Government Minister Robert Jenrick has asked Oxfordshire County Council to consider taking over South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan.


Because he doesn’t like the fact that local residents elected Liberal Democrat and Green councillors to change it.

Read again: Minister proposes taking council's housing powers away - and giving them to another council

Jenrick has told local residents that his support for the ‘Oxfordshire Growth Deal’ trumps their right to decide on the future development of their communities.

This is a very worrying precedent: that a council elected by local people on a clear mandate, can have its powers taken away by a central Government controlled by a different political party.

The Conservatives are playing a dangerous game.

But that’s not all local Liberal Democrats are contending with at the moment.

I’m so proud that the Vale of White Horse’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Committee has agreed a one-year action plan which will make a serious start towards tackling climate change. The aim is for the Vale to be carbon-neutral by 2045.

The new Lib Dem team running the Vale is also making a good start on tackling the financial mess left by the Conservatives. The last Tory budget would have seen the Vale council run out of money in just four years. The Lib Dems are already finding more cost effective ways to do things, while protecting front line services.

Our councillors are the local face of our democracy.

They are close to the people they represent and Liberal Democrat councillors actively listen to their communities.

Residents rightly expect them to be allowed to make decisions on local issues on that basis.

Undermining that through a party political power-grab will further reduce people’s trust in our democracy.

That’s why I have secured the agreement of the Secretary of State to get round the table with me and council leaders to come to a resolution.

He, as much as the councillors, needs to lead by example. That’s how we should be doing local democracy in Oxfordshire.

He just needs to act reasonably and keep his promise.