrets that it has been compelled to abandon the concept of universal provision offered by our Children's Centres in Oxfordshire as a result of the Government's cuts in Local Authority funding. In the meantime, Council is aware that, as a result of the focus on the most needy children and families in our County, there will be large areas- particularly in the West which now have no Children Centre buildings - the same areas likely to suffer most from rural isolation as the Council removes bus subsidies. Ensuring that there was some compensation for these areas was a key statement agreed by Council in its February budget.

  • Article: Jul 11, 2016
    By Cllr John Howson
    According to a report published in 'Schools Week', the Country's only European-branded state school is at risk of not being able to offer its flagship qualification following an administrative foul-up. The Europa School UK (ESUK), is based in Culham in Oxfordshire. Go to the link: http://schoolsweek.co.uk/free-school-waits-for-morgan-to-approve-its-european-exam/
    County Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education Cllr John Howson said, "This issue needs to be sorted out and quickly. Although I am not a fan of free schools, this is a particular and unique school serving a specific purpose and important to attracting staff to work in the science community in Oxfordshire from across Europe. Any issue with the International Baccalaureate should be sorted out quickly to avoid uncertainty for parents and students".
  • Article: Jul 11, 2016
    By Cllr John Howson
    Oxfordshire Liberal Democrats are concerned that the removal of the fixed grant paid to small primary schools that provide free lunches to pupils in the infant classes will make rural schools financially unviable. The County Council has no powers to help schools with financial problems and the loss of grant may make some schools struggle with their budgets.
  • Article: Jun 28, 2016
    By Cllr Zoe Patrick in Speech at County Council Cabinet

    SPEECH TO LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 4 - CABINET MEETING 28 JUNE 2016 - Cllr. ZoƩ Patrick (County Councillor for Grove & Wantage)

    I have come here today to speak as Local Member to this plan. Firstly, to say that I was pleased to have spent the first 2 years of this council term working hard on the cross-party working group which first put this together, and have been happy to see much of that work still remains intact as we move forward.