'On Wednesday 22 February three students from Lower Sixth went to West Oxfordshire’s District Council’s Budget meeting. We started the trip with Mr Fenton explaining how the council was made up of Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative members. With an overwhelming majority of Conservatives there are only four Liberal Democrats and four Labour members. Throughout the meeting, I was surprised at how much like a mini parliament it was.
The first item on the agenda discussed was how much more money was going to be put into their campaign against One Oxfordshire. One Oxfordshire is the proposal made by Oxfordshire County Council to unify all the five district councils into a single unitary authority ‘One Oxfordshire’. The two main points that were raised as concerns and the reason to increase their budget for the campaign were the low council tax that the residents of West Oxfordshire enjoy and free parking. The free parking seemed to be a very pressing concern for all members of the council in terms of their budget. Whilst all members are in agreement that they should fight against One Oxfordshire, the Liberal Democrats abstained from the vote because they did not believe more money should be put into the campaign on the grounds that it should be a decision made by all people in West Oxfordshire and they were just not being given enough non-biased information.
The second debate was about the overall budget of the council. This time it was the Labour voters who abstained from the vote because of the lack of funding that is being put into the Children’s Centres across West Oxfordshire. Councillor Carter highlighted effect the closing of the Children’s Centre in Chipping Norton had on the Community. The majority of the Council disagreed with the position of the Labour members and proceeded to discuss the parking issue in West Oxfordshire, although the relevance of this was not entirely clear. The Chairman tried to steer the council away from this topic but with little success. This debate was unusual because each individual council member had to stand up and state their vote, rather than just by a show of hands.
Other items that were discussed include: The provision of a Fire Station in Carterton, the West Oxon lifeguard team were publicly congratulated on coming second in the national competition, the support provided by West Oxon for Syrian refugees and the rollout of superfast broadband across the District.'
Harriet Steele (Lower Sixth, Vanbrugh)