Elections are taking place for district, town and parish councils this week.

I’ve been reflecting on local issues residents have been raising with me and the challenges these create for new councillors.

One of the biggest concerns that gets raised is the impact of the rapid pace of development across the county.

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Most people understand that there is a need for more housing, but they are not convinced that the high targets local councils have agreed to are sustainable.

In particular they worry the infrastructure needed to support development doesn’t get delivered with the housing. The long wait for the Lodge Hill slip roads in north Abingdon is a good example.

They also tell me that the mix of housing being delivered is wrong. The Government’s definition of ‘affordable’ is a long way from what many people can actually afford. They feel that development is serving developers more than it is serving public need.

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One of the impacts of rapid housing development combined with not enough infrastructure is that the traffic situation just gets worse and worse.

There is also a lot of concern about council funding, and specifically the state of the Vale of White Horse District Council’s finances. This has led to a lot of important projects being put on hold, or being cancelled, including the promised new leisure centre for Wantage and Grove.

Whoever is elected this week needs to take the financial situation seriously. At present the council’s own figures suggest that the money could run out within four years. That simply isn’t good enough.

With the news dominated by the issue of climate change, residents also tell me that they want local councils to do everything they can to reduce carbon emissions.

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The Vale used to be top of the table on recycling rates, at around 70 per cent. That figure has dropped over recent years, but we need to identify how to get it back up again.

Councillors on the Vale recently agreed a motion declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’, reflecting the concerns of Oxfordshire school children and the debate I initiated in the House of Commons recently.

We need councillors to take this issue seriously and agree a firm action plan.

A linked issue is air quality, which is very poor in a number of local communities.

All of these things are real challenges for our local councillors, of whichever party, most of whom work really hard for their residents. I hope local residents will use their vote, and support those that they believe are best prepared to take these challenges on.