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We must strike right balance over developments
10:00am Wednesday 4th September 2013 in Letters
Sir – Last week you reported that Charles Matthew has been nominated by the Conservative-led county council to be its representative on the Cotswolds Conservation Board.
If, as quoted, he thinks the top priority is fighting off new development, then I fear he does our community a disfavour.
Protecting and enhancing the beauty and quality of our countryside, while encouraging forward-thinking development would be more appropriate, particularly given the levels of under-employment and poverty hidden in our towns and villages, as well as the obstacles that force many to travel far and wide to pay the bills.
There is a balance to be struck in West Oxfordshire. If we are to continue down the road to becoming a dormitory for workers in Oxford, Swindon and elsewhere, then we need to be aware that the consequences for our communities are not good, and quality of life is impaired by the awful traffic problems for commuters.
What’s more, there is a stark difference between the privileged few, who treat the countryside as a pretty playground, many only spending weekends here; and the hard-working many, often working at less than their ability in jobs in the district or travelling a long way to skilled jobs outside.
It is noticeable that the Local Economic Partnership offers high-value investment in jobs of the future in the Vale, Didcot, Bicester and Oxford, but nothing in West Oxfordshire.
We have the ingredients and elements of a strong local economy, including hi-tech companies in areas such as motorsport and medical technology. We’ve got world-class universities on our doorstep. But the local authorities need to stay on their toes.
The A40 remains a strategic weakness, as do our scarce and expensive rail and bus links. If we want a truly sustainable community we need to see sustainable development, of jobs as well as homes.
It would be interesting to hear views of other people on development, and what sort of community we want to be.
Duncan Enright, district councillor (Labour), Witney East ward
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