On a wintery 12 January evening, 220 people filled the Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford to hear Oxford’s two MPs, Anneliese Dodds and Layla Moran discussing issues around transport, climate change and the future of Oxford.
Anneliese and Layla both praised all the work by people in Oxford to improve the environment. They took questions from the public for 45 minutes on many issues. High on the list was public transport, with both agreeing that adequate funding is a priority. The issue of isolation of rural areas caused by service cuts was stressed by several questioners.
They were also in agreement on another hot Oxford topic; air pollution, calling for better engagement of schools to encourage more parents to give up driving children to school.
On climate change and fossil fuels both MPs also stated their support for the campaign to get Oxfordshire County Council pension fund to disinvest funds from fossil fuel companies.
On housing they were questioned about how far plans for 100,000 new homes in Oxfordshire can be compatible with policies on climate change and sustainable transport? Both stressed that Oxfordshire needs more homes though Layla suggested that the figure was ‘probably too high’ while Anneliese focused on the need for homes to be affordable and energy efficient, and for councils to have more powers to insist on a better percentage of social housing.
There were disagreements. There was strong feeling in the room against the proposed Oxford to Cambridge expressway and development that might come with it. While Layla appeared to come down against this, Anneliese talked of the need to ‘grasp the nettle’ on projects such as the expressway and HS2.
Closing the meeting, chair Chris Church of Oxford Friends of the Earth reminded the audience that 2018 would see both councils and government taking some critical decisions on the future of transport and development in the county, and urged those attending to keep lobbying their MPs and councillors on these issues.
The meeting, organised by Oxfordshire Climate Action Network also heard from Stephen Joseph, Director of the Campaign for Better Transport, and Polly Billington, Director of UK100, the new network of UK cities working on climate change which Oxford City Council joined recently.
Photo credit: Karl Wallendszus