Oxfordshire County Council accepts LibDem proposal to consult on unitary status for the county, so that the £33 million a year savings can be used to improve services.
Oxfordshire County Council Liberal Democrats budget proposal for a county unitary authority was accepted yesterday by a cross-party agreement to put forward the best deal for Oxfordshire residents.
It was also agreed to accept the Labour budget amendment proposals which offered more time to find a long-term solution to Oxfordshire County Council's woes, but it is no more than a short term fix. We all know that, unless there is a dramatic shift in Government thinking, we will all be back at the table managing the Council's finances and services further downwards inside twelve months.
Recent history suggests that arguing with Westminster and our MPs is not going to persuade them that local government is seriously under-funded. Oxfordshire desperately needs its own solution - no-one else will provide one. The new, firm commitment (59 for, 3 against) of the County Council "to consult Oxfordshire residents on Unitary Government for Oxfordshire with the clear intention to deliver as soon as possible" is, in the view of the Liberal Democrat Group, the only idea which could fix the problems long term and save many, if not all of the services currently under threat. That is why we insisted it should be part of the budget proposals, and that is why the Council voted for it.
Cllr. Richard Webber, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said "This year was one of the worst on record for trying to find a solution to the cuts imposed on Oxfordshire County Council year on year. We decided that it was in the public interest to ask the residents of Oxfordshire if they want to move forward with a Unitary Council for the whole county. This will deliver at least £33M of savings which will help to provide front-line services in the long term which matter most to them".