Tories face strong challenge in West Oxfordshire District Council elections

Witney Gazette: Tories face strong challenge in council elections Tories face strong challenge in council elections

OPPOSITION candidates are hoping to make a splash in the Conservative stronghold of West Oxfordshire tomorrow.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence Party and the Greens are all fielding candidates in a majority of the 17 West Oxfordshire District Council wards which are up for election.

David Barnby, of UKIP’s West Oxfordshire branch, said he hopes his party will be able to make a breakthrough.

He said: “We’re getting lots of new members all the time.

“Last year we missed out on Witney South & Central in the county council elections by a few votes. This year, if there’s a swing towards UKIP, we should be able to capture that seat.

“I believe power should spring from the people but the whole thing has been turned on its head. I know a lot of Conservatives feel the same way as me and we could see quite a big breakthrough after these elections.”

UKIP is fielding 11 candidates, including James Robertshaw, who will be going up against Conservative David Harvey in Witney South ward, in a repeat of last year’s county council poll.

Last year Mr Robertshaw came second, however, the surge in support for UKIP allowed Labour’s Laura Price to win the seat.

With the district council’s Local Plan, setting out where houses can be built in future years, being drawn up, housing is set to be a key issue.

The council’s Labour group leader, Duncan Enright, whose party is fielding 15 candidates, said that they were campaigning on the issue of protecting the Windrush Valley north of Witney from development.

He said: “European elections make it slightly more complicated but we hope that people recognise Labour councillors work for them.

“We’re hoping to have more councillors after the election. The more we have, the better we can hold the Conserv-atives to account.

“We want the council to be more ambitious. We’re interested in anything it can do to combat inequality and we want to see the council support food banks.”

Council leader Barry Norton said the Conservative administration on the council had a good record to fight on as it contests all 17 wards.

He said: “We’re campaigning on the fact that we have got the second lowest council tax of any shire district in the country and the lowest in Oxfordshire by some way.

“Clearly there’s the opportunity there for people to give a kick up the backside to the coalition government but I’m hoping people will be sensible and vote for us on what is an excellent record.”

Julian Cooper, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, is defending his seat in Woodstock & Bladon.

He said: “We’re fighting this election on our record of persuading the district council to adopt policies. I always believe we will do well.”

Two of the three independent candidates, Sharone Parnes and Brian Yoxall, are standing against Mr Cooper, while Shane Rae is standing in Brize Norton & Shilton.

Stuart McDonald, the Green Party’s candidate in Ducklington, said: “I think people are quite desperate to find an alternative to the Conservatives.

“The Greens have a huge capacity to make a nuisance of themselves. We have shown what we can do with just two members of the county council.”

Voters in Chipping Norton will also be asked to elect a new town councillor tomorrow, from a three-strong field.

  • Click here for details of all the candidates in the district council and European elections. 

Euro-MPs will be elected by list system

AS WELL as voting for district councillors, West Oxfordshire residents will be able to vote in the European Parliament elections tomorrow.

Together with the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, the European Parliament is responsible for deciding the legislation and policies of the European Union.

All the main parties such as Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP are contesting the election, alongside some more bizarre ones, such as the Roman Party.

The South East England regional constituency will elect 10 MEPs using a system of proportional representation called the party list.

This means the parties draw up lists of candidates and a number of seats are allocated to each party in proportion to the votes they receive.

Unlike in general and local elections, voters have to choose a party on their ballot paper, rather than voting for an individual candidate.

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