Greens demand referendum on new local shake-up

Oxfordshire's Green Party County councillors will be moving a motion on 5th April to persuade the County Council to cooperate with Oxfordshire's District Councils in giving the public choices in a referendum on Unitary councils. As leader of the County Council Green Party group, David Williams, explains, the County Council is being shut down in stages:

"If the Fire Service is to be transferred to the Police and Crime Commissioner; if the Local Economic Partnership is to take responsibility for economic planning; if there is to be closer working with the Health Commissioning bodies via a multi county agency and if all schools are to become Academies, large areas of County services are now being dismantled by Government."

Supporting the principle of new Unitary authorities, as the Green Party does, means there is a responsibility to obtain public support for change. David William explains:

"Accepting the reality of diminished responsibilities for the County, consultations with all the District Councils should be started immediately to formulate at least two and perhaps three optional structures for the delivery of the remaining services through three or four suggested new unitary councils. These options should all be within the existing County boundaries. The people of Oxfordshire should choose what they see as the most suitable areas for their local government."

Given pointless and avoidable cuts, local government services need to be re-built. This must start, Councillor Williams argues, with a clear commitment that local government job losses must cease as part of the changes: "A clear 'no  redundancies' policy should form part of the agreements for the transfer of staff to new councils."

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