Reports released into re-organisation in Oxfordshire

Oxford councils have published reports into re-organisation in a bid to develop consensus about governance arrangements to support a devolution deal.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire district councils have been told to hold talks about the future of local government in the county after the government demanded consensus before moving forward.

The county report has proposed a ‘strategic county-wide unitary with strong district administrative areas’, while the district council report conceded that a single unitary would be cheaper, but claimed it risked a lack of responsiveness and would take communities further from decision making.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I welcome publication of both reports together so residents and everyone else with an interest in public service improvement can make up their own minds.

“Once we have all had the opportunity to consider both reports report in detail, I will be looking to work with the districts on areas of common ground in the hope of finding a way forward in the interests of residents of Oxfordshire.

“It is clear that real progress will only be made through joint working with the districts and other public service providers, and I will do whatever I can to make sure that happens.”

Speaking on behalf of the city and district councils, Cllr Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Following discussions with civil servants, it is clear that the new government’s priorities in this area have changed and they are looking to councils to develop consensus about governance arrangements to support a devolution deal.”