Debate over future of local government in Oxfordshire is back on

A new council for a Better Oxfordshire. Press briefing at Said Business School, Oxford. 3rd March 2017. Contact: emily.reed@oxfordshire.gov.uk Picture: Andrew Walmsley NNL-170603-170507001
A new council for a Better Oxfordshire. Press briefing at Said Business School, Oxford. 3rd March 2017. Contact: emily.reed@oxfordshire.gov.uk Picture: Andrew Walmsley NNL-170603-170507001
0
Have your say

Counter proposals to the creation of one council to manage services in and around Banbury would avoid ‘disruption’, council leaders have said.

In March, Oxfordshire County Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and South Oxon District Council submitted a joint proposal for the creation of a unitary authority for the whole county.

The proposal, the three authorities said, would see a streamlining of services and better value for money.

This week the remaining district councils in the county – Cherwell, West Oxon and Oxford City - who are opposed to the unitary plans ­ - put forward their own proposal.

Theirs would see the creation of a combined authority, made up of leaders of the county and district councils alongside the local economic partnership, to make decisions for the whole county.

They highlight the importance of building more homes, improving transport links, and working together to deal with the challenges faced by health and social care.

They claim a merger of six councils would cause costly, time-consuming elections, an administration overhaul and a disruption to local services.

The submission also says: “There is a genuine risk that local government reorganisation would cause an unnecessary distraction, which may put at risk other aspects of the reforms needed to secure the best possible outcomes for the people of Oxfordshire in the medium to long term.”

The three leaders – Barry Wood (CDC), James Mills (WODC) and Bob Price (OC) – said: “In light of the economic challenges the country faces and the issues facing our residents, we’re more interested in discussing how we can work together with the other councils in Oxfordshire and our partners on the issues that local people care about than council structures.”

In a statement, Ian Hudspeth, leader of OCC, John Cotton, leader of SODC and Matthew Barber, leader of VWHD, said: “We are reviewing their report for the very first time and will discuss our response with the other councils in due course.

“In the meantime, our three councils remain willing to discuss our Better Oxfordshire proposal, which is currently with the secretary of state for consideration.”