Cabinet agrees to submit Oxfordshire unitary bid to Government

Oxfordshire County Council has formally approved the decision to submit the unitary bid to Government at their cabinet meeting on 14 March 2017.

The proposal, called ‘A new council for a Better Oxfordshire,’ is the result of joint working by Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils. It makes the case for abolishing the existing two-tier structure of six councils - replacing them with one, new council for Oxfordshire.

Following similar cabinet and council decisions by South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse councils last week, the proposal will now be prepared for submission to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor Ian Hudspeth, said:

“This is a hugely important decision that reflects the shared view that the Better Oxfordshire proposal offers the best way to improve services and get the investment in roads and infrastructure that Oxfordshire urgently needs.

A year ago all six councils in Oxfordshire agreed on the need for change. Since then, we have looked at all the options and concluded that a single unitary council is the best form of local government for Oxfordshire.

In contrast, choosing the status quo is a decision with real downsides. It means continuing to spend money on running six councils, rather than improving council services – which is what the vast majority of residents want.

In agreeing the revised Better Oxfordshire proposal, we are now showing that change is possible, as well as necessary.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet agreed the following recommendations:

  • Respond to the recent letter from the Secretary of State and submit the proposals for a new unitary council for Oxfordshire, subject to any minor amendments required
  • Ask officers to seek local support from key stakeholders and the wider public to promote the proposals to Government, and respond to any subsequent consultation undertaken by the Secretary of State
  • Agree that the further development of the Area Executive Board model, through the establishment of a Joint Committee, open to all Districts and City Councils across Oxfordshire and the County Council, should be formed as early as possible. This Joint Committee should work with the existing County Council advisory group, local communities, Town and Parish Councils, and key delivery partners to develop detailed proposals
  • Ask officers to take steps to establish the City Convention to work with residents and local stakeholders to design the new model of governance in Oxford
  • In light of the above decisions, and the absence of unanimity among the current local authorities, confirm that the Cabinet does not support the proposals for a Mayor and Combined Authority as being the best structure for Oxfordshire.