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Who's best  for Chippy
David Cameron for Westminster
Gina Burrows for the District Council

The webmaster writes:  My old and much-missed friend Sidney Scarsbrook (who was President of the local Conservative Association) used to tell me that the Conservatives could put up a nodding donkey in Chipping Norton and it would get elected.

This certainly seemed to be true at the last District Council election when their totally inexperienced candidate Patrick McWho was elected. Since then - as far as we know - he has done absolutely nothing. He has certainly not reported anything at Town Council Meetings about what he has been up to in Witney.

However, the Tories then tried the same trick again at the last Town Council elections but it didn't work. Even the local Tory faithful drew the line at supporting Mr Hasan who - for obvious reasons - did not conform to their idea of what a Chipping Norton Conservative should look like.

And another of their candidates - Annie Roy-Barker - also failed to get elected to the Town Council because she was completely unknown, had never been seen anywhere near a Town Council meeting  and knew absolutely nothing about key town issues. She turned up at the Annual Parish Meeting in search of publicity - egged on by her mentor Mike Howes - and started berating several of the hardest-working town councillors about their disgraceful behaviour at council meetings which she had never attended. This vicious attack all fell a bit flat because nobody knew who she was. We all assumed that we had seen the last of Annie on the Chippy political scene after that debacle. After all, if you can't even persuade people to vote you on to the Town Council what other political prospects can you possibly have.

Having polled fewer votes than Mr Hasan, Annie - incredibly - is now trying to get elected straight on to the the District Council - continuing the McWho tradition of relying on an unquestioning Tory vote. The Chipping Norton Tories must be having a laugh at the electors expense. The town deserves better.  One prominent townsperson who knows Annie well describes her as a complete airhead. I suppose to be fair to her, she did at least try and get elected to the Town Council - which is more than Patrick McWho ever did. Surely the time has come to show the local Tories that unless they are prepared to dig up some quality candidates from among their hundreds of members they will become a laughing stock.

Chunky Townley has been an excellent District Councillor for the last four years - following in the great tradition of John Hannis. Chunky has some real achievements to his credit - not least his fight for hospital resources and his recent work on an influential report about the failings of the Ambulance Service. It is disastrous that he his standing down but it is essential we now elect someone capable of following in his footsteps. We need someone as passionate and as likely to be taken as seriously in Witney as Chunky was. Somebody who will be as prepared as he has been to fight the town's corner.

In one of her election leaflets Annie has unashamedly tried to jump on the Chunky Townley/Hilary Biles  bandwagon by suggesting that she is in some way associated through them with the Hospital campaign, fighting for a Youth Centre, refurbishing the Town Hall and other activities in which she has had absolutely zero involvement. She claims she will somehow continue Chunkys good work. It is all a scandalous misrepresentation and the Tories should retract these weasel words forthwith. Annie quotes her experience in the town as consisting (among other things) of being a member of the Neighbourhood Action Group (what have they ever done) a volunteer at the Theatre, a member of the Salford Players and on the organising committee of Jazz Day.........Big deal!

Contrast this track record with that of her opponent Gina Burrows. There is no contest.

Gina joined the Town Council in 1999 was Mayoress for three years and then Mayor for the next two. Gina single-handedly organised a glittering year of events to mark the town's Charter anniversary. She was heavily involved in organising the influential Town Appraisal - managing the economic aspects of the exercise and conducting a survey among Chippy businesses. She has chaired a Working party on the contentious issue of Parking in the town. Gina became a member of the School Governors and was co-founder of the Town Partnership. She is active at St Mary's and is a member of the parochial Church Council. She is Chair of the Town Hall Committee and has been leading fund-raising efforts for the long overdue re-furbishment of the Town Hall. She founded Friends of the Town Hall last year and has nearly notched up the first 10,000. In recent years Gina has also chaired a group of councillors and ex-councillors who meet and publish position papers on Planning matters affecting the town. This year the group has prepared a response to the first proposals from the District for a Local Development Plan. When the District Council closed the Visitors Centre it was Gina (working with Peta Simmonds) who quickly organized a volunteer replacement.  There is more - like leading groups to clean-up litter and monopolising the news pages every month of Chippy News - but hopefully you get the idea!! In between all this selfless work for the town she finds time to be the Chair of the West Oxfordshire Constituency Labour Party and has bravely tried to keep the party flag flying out in the villages where she has often stood as a candidate in local council elections. 

I think (but I am not sure) that this is the first time that Gina has stood in the town for the District Council. She will make an absolutely superb standard bearer for Chippy when she is elected to the job in Witney.

I have worked for many years now with Gina on the Town Council. It is well-known that we have had our differences often quite robust, She can be stubborn and exasperating. She can seem a bit too politically correct for some tastes. She is the original do-gooder and some of her supporters describe her as having a "mother earth" quality. But nobody can say that she does not have strong and sincere views and a deep sense of commitment to the town. And when it comes to representing the towns interests in Witney that is what we want. We need an experienced and knowledgeable pair of hands not some amateur airhead. Gina can be remorseless in her advocacy of a cause she believes in. She will certainly continue to fight like a tiger to try and secure funds for youth facilities, social services for the elderly and recreational opportunities. She understands the importance of maintaining the economic well-being of the town - by supporting employment initiatives, encouraging local traders and promoting tourism. Gina has shown that she cares deeply and is prepared to work like a trojan for the community. Chippy First as Chipping Nortons biggest political grouping on the Town Council are happy not only to support her candidacy - but to commit to helping her make things happen once she is elected. We are all privileged to have Gina as a candidate.  It will be deeply disappointing if a few independent-minded Conservatives do not refuse to behave like mindless ballot fodder, break ranks, disobey the Witney hierarchy and vote for Gina.  Roy-Barker or Burrows Thats a no-brainer!

Below are a few snaps from our archives of Gina over the last ten years out and about performing various civic duties. For the sake of political balance we would have liked to have included some of Annie Roy-Barker but unfortunately she has never been captured by chippingnorton.net's news cameras!!!










A huge Tory leaflet full of irresponsible tosh was distributed through letter boxes yesterday. It is the most misleading collection of  claims and statements I have ever seen - promoting the candidacy of Annie the hapless Tory Candidate in the District council election.

Annie suggests that she and her party provided the funds for the new Arts and Science buildings at the school. This is a really staggering misrepresentation. Education money comes straight from central government, The County Council follows ministry orders and simply acts as the bookkeeper. If there has been any political pressure brought to bear by Annie and her friends to divert money to the local school, that would be a serious matter indeed.

Then comes a really big porkie. Annie says that the Conservative County Council has funded a 1m Youth Centre in Chippy. Not true. 800,000 has come directly from a Central Government Fund and owes absolutely nothing to Oxfordshire Tories. The balance has been raided from a fund set up with covenant money from the sale of land at Parker Knoll which Councillor Grantham successfully argued "belonged" to the town

Back to the leaflet.....Annie seeks to give the impression that she has been actively involved in fighting for HGV restrictions,  a minor injuries unit, a better ambulance service, getting a grant for the Town Hall, and providing a MUGA. The public need to know that these campaigns have all been running for years and up to this point Annie has not shown the slightest interest in any of these causes. She has not lifted a finger to help. Her attempts to claim some kind of association with these projects is a direct insult to the people who actually did all the work. It is pathetic.

Annie describes the HGV "lorry route" as a Conservative project. What on earth is she talking about. Has she not heard of the A44 Group She claims she will work with a team at the District Council on the problem of heavy traffic. She says her previous experience on highways projects and her marketing and business management skills will help her do this Only one problem Annie. Traffic is the responsibility of the County Council. Absolutely nothing to do with the District!!

Annie says that her friends at the District Council "awarded 98,000 towards renovating the Town Hall and this paved the way for matched funding from other organisations". This is complete tosh. The District Council never loosened their purse strings until the the Town Council was able to show in a detailed submission worked through in detail by Councillor Greenwell that it had secured funding from other sources first - including a huge contribution from the Town Council reserves. The District Council then kindly matched the funding already secured.

Annie now claims to be a big wheel in the Friends of the Town Hall (FROTH) and is even shown on the leaflet showing Dave Cameron a FROTH shopping bag. No word that FROTH was the sole brainchild of her opponent in this election GINA BURROWS who has worked her socks off to make it successful. I am not aware that Annie has done much fund raising to date. Promises. Promises.

Annie is also shown in a photograph "taken by the new hospital discussing the future possibilities" of an MIU with Hilary Biles. I hope Hilary gave it to her straight about the possibilities of an MIU. As Hilary knows and we all know the PCT have refused to contemplate an MIU in Chippy. We will be extremely lucky to get a First Aid set up. It seems highly irresponsible that Annie should be suggesting to the Chippy electorate that she has any chance of influencing that situation.

Another photograph seems to imply that Annie has had something to do with the new MUGA - which she is shown "checking out". If I was either Councillor Coles or Councillor Graves, I would be more than a little put out. Both councillors attended two years of soul-destroying meetings with council officials and suppliers to fight for the new playground and MUGA and achieved a fantastic result. It is cheap - to say the least - to have someone who has never been remotely involved - come along at election time and try and claim credit by association.

Annie also says she is going to "encourage"  CCTV for the town and mentions she has already obtained a grant of 78,000. Is she delusional What grant This town has been asked for to pay 15.000 a year (10% of our total precept) for four cameras in the town centre (Witney has 40). The Town Council have unanimously rejected the deal so how does Annie propose to make it happen. Looks as if she plans to declare war on the Town Council's decision. She says that CCTV would eliminate crime, drugs and alcohol abuse. Annie is bonkers if she really believes that. It will simply cut down on the number of police on duty. She says she is a member of the Neighbourhood Action Group. They have never done anything useful but at least she should know better than to make these absurd claims.

My contacts in the policy-making echelons of the Tory Party tell me that a leaflet for a candidate is only ever distributed on the eve of polling day if the party is rattled and worried about a candidate's prospects. So it looks as if the powers that be in Witney are well and truly worried about Annie's chances. Mind you that's not really surprising. Word is coming back from Tory canvassers that while Dave is a shoe-in even loyal true blue party members are drawing the line at supporting Annie. The mystery deepens about how exactly she got chosen....Hilary blames it all on Bob Hayward. Bob says it was the only way to avoid Oliver Herrin being selected. A fellow town councillor (Tory) tells me that Annie offered because nobody else was prepared to have a go. Cicely tells me she volunteered to stand herself but the present committee does not regard her as posh enough so chose Posh Annie instead. What a way to carry on in the selection of a prospective District Council candidate...it just doesn't sound serious. But then Barry Norton only wants somebody as voting fodder to make up the numbers. The last thing he wants is somebody who will fight for Chipping Norton's interests.

Its good that Annie is a volunteer at the Theatre and supports the Jazz Festival but she should stay away from politics. Its way above her  head - as this leaflet shows. Her candidacy and this leaflet is an affront to the people of this town.

If you haven't voted yet you owe it to the town to get down to the Town Hall and cast your vote for ex-Mayor Gina Burrows - an experienced, knowledgeable and conscientious member of the Town Council. Its the only way to ensure that we don't get represented in Witney by somebody like Annie who is prepared to put her name to a leaflet which is no more than a distorted and misleading collection of irresponsible tosh.


Gina Burrows Labour & Co-Op 1394  
Annie Roy-Barker Conservative 1673  Elected
Chris Tatton Liberal Democrat 467  

Total electorate  4973    Turnout  71.53%


The people of Chippy have spoken!

Chippy's district council election result was an uncanny reflection of the National situation. No overall majority.  No single candidate was able to secure a clear mandate. The Tory candidate Annie had most votes but a coalition of Labour (Gina Burrows) and Liberal (Chris Tatton) produces a convincing broad-based majority. It is perfectly clear that the electorate of Chipping Norton are demanding that they should be represented by a "progressive" grouping rather than another tired old has-been -just like the ones who have been turning up at Witney as ballot fodder for years. The people of Chipping Norton have spoken. It's time for a change.

Gina and Chris are locked in discussion over this weekend to see if they can hammer out a way of working together "in the town's interest".  Both candidates want to see more affordable homes, both are against polluting traffic, both resist the idea of "privatising" local hospitals, both oppose a new supermarket on the edge of town, both demand that Chippy should be represented on the Planning Committee. But one key issue is proving a stumbling block on which an agreement looks set to falter. The LibDems want to introduce a fifth waste collection box - alongside non-recyclable rubbish, garden waste, and food the LibDems are demanding that two further separate containers should be made available one for bottles and plastic and the other for paper. This move is strongly resisted by Labour who feel that their members - who generally live in smaller houses than the LibDems - already have enough problems fitting in the present number. The LibDems feel that their green credentials and their credibilty will be completely compromised if they do not insist on a fifth waste box and they would be heavily punished at the next election for conceding on this crucial policy point.

Some observers are amazed that the LibDems would allow talks to fail over such a marginal issue. But it looks as if we are going to have to wait until the middle of next week for a final outcome. If there is no agreement Annie will try to go it alone in representing the town relying on informal support from the LibDems on confidence votes. Meanwhile the bankers in Iceland who have 9 million of the District's money are watching all this uncertainty with increasing interest since with such strong evidence of a lack of political solidarity in one of West Oxfordshire's most important towns there is no chance the Icelandic banks will return our money - thus provoking a huge financial crisis in Witney. We trust Gina and Chris will work through coming nights to hammer out a final agreement as a matter of urgent and vital interest to us all.

Annie's Tories of course have their own money-saving policy on waste. They propose to turn Greystones into a tip and tell residents to take their own rubbish down there.