An attempt by the Labour-run City Council to stifle public debate in the Council Chamber on the controversial 'Better Oxfordshire' proposals looks likely to fail say the Greens.
Originally, legal officers refused to accept a Green motion for debate at the upcoming City Council meeting on 24th April stating that LGA rules prevented debate during the County Election purdah period.
After the Greens threatened to write to the LGA , the City Council softened their stance saying instead that the motion could be debated 'in private' but would not appear on the City's order papers. Neither would video of the debate be broadcast until after the County elections on 4th May.
Labelling the move as 'undemocratic' and 'unworkable', Green City Council Leader Craig Simmons says, "Spurious reasons are being given for preventing this critical, and very timely, public debate that could affect the very future of the City Council. In any case, these attempted restrictions are not only undemocratic but also unworkable. There is nothing to stop the Greens releasing the text of the supposedly secret motion  and members of the public attending, and even recording, the proceedings on 24th April. Ironically, in clumsily trying to stifle debate the Council has actually provided a better platform to promote what is happening on this crucial issue of great public interest."
 The Greens are still awaiting a response from the LGA lawyers
 Text of the censored motion:
Opposing the Better Oxfordshire Proposals
Proposed by Craig Simmons Seconded by Dick Wolff
This Council notes the results of recent surveys and petitions which show that:
- 67 per cent felt decisions about services that are currently managed at district level should be made at a district/city level (IPSO Mori survey commissioned by Oxford City Council)
- More than 15,000 residents have signed petitions started by Oxford City Council, Cherwell and West Oxfordshirewanting to safeguard the local delivery of services
- 66 per cent directly opposed the One Oxfordshire proposals (County Council’s own online survey)
Despite this, Oxfordshire County Council have submitted its proposals (backed by the leaders of the three largest political groups on the County), with limited concessions to public opinion and a branding change to ‘Better Oxfordshire’, to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 23rd March 2017.
This Council has previously expressed its opposition to 'One Oxfordshire' and does not believe that these amended proposals address its fundamental concerns. Council therefore agrees to:
- Formally state our opposition to the 'Better Oxfordshire' proposals and write accordingly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and our MPs;
- Ask Scrutiny Committee to consider re-convening the Devolution Working Group to determine the best way of responding to, and monitoring, the progress of these proposals.