The Bridge Interviews
1. What do you think are the best aspects of living in West Oxfordshire and representing this area in Parliament?
West Oxfordshire is a beautiful area with friendly people and a thriving business community. It is very similar to where I grew up in Berkshire, with a mix of businesses, farming, picturesque towns and villages – and stunning countryside. We’ve lived between Chipping Norton and Charlbury for the last 15 years and so it’s also where I call home.
2. And are there any aspects you find more difficult or challenging?
Flooding remains an issue, although much has been done to improve flood defences. Getting more and better housing at RAF Brize Norton has been on the agenda since before I was MP. There have been some real improvements, but more needs to be done!
3. How do you manage to balance looking after your constituency with your responsibility as Prime Minister?
I still do “constituency Fridays” and hold regular advice surgeries. This, together with my post bag, means I stay in tune with the issues that are most effecting my constituents. I also have a great team both in my office in Westminster and in Witney.
4. When did you last visit the area covered by The Bridge?
My family regularly cycle between Sherborne and Swinbrook, following the route of the Windrush. It’s a beautiful ride.
5. Do you think it will ever be possible to solve the problem of traffic on the A40?
This has definitely been a challenge. I have often said that congestion on the road is a foot on the windpipe of West Oxfordshire’s economy – and I know traffic flow across Oxfordshire is a cause of huge frustration to many. Work on the Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts will help and we need to continue working on a long term strategy.
6. Many communities in West Oxfordshire are faced with local controversies about new housing developments. Do you think your Government’s policies are making it too easy for developers to get planning permission?
I know how important planning issues are to local communities and that is why I believe that local people should be at the heart of the planning system. For this reason, my Government expects all councils to produce a Local Plan, which sets the rules for how an area will develop over time. These plans will make it easier for councils to say “yes” to the development they do want and “no” to proposals that don’t fit in with the plan.
West Oxfordshire District Council has a good track record and I am confident that their emerging Local Plan will steer necessary development to the most appropriate locations and to resist inappropriate developments which harm the local environment.
7. The area of The Bridge magazine covers Burford, Fulbrook, Bradwell Village, Widford, Taynton, Asthall, Asthall Leigh, Swinford, Upton and Signet. Are there any special views or walks he has enjoyed in one of these areas?
As well as bicycling along the minor roads near the Windrush, one of my favourite walks is between The Swan and The Maytime Inn.
8. What is your favourite pub in the area covered by The Bridge?
The Swan at Swinbrook.