I have lived in Oxford for 11 years, first in Donnington and since 2018 in Blackbird Leys. I am one of 9 people elected unopposed to Blackbird Leys Parish Council this month.
I have spent my life working on technologies to help ordinary people’s lives. In Kenya I helped start a new industry making energy efficient charcoal stoves that protected children, saved money and reduced deforestation. In Belfast I put online systems to find consensus between groups who hated each other and taught consulters how to genuinely involve local people in planning. In Oxford I have helped older people learn how to use computers and the Internet in their lives.
Every Tuesday I go to the Donnington over 50s group and help people with their IT problems – from how to send an e-greeting card to writing an biography of a famous uncle. I hope to do the same at the Clockhouse when they re-open the IT room. I have just started to record stories from older people to make a podcast so young people here can learn from these memories what living in Oxford communities used to be like. I will be applying for funding to collect the memories and share the stories of the Windrush generation in the Leys.
What would you like me and the Blackbird Leys Parish Council to work on next? What will make Greater Leys a fairer, greener community? You can email me or record a video message.
There are lots of things we could do. We could set up community gardens and plant trees like the Marston Parish Council. We could create a maker space in the Leys where people could share 3D printers and learn the skills needed to get better jobs and start their own businesses. The council could roll out a massive scheme to retrofit our homes with insulation and renewable energy, instead of just talking about the climate emergency. We could improve transport links, reopening the railway to Cowley and creating a dedicated cycle lane along Barns Road. And we could green our environment, improving on our excellent parks.
Unfortunately, the city council often takes the Leys for granted, unchallenged by Labour councillors who follow the party whip. The Blackbird Leys Community Centre has barely re-opened since the pandemic. There are no longer IT sessions there. We are still waiting for the final plans for redeveloping the square opposite. So as well as the parish council, we need the Oxford City Council to listen to the voices of people in the Leys. That is why I am also standing for election to the city council.
Vote for David Newman on 5 May. I will be an independently-minded voice on the councils to speak up for the needs of residents. I will work hard, listen to concerns, and keep you informed. It will be a privilege to represent you.