Approval for multi-million pound investment to improve Oxfordshire roads

A deep pothole on Mewburn Road, Banbury NNL-180503-123017009
A deep pothole on Mewburn Road, Banbury NNL-180503-123017009

Roads across Oxfordshire will hopefully benefit from a decision by county councillors to borrow up to £80m to invest in highways.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to the multi-million pound investment in highways and other assets like schools yesterday (Tuesday).

Plans to transform how Oxfordshire County Council operates and cut up to 890 jobs were also given an initial approval at the meeting.

The county council will borrow up to £120m against the anticipated increase in council tax from new homes to invest in highways, schools and more.

Councillors argue there is minimised risk because if the expected rise in receipts not materialise, then the borrowing will be paused, and each investment will need to be approved individually.

Leader Ian Hudspeth said this will make Oxfordshire more attractive to residents and businesses as well as supporting other services.

“This is an exciting time and it’s this reinvestment, not just in roads but in everything, that gives us the ability as a council to look after those vulnerable people,” he said.

A lone voice against the idea was Cllr Charles Mathew, who believed the local authority should be reducing borrowing, not increasing it.

But cabinet member for environment Yvonne Constance said this is ‘serious money for serious work’.

Cabinet members agreed to the £18m transformation scheme which would save up to £58m a year by using new technology and reducing staff.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said the alternative would be to cut services but this plan avoids that scenario for the first time in eight years.

Outgoing chief executive Peter Clark said he hoped the staffing cuts would found through employees leaving naturally.

A business plan will now be developed before the scheme is brought back to cabinet in October.