Latest news on “Better Oxfordshire” unitary bid

The County Council’s Cabinet voted today to submit a unitary bid proposal called  “A new council for a better Oxfordshire” to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The proposal was co-written by the County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, and the Vale of White Horse Council, and all three authorities have now voted through executive decisions to press on with the submission.

The proposal can be seen at

It makes a case for abolishing the existing two tier structure of six councils and replacing them with one new council for the whole of Oxfordshire.

If the proposal gets the backing of the Secretary of State, (this is by no means certain) it is possible that those elected to office in the May 2017 elections will only serve for two years until 2019, and the Oxford City Council elections might be suspended in 2018 allowing existing City councillors to continue until 2019. At that point, all out elections would take place for the new authority.

Oxford City Council’s “Hands off Oxford City” campaign has now come to a close. Over the next few weeks it will:

  • Develop an alternative proposal which creates a partnership body to oversee spacial planning and infrastructure invested in the County with the aim to get all Councils to work together;
  • Provide Government with an independent assessment of public opinion;
  • Commission an independent and detailed analysis of the County Council Unitary proposals and publish that; and
  • Ensure local stakeholders and the public know there is an alternative and publicise the results of public services.



Who should empty your bins? Join the debate

There is ongoing debate about whether local councils should be reorganised. Austerity cuts affecting the County Council means that it’s having to cut or reduce services that are important to people, and it thinks reorganisation of the whole structure is necessary to use money more effectively.

There are two schools of thought on whether complete reorganisation is necessary.

Here is the link to the One Oxfordshire proposal supported by the leaders of the Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour groups on the County Council: it seeks to abolish the county council and the five district councils and replace them with one new unitary authority.

The City Council believes that the necessary incremental savings can be made if all existing authorities can come together and work as one combined authority, however it is likely that this can only be allowed by central government if the proposal includes a directly elected Mayor.

Here is the Oxford City Council web page article explaining the rationale for its petition against the One Oxfordshire proposal.

Disclaimer: any inaccuracy of information displayed on the above linked web pages are entirely the responsibility of the local authority concerned.

Currently the county and district councils (the city council is a district council) are split over whether reorganisation should go ahead, and what form it should take.

We urge all our residents to take part in the public consultation on the One Oxfordshire proposal, whether you are in favour of it or not – your comments will count. We are interested to hear your views on this: we think there are strengths and weaknesses to both proposals. Unitaries may be the future, but their number, size and even the principle are not yet decided and deserve wide discussion.

We think it is very important that all authorities continue to debate the issues with one another, rather than take polarised positions.

Are you aged 15-21? Here’s an event for you!

The  next Open Space event, on Tuesday 8 October, offers young people aged between 15 and 21 or 25 if they have special educational needs, the chance to influence the Council.

They are invited to suggest 12 topics or issues that are important to them and at the event they will be discussed and voted on. The top three issues will become a key focus of work for the Council next year.

Young people have also been invited to exhibit their art and add music they’ve made to the event play list.

Key organisations have also been asked to attend the event to give them an opportunity to showcase their activities directly to young people.


For more information about getting involved in the event please email Caroline Robbins, Youth Engagement Officer at or tel 07775 005 485.


Ward Focus meeting with Council chief a hit with residents

Tuesday’s Ward Focus meeting at the NOC attracted a crowd of engaged and interested residents.

Mark Trumper, Director of Estates at the OUHT, outlined latest developments at the hospital sites, and gave us some very useful information about the proposed cancer research centre in terms of what work will go on there, how many visitors/patients it will attract, approximate timescales, and how it will be funded.

He answered questions about the overall master planning of the trust, he confirmed there is currently no plan to sell off the green space from the Manor House to Cuckoo Lane, promised to investigate the railings at the cemetery end of the JR site, and outlined the three markets for any potential housing that may be built on the Churchill site.

Peter Sloman, Chief Executive of Oxford City Council for 5 years, said that Oxford has problems arising from its own success. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, one of the cities with the youngest population, and one of the most diverse cities in the country

Major issues are:

– educational attainment in some parts of Oxford are among the worst in England
– transport constraints on growth
– housing to help employers recruit and enable our people to find homes

He answered questions on the  notification to residents of planning applications in their area, the difficulties in enforcing car-free development, support for Commonwheels projects by freeing up delays in negotiations with City officers, the value of neighbourhood planning (“a battle worth fighting”), planning enforcement with especial reference to a property in Old Headington, the management of green space and its insufficiency in Headington, building on allotment sites, the County Council’s Health and Safety decisions to prevent residents walking or cycling to Redbridge with material for recycling only to be told the site may be entered by vehicle only, and Oxford turning into Bin City.

We have notes of the meeting, so if you are a resident in our ward and would like a copy, please hit the Contact Us! button or drop us a line.

Better still, come to our next Ward Focus Meeting on Tuesday 15 January to make sure you’re up to date with the latest Headington news!

Don’t lose your right to vote!

Are you a Headington resident who is interested in the local elections? Have you received your polling card? If not, it may be that you are not on the electoral register. If so, it’s not too late to register — not quite!

The deadline to register is this coming Tuesday, 18th April. You can find out how to register from the national website of the Electoral Commission. Note that you will have to print off that form or scan it to send to the Elections Office at the Town Hall (their e-mail is: ).

And, if you are on the register or are now registering: have you thought about voting by post? It would save you the hassle of going to the polling station, and is especially useful if you are away from Oxford on Thursday, 3rd May. But, again, the deadline to register is this coming Tuesday.

In any of these cases, if you want advice or assistance from your Headington councillors, please drop us a line. It doesn’t matter how you vote: what is of the first importance to us is that you get to vote. Flex your democratic muscle!