Greens seek three unitaries for Oxfordshire

An appeal to the warring factions behind differing proposals to restructure local government in Oxfordshire has been made by Oxfordshire Green Party. County Councillor David Williams is suggesting that both sides in the debate, the County Council and District Councils, come together and adopt a plan for three unitary authorities in the Oxfordshire area.

The Green have prepared a detailed 27 page review that looks at the future of all services under local authority control and lays out clearly what would be the most efficient, economic and most democratic structure.

Councillor Williams says: "Our plan would mean the abolition of virtually all of the existing structures with the exception of the City. In the forthcoming reform that is inevitable for most councils whatever is agreed. A great deal of money and Officer time can be saved if a three unitary compromise can be obtained."

David Williams adds:

The Oxfordshire Green Party review suggests three Unitary councils rather than the present County Council and five District Councils. There would be a Northern Unitary composed of West Oxfordshire and Cherwell council areas; an Oxford City unitary; and a Southern Unitary created from the existing council areas of the Vale of the White Horse and South Oxfordshire.

David Williams notes:

The public money spent on consultants and the immense periods of time spent by Councils and Council Officers on devolution to Unitary authorities has not been justified. Reluctance to publish the findings of these consultants on the part of our councils suggests the commissioned research offers things our councils do not want to hear. Have the consultants come to the same conclusion as the Green Review?

The Greens have also asked that the new unitary authorities are elected by Proportional Representation but Councillor Williams acknowledges that Central Government is likely to veto that.

Showing 3 reactions

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  • commented 2016-09-11 13:36:09 +0100
    Also, note that there are only 2 Green Oxfordshire County councillors and 4 on the city council. Decisions are not made by online commentators or letter writers, but by elected councillors. We need to get more Green Party councillors elected in the 2017 County Council election. Larger groups have more influence, particularly when they have the balance of power.

    This spring I came across a Lib. Dem. supporter who committed to speaking to 1000 voters on the doorstep each election. How much support do you give to Green Party election campaigns? Could you manage 2 hours/week? Click on Volunteer and sign up.
  • commented 2016-09-11 13:21:06 +0100
    The problem is that the leaders of all the district councils and the county council want to get their hands on central government money (currently spent by the unelected Local Enterprise Partnership). They have to accept either an elected mayor or unitary authorities as a condition of that. So there will be devolution to unitary authorities whatever our minority Green councillors say.

    To deal with this situation, the Green councillors have come up with a proposal to create unitary councils closer to local people, with further devolution to parish councils. We cannot stop ‘devolution’, but we can modify it. Indeed, the Green Party proposals were praised by both sets of consultants and incorporated into their reports.
  • commented 2016-08-04 17:33:30 +0100
    Declaration of interest: I work for a district council – albeit not in Oxfordshire.

    I’m disappointed to see the Green Party support imposition of unitaries in Oxfordshire or anywhere else..

    Most recent history – Cornwall, for example – has shown unitary to be expensive possibly at the cost of local democracy.

    Most unitary bids are almost solely based upon the needs of counties, saddled with their statutory responsibilities for social care. Rather than reacting to this funding crisis with a discredited anti-democratic solution, we should be campaigning to get government to properly fund local councils.

    It is naive to expect that unitary will go hand-in-hand with proportional representation. Instead unitaries make it increasingly more difficult for the Green – or any other minority – voice to be heard. It places additional burdens upon parishes and towns with which they are ill-equipped to deal. It also creates much larger wards making elected representatives more distant.

    Please re-consider!

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