DevComms director Maria Allaway assesses the possible political shake up across Oxfordshire on May 6.
Residents across Oxfordshire will head to the polls this week to vote for one or more of the 571 candidates standing in the various local elections across the county.
Across the districts, elections will be held for a third of the councillors at both West Oxfordshire and Cherwell district councils, although neither of the council leaders is up for elections this time around.
Voters in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse will need to wait until 2023 to elect new district councillors.
All councillors are up for election at the county council which is on its normal four-year election cycle. At Oxford City Council, half of the councillors are normally up for election every two years – although all seats are being contested this year owing to a boundary review.
The winning candidate in each ward will be elected until 2024 whist the second placed candidates will be up for election again in 2022.
With Cherwell and West Oxfordshire comfortably held by the Conservatives since 2000 and the city council a historically strongly Labour authority, perhaps the most interesting battle will be for the county council which is currently under no overall control but led by a Conservative/Independence alliance.
One of the key issues that candidates are seeking to tackle is climate change and we know that Oxfordshire authorities across the board have environmental sustainability initiatives high on their agendas.
As reported locally, a recent survey by the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT), candidates are keen to see a reduction in reliance on car use and a reduction in the number of parking spaces in Oxfordshire’s towns with no further major road expansions in the county.
At the county council, the Conservatives, under the leadership of Cllr Ian Hudspeth, have pledged to make the council carbon neutral by 2030 through the introduction of electric vehicles and refitting civic buildings.
The LibDems have pledged support for the roll out of more low traffic neighbourhoods, an initiative also supported by Labour. The Green Party has an unofficial electoral pact with the LibDems in some seats and has promised to introduce more cycle routes.
National LibDem leader Ed Davey joined local candidates door knocking in Oxfordshire this week which reflects the importance of the area to the party.
The national polls seem to be predicting that the Conservatives will do well at the forthcoming elections but it remains to be seen whether they will be successful in Oxfordshire.
It is unlikely that there would be a change in political control at the city council. Similarly, at Cherwell and West Oxfordshire, the Conservatives could remain confident particularly in light of the recent Government announcement that the locally controversial Oxford to Cambridge Expressway will no longer be progressed.
This will no doubt create a more comfortable context for Conservative candidates across Oxfordshire and that might make all the difference to the results for the all-important County Council election this week.
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