Our commitment to a new council that saves residents £100m
The county council’s Cabinet committee today (20 September 2016) agreed to press ahead with developing detailed proposals, with the involvement of partner organisations and the public.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“With the help of our partners and residents, the county council will develop proposals for an entirely new council for Oxfordshire that is simpler, offers better services and can respond to local priorities.
When faced with stark financial choices as demand for council services rises, we need to look at anything that enables us to save money and protect frontline services. I simply can’t turn my back on £100m, which is why we are pushing on with plans for a single council for the whole of Oxfordshire that saves money and joins up services.”
Work has now started on plans for a single council for Oxfordshire, including an innovative county/district hybrid council. The hybrid model would offer the strategic decision-making and bigger savings for Oxfordshire as a whole, while retaining local accountability at district level.
Grant Thornton, the consultancy that carried out research for the county council, concluded:
“Our initial view is that [the county/district hybrid] would be likely to deliver similar financial and service benefits to local residents and businesses as the county-wide unitary model. It protects the key strengths of scale, clarified accountability, shared boundaries with partners and strong leadership through a single body of elected members and a single officer corps.”
The district councils commissioned their own report, but both reports reached similar conclusions – the current two tier structure of county and district councils is not viable, and a single council for the whole of Oxfordshire saves the most amount of money. This money could be used to improve services and keep council tax down.
A single council would also join up key services such as transport, housing and social services to enable better planning for the future.