Today Oxfordshire’s district councils set out their proposals to secure more powers and funding for the people of the county.
All five district councils – Cherwell, Oxford, South, Vale and West – have released videos today with their council leaders explaining why district unitaries would be best for their areas.
The five councils have also launched a new website.
The aim is to give Oxfordshire residents easy access to all the information about the proposals and how they will affect them.
Oxfordshire’s district councils are working together on proposals that include £1.4bn of infrastructure funding from the government, which would be used to unlock £6bn of investment in the county.
The county covers 1,000 sq miles and has nearly 700,000 residents across diverse communities, from rural areas and market towns like Chipping Norton and Henley to urban Blackbird Leys and Rose Hill.
The vision is to create locally-elected unitary councils to administer all services for the area – without the need for Oxfordshire County Council – and be able to gear those services to the local needs and requirements.
That is why the districts’ vision is to create locally-elected unitary councils, which will administer all services for the area – for the first time since 1974 – and be able to gear those services to the local needs and requirements.
When strategic decisions are needed – such as tackling the congestion on the county’s main roads or working with hospitals and GPs to join up health and social care services – the locally-elected leaders of the district unitaries will work together through a combined authority. This builds on the existing joint working of Oxfordshire’s Growth Board.
Oxfordshire’s district councils have a strong record of sound financial management, long-term planning and growth, which has meant they have delivered savings without cutting valuable services.
With responsibility for all services in their local area, the districts would be able to build on this record to better tackle the big challenges facing Oxfordshire: improving education and skills to help people get jobs, improving our roads, building more homes, ensuring children and vulnerable people are protected, and improving the health and well-being of residents.
In May, the districts commissioned an independent report, from experts PricewaterhouseCoopers, to look into the proposals, which will report back later this summer.
Also later this summer, the districts will be seeking the views of members of the public through forums and online surveys.
Councillor Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We want to bring more power to the people of Oxfordshire – to bring services back to a local level so that people can have a real say about how their local area is run.
“Our proposals will also unlock £6bn of new funding, which will enable us to tackle the big issues facing Oxfordshire: the chronic congestion on our roads, the housing crisis in Oxford, poor educational attainment, and children’s and adult services.
“Today we are launching videos and a website so that people can find out more about our proposals and be better informed as the devolution debate unfolds this summer.”