OXFORDSHIRE MPs SAY UNITARY ANNOUNCEMENT “HAS A LOT OF MERIT”

Oxfordshire’s MPs have issued a joint statement following the announcement by Oxfordshire’s District and City Councils to pursue District Based Unitary arrangements. The proposal would see the disbandment of Oxfordshire County Council.

The Prime Minister, together with the Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith MP, John Howell MP, Ed Vaizey MP, Nicola Blackwood MP and Victoria Prentis MP said: “This is a very interesting proposal – and one which all of us, as Oxfordshire’s MPs, feel has a lot of merit”.

The Prime Minister, and MP for Witney, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP added: “West Oxfordshire is one of the best run and most cost effective councils in the country and we are, after all, the gateway to the Cotswolds so I see a lot of advantages in exploring this option.”

Wantage and Didcot MP, Ed Vaizey, said: “The time to look at unitary local government for Oxfordshire is long overdue.  This is certainly a compelling proposition, which deserves consideration.  No doubt there will be a debate, but we must not lose the prize of single-tier local government.”

Henley MP, John Howell, said: “I think this is a very exciting development. It is clear that there are a number of local authority services that are in need of radical overhaul. Merging health and social care is a good place to start, but tackling issues like the backlog on roads infrastructure, the mismatch in job skills and simplifying local government will make a big difference for everyone. I’m pleased that our district council leaders are thinking about these issues and they have my full support.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood said: “I think many will welcome a simplification of our local government structure, and of course we must take care to ensure the quality of our service provision remains high. I look forward to learning more about the detail of the proposals and will be following developments closely.”

Oxford East MP, the Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith said: “This can bring local government closer to the people, cut confused responsibilities and better meet the distinctive needs of each community. Great care will need to be taken to ensure that vital services like child protection presently provided by the county are properly safeguarded.”

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, said: “I welcome this proposal. Cherwell and South Northamptonshire District Councils already have a well-established working relationship. I know that they have a lot of new ideas that could improve service delivery and save money. I look forward to seeing how plans progress.”