Oxfordshire Green Party is calling for a referendum with a small number of clear options about planned new Unitary councils for Oxfordshire. The referendum would need to be simultaneously conducted in the Cotswold District Council and South Northamptonshire council areas as they are suggested to be merged with West Oxfordshire and Cherwell councils respectively.
Meeting on 17th March at Oxfordshire County Council HQ, County councillors, officers and members of Oxfordshire Green Party were in unanimous support of giving the public the final say on local government reorganisation. Councillor David Williams, leader of the Green Group on Oxfordshire County Council, comments: "The public have the right to say on how councils in Oxfordshire will be shaped in future. It is not enough to run a consultation in July on this matter. A referendum with clear options will reveal what the public feels about this subject."
David Williams also notes:
"Greens believe in the principle of having Unitary authorities but with extensive powers and proper funding. The Budget cut in business rates with no corresponding increase in the higher council tax bands to compensate means that new Unitary councils would be radically under-funded even compared to the present district councils and the County Council. The Government is committed to end its support of local government through the Revenue Support Grant in 2019-20 as well. This means wholly inadequate future funding for housing, local level planning, consumer protection policies, local economic development and indeed all services to be provided by new Unitary councils. The Green Party supports a local income tax to fund local government and a 'rate review.'"