Cherwell District Council is currently conducting a Governance Review of the parishes included in its boundaries. Kidlington Parish Council (KPC) has asked that this should include the possibility of a merger with Gosford and Water Eaton (GWE) Parish or, failing that, of redrawing the boundary between the two parishes to create a more logical division.
Residents of both parishes have now received a consultation letter from the District Council asking for their views.
Kidlington currently has more than 14,000 residents, GWE about 1,400. Most of the homes in GWE are in the triangle between the two Bicester Roads and the main Oxford Road (P on the consultation letter). For all practical purposes this area is part of Kidlington. It includes Gosford Hill, the school where most Kidlington children study, and its residents mostly use KPC facilities. The rest of GWE consists of a small number of houses to the East of the North-South Bicester link road, though the number of houses will increase very considerably with the new developments that are currently planned by Cherwell District Council.
We think it is in residents' interests that the two parishes should merge for the following reasons:
- the current division between the two parishes is a historical accident which no longer has any real justification;
- we would all benefit practically and financially from the sharing of facilities and staff;
- most importantly, a merged council would be larger and stronger, and thus better placed to represent residents' interests, and in particular to resist the further encroachments on the Green Belt that are threatened;
- new housing developments in Kidlington and GWE will add 1910 new dwellings to the two parishes, which currently have 6729 dwellings between them; a larger and stronger council would be better placed to deal with the problems and issues that will arise as a result of such a huge increase in population;
- KPC's council tax charge to residents is slightly higher than GWE's: currently just over £27 a year more for a Band D property. This is because KPC provides most of the facilities for both parishes, including community buildings, cemeteries, allotments, parks, sports grounds, play areas and outdoor gyms. We also organise regular events such as the Gala Day, Fireworks and Christmas Lights Switch-On. In contrast, GWE has very few facilities of its own.
- KPC has provided a home for the Cherwell Larder since April 2020 which has helped many residents in both parishes. We have also provided a venue for the Covid vaccination centre.
- Two GWE councillors are also KPC councillors so we already work very closely together – this proposal would formalise and strengthen that arrangement.
Plan in the District Council's consultation letter.
As an alternative to a full merger, we think that the boundary between the two parishes could be redrawn along the North-South Bicester link road, which would form a much more natural boundary between the two parishes. This means that the area marked P on the consultation letter would become part of Kidlington Parish.
We welcome the thoughts of residents of Kidlington, Gosford and Water Eaton on these proposals. The two councils already have a strong and friendly working relationship but this is an opportunity to think about how we can be more efficient and effective. We believe it is in all residents interests to be part of a larger more influential council.