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Created in 1983, the constituency of Oxford West & Abingdon stretches from Kidlington in the North to Abingdon in the South via the North-West Oxford and a number of small villages in between. In total, there are over 40,000 homes – 80,000 people – spread over wards from Cherwell District, Oxford City and Vale of the White Horse District Councils.
Following a review by the Boundary Commission before the 2010 General Election, Oxford West & Abingdon now includes Yarnton (formerly part of Witney Constituency) and Appleton (formerly part of Wantage Constituency), while Carfax ward in the centre of Oxford has become part of the Oxford East Constituency.
The most urban area of the constituency is Oxford. And even though the boundary changes remove much of the centre of the city, Oxford West & Abingdon includes some of the most beautiful and historic parts of Oxford such as the canal and old Jericho Boatyard site, Port Meadow, the Trap Grounds and the Trout Pub, fantastic small shops and cafes in Summertown and Walton Street and nine colleges (Worcester, St Hugh’s, Lady Margaret Hall, St Anne’s, St Antony’s, Somerville, Green, Wycliffe Hall and Wolfson). Oxford is not just a seat of learning and research but also the home to many internationally renowned publishing, high-tech and bio-tech companies.
Eight miles from Oxford lies Abingdon, a Market Town that has existed as a settlement since the Iron Age, which makes it one of Britain’s oldest occupied towns. The historic centre includes County Hall and the Old Gaol and 6 almshouses run by Christ’s Hospital, the oldest charity in Oxfordshire. Abingdon also sits on the banks of the Thames and the River Ock (which flooded badly in 2007) and boasts a beautiful marina and wildlife sanctuary. Previously best known for its manufacture of MGs and the Morland Bewery, now Abingdon has a business park and science park where many national and interntional companies like Northern Rock and Sophos have their headquarters. Nevertheless, more and more people now work outside Abingdon – whether with the nearby high-tech employers in Culham or Harwell, or in Oxford or London. Abingdon was once represented by Airey Neave MP, who was murdered by the IRA. His coat of arms now hangs above the entrance to the Chamber of the House of Commons.
Neighbouring villages include Kennington and Radley, North and South Hinksey, Wootton and many more. Local communities work hard to protect their local environment in places like the Radley Lakes and Besselsleigh Woods not to mention their local services like Post Offices, GPs and Community Shops.
Kidlington, with a population of over 17,000, is the second largest village in Britain. A combination of traditional stone building and modern housing estates (Garden City built just before WW2 was the first development of many), Kidlington hosts the HQs for the Thames Valley Police, the County Fire Service and the County St John Ambulance Brigade. Kidlington also borders on Oxford Airport, Oxford Motor World, and the business park at Langford and Begbroke Science Park where numerous Oxford University spin-offs start out.