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.



Revised single unitary plans proposal

Thanks to all residents for sending in comments to the proposal for a single unitary. Some of these comments have brought changes in the revised proposal, particularly a significant increase in area boards and strengthened governance for Oxford City.

The latest revised proposal is at

The next steps for the proposal are that it will be considered by Vale of White Horse’s Cabinet on Monday. The county council’s Performance Scrutiny Committee will consider the proposal in detail on Thursday 9 March, including a presentation on public engagement exercise. The County Council Cabinet will consider the proposal on 14 March.

Cllr Price, the Leader of the Oxford City Council has commented:

“Our position remains the same. We call on the County Council to end this wasteful exercise that now seems more confused than ever and focus instead on solving the issues we are all facing over housing, infrastructure and skills shortages.”

We would welcome all comments from residents on the revised proposal. It seems that some changes have been made in response to resident concerns. We certainly agree with Cllr Price that the exercise has been wasteful of council taxpayers’ money, but this applies to the City Council as well as the County Council. We look forward to the results of various Freedom of Information requests to find out the total cost incurred by both authorities on consultancy and marketing at a time when adult social services and children’s services are fighting to maintain service levels at a time of huge government cuts. We believe that the outcomes need to be about quality, sufficiency and effective management of services to our residents.

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.

Daytime support consultation -have your say

Find out more about the County Council’s proposals for a new, flexible system of daytime support across the county, and share your views on the options that have been proposed.

Book your place at one of their meetings.

Call 01865 323410 or email The County Council can organise transport for you or pay travelling costs if required.


Tuesday 22 November 2016, 12.30pm – 2:30pm
West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Rd, Oxford OX2 0BT


Wednesday 23 November, 12.30pm – 2:30pm Banbury Town Hall, 1 Bridge St, Banbury OX16 5QB

For more information – visit their website or pick up a consultation pack at a daytime support centre or library.
Closing date for comments: 20 December 2016


City Council underspend is questioned by Lib Dem Group

The City Council has reported an underspend of £494K for the year 2015/16. Cllr Jean Fooks who is a member of the Finance Scrutiny Panel, noticed that in fact the city had spent almost £2m less than its budget of £23.3m. About £1m was due to projects not having been completed, or even started in some cases, and this has been carried forward to be spent in 2016/17.  Of the rest, £360k was allocated at the last minute to bids not originally proposed, mostly extra spend not publicly agreed.

It looks as if Council Tax did not need to be raised as it was. LibDems asked why there had been no public discussion of how the £361k was to be spent and have queried this use of resources.

Lib Dem councillors will be keeping a very close eye on the Labour City Council accounts for this year and the proposals for 2017/18.

Christmas closures published for City Council

Christmas closures: Oxford City Council services 

Day Date Open Close
Friday 23/12/2017 Normal 16:00
Saturday 24/12/2017 Closed
Sunday 25/12/2017 Closed
Monday 26/12/2017 Bank Holiday – Closed
Tuesday 27/12/2017 Bank Holiday – Closed
Wednesday 28/12/2017 Normal Normal
Thursday 29/12/2017 Normal Normal
Friday 30/12/2017 Normal 16:00
Saturday 31/12/2017 Closed
Sunday 01/01/2018 Closed
Monday 02/01/2018 Bank Holiday – Closed

Bravo County Council! Changes to parking permit service

Thanks to residents for telling Customer Services Manager Mark Peet your views at our Ward Focus Meeting. He has investigated your issues and reports back below on actions taken.

As promised I have a further update on improvements to the Residents and Visitors Parking Permit service.

In July I  advised that I would be looking at further ways to improve our online service and document validation service for residents, in particular around the Headington area, who are unable to upload documents as part of the application process.

I am pleased to inform you I have made changes to reflect the need to improve both of these areas.

  1. Online Payments – As part of the online application process for Resident and Visitor Permits, residents in Controlled Parking Zones can now complete the full application online including paying for their permits. There is now a secure, safe and PCI compliant way to pay for residents when applying. This service was made available from Monday 8thAugust and we have had over 100 applicants in less than a week choosing to apply and pay using this service.
  2. Document Validation – On the 8thand 9th of September our team in Headington Library will be training in Document Validation which will enable them to validate parking documentation. This service will then be available in Headington Library from week commencing 12th September. This means customers will be able to validate the documents we need as part of the application processes without needing to send them into us. We will simply check the documents and hand them back to the resident once we have confirmed they are correct.

It’s good to see positive changes being made by the County Council and an officer keen to come out to public meetings to listen to and act upon our residents’ concerns.

Update on works at Beech House (corner of Latimer Road)

Here are unconfirmed notes taken from yesterday’s meeting of the developers/construction company with the community. We are finding it progressively more difficult to help co-ordinate building works  in what appears to be an absence of any work schedule for the Access to Headington project. We are bombarding the County Council’s A2H team with requests for information on what will happen when!

Issues so far

  • Latimer Grange residents very upset by noise from piling work RW. Piling work will stop on Friday, machinery will be removed Mon/Tues next week
  • Start times adjusted following complaint from RW
  • Complaint from RW re car in Latimer Grange private space into which a worker on site had driven into at speed and parked displaying a notice “car broken, waiting AA” had been resolved by site manager
  • County Networks had complained the road needed wetting and cleaning, this has been done
  • Winvic staff very helpful in helping elderly residents cross the road (McMaster House and RW)

Current situation

  • Had met Planners this morning, useful meeting. Need to look at resolving some issues incl. ramp from London Road entrance – concerns about tree roots, bin storage areas, waiting for reply from Headington School re fins/window treatments
  • Promised to reinstate pavement for McMaster House – have already tarmacked the other side and McMaster House warmly appreciative
  • Promised to sort out the half-block wall outside which now looks unattractive

Outstanding issues

  • Contribution towards Latimer Grange barrier ready to be made but don’t know who is going to do the work. (RW chase Hastoe Housing Association manager)
  • Newsletters have ceased after the one in May, site manager will issue a brief sheet explaining what has been done so far and what will happen over the next 4 weeks

Likely timetable

  • For the following 6-8 weeks, Cairncross will deal with ‘civil works’ within the curtilage
  • Storm water drain connection will necessitate works in London Road. Likely to be Jan/Feb but plans still to be drawn up
  • Co-working in close proximity with other major projects needs to be more joined up  (RW chase County again for Access to Headington plan and speak to County Networks about tie-ing in works with Vital Energi if the pipe application gets consent)
  • Drainage/sewerage issues – existing pipework may be insufficient diameter, certainly in Latimer Road and Brookside (RW asking Drainage team for advice before contacting Thames Water)
  • Tower crane needed end Oct/early Nov. Jib needs to be assembled in 36m of space before attaching to mast. There may not be enough room on site to do this so likely to ask Networks for road and footway closure at top of Latimer Road on a Saturday (date to be confirmed, could be beg. November)

Contacts on site

  • Site Manager is going on holiday 17/8
  • Mick Walsh taking over rest of this week, we have his contact number
  • He goes on holiday for Bank Holiday week so there will be a relief manager sent there for the 3 working days of that week, details not yet known. Mick will inform stakeholders

All questions to Ruth (RW) please.