General News

To All Dog Owners & Walkers

Recently, when I asked a parishioner not to allow his dog to run on the sports pitches at Milton Heights,

 

I received a great deal of verbal abuse along with the accusation the Parish Council did nothing.

 

This appeared to be borne out of Mrs Child's letter in last month's Milton Matters. However, it was easy to clarify and only took a few minutes speaking with Mrs Childs, who explained it was the County Council (through 'Fix My Street') who were at fault, NOT the Parish Council as many people thought the letter implied. As there was still some foliage left on the path in Willow Lane, I emailed 'Fix My Street'. I am pleased to say; the pathway is now clear.

 

As to the accusation the Parish Council does nothing. There are 5 councillors at present, our quota is 7, and one councillor is on leave of absence due to ill health. The remaining 4 councillors give up their time for meetings and training, along with attending forums. Councillors are allowed an annual allowance and petrol allowance to cover their time and travel, but all councillors have declined the allowance and have opted to receive only 25p per mile, instead of the 45p allowed, for travelling to meetings, forums and attending training outside the Parish.

 

All councillors work for the whole of the Parish, but no one from Milton Heights has come forward to be co-opted on to the Council, which is rather a shame with there being so much future development in that part of our Parish.

 

If anyone is interested in becoming a councillor, please contact one of the councillors or our clerk. You may be surprised at what is, and can be, done.

 

To All Dog Owners & Walkers
Please be advised dogs MUST be kept under control at all times in public areas. You MUST also remove their faeces.

There are notices showing certain areas of the Parish where dogs are NOT ALLOWED at any time. These are the Squire Barrett recreation ground in the village, and on the sports field at Milton Heights.

We have found certain people are allowing their dogs to roam in these areas which puts the public at risk.
It is well known dog faeces are very dangerous, especially to children, and can cause blindness.

The District Council Enforcement Officer can issue fixed penalty fines of £50 for failing to remove dog faeces. Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice will lead to a court prosecution with courts fining up to £1,000 plus legal costs.
If you have any information on anyone not removing dog faeces, then please contact the Parish Council so that the information can be passed onto the Enforcement Officer to investigate further.

Please be responsible for your pet and not for a child's blindness.

Zena Hoskins
Chair, Milton Parish Council

 

Steventon Choral Society - Handel's Messiah

Steventon Choral Society is hosting a fund raising concert on October 7th in St Michael's Church, Steventon.

Raising money for the Sobell House Hospice Charity as part of the World Hospice and Palliative Care day, Steventon Choral Society will be hosting a Voices for Hospice concert and singing Handel's Messiah at St Michael's Church on Saturday 7th October at 7.00 p.m. 

Tickets £10, includes interval refreshments
Tickets available at the Steventon Post Office or you can call 01235 848292 / 834015 

Steventon Choral Society meets every Thursday evening for rehearsals in Steventon Village Hall.  New voices are welcome, particularly tenors and bases, if you wish to apply, please email us -  info@steventonchoral.org.uk .

Forthcoming events are listed on our website www.steventonchoral.org.uk

 

Ride And Stride 09 September 2017

Ride and Stride is an annual event where cyclists, walkers, horse riders are sponsored to ride or walk between as many churches as possible. All funds raised go to Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust but 50% can be passed on to a church of your choice.

 

If you would like to take part please contact Anne Brownson on 01235 835671 or e-mail anne.brownson@btinternet.com

 

I would be very grateful if anyone who could spare an hour on the 9th would contact me as we need people in the church as “welcomers”, to sign the sponsor forms and offer soft drinks and biscuits. I try and make sure there is someone in St Blaise from 10am to 6pm.

Drayton Players

Drayton Players will be performing Alan Ayckbourn's popular comedy Absurd Person Singular at the village hall on 3, 4, 10 and 11 November. Director Mike Lord has been involved in amateur theatre for over 20 years (he was in “Busybody” with Drayton Players last year) and chose the play because he liked its combination of dry English humour and dark themes.

 

“It's the story of an ambitious businessman who's prepared to betray even his nearest and dearest to get what he wants” he said. “As things get better for him, things get a lot worse for his snobbish rivals. There's even an attempted suicide. That doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs, does it? But you'd be wrong. Despite what you might expect, audiences actually find themselves collapsing with laughter as events descend into farce. It really is a very funny play.”

 

Drayton Players are looking for cast members and backstage crew, so if you'd like to join in, get in touch with them at info@DraytonPlayers.org.uk or ring our Chairman Mike Davies on 01235 821351

Oxfordshire Historic Landscape Characterisation

Your attention is drawn to a fantastic new tool created by Oxfordshire County Council, the Oxfordshire Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) map and dataset, and to extend an invitation to attend and participate in the Living Landscapes exhibition being held at The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock on the 15 July 2017.
The Oxfordshire HLC project, funded by Historic England, has created a map and linked database of the whole county which captures the history of our landscapes. It looks at the paddocks near Blewbury, the housing developments in Witney, the plantations of woodland near the Wittenhams and records what was there in the 20th, 19th, and 18th centuries. It highlights where medieval and post-medieval features have survived intact within the landscape or where their influence can still be seen. It charts the increase of recreational facilities and urban settlement and highlights the decrease of orchards and ancient woodland.
It is not only an invaluable evidence base for those engaged with drawing up and reviewing Neighbourhood Plans, but a wonderful tool for researching local history.
 
As members of the public, access to the HLC dataset is free and requests can be made directly to the Historic Environment Record Officer (archaeology@oxfordshire.gov. uk). In your requests you should include specific spatial parameters (for example, a two kilometre radius around Milton) and your preferred output – shapefiles for use in a GIS or jpegs of maps.
You can also search the map online and bring up a simplified version of the database. Visit our project webpage (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ historiclandscape) for the link to the interactive map and instructions on how to use it.
 
Join us on Saturday 15 July 2017 at The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock to see (and hear) a series of poems, drawings, and photographs inspired by the HLC project, view the online map, and take home guided historic walks. There will also be a series of poetry writing workshops and map making activities for children. For more information and to see how you can get involved, take a look at the exhibition webpage (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ livinglandscapes). Entry is free.
 
If you have any queries about the project, the online map, or the exhibition, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me directly.
Dr Abi Tompkins, Historic Landscape Characterisation Officer
Oxfordshire County Council
Planning and Place
Communities
County Hall
New Road
Oxford OX1 1ND
Tel: 07920084492 Email: abi.tompkins@oxfordshire.gov. uk
 
Calling all photographers, poets, and lovers of landscapes! Do you want to be part of our Living Landscapes one day exhibition being held at The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock on the 15 July 2017? The exhibition showcases work by local artists, poets, school children, and residents on the themes of landscapes, change and memories.

As part of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme, a fibre-enabled cabinet is now live and ready to take orders in Milton.
This means that 185 residents and businesses in the parish will be able to request an upgrade to fibre-enabled broadband from a range of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In most cases, this means that residents can select a product offering download speeds above 24Mbps following infrastructure upgrades made via the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme.

The aim of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire Programme is to provide access to fibre-enabled broadband where this is not commercially viable without public sector investment.
The cabinet in the following location is now sporting a large sticker declaring, ‘Fibre broadband is here.’ This indicates that the cabinet is live and ready to take customer orders.

Rowstock Cabinet 22:
Located: Milton Hill, 4 House Farm Trust, Milton Heights, Abingdon OX14 4DR
Went live: 14/03/2017
Rowstock Cabinet 22:
Serves 5 postcodes
OX14 4DT
OX14 4DZ
OX14 4XA
OX14 4DU
OX14 4LS

Please note that improved broadband services are not turned on automatically. To access fibre-enabled broadband, please contact your chosen ISP or use comparison sites to find available packages. There is a list of ISPs on the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire website: http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/cms/content/broadband-providers
If you contact an ISP, please state that you wish to order ‘fibre-enabled / superfast broadband,’ otherwise they may offer you a slower broadband service. Your chosen ISP should be able to offer any technical assistance to access fibre-enabled / superfast broadband. There is also an Availability Checker on the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire website that you can use to compare packages: http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk
It is also important to note, that not all premises within a postcode area will be necessarily be able to order superfast speeds (above 24Mbps). Premises will be able to access a range of speeds – some will get superfast broadband and others will be able to get anywhere between 2Mbps and 24Mbps, depending on distance from the cabinet.

New Station & Water Park In Plans For Didcot's Transformation

artist impression didcot station gateway southA £620m vision for Didcot's future that includes a new railway station and water park has been unveiled today.

 

The Didcot Garden Town masterplan aims to provide new infrastructure and get the 'best deal' for Didcot and surrounding areas, with 16,000 new homes planned for the town in coming years.

 

Ahead of the unveiling South Oxfordshire District Council leader John Cotton told the Oxford Mail: "We have got to be ambitious, if we are not we will never get anywhere. I honestly believe we can deliver at the very least two thirds of all the different schemes we are proposing. I think this is one of the most ambitious plans for a town anywhere in the country. We want a new leisure centre, which I think could have the potential to be a real state of the art facility, it would be great if we could have a water park, which people from across the county came to. We want new roads, a new River Thames crossing to join up the town more, this is a long term vision for the town, not everything will happen overnight."

 

Planning permission has already been granted for 10,000 of the 16,000 proposed homes. Didcot was awarded garden town status by the Government in December 2015. Garden towns are meant to provided affordable homes, schools and jobs whilst preserving the countryside around.

 

Mr Cotton said: "When it comes to developers it is always the case that the houses get put up first and everyone is left waiting for the roads and the schools and leisure facilities. Now we are making sure Didcot gets the infrastructure and the facilities it deserves, we want to make it a destination for people to come to."

 

A breakdown of the investment shows that £256.2m is proposed for transport infrastructure, £52.2m on sustainable travel and energy and £60.8m on town centre upgrades and leisure facilities. A further £224m will go on key residential and commercial development projects, £18.5m for community engagement and business support and about £10m on various additional costs.

 

Mr Cotton added: "This is a really exciting time for Didcot, we are planning to ensure that by 2031 each home will be within 300 metres of green space the size of two football pitches. We also want to build a heat network which will allow us to supply homes with energy at next to little or no cost."

 

Residents breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year after their campaign to save their beloved Ladygrove Park from being potentially turned into a technology campus was successful and is no longer a part of the masterplan.

 

Mr Cotton believes that the only controversial aspect of the project could be the pedestrianisation of Cow Lane. He added: "I can understand why residents might be sceptical because it would add time to their journeys. But we are making other improvements to the road, which will mean they will be hardly affected by having to go another route."

 

Although a majority of the plans will not be realised for the next 20 years or more, such as moving Didcot Parkway station to a new site at Rich's Siding's site, there are some which are just around the corner.

 

Mr Cotton added: "I think one of the schemes that can be delivered within the next five years will of course be the second phase of the Orchard Shopping Centre. Others are the redevelopment of the Gateway site opposite the train station and also major improvements to the town's road infrastructure."

 

A £50m expansion of the Orchard Centre will begin in May. A consultation on the plans will run until Monday, July 31, and the final blueprint will be published in the autumn.

 

The plans, which have gone online today (19 June), are available to view on both South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils' websites.

 

Oxford Mail 19 June

Oxfordshire County Council Elections

Drama in the Milton voting ward (Sutton Courtenay and Abingdon). Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Webber held onto his seat, just!

 

His 34 vote majority can be classed as "the width of a cigarette paper", but it's enough. He won 1,345 votes to the 1,311 won by the Tory candidate Stuart Davenport.


Sutton Courtenay & Marcham - results
Election Candidate Party Votes %
 Richard John Webber Liberal Democrats 1345 45% Elected
 Stuart Philip Davenport The Conservative Party Candidate 1311 44% Not elected
 Coral Ann Avril Plumb Labour Party 239 8% Not elected
 Craig Simmons Green Party 96 3% Not elected


Voting Summary  
Details Number
Seats 1
Total votes 2991
Electorate 7785
Number of ballot papers issued 2351
Number of ballot papers rejected 5
Number of postal votes sent 987
Number of postal votes returned 646
Turnout 30%

 

Oxfordshire County Council Elections

artist impression didcot station carpark . . . it’s a vote for your community

 

Oxfordshire County Council provides many of the important services in your community, such as Fire and Rescue, looking after vulnerable children and adults, libraries, roads, waste disposal, school nurses and tackling rogue traders, to name just a few.
The county council elections on Thursday 04 May are your opportunity to directly influence how these services are run in your area.
The councillor elected in your area will be representing you and your community, taking important decisions that affect where you live. They will also be the person you get in touch with if you want to improve services over the next few years.
You can find the full list of candidates standing in your area and your nearest polling station at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/elections
The elections take place on Thursday 04 May from 7.00am to 10.00pm. The election count takes place on Friday May 05 in Abingdon.
If you care about local services, don’t forget to vote and remind your friends and family too!

 

£20 million Car Park At Didcot Parkway

artist impression didcot station carparkWorkhas begun on a £20 million multistorey car park at Didcot Parkway.

 

The scheme will see the number of spaces increase by over 65 per cent to 1,800.

 

It is hoped the car park will be finished by summer 2018 and Great Western Railway (GWR) are looking into alternative car parks while the work is being carried out on Foxhall Road. GWR Regional Development Manager Tom Pierpoint said: “Didcot Parkway is used by over three million customers every year, and offers quick and easy journeys to Oxford, Banbury, Reading and London – making it a key hub. With London around 40 minutes away by train, a new multi-storey car park, complimenting new trains and more seats, will provide a better travelling experience for all those who use the station both now and into the future.”

 

Oxford Mail 10 April

£400,000 Spent So Far On 'Super Council' War Of Words

Bickering council leaders insist £400,000 spent on a war of words about a 'super council' has not been wasted. The figure was revealed after Freedom of Information requests by the Oxford Mail to the six biggest Oxfordshire authorities. It lays bear the cash spent as they have locked horns over plans for a shake-up, with both sides spending tens of thousands of pounds on advertising, consultants and leaflets in the past year.

 

The super council would replace Oxfordshire County Council, the four district councils and Oxford City Council, running all services under one roof and saving £20m a year – or £400,000 a week. It is supported by the county council, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district council and – despite opposition from other authorities and most local MPs – they yesterday formally submitted the idea to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

 

Yesterday they and their opponents rejected claims the £400,000 spent on campaigning for and against the proposals, respectively, was a waste of taxpayers' money. But Ian Green, of Oxford Civic Society, branded them 'irresponsible' and said they should have 'sat down and talked' instead. He added: "This is not money well-spent. Instead of talking to each other, our local authorities have decided to spend £400,000 on justifying their disagreements. It is irresponsible for them to do that when they should be focusing on reaching a consensus. We are now in a situation where a proposal supported by only three of the six main councils has gone to the Secretary of State [Mr Javid]. It is simply not good enough. What has been put forward is not sufficiently thorough – we hope Mr Javid will send it back. We want our authorities to sit down and talk to each other, not waste more taxpayers' money."

 

Figures disclosed to the Oxford Mail show the most was spent in total by Oxfordshire County Council, at £177,303. However, this included a £100,000 report it commissioned last year from consultancy to look at options for how councils could be reorganised.A similar report was jointly commissioned by the four districts and city council, also costing about £100,000.

 

The next biggest sums spent were £78,400 by Oxford City Council, £57,137 by West Oxfordshire, £31,866 by Cherwell, £31,610 by South Oxfordshire and £25,000 by Vale of White Horse. The overall costs are likely to keep rising, with all of the authorities admitting they were poised to spend even more.

Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, insisted cash used by his council was 'well-spent' if it resulted in a shake-up. He added: "That money has gone towards serious work that could make a real difference. If we pull it [reorganisation] off, then the savings will be significant."

 

And John Cotton, of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "I completely understand £400,000 will be seen as a huge amount of money. "But to put it into context, we hope to save the same amount every single week if the [super council plan] goes forward. I think that is a very good investment. Would it have been better if we all agreed? Of course it would."

 

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "We commissioned thorough financial analysis and engaged the public to help us improve the proposal. As a result, we have a positive, workable plan to improve services and hand greater control over decision-making to local communities. While it is a lot of money, we believe we got good value and that the potential benefits are well worth the cost.”

 

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price, whose authority led the 'Hands off Oxford City' campaign and send leaflets to thousands of city households, said: "We were advised by the Government to commission studies to examine unitary council options. That expenditure was necessary if we were to put in a successful bid [for devolution]. But over the past three months, the county council has run a campaign for a hostile takeover of the Oxfordshire district councils. The districts have of course had to respond to this aggressive campaign and dispel the myths and misleading assertions which have characterised it."

 

West Oxfordshire District Council leader James Mills said: "It is disappointing we have had to spent this money, because there are better things it could have gone on. But it was clear from talking to residents in our area that they think a super council is a bad idea and we are representing them. What I would say is that back in September, all six councils agreed to work on a joint devolution proposal. Since then, the county council and Vale of White Horse leaders have said 'devolution is dead'. That doesn't leave much room for negotiation."

 

In response to the bid, a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said any bids for a super council would be given careful consideration.

 

Oxford Mail 24 March

Councils Unveil Revised Unitary Bid At Official Launch

A revised blueprint that could dictate the county's future was launched by council leaderson Friday.

 

The joint proposal by Oxfordshire County CouncilVale of White Horse District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council sets out their controversial bid to become a unitary authority.

As with the county council's initial One Oxfordshire document released in January, the amended Better Oxfordshire proposal would see the county, district and city councils abolished and merged into a 'super council'. 

 

The 148-page document outlines changes such as a giving Oxford its own 'city convention'; effectively its own council that will control community services and have the power to raise its own council tax precept to spend on these. It will also increase the number of area boards, which oversee certain decisions at a more localised level. In January the proposal outlined only five of these, but now there is scope for around 15-20.

 

Speaking at the launch at Saïd Business School, county council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "We have listened carefully and made improvements. There has been a noisy campaign against the proposal but I do not believe that represents public opinion. The new standalone city council's control will be hardwired into the constitution. I invite the city council to join us to make this a success."

 

Oxford City Council, Cherwell District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council have so far shunned the unitary bid. Supporters claim it will save £100m and make the system more simplistic, while objectors fear it will reduce localism and affect grant funding.

 

Speaking at the launch, Vale leader Matthew Barber said: "It's vital we look for simpler, better and lower-cost ways to deliver services." South Oxfordshire District Council leader John Cotton added: "People are worried about a large council being remote [but] the establishment of area executive boards will involve town and parish councils, police and health services and maybe charities."

 

A new statistic released by the councils today states that 70 per cent of people in the county back the idea of a unitary authority, according to door-to-door interviews with 500 residents across the county.

The Oxford Mail's local government reporter Matt Oliver pointed out this was a much smaller sample size than a poll being undertaken by the objecting councils.

 

However a spokeswoman for the county council said: "Our sample size is highly statistically reliable and representative and big enough to give a clear cut level of support for Better Oxfordshire.  Our survey approach (face-to-face personal interviews) is recognised as the ‘gold standard’ for surveys." She said the telephone survey method used by the three other councils suffer 'problems of survey bias'. 

 

he Better Oxfordshire document is set to be approved by each council's cabinet within the next couple of weeks, before being submitted to the Government before the end of March. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will then consider the case for and against and ultimately decide whether or not to allow a unitary council to form. 

 

More information about the proposal can be found here


 

Oxford Mail 3 March 2017

Super Council Gaining Support

A bid to create a ‘super council’ in Oxfordshire is gaining support after U-turns by the bosses of two previously opposed local authorities.

 

Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, and John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, are both now in talks with Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth about the proposal, the Oxford Mail has learned. The idea could save £20m a year but would involve scrapping the six biggest councils and replacing them with a single, 'unitary authority'. Under the change, up to 180 councillors and 400 staff could lose their jobs.

 

Mr Barber and Mr Cotton have previously opposed the idea but are now understood to be actively discussing how it could be done. A source familiar with the discussions told the Oxford Mail: “There is a bit of a reconciliation going on. "There is still some disagreement, but they are definitely closer than they were a week ago.” The source added ‘intense discussions’ were taking place about how a joint bid for a single council might be presented to government ministers.

 

So far it is understood the three council leaders, with backup from senior officials, have drafted ‘heads of terms’ setting out how a new super council could be set up. This has not been published, or considered at meetings of their respective authorities. The source stressed talks were at a very early stage, adding: "It is about what happens in the run-up to the new authority being created.” Areas of discussion are focused on what would happen in the transition between the current six councils and any new council, which would start off as a 'shadow authority'.Mr Barber and Mr Cotton's change of position potentially clears the way for an agreement to be reached, following a long-running row about the issue. Other authorities are still against it, however, including Oxford City Council, West Oxfordshire District Council and Cherwell District Council.The Government has previously said it will not impose reforms unless there is broad agreement among local authorities.

 

A spokeswoman for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils said: "We are currently reviewing and talking with the county council about the draft discussion document to ensure our views about a single unitary authority and the needs of local residents are reflected."

 

t comes after the local authority leaders penned opinion pieces for the Oxford Mail, hinting at a change of heart. In them, they wrote there was 'much to be welcomed' in the super council proposals and they included 'promising signs'. A county council spokesman said today: “We welcome Cllr Barber and Cllr Cotton’s comments about the need for a fresh start for local government in Oxfordshire. They are absolutely right that we must find a way to balance local decision-making with the economies of scale needed to protect council services. We know from talking to residents about the One Oxfordshire proposal that local accountability is a key issue. It is essential for there to be a real debate about how we jointly provide services to the people of Oxfordshire and would want to explore these ideas further. This is a golden opportunity for us all to work together for the benefit of the residents that we all serve.”

 

Oxford Mail 3 February 2017

“NO DOGS ALLOWED”

Despite the signs saying “No Dogs Allowed”, increasing numbers of people are taking their dogs onto the Squire Barrett recreation ground, Lambe Avenue play area and the sports field.

 

Thinking that you will scoop up the poop, or leave it to wash away or degrade naturally and it will be ok, is not good enough.

 

We are fortunate to have lots of open spaces around the parish where dogs can be walked. Play areas and sports fields are not one of them. And for very good reason …
• Dog waste is teaming with E. Coli roundworm larvae and other harmful bacteria including faecal coliform bacteria. (There are 23 million faecal coliform bacteria in a single gram of waste).
• Ingested roundworm larva, can migrate through the body causing disease to the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart or blindness. So when people (especially children) touch soil, dog toys or anything that has been in contact with dog faeces and then touch their mouths, they can become infected.
• Dog waste doesn't just "wash away" or disappear. It may degrade - but the parasite eggs can linger for years! Coming into contact with that soil through everyday activities like walking barefoot, gardening or playing, risks infection from those eggs ... even years after the waste is gone.
This is not an anti-dog rant but a reasonable request not to take dogs where they are not allowed.
• Do properly dispose of your dog’s waste (and that doesn’t mean bagging it and then throwing the bag into a hedge or over a wall).
Dog waste bins and litter bins are provided so please use them.
Under the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 a person who is in charge of a dog must clean up after it when it fouls any footpath, highway, verge or other open space to which the public have access.  It is therefore a crime to allow a dog to foul in any public area without clearing it up.  Those that fail to do so could face a fixed penalty notice of £50 or prosecution.

Milton Parish Council

Oxfordshire super council that 'could' save £400,000 a week

A super-council could replace the county's six biggest local authorities and save £400,000 a week, it is claimed. The merger would reduce costs by £100m over five years and make services better and simpler, Oxfordshire County Council says.

 

Publishing its detailed plans for the first time, it has asked people for their views before it submits a case to the Government. Bosses claim money being 'wasted' on having six councils could pay for 5,700 potholes to be filled a week, or almost 20,000 hours of home care. And they said the new council would have the option of reversing controversial cuts made to services like children's centres and daytime centres. But it would mean abolishing the county council, Oxford City Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, Cherwell District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council – and up to 180 councillors and 400 staff losing their jobs.

 

Announcing the proposal yesterday, county council Conservative leader Ian Hudspeth said: "We should be spending our money on improving services, not running councils. This is a once in a generation chance to improve local government in Oxfordshire and deliver better services for residents. What we have here are draft proposals and we want to work with all our partners – that is residents, businesses and councils – to find out their views."

 

The new council would take over responsibilities for services currently split between district and county level, including rubbish collection, roads, council housing, planning, leisure centres and social care. It would have between 100 and 125 councillors representing people across the county – down from 282 across all the authorities now – and those from the city and four rural districts would be grouped into 'area boards'.

 

The proposals published today say the boards would have powers to raise their own local precept on top of council tax, as well as control over most planning applications – with the exception of developments of 200 homes or more.

 

Mr Hudspeth said the merger would help protect services from further government funding cuts. And he added: "Ending the inefficiency of running six councils would save £100m over the first five years. The new council would clearly therefore have the option of revisiting areas where savings have previously been made."

 

He was backed by the leaders of rival county council political groups Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who said a single council would be able to run services in a more 'joined-up' way. Labour group leader Liz Brighouse added: "We need to tackle the real crisis in affordable housing in Oxfordshire, which our two-tier system is failing to do." Local County Councillor, representing Milton, Richard Webber (pictured left) said: "People want more influence over decisions affecting their local area, while ensuring that bigger decisions in the interests of the whole of Oxfordshire are not ducked."

 

According to the county council, the super-council bid is "separate" to plans for an elected mayor and devolution deal in Oxfordshire. But it argues a mayor could lead the new council if the post was a key condition for major funding from the Government. The bid for a single, unitary authority comes after two separate reports commissioned by Oxfordshire's councils – costing taxpayers £200,000 in total – found the change could save tens of millions of pounds. A similar bid has also been submitted in Buckinghamshire and senior officials are watching closely, with some seeing it as a test case. But the plans for Oxfordshire are likely to face strong opposition from district councils, who have previously argued a larger, 'monolithic' authority would not be able to balance the needs of Oxford with its rural neighbours.

 

The council has asked for people to give their views before a meeting on March 14. To comment, visit: oneoxfordshire.org or visit your local library.