Cherwell Opposition Group renews call for council to declare a cost of living emergency

With the announcement of the increase in the Ofgem price cap to £3549 per year, Cherwell District Council’s official opposition group has renewed its call on the Conservative controlling group to put more pressure on the government to help residents and businesses in the district and to declare a cost of living emergency.

At the last full Council meeting, The Progressive Oxfordshire Group brought a motion proposing such a declaration and calling on the government for more support for travel, domestic, and business fuel costs and to expand the Rural Fuel Duty Rate Relief into Oxfordshire.

It also called for solid fuel, oil and bottled gas to be included in the Ofgem energy cap, as many rural households in Cherwell are forced to rely on these fuels for heating and cooking which are currently excluded from the Ofgem cap.

The motion also called for  financial support for the most vulnerable and highlighted the need for more investment into renewables to decarbonise the energy sector and avoid future energy crises.

But an amendment was forced through by the Conservatives removing these calls to action. Instead a self-promotional statement on the government’s Council Tax Rebate Scheme was inserted and the crucial declaration of a cost of living crisis was removed.

The amendment was opposed by the Progressive Oxfordshire group. However the amendment passed after Labour abstained on the vote.

Councillor David Hingley (Lib Dem), the proposer of the original motion, stated

“Our motion allowed the council to demonstrate its serious commitment to working with Government and others to find effective and sustainable ways to tackle the cost-of-living crisis here in Cherwell.”  He added, “The Conservatives’ unnecessary posturing undermines this message to our residents who are suffering under the burden of rising costs of basic necessities.”

Cllr Ian Middleton (Green), who seconded the motion said

“With winter just around the corner and more increases in the pipeline this year and next, we have to stand firm behind the residents and businesses of Cherwell and declare a cost of living emergency”

“The lack of a government commitment towards decarbonising our energy system continues to lock us all into an iniquitous spiral of climate change and cost increases, leaving rural households forced to rely on oil, bottled gas or solid fuels particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in world oil prices. It’s shameful that Cherwell’s Conservatives amended away our calls for real support and commitment towards tackling this crisis for our residents and businesses. It was also disappointing that Labour chose not to oppose that.”