Tim Fenn, candidate for Benson & Cholsey
Tim Fenn is a local businessman who runs his own sustainable construction design company and serves as non-executive director for a number of new “Green Tech” companies and organisations. Born in Wallingford and educated at Reading University, he worked as a Soil\Agroforestry Scientist in Africa for 13 years. He returned to England in 1997 and since then has been involved in the development of individual and large scale low carbon building projects both in the UK and abroad, winning numerous awards along the way. He lives in Oakley Wood, Benson carrying out trials on new building systems and renewable energy products. He is also a keen cyclist and covers over 5,000 miles a year on an electric assist, “Velomobile”.
Tim strongly believes that Oxfordshire is missing outon the new wave of “Green Economic” activity that is happening in other countries such as Germany, Denmark and even China. This is because local government offers little support to local small businesses for innovation and development and also makes it difficult for small companies to tender for government contracts. Oxfordshire has one of the highest numbers of inhabitants with degrees but it can hardly be called the “Silicon Valley of Europe”.
There needs to be a radical shift towards prioritisinglocal small businesses for all relevant local government contracts and providing additional business support to create much needed local jobs.
The UK has one of the lowest rates of self-build for new housing in Europe. Both Cholsey and Benson have been earmarked for significant number of new housing but at present these developments are likely to be built by large house builders. We tend to rely on the large house builders to design and build our housing estates which often result in inferior quality houses with little or no character and even less local employment. Tim believes that OCC should promote higher levels of self build in the county to develop local employment and satisfy many people’s desire to build their own home.
Tim would also like to see OCC support more community-based renewable energy projects similar to those developed in Germany and Denmark where local communities benefit from lower energy bills and/or additional income. To date, OCC has simply handed over large contracts to large companies, as with the anaerobic digestion plant at Preston Crowmarsh and incinerator at Ardley, with little community benefit.
Oxfordshire has one of the worst accident rates for cyclists in the country and, as a result, it is no wonder that many people see cycling in Oxfordshire as too dangerous. It is even more surprising that OCC has only spent 1.5% of its highways budget on cycle infrastructure. Tim strongly believes that Oxfordshire County Council should invest in “Dutch style” cycle lanes especially between Wallingford and Cholsey; and Wallingford and Benson as this would encourage cycling for both commuting and for leisure. He believes this would greatly enhance property values in the area and also save people money in an era of ever increasing fuel costs. It would also help more children be in a safe position to cycle to school and greatly reduce the risks to cyclists.
Tim would like OCC to support more innovations within our education system similar to the Tree House School in Cholsey where there is a greater emphasis on creativity and outdoor learning activities, and less on pointless exams and targets. However, instead of these innovations being undertaken by dedicated individuals with no support from the local authority, Tim would like to see OCC fully support these alternatives with a view to taking these ideas forward to all schools in the region.
Tim Fenn <Timjfenn@gmail.com>