Oxfordshire Growth Board urges County Council to work with District Councils’ devolution study

Published: Thursday, 31st March 2016

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has urged Oxfordshire County Council to work with the county’s District Councils on a joint study into devolution.

Oxfordshire’s five District Councils have commissioned a study, which will be carried out by independent experts, to investigate all the options for how the county’s six councils could be reorganised.

The aim of the study is to find the best devolution outcome for the diverse population of Oxfordshire – an option that will both improve local services and save taxpayers’ money.

Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council have agreed to jointly commission and manage the study, but Oxfordshire County Council has decided to pursue its own investigation.

Oxfordshire Growth Board has now backed the District Councils’ study and urged the County Council to get on board.

The Growth Board is a joint committee of Oxfordshire’s six councils that is charged with delivering collaborative projects. The committee overseas the multi-million pound, Government-funded City Deal and Local Growth Deals, along with setting local priorities and lobbying locally and nationally to make them happen.

The committee today (31/03) agreed the following motion: “The Oxfordshire Growth Board notes that the response from government to the devolution proposals that were presented collectively to DCLG/BIS/Cabinet Office in December 2015 indicated clearly that a different and stronger form of governance was required for the proposals to make progress.

“The Board also notes that, in order to take forward a devolution bid, the five district councils, together with South Northants and Cotswold District Councils, have commissioned a feasibility study for a wide range of unitary local government options.

“The Board welcomes this initiative and urges Oxfordshire County Council to join with the Districts in the commissioning and managing of this study, rather than duplicating this work by commissioning a separate study to cover the same ground.”

Councillor Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The five Districts are urging Oxfordshire County Council to join with us in the commissioning and managing of this study, rather than commissioning a separate study to cover the same ground.

“The Districts have amended the study’s terms of reference to reflect the County Council’s comments, and now Oxfordshire Growth Board has agreed that the study needs to be jointly commissioned – so there really is no excuse not to get on board.”