Your front page (Saturday 16th May) quotes an internal Labour Party letter I signed when it was mooted that Labour's policy on private renter evictions would focus on extending the current moratorium on court action from 3 to 6 months. Though helpful in the immediate crisis, this would have been quite inadequate in the longer term, as it would only delay mass evictions.

Happily, this is not the policy Labour came out with (as your article acknowledges) – the main plank is a proposal to remove coronavirus-related rent arrears as a legal ground for eviction, scrapping Section 21 "no fault" evictions to prevent unscrupulous landlords from getting round this, and raising Housing Benefit to a more realistic level – at least temporarily while action is taken to provide the social housing we need.

These measures, unlike the current stay on court proceedings, would actually prevent evictions, and I would like to add my voice publicly to those urging the government – irrespective of ideology – to adopt them.

A related concern is that because in the near future employers will be under economic pressure that they will be tempted to try to pass on to their employees, the mismatch between incomes and rents in Oxford could worsen in the future. Stopping evictions, or excusing current rent arrears, alone will not prevent this. We also need a real Living Wage and new Council housing – things Oxford's Labour MP and Council will continue to fight together for.


Oxford City Council portfolio Holder for Housing

“Don’t drive stay alive,” (Oxford Mail Letts) – I don’t think so, to paraphrase the late Charlton Heston in his role as president of the American Rifle Association, “They’ll have to prise my rifle out of my cold dead hands,” they will have to do the same with my steering wheel.

I drove out of the village for the first time in almost two months on Saturday, visited Banbury and did a week’s shopping, and then visited a member of the family, try doing that even with two on a tandem, not to mention the sheer joy and freedom of driving on the open road, which can’t be over emphasised and most if not all other drivers would equate with that.

Without wheels I would never have seen half the things this beautiful country has to offer, plus more than forty thousand miles on American roads over a dozen visits, try travelling around a country that size without the ability to drive. “Don’t drive, stay alive.” No chance, not in this life anyway.



This is my kind of paper because it gives so much more than just news.

Heartwarming stories which matter about raising funds for hospitals or about village committees coming together to make a difference to self-isolated lives who welcome a helping hand at this difficult time, it really can make their day, just like this paper makes mine.

Thank you Oxford Mail for making me smile.


King's Sutton

IT WAS interesting to read about the life of Monty Hillier, in Memory Lane (Oxford Mail, May 11).

A photo of him meeting fellow three-mile champion Mike Dunhill on the Iffley Road track, reminded me of the first year Matthew Arnold School, Cumnor, opened. My last year before leaving school I attended the first term at Matthew Arnold when it opened. Mike Dunhill was the PE teacher.