Long Wittenham’s new district councillor is Green Party activist Sam Casey-Rerhaye from Culham. In yesterday’s district council elections Mrs Casey-Rerhaye, who chairs Culham Parish Council, beat Conservative candidate Fiona Ardern from Toot Baldon with a comfortable majority. She cantered home with 956 votes well ahead of Mrs Ardern who polled 347.
The election to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) turned out to be a major set-back for the Tories who four years ago boasted a thirty-one seat majority. Now no party has overall control. The Liberal Democrats have overtaken the Tories with twelve seats. The Conservatives have ten, Greens five, Labour three, Independents three and the Henley Residents Group are represented by three councillors on the thirty-six seat council.
After being declared winner of the Sandford and Wittenhams seat at 8.15am this morning Mrs Casey-Rerhaye said: “This was a vote in favour of all those people who oppose large scale housing and road developments in south Oxfordshire. There are now five Green Party candidates on SODC and we will be fighting to stop this unnecessary development which is spoiling the countryside.”
“This election result sends out a clear message that no-one wants to see the countryside being ruined. The whole area is being over-developed and we will have a major influence on future planning policy.”
“New roads including the Didcot-Culham river crossing and Clifton Hampden bypass are also out of place because the more roads you build the quicker they fill up with traffic. We need better public transport with improved bus and rail services helping communities.”
The Greens will be seeking alliances with other parties on the new-look district council in a bid for a change of direction in planning policies. The district’s revised Local Plan which includes 3,500 homes on land near Culham is being considered by the government and a decision should be known later this year. Mrs Casey-Rerhaye is also opposed to proposals for the huge quarry on land near Clifton Hampden.
The new councillor will be responsible for Long and Little Wittenham, Clifton Hampden, Culham, the Baldons and Sandford. She says she hopes to be able to attend next Thursday’s meeting of Long Wittenham Parish Council which starts in the village hall at 7.30pm.