Good Grace Grayling

This from Chris Grayling in a Commons debate of 14 January 2016:

“The difference between those of us on the Conservative Benches and those on the Labour Benches is that when we have a debate, we do it with good grace. When Labour Members do it, it is because they hate each other—and they really do hate each other, Mr Speaker.”

It is a mistake to assume that a head for politics necessarily contains brains.

Much Better Than UKIP

Congratulations to David Lyons for winning hands down the district council seat of Haddenham and Stone in Aylesbury Vale. He seems to have taken votes that had previously gone to an Independent. Did he take Ukip votes too?

Women And Cocoa

Our friends in the local Fairtrade group are currently marking Fairtrade Fortnight with a display in Witney library. Ann Marsden and Susan Paice are responsible for creating the display on the theme of women in the cocoa industry. Visit and be amazed at their efforts.

Witney is a Fairtrade town. Long may it remain so.

Courts Cornered

More razor-sharp questioning, more ministerial grilling from the passionate one.

Is it possible that the Commons Speaker is getting just a bit fed up with fluffy, Dorothy Dix questions from Robert Courts, the passionate MP for Witney?

John Bercow: “Last but not forgotten, Mr Robert Courts.”

Robert Courts: “What steps are Ministers taking that will reassure the people of Witney and rural West Oxfordshire that their police have access to the funding and the numbers that they need?”

Nick Hurd (Minister, Home Department): “I can say to my hon. Friend, who represents my father’s old seat, that I have every interest in making sure that the people of Witney continue to have access to high-quality policing.”

Air Quality In West Oxfordshire

Could the District Council’s latest report on air quality have been copied from any of its reports over the last two decades? No, the the worst areas may be the same:

Bridge Street, Witney 
Horsefair and High Street, Chipping Norton

BUT NOW the District Council has given these areas a new designation – and plans have been produced.

“Areas within West Oxfordshire which don’t meet National Air Quality Standards have been declared Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). We have produced Air Quality Action plans for these areas to find out the source of the problem and reduce concentrations of air pollutants to below National Air Quality Standards.”

That’s all right then, but don’t hold your breath. Or perhaps you should.

Find out just what is going on at the ‘Improving Air Quality in Witney’ talks on Thursday 28 February at 7.15 in Witney’s Corn Exchange. It’s FREE but register on Eventbrite

The Shit Flows On

Hard on the heels of our Down by the River talks at Witney Corn Exchange comes news that Defra has an open consultation on its proposals to change water management practices: read here.

Defra has said that it wishes to put into law the water aspirations of its 25-year environment plan: read here.

BUT, of its targets for “clean and plentiful water”, there is nothing about preventing combined sewer overflows and tightening the rules on diluted sewage entering watercourses during storms (or even slight drizzle).

If you object to paddling in shit – diluted or concentrated – do submit your comments to the consultation. You have until 12 March.

Off To Calais

The latest shipment of survival equipment for refugees in Calais. This lot was collected in large part by members of the Charlbury Refugee Action Group. Worthy, of course, but so sad that it should be necessary.