Category Archives: Communications

Free wifi for Botley

Or, well, actually, not yet. But any day now, really…

Do you remember when the Vale said they would install free wifi at the West Way Shopping Centre in Botley? Was it 2012? or 2013?

I asked about it in Dec 14, but that was the council meeting where the Tories refused to answer questions. When I did get a reply from the Cabinet member responsible, here’s what she said:

The free wi-fi is installed at West Way, Botley and is operational. However, there remains an outstanding issue of landlord’s consent for the placement of some of the equipment. Vale
officers are working with all parties to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and will not be
promoting the service until consent has been obtained.

Sometimes I feel like a royal nag. I’ve become a right nuisance to the Cabinet member for Economy Leisure and Property. I ask about this at every opportunity. (That’s usally when I’m inside Cafe Aloha, using their free wifi. Or when I’m in Wantage, using the free Vale wifi there.)

I asked about it last week, and got this reply:

The Wifi at Botley has been plagued with problems. Initially there were problems with obtaining a license. This was resolved and the system was ready to be operational.  At that time the service provider had made repairs to cables which had been damaged following the system installation. These cables were then covered with a cabinet to protect them from further damage. Unfortunately the cabinet has since been removed, the power unplugged and the cables have been damaged. Why this has happened is not known but the service provider will be back on site asap to make the necessary repairs again.

Free wifi, coming soon. Any day now, really.


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fire 5If you haven’t seen the news, there has been a major fire this morning at the Vale and South Oxfordshire District Council offices in Crowmarsh. Latest news here:

Here is the latest emergency update from the Vale of White Horse  and South Oxfordshire District Councils:

For the time being, this temporary website is where you can for the latest updates.

We will at some point have an idea of what services will be affected and for how long.  As soon as this is confirmed, we will publish the information on the temporary website.

Vale councillors – the normal switchboard number (01235 520202) is working, however is for genuine emergencies only.

South councillors – the switchboard number has been redirected to Vale’s customer service team, and again is only for genuine emergencies.

(Un)answered Qs from Dec 2014 Council Meeting

You may have read about this in the Herald: Tight Lipped Vale Tories. (I think it was also in the Oxford Mail.)

At the Vale full council meeting on 10th Dec 2014, the Tories refused to answer questions in the meeting, in order to get away early for Christmas tipples and nibbles. Instead of answering in public, despite some Vale residents attending specifially to hear the answers, they said they’d respond in writing.

On Dec 24, we had those answers. Here’s the complete list of Questions and Answers in a pdf: Answers to Qs from Dec 2014 meeting

Questions for each full council meeting have to be submitted many days in advance of the agenda being published, and the agenda is published 7 days before the meeting. There’s plently of time for Cabinet members (etc) to prepare answers. Our constitution doesn’t require public, verbal answers to properly submitted questions, but by refusing to provide them, Tories have shown their true colours on how much they value communication.

One of the roles of an effective opposition is to question the ruling party; it is one way to help prevent corrruption and bad decision-making. Where there is in effect no opposition, there is no democracy in action. By shutting down the public questions, Tories remove one of the valuable safeguiards in local government.

What’s next?

Since there was no chance to ask the usual supplementary questions at Council, the Lib Dem councilllors are working on their supplementary questions. Watch this space.

What are your plans for 2015, Debby?

© Mim Saxl Photography, www.mimsaxl.comHappy New Year, everyone.

Twelfth Night has passed, and we are solidly alive in 2015. I’ve been taking a look at my priorities for the year, and thought I’d share them with you. (Is it true, do you think, that if you make a  commitment public, you are more likely to keep it?)

I’ve been plagued by a persistent lung infection, which is finally relaxing its hold on me. I can tell I’m getting better, because I had enough energy to post things on my blog today. 🙂

There are some of the things I plan to devote time and energy to this year.

  • The main thing is my campaign. I’m up for re-election on the 7th of May, and since it is also a general election, local Lib Dems need our supporters to turn out to vote. I need YOU to vote for me.
  • Did you know that people who are registered to vote by post are something like 8 times more likely to vote that people who have to show up at the polling station on the day? So if we contact you to ask you to register for a postal vote, that’s what’s behind our thinking.
  • If I’m re-elected, most of the things I’ll do from May 2015 relate to my job as your district councillor, and my role as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats at the Vale of White Horse District Council.
  • Doric have appealed their planning refusal. The planning inspectorate says they received the appeal docs, but haven’t yet validated them. Once they have, the Vale will be notified, and they will let us know the process and deadlines. Best guess of people in the know at the Vale is that there won’t be a hearing until after the election. So between now and then, I will be actively working for better collaboration between the Vale administration and local people, to get a better plan for Botley.
  • The Local Plan 2031, which proposes to build hundreds of homes in the Oxford Green Belt, is under consideration now by the Secretary of State. I objected, along with my Lib Dem colleagues, to building on the Geen Belt without a proper review of the full Green Belt by the different authorities affected. The Lib Dem Group also objected to the section in the plan that relates to Botley. It used Doric’s plan to define the Botley Central Area, and it continued to define Botley as a ‘district centre in the context of Oxford City’ (when there is really no such thing). A decision is not expected until after the election.
  • If the Lib Dems gain control of the Vale (winning 20 of the 38 seats in the re-warded district), I’ll have a different responsibility to what I have now in opposition. So in reality, everything depends on the election outcome. My job as your district councillor continues if I win here in the new ward called Botley and Sunningwell. And my job on the council changes if the Lib Dems gain control.
  • So for the 17 weeks remaining, I’ll help residents with planning matters and continue to help in other areas where I can.
  • And other than that, my main focus is the campaign. I’ll work for my own re-election and to see my Lib Dem colleague Emily Smith elected as the other District Councillor for Botley & Sunningwell.  (Who knows who our opponents will be!)


Transition from Blog to Facebook

I’ve just created a page on Facebook for my political persona. See it here:

Did you know that 50% of the UK population is on Facebook?

And that over 50% of Facebook users are over 35 years old?

It’s the wave of the future, that, and Twitter.

I’m on Facebook nearly every day, and I only come to this blog on purpose when I want to write a blog post. That means it’s much easier on Facebook for me to to make more, shorter posts about what’s going on and what I think about it. It will be easier for you to contact me that way as well.

I quite like the way I have current planning applications listed on this blog. I wonder if any residents ever check here to see what’s going on?

But for blogging, I’m having a good think about the best approach. I’ll do double posting during this period while I’m cogitating.  But I get a sense I will move off this Lib Dem blog site and onto Facebook, where dialogue is easier, posting is faster, and more people hang out.

If you have an opinion about that, I’d like to hear from you.