Council welcomes unitary decision
West Oxfordshire District Council welcomes the Government's rejection of Oxford City Council's unitary proposal. The plan put to the Government would have resulted in replacing Oxfordshire County Council and the district councils with new unitary authorities. West Oxfordshire would have been combined with Cherwell to form a large North Oxfordshire unitary authority including Banbury and Bicester.
Cllr Barry Norton, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council explained why the District Council did not favour the unitary proposals: "There would have been huge transitional costs and disruption if the changes put forward by Oxford City Council had gone ahead. They would not have been in the best interests of West Oxfordshire residents as we would have ended up paying much higher district council taxes, and would lose our ability to focus on local needs.
"It was a proposal based on changing structures rather than concentrating on delivering better value services to our people. We did not support the proposal and are very pleased the Government has decided not to proceed."
West Oxfordshire District Council is a top performing authority with high customer satisfaction rates, expected to be one of the best in the country, when the results are published. It also has the second lowest district council tax in England and the lowest in Oxfordshire.
"Working closer with the other Oxfordshire councils is the way forward", said Cllr Norton. "By doing this we are able to maintain the identity of West Oxfordshire and be accountable to people in the local community as well as achieving lower costs.
"Already some joint working arrangements and excellent partnerships are in place. This is set to develop further, building on the good practice that already exists."
Proposals submitted were subjected to an assessment. They had to show that any change to a unitary structure must be affordable representing value for money and be met from the council's existing resources. They also had to show they had the support of partner organisations and stakeholders.
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