All parties agreed that the key issues in this week's local elections will be bringing back our town centres post-pandemic, traffic, holding Thames Water to account for sewage dumping, the amount of new housing and free parking.

The Conservatives have held political control of West Oxfordshire District Council for 20 years, but on May 5 there are elections for 16 seats on the district council and 115 seats on 17 parish and town councils. 

Conservative Group deputy leader David Harvey felt it would not be a vote on the national Tory leadership.  

He said: "I believe the main issues which residents here in Witney and across West Oxfordshire will concentrate on are local and will include free parking and promoting the hustle and bustle of our market towns."

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Andy Graham said they would support independent shops and retailers in rural villages and towns.

Labour & Co-operative Party Group deputy leader Duncan Enright said: "We will invest in making our market towns healthier and more attractive places to shop and work, with free parking and new public spaces with seating. We will not rest until our towns are welcoming places for everyone."

On traffic, the Lib Dems said they would develop a freight infrastructure strategy with a Carterton to Oxford Railway.

Labour said it would cut traffic jams and make towns and villages safer by promoting 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

"We are also working to route lorries on to main roads to relieve the heavy traffic across our rural district, including through Chipping Norton. In the next two years we will deliver the Shores Green junction to cut through traffic in Witney, and improve the A40 so express buses to and beyond Oxford are a reality," said Mr Enright.

Green councillor Andrew Prosser said Greens would work for safe walking and cycle routes, better bus services and a Carterton-Witney-Oxford rapid transit link.

"We will tackle traffic and speeding through our villages and will work for increased investment in clean alternatives to car travel, including safe walking and cycle paths, better bus services and a new rapid transit link between Carterton, Witney, and Oxford," he said.

He added: "We do not support or have any plans for imposing parking charges in Witney. Local Conservatives are attempting to mislead residents."

On the environment, all parties would hold Thames Water to account for sewage dumping.

Cllr Harvey said the Conservatives would also increase the number of electric vehicle charging points as well as improving biodiversity.

Mr Graham said the Lib Dems would take actions to counter river pollution and Mr Enright said Labour will also tackle flooding issues across the district.

On housing and development, Mr Graham said Lib Dems would "put the right houses in the right areas" with more two and three-bed properties rather than four or five-bed houses.

Lib Dems also want solar panels on all local council-owned properties.

The Green party said it would “continue to fight overdevelopment and act to keep the distinctive nature of our villages”.

Cllr Andrew Prosser said: “We are calling for a halt to new housing approvals until promised upgrades and transport links are in place, along with a review of the number of houses allocated to West Oxfordshire.

He added: “We will work hard to ensure that local skills training and jobs are at the heart of an ambitious programme to provide warm, well-insulated homes for everyone in West Oxfordshire.”

The Conservatives said they would "continue to deliver first-rate services while keeping the council tax low".

The Lib Dems said they want more services for mental health and wellbeing services for young people and council meetings to go virtual to allow the public to take part.

Labour said it would continue to support local communities through the cost of living crisis.

  • A list of candidates nominated for each ward as well as the polling stations can be found on the WODC website.