Witney News - Good news for West Oxon from council budget

Witney - A view from Church Green


Good news for West Oxon from council budget

Residents in north and west Oxfordshire are to benefit from a series of improvements made to services they receive from Oxfordshire County Council as part of the budget the authority has set for 2009/10.

The council has set a council tax rise of 3.75 per cent, lower than the 3.875 per cent originally proposed and a continued decrease in the year on year rate of rise since 2005.

Museum, library, social care and youth facilities will all benefit thanks to money earmarked for the coming year by the county council at its budget meeting.

Councillor Keith Mitchell, the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "We are pleased to be able to make improvements to life in places across the north and west of Oxfordshire and look forward to being able to deliver these changes in the coming year or two."

Good news for north and west Oxfordshire

Good news contained in the budget for north and west Oxfordshire, includes:

* There will be an investment of 250,000 over three years at Cogges Manor Farm Museum in Witney to allow selected farm buildings to be used for new purposes to ensure the long term sustainability of the site and underpin any bids for grant or lottery funding. This is over and above the 480,000 that has been agreed for the running costs of the museum over the next three years, 2009-12.

* An investment of 750,000 over two years to make major improvements to buildings at Witney Youth Centre in Witan Way. This will mean the centre can be used more flexibly including more day time use, making it a more cost efficient resource.This will include the development of a separate training room and break out and performance space for delivery of the council's 'On Course' programmes which are designed to support pupils aged 11-14 who are at risk of exclusion from their mainstream school or are self excluding. The courses are designed to assist young people to develop the skills and resilience to manage themselves better at school, at home, on the street, with their peers and with adults.

* Funding has been identified to extend the age range at The Cooper School, Bicester, with the creation of a 4m sixth form centre. The county council is also seeking a contribution from the Learning and Skills Council towards the project

* Some of the first extra care housing schemes in the county will be delivered at Orchard Fields, Banbury, along with a brand new care home. Work is due to start in 2009 and will be completed in association with the Oxfordshire Care Partnership. The cost to the county council is 1.5m. Extra care housing allows older and disabled people with care needs to rent or buy their own home in an environment that provides round-the-clock care on-site.

* Another batch of the first extra care housing schemes in the county will be delivered at Old Road, Bicester, along with a brand new care home. Work is due to start in 2009 and will be completed in association with the Oxfordshire Care Partnership. Cost to the county council is 1.3m.

* A new care home/primary care centre at Rockhill Farm, Chipping Norton, close to the Castle View based facility that it will replace - costing the county council 1.45m.

* A new Resource Centre in Witney at the current site of the Moorview Day Centre - this will be a multi client centre for older people, people with learning disabilities, and those with mental health issues. The facility has cost the council 1.5m to construct and will begin to operate in 2009. It will offer the same community hub style services as the acclaimed Bicester Resource Centre.

* Internal refurbishments will be undertaken at Carterton Library, including replacement carpets and shelving.

Countywide news

Other news of benefit to north and west Oxfordshire in general includes:

* Benefits for people commuting to Oxford from north and west areas of Oxfordshire arising from the council's financial commitment to pay for new electronic signs at key points on the approaches to Oxford, giving prior warning of congestion, delays and full car parks.

* A further 200,000 over the next three years for the county council's 'Chill Out' fund. Bids are invited from a range of providers who work with children and young people in Oxfordshire. Over the past three years thousands of children and young people have benefited from this fund across Oxfordshire in many different ways. If an organisation has a plan for youth work in Oxfordshire, it can apply for a slice of the fund.

* An extra 400,000 for children's social care. This will pay for eight new social workers, four in 2009/10 and four more in 2010/11, additional training for social care workers and additional administrative support. The county council feels it is in a sound position to avoid a Baby P scenario in Oxfordshire but wants to assure the public of its ongoing commitment to the safety of the children in its care.

* A 15,000 per year increase in the county council's 'Hands On Oxfordshire' heritage service, which visits day centres, schools and other community settings.

* A total of 400,000 of extra money for apprenticeships with the council. The council has had a programme of developing apprenticeships over recent years in order to ensure skill development and to increase opportunities for young people. These have been across a number of fields including social care, administration and civil engineering. The county council is now putting further funding in to this programme with 400,000 over the next two years to provide an opportunity for yet more young Oxfordshire people to gain a step up in to a new career. This is especially welcome in such difficult economic times.

Council tax

The county council provides around 80 per cent of council services to local people including highways maintenance and transport, the fire and rescue service, trading standards, emergency planning, libraries, museums, schools, social care for adults and children, the youth service, the registration service and many other services.

The remainder of services are provided by district councils. Parish councils and Thames Valley Police also receive money from the council tax. These organisations set their council tax levels separately.

Government funding covers around two-thirds of the county council's annual budget. The changed council tax level would come in to effect on April 1.

The current county council share of the Band D Council Tax level is 1,089.75. This will increase by around 40.85 for 2009/10.

Posted : 11/02/2009 10:50:06

Other recent Witney news items

Landlords urged to have their say

Private landlords in West Oxfordshire are being invited to have their say as part of a new forum being set up by the District Council. The aim of the event is for the council to provide support an...[more]

Christmas Tree Recycling

West Oxfordshire District Council is encouraging residents to recycle their real Christmas trees. Householders already signed up for garden waste collections can simply put them out on their next...[more]

Revellers urged to check their cab

With the Christmas party season in full swing, residents are being warned to stay safe and check their taxi is safe and legal. Customers are being urged to look out for the Council's licence plate...[more]

To view the full Witney Blog, click here