Cherwell elections – where’s the logic?

Nigel Randall

Nigel Randall

I am completely baffled to read Nigel Randall’s open letter in Adderbury Contact where he explains his reason for resigning as a District Councillor just 95 days after he was re-elected and with 1,364 days of his term still to run.  Nigel had represented Adderbury & Milton since 7 May 2012, taking over from Rick Atkinson who was District Councillor for Adderbury & Milton from 2008 to 2012.  Before him, John Harper was the local member from 2000 to 2008.

Like his predecessors, John Harper and Rick Atkinson, not to mention the redoubtable Aline Griffiths before them, they all represented the village of Adderbury and the hamlet of Milton on Cherwell District Council.  However, before the 2006 elections, the Local Government Boundary Commission gave Cherwell an ultimatum.  They had to accept:

  • three-member wards across the council or
  • change from elections in thirds to one-up elections every four years.

The Conservative ruling group elected to go for three-member wards.  This was a decision supported by the town members but not by the rural ones but the latter were out-voted.  As a result, we have a new Cherwell ward comprising Adderbury, Bloxham & Bodicote and not to forget little Milton although it does not feature in the ward name!  In the 2016 all out election, Nigel Randall, Christine Heath and Michael Bishop were duly elected. They are all Conservatives as are the vast majority of Cherwell councillors.  It so happens that Nigel lives in  Adderbury, Christine lives in Bloxham and Mike lives in Bodicote so the imposition of a three-member ward offered a simple solution with the resident member representing the relevant parish and with Adderbury including Milton under its wing.

Now, if Nigel had thought the new arrangement was a nonsense – and I think it is, he could have chosen not to stand for election in May 2016 but he clearly did not think so and chose to put up for election.

We now find that, 95 days later, he decides to stand down citing the Conservative Party’s decision to Brexit.  Well, what nonsense!  The Conservative government, led by David Cameron and George Osborne, did their best to bully and browbeat the nation into voting to Remain.  The nation thought better – and I was one of them – and voted to Leave and thank goodness we did, despite the doom-sayers.  So, for Nigel Randall to quit his recently-won Conservative council seat and the Conservative Party seems to me to be somewhat disingenuous.  It was the nation as a whole that voted to leave and that included a good number of Labour voters, possibly including Jeremy Corbyn!  I really do not understand your reasoning Nigel. I am sorry for this because we have shared council surgeries in the Black Boy when I was still a County Councillor and continued to meet there after I stood down – you with a coca cola and me with a pint!

The outcome of Nigel’s resignation is that the electors of Adderbury, Bloxham, Bodicote and Milton need to be leafleted and canvassed and polling stations in all four locations will open on polling day to find a replacement for Nigel who always and only represented Adderbury & Milton.  What a nonsense!

Nevertheless, some good may come out of Nigel’s decision.  He has stated his desire to continue to be active in the community.  While he was a District Councillor, he consistently declined to take up the Cherwell place on the Adderbury Library Friends Charity. Now that he has more time on his hands, I hope he might be willing to join us?

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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