Councillors updated on Cherwell/Oxfordshire County Council separation

Councillors have been updated on the process of separating services that have been shared by Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council in recent years.

 A decision was taken in February to end the partnership between the two authorities. A number of services have already separated while others will do so later in 2022/23.

Some services will continue to be provided by the county council to Cherwell District Council based on service level agreements rather than joint services. Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet received an update at its meeting on 19 July.

The overall cost to the county council as a result of the changes – following initial mitigation measures to reduce costs – is assessed to be £700,000 in 2022/23. This will rise by a further £100,000 to £800,000 in 2023/24. 

Costs arising will be met from the council’s contingency budget in 2022/23 and the ongoing impact will be addressed on a permanent basis as part of the budget process for 2023/24.

The joint arrangements had been in place since autumn 2018. Services that have split or are splitting include housing services, climate action, healthy place shaping, corporate health and safety, communications, strategy and insight, legal and democratic services, information governance, procurement and contracts and customer services. The councils will work together under new arrangements on internal audit, counter-fraud, IT and digital services and emergency planning. Best practice joint working in environmental health and trading standards will continue.

Since February, the two authorities no longer have shared a chief executive and the leadership teams fully separated on 1 July.

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We wish our colleagues at Cherwell District Council well and we will continue to work very closely with them and all of our district and city council colleagues.

“Earlier in the summer, Oxfordshire was praised by central government for the way we pooled resource between the county council and district councils to put in place a comprehensive system which ensured there was a coherent and holistic approach to COVID compliance and enforcement. We will continue to build on our strong partnership working for the benefit of Oxfordshire residents.”