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Oxford,
18
May
2016
|
00:00
Europe/London

Statement on “Coxit cock-up” as Cotswold and South Northamptonshire district councils drop out of unitary bid

Summary

Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Local Government Affairs has responded to a press release titled 'District Council Leaders rule out cross-boundary unitary solution' issued today (19 May).

Commenting on the press release Cllr Nick Carter said:

“Losing one district could be considered unlucky but losing two on the same day looks like a shambles. They have hastily carved up the county again with no thought about the best way to deliver good council services.

This isn’t Plan B or even Plan C. They have already asked their consultants to look at four options, and none of them is the one put forward today.

The reality is that three or four small unitary councils just won’t work after the government said new councils need a population of at least 300,000 to be financially viable. Oxford city has half that number.

The district study is looking at the city doubling in size, with a second unitary council managing the left overs. It is time for the people of Oxfordshire to understand the city council’s ambition to expand its borders beyond Kidlington, Eynsham, Wheatley and Abingdon.

There is going to be a land grab, which either the districts haven’t seen coming, or have already secretly agreed to.”

New district proposals after Plan A Fails

1. The Districts’ proposal

The Districts’ proposal for future governance is for four new Unitary Authorities, and the creation of a Combined Authority as the vehicle both for collective commissioning and for effective shared service delivery

  • A Southern Oxfordshire Unitary - covering the area currently administered by Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils serving a population of 261,867.
  • An Oxford City Unitary -covering the area currently administered by Oxford City Council serving a population of 157,997.
  • A West Oxfordshire & Cotswold Unitary - covering the area currently administered by West Oxfordshire District Council and Cotswold District Council serving a population of 192,795.
  • A Cherwell & South Northants Unitary - covering the area currently administered by Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council serving a population of 232,658.

2. An alternative option of 3 Unitary authorities:

If progress cannot be made on the cross boundary proposed option then the Districts alternative option would be a three Unitary option within the County Boundary consisting of:

  • A Southern Oxfordshire Unitary - covering the area currently administered by Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils serving a population of 261,867.
  • An Oxford City Unitary -covering the area currently administered by Oxford City Council serving a population of 157,997.
  • A Northern Oxfordshire Unitary Authority covering the area currently administered by Cherwell District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council serving a population of 252,700.

3. A comparator “donut” option of 2 Unitary authorities:

  • An Oxford City Unitary based on the existing boundaries of Oxford City Council and an expanded boundary to serve a population of between 250,000 - 300,000
  • A Unitary Authority covering the remaining area of Oxfordshire outside the City Unitary serving a population of between 370,000 – 430,000

4. A single Unitary Authority

Covering the area administered by Oxfordshire County Council, serving a population 672,500

After the districts concluded that their preferred option was not workable, they announced the intention to look at another option:

5. Four unitary authorities based on the following district council areas:

  • South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse – serving a population of 261,867
  • Cherwell – serving a population of 144,494
  • West Oxfordshire – serving a population of 108,158
  • Oxford City – serving a population of 157,997
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