A new proposal for better local government for Oxfordshire is published today – offering real power and influence to every local community in the county.
The joint proposal: ‘A new council for a Better Oxfordshire’, makes the case for abolishing the existing two-tier structure of six councils - replacing them with one single council for Oxfordshire.
Read the full proposal here at betteroxfordshire.org
The detailed plans, revealed today for the first time by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils and Oxfordshire County Council, are the result of joint working on a revised proposal, following engagement with thousands of residents and community groups across the county – who support a new council, providing it is more local and offers better joined up services.
Seventy per cent of Oxfordshire residents agree with the draft proposal to abolish all six councils and replace them with one unitary council for the whole of Oxfordshire. This result is based on an independent representative household survey commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council.
With the local communities of Oxfordshire at its heart – the Better Oxfordshire proposal sets out how parish and town councils will play a bigger role under a new single council.
Once established, the council will set up between 15 and 20 local area boards covering market towns and surrounding areas across Oxfordshire – giving communities a strong voice and ensuring local matters are heard. They will have significant budgets and the ability to make important local decisions such as prioritising investment in local transport and tackling anti-social behaviour.
There will be fewer councillors, with each unitary councillor representing their community as a local area board member and as a councillor for the new council, giving them a much greater say in their services than under the current two-tier system.
Parish and town councillors will also have a place on their local area board, along with other public service representatives, such as the police - to enhance community safety.
The revised proposals also recognise that the city of Oxford is central to Oxfordshire’s economic and cultural success, and under the new council will become a local council in its own right, with area boards embedded across the city – taking responsibility for community and environmental issues.
Most significantly, the local Oxford council will be able to raise a separate city-wide council tax (or ‘precept’), with funding going directly to community based services such as community centres. To reflect the level of interest in this issue, the revised proposal includes the creation of an ‘Oxford City Convention’ of residents and other stakeholders to agree detailed plans for local government in Oxford.