February’s Charney Chatter

February’s Charney Chatter

From your local MP – David Johnston

I held my debate on the role of developers, housebuilders and management companies at the beginning of January. You can watch it on my Facebook page, but I used as many constituency examples as I could of the low-quality of some homes; their environmental impact; the lack of affordable homes; the role of management companies, who charge large fees for very little work; and the overall broken process by which the houses come into being, including the failure to provide the infrastructure that is always promised.

My recommendations included ensuring a higher building standard for the homes; ‘use it or lose it’ planning permission; making builders build to the latest environmental standards, not the ones that existed when they got planning permission (often several years before); a tougher regime for management companies that prevents them hiking their fees and treating home-owners the way they do; and for the infrastructure to support new homes to go in first, as people no longer believe it will follow afterwards.

As I said, my campaigns for better infrastructure – including Grove Station to be reopened, improvements to the A420 and A34 and much better medical facilities for the constituency – are the least we should see given the number of houses we’ve had. There was quite a bit of cross-party support for what I said, and it is something I will return to regularly.

Making predictions about Covid is a mug’s game but, at the time of writing, we do seem in a much better place to what we were last year. I am glad that people could, in general, have a better Christmas and New Year than they did the year before. I am particularly pleased our schools have remained open for all children (most were open for at least vulnerable children throughout the pandemic) as it is the best place for them to learn.

Regular readers will know I am the lead parliamentary sponsor of the Local Electricity Bill, which would enable local communities to buy their energy from local, renewable sources. At the moment a community operation generating renewable energy would have to pay in the region of £1 million set-up costs to access the grid and agree to supply the whole country, rather than just, for example, their local village. This year, I’ll be chairing a new All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs and Lords to try and help push this forward.

I know many of you are continuing to have problems with your post. I am in regular contact with Royal Mail about this, which is something I held a debate on in Parliament in June 2021 and which I have raised multiple times. As ever, the Royal Mail staff are working hard but something is still not working correctly. I’ll continue to keep on the case of Royal Mail HQ.

As ever, if I can help with anything do get in touch via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

From your local MP – David Johnston

I’m delighted to have secured a debate in Parliament on the role of developers, housebuilders and management companies. I could talk for hours and hours about the complaints I receive – to the games developers play to outfox the system, to the low-quality of homes that are built and how bad they often are for the environment, to the lack of affordable houses to the extortionate service charges people are paying for communal areas to be maintained. I’ll be covering all of this and more – get in touch if there is something in particular you think should be raised.
Following the success of my pre-COP26 summit for constituents in the summer, I’ve decided to make it an annual event. I’m very pleased that Alok Sharma, who remains President of COP for another year, has agreed to speak at it. I will share further details as and when they’re confirmed in the coming months.
I write this just after the House of Commons has had to vote on so-called Plan B regarding Coronavirus. I share the frustrations of those who don’t want to see restrictions re-introduced but I voted for the measures that were proposed as I believe they are proportionate and sensible. I will be as pleased as anyone if Omicron turns out to be much less of a concern that it is right now, but the Government is right not to take the risk.
The particular controversies were over what were described as ‘vaccine passports’ and the requirement for NHS workers to be vaccinated. Both are sensitive issues, but given you can show a negative lateral flow test (or exemption) instead of proof of vaccine, I do not believe what has been agreed can be described as a vaccine passport as commonly understood. And for decades there has been a requirement for NHS staff, depending on where they work, to have a number of vaccines including MMR, Influenza, BCG and Hepatitis B.
I am a patron of 3 of our local organisations – Play2Give, Secret Santa 365 and Team Mikayla – all of which were out in force over Christmas. I was pleased to deliver presents with the first 2 and visit the fantastic Christmas lights display (30,000+ lights!) of Team Mikayla. Those of you who are familiar with them will know what great work they do – those of you who are not should go and check them out!
Finally, I had another great Christmas Card competition with entries from primary school children right across the constituency. It is always a very tough decision, so I end up with several runners up. Congratulations to Ollie, age 4, from Hagbourne CofE school, who won; Nicholas from Fir Tree Junior School; Avril and Gil from Uffington CofE; and Myah who were runners up. Special mention to Millie from Charlton Primary School, who did a pretty good drawing of the PM!
Here’s to a better 2022 than 2020 or 2021. As ever, if I can help with anything do get in touch via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 12th Jan. 2022

The next Council meeting will be convened in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 12th January 2022.

Residents wishing to attend may wish to contact the Clerk in advance for details with respect to the latest COVID-19 recommendations.

Here is the agenda and supporting documents.

December’s Christmas Charney Chatter

Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 10th Nov. 2021

The next Council meeting will be convened in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 10th November 2021.

Residents wishing to attend may wish to contact the Clerk in advance for details with respect to the latest COVID-19 recommendations.

Here is the agenda and supporting documents.

November’s Charney Chatter

October’s Charney Chatter

Click the Pumpkins!

From your local MP – David Johnston

I am writing this after the first full week of parliament’s return, when all MPs have been present. While I had been going down to London Monday-Thursday once it was permitted again, some MPs have not been physically in the House of Commons for nearly 18 months. All of us who were attending physically had been subject to a socially distanced chamber with only a fraction of MPs allowed in and all committee meetings were on Zoom.

The place is now transformed, with much more atmosphere; proper debates where people can ‘intervene on’ (interrupt to politely make a counterpoint) each other; and I for one felt our first Education Committee meeting was much more focussed and better for being able to put ministers and their officials under scrutiny. Virtual parliament is better than no parliament, but a lot is lost.

With the exception of a few days in Yorkshire and a couple of days in Norfolk, I spent most of recess at home in Didcot. There were some great events just before we returned. One was the Longworth Church Fete, which had a good turnout and good weather, a very competitive dog show and classics like a tombola and coconut shy. Another was a tea party at the Almshouse of Robert Stiles in Wantage, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Almshouse Association. Almshouses have existed in the UK for more than 1000 years and provide low-cost housing to the local community. They have something in common with fetes in that both are run by volunteers. And, as with the return of parliament, they give a taste of what’s been missed through Covid.

I know that the pressure on GP services continues to be a bugbear. Over the summer, I met with both the Wantage surgeries and chaired a larger meeting of the Didcot surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Group, Patient Participation Group reps and the District Council in Didcot. The long-overdue expansion of Mably Way in Wantage has just had a step forward after a meeting of the CCG: the business case has been approved and the planning application has been submitted. In Didcot, there is both the particular short-term need presented by the new houses at sites such as Great Western Park and a longer-term need given the expected population growth. In broad terms there’s agreement about what we need. My job is to do all I can to try and ensure we get it.

Other recent meetings of note were with some residents of Appleford and some residents of Sutton Courtenay. The Appleford meeting was specifically about the location of the relief road and the desire of the group to see it moved 200m to where Oxfordshire County Council were originally going to put it. I think there is a compelling case for this and have contacted the County Council with the points the group wanted raised. The Sutton Courtenay meeting was a broader one about the development that has taken place and promised improvements that have still not arrived – at my request, they’re giving me a task list of things they’d like me to do!

A final mention for a couple of charities. Adrian is an ambassador for the Stroke Association and runs a group in Grove. He can deliver free of charge presentations to groups of any age about the risk factors for having a stroke. The other is Root and Branch, near Shrivenham, which runs outdoor activities for those with mental health difficulties. I visited this month and they need volunteer blacksmiths/metal workers to help run classes for those that use the service. Do get in touch if you can help – or indeed, as ever, if you’d like to contact me about anything else: david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 8th Sept. 2021

The next Council meeting will be convened in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 8th September 2021.

Residents wishing to attend may wish to contact the Clerk in advance for details with respect to the latest COVID-19 recommendations.

Here is the agenda and supporting documents.