Victoria Prentis MP (North Oxfordshire), John Howell MP (Henley), Robert Courts MP (Witney) and the Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP (Oxford East) have released a joint statement following recent speculation about devolution plans for the county.

Together they said, “We have seen that South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse are now backing a bid for a county-based unitary authority.  We have also seen that this is opposed by Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, and West Oxfordshire District Council.  So this is not a unified bid across the whole county, does not have the support of the majority of the county’s MPs, and fails the criteria for consensus which the Department of Communities and Local Government are working to.

We recognise that over recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about the future arrangement of local government across the county. We are committed to the accountability and efficiency of local government.  But there are some red lines we would like to draw.  It is essential that the distinct identities of the different areas in Oxfordshire are respected, with council arrangements which are sufficiently close and meaningful that they are in touch with and accountable to local residents and their needs.  This is an important issue for everyone. It is not something that can or should be rushed. Our priority is to find the best arrangement for all our constituents.”