Thank you chairman
I would like to start by thanking Lorna Baxter, chief finance officer, who has been invaluable in helping
to prepare this budget. She has been ably assisted by Katy and the rest of her team.
I would also like to thank Cllr Bartholomew for his hard work. Cabinet member for finance is always a challenging
I would like to thank my independent colleagues who have
supported the budget process to enable a stable administration to deliver this budget.
I think the residents want that stability rather than listening to us arguing and scoring points at today’s
Last year I said the council had made some tough decisions.
I don’t want to downplay the impact these decisions have had on council services. But without those difficult decisions
we might be facing a very different budget.
By focusing resources
where they have greatest impact, I can present an affordable budget to Council. Services for the most vulnerable adults and
children across the county will continue.
Our finances are in good
shape compared to the state of local government finances generally. Northamptonshire’s Chief Finance Officer was forced
to issue a formal notice stop council spending. The public finance body, CIPFA, has warned that other councils may follow.
Our financial position is still extremely tight, and we must work
hard to deliver the savings in the medium term financial plan. But I am confident we can and will make those savings.
As in previous years, I have been very open with the main opposition parties by providing information on
the budget process. I want to see if we can deliver a united budget today.
I’m sure that we all remember two years ago when all Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independents
voted together on the budget.
We took difficult decision to reduce
bus subsidies, and reorganise family support services and day services for adults. That meant that we could deliver a balanced
four-year budget. Today we benefit from that difficult vote we all took in 2016.
In proposing this budget, we have taken into account comments from Performance Scrutiny Committee and public
responses to the consultation.
People are rightly concerned about the
impact of savings on services, and on the voluntary sector that does so much in our communities.
I am concerned about this too, and believe this budget will make the best use of scare resources. I would
particularly like to highlight the way more than 30 community groups have stepped in to provide services such as ‘stay
and play’ for families with small children.
We have provided
some financial help, but it is those community groups that have made it happen. That is what we mean by ‘thriving communities’.
From 2010, when we started a savings programme, to the end of this financial year we will have saved £360
million. Most of that money has been be reinvested in services, particularly for vulnerable children and adults.
This has been set against a back drop of the number of adult care packages we provide nearly doubling since
2010. The number of looked after children has increased by 60%, and demand for child protection services continues to grow.
With these sorts of budget pressures, we have to target our resources to provide vital services to those
vulnerable adults and children who require them most.
It's a tribute
to our staff that we have been able to make the savings while continuing to run services - day in, day out - that help our
Here are just some examples of the services we deliver:
Assessing the care needs
of over 10,000 vulnerable people and rising
Providing long-term social care for 6,500 adults
Organising a million hours a year of support a year, as well as assisting thousands of informal carers.
Assessing almost 4,000 children, including over 1,500 child protection issues
Supporting, currently, 700
looked after children, and 600 on a child protection plan
Working to turn around 550 families with real problems so they
Registering 20,000 births, deaths, and marriages
Maintaining almost 3,000 miles of road
or renewing over 40,000 concessionary bus passes in year
Disposing of over 300,000 tonnes of waste
to over 5,000 fire and rescue incidents
what business as usual looks like at Oxfordshire County Council. But demand for services continues to rise as our population
grows and ages.
The Conservative government has already recognised the pressure
by allowing us to raise a 3% precept to pay for social care as part of Council Tax.
This year the government enabled us to increase Council Tax by an additional 1% in further recognition of
the pressure on all social services.
This will mean we will raise the council
tax by the maximum allowed without triggering a referendum of 5.99%.
do not believe in raising taxes unnecessarily. I understand the impact on our residents who may not have had an increase in
However, I am confident that people understand about the
rising cost of social care.
In return, we will always ensure the
money is spent as efficiently as possible.
Government funding for
councils was announced last week after the budget papers were printed. We have been given an additional £1.4 million,
which is welcome news for Oxfordshire.
Once again, it shows that
the government is aware of the pressures on Adult Social care.
feel we need to carefully consider how to best use the additional funding. I propose to increase our contingency fund so that
we can respond to the demand for adult social care over the course of the year.
The Conservative government has recently provided an additional £916,000 this year for highways repairs. This
will be used to do longer term patching work in the spring.
In the meantime,
we will continue to carry out urgent repairs to our roads, which we all know have suffered over the winter.
For the first time, we have created a 10-year capital programme so we can take a longer view of the costs
and benefits of road repairs.
I am hopeful that we will be able to
spend our maintenance budget more effectively. By taking the long view, we can spend less on filling potholes and more on
repairs that will last for years.
There will also be more money to spend
on roads as a result of government funding. Although that money is for improving the road network, it means money that would
have been spent on maintenance on those roads can be used elsewhere.
year I said I wanted Oxfordshire to have its own infrastructure fund. I’m pleased to say that yesterday cabinet agreed
to sign the Oxfordshire Growth deal, worth £215 million.
money is reflected in the new capital programme. I am becoming more optimistic that we will be able upgrade our road network
in the coming years.
These are large amount of investment, that will fund the
infrastructure needed to support the predicted growth in jobs in Oxfordshire and ensure our economy continues to thrive.
On the subject of roads, I note the amendment by the Liberal Democrat group regarding a cycling officer.
This was a position I was considering following the review of
cycling provision for the National Infrastructure Commission.
are still waiting for Andrew Gilligan’s report and I did not wish to pre-empt any of its recommendations.
In addition to the £155 million for planning and delivering improved infrastructure, we have been given
£60 million to deliver more affordable homes across Oxfordshire.
affordable homes won’t come overnight, but homelessness is becoming a national problem, and Oxfordshire has its share
of the problem.
I propose that we continue to fund homelessness
support for an additional year in 2019/20 by £500,000. This will be subject to the current consultation on supported
housing, and discussions with our City and District colleagues.
this budget, I want to make sure that communities have a say in how money is spent.
To achieve this, I am proposing a Councillor Priority fund. This will be £15,000 a year for each councillor
this year and next.
If successful, I would like to see the fund grow to give
greater decision making to local members as they understand their divisions the best.
I would encourage members to work with others in their locality. Perhaps they could find match funding to
gain greater spending power.
I know that residents are concerned about highways so that may be where most of the funds will be spent.
But the money could also be used for day centres, community bus
projects, children’s centres, village hall or homelessness projects.
It will be the members who make the decisions, in consultation with their communities.
I also propose to commit £25,000 on improving partnership working with parishes and town councils,
which already do so much in their communities. Together, we can do more.
Finally, there will be £30,000 set aside for World War One commemorations to mark the centenary of the Armistice
in 1918. I welcome views on how that money can be most appropriately spent.
This budget is not only compassionate as it is:
It is also about
localism as we are providing funds that will deliver local solutions by County Councillors who know their divisions best.
This is a budget that delivers for Oxfordshire people and Oxfordshire’s thriving communities.
COUNCILLOR IAN HUDSPETH
Leader of the Council
|Click on the Picture for the full story
I was delighted to be able to help local resident Becky Aries when she phoned Radio Oxford. The snow
the previous day meant that her road was unpassable and her husband's funeral was at 11:00, I was not sure if we could
manage to clear the snow within 3 hours but said I would try.
I made some
phone calls and we were able to get a snow plough/gritter to the road in time. I'm incredibly proud of the Highways
team to help out on a difficult day for Becky.
My speech regarding Fairer Funding for Oxfordshire's pupils on 30th March 2017 at Larkmead School, Abingdon
My name is Cllr Ian Hudspeth; I am Leader of
Oxfordshire County Council and a Conservative.
Tonight I’m not here to justify the government’s position but to say I am trying to get the best
deal for Oxfordshire’s pupils.
Why is it that a primary pupil in Oxfordshire on average receives £4300 compared to a pupil in London
£6,200 or £5,250 in Nottingham
They all require a similar amount so that they can receive the best education possible.
I have written to all of Oxfordshire’s
MPs explaining to them the impact it would have on schools within their constituencies both positive
A few weeks ago I had a private meeting with the Secretary of State and highlighted the issues this would
create, particularly for the smaller rural schools within Oxfordshire.
At Oxfordshire County council we are proud that despite
all the funding issues we have not closed a small rural primary school.
These are often the foundations of villages; one of
the main reasons people chose to live in them , take away the school then other facilities may go too, making them become dormitory villages.
The current funding formula is unfair to Oxfordshire
as I’ve previously mentioned so when the Fairer funding consultation was proposed we were happy with the proposal.
No political party can claim the moral high
ground as the current formula was started by the Labour government and then continued under the Conservative/Liberal
Democrat coalition, at least this Conservative government is trying to address the problem
However if the financial envelope remains the
same then for some schools to benefit others must lose out; so the only truly fair way is to provide more funding.
This is one of those difficult decisions as there are 2
ways to do this by increasing taxes or reducing funding to other areas.
We know that people want more funding for the NHS
and I’m sure that everybody in the room would like to see more funding for roads so this is the difficult choice that
national government has to take.
Yet at the same time, we as a country are still borrowing £52billion this year simply to maintain our
current levels of spending, this needs to be reduced.
I know how important a good education is for all children but they have to be able to get to the schools
on the roads and will require health care facilities so I can understand why there is no more funding so if that is the case
then to have a truly fair share for all children it means there will be some losers.
The situation with a reduction in the funding to schools has a higher
impact on those smaller rural schools who have smaller budgets and less capacity to find savings due to economics of scale
and could make the difference between 1 or 2 members of staff and should smaller schools become
unsustainable then it’s the local authority that has to pick up the bill for transporting children, to be fair it’s
an unintended consequence rather than simply adding more financial pressure on the education authorities.
I have seen a presentation on the new funding
formula and to be honest it requires a degree in higher maths to try and understand how all the different issues impact upon
the final fund; deprivation, sparsity, low prior attainment, entitlement to free school meals and pupil mobility.
Once again Oxfordshire loses out because we
are perceived to be an affluent county that does not require additional resources.
That is simply not true despite having low unemployment and a relativity high standard of living we need
the funds to ensure all children benefit and Oxfordshire’s economy can continue to grow.
The net gain for all Oxfordshire schools is
£4million, just 1.5% so far less than the cost pressure of around 8% on schools.
I’m sure tonight we’ll hear many stories about the impact on particular schools; please email
me the details so that I can take it up with the local MPs and others at a higher level.
I apologise if you have come tonight to attack
me as a Conservative for not providing the funding for schools because I think we are all agreeing to stand up for truly fair
funding for all of Oxfordshire’s children.
Budget Speech 2017
Thank you chairman
I would like to start by thanking Lorna Baxter, Chief finance officer, who has been invaluable in helping
to prepare this budget. She has been ably assisted by Katy
with the rest of her team.
Also I would like to thank Cllr Stratford for his hard work, the cabinet member for finance always a challenging
I would like to thank my independent colleagues
who have supported the budget process to enable a stable administration to deliver this budget. I think the residents want
that stability rather than us all arguing and trying to point score at today's meeting
Each year I have said that I hoped that it
would be easier than last year’s budget and for the first time I can say that it has been, although there are still
difficult decisions to implement.
We still have to work within a challenging financial envelope to ensure that funds are targeted towards vulnerable adults
and children across the county.
As in previous years I
have been very open and transparent with the main opposition parties by providing information on the budget process prior
to any announcements, sharing information with them.
was content to see if we could deliver a united budget today.
I’m sure that we all remember that last year when all Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independents
voted together on the budget. Those difficult decisions we took on reducing bus subsidies, children’s centres and adult
social care meant that we could deliver a balanced 4 year budget and today we benefit from that difficult vote we all took
In proposing this budget
we have taken into account comments from Performance Scrutiny Committee and stakeholders responses to the consultation through
the Council’s website.
We know that it’s important to reduce the national deficit otherwise we are simply passing on debt
to our grandchildren and great grandchildren. This has meant that local government has played its part by reducing expenditure.
Since 2010 we started a programme of reducing the budget by the end of the last financial year we have saved
£300 million. We have plans to save another £77 million by 2020.
The financial settlement this year has meant we do not have to find more cuts but we still have £15
million to save in the transformation programme.
has been set against a back drop of the number of adult care packages increasing by 94% since 2010; the number of looked after
children increasing by 60%.
With these sorts of increases
it means that with the reduced finances we have to target our resources to providing vital services to those vulnerable adults
and children who require them. Already 50% of our net budget is spent on providing these vital services to 2% of the population.
It's a tribute to our staff that we have been able to make the savings and still have basically the same
service delivered to our residents.
I do not believe in raising
taxes unnecessarily as I understand the impact on our residents who may not have had an increase in their wages. However I
am realistic and always want to ensure the money is spent as efficiently as possible.
We will raise the council tax by the maximum allowed without triggering a referendum of 4.99%
The Conservative government last year recognised the pressure on social care and allowed the 2% precept increase
which we took and had to demonstrate that the extra funds were spent on social care particularly helping to implement the
National Living wage brought in by the Conservative government.
We had built into our balanced 4 year medium
term plan a 2% rise for the adult care precept. This year we have been given the option of taking 3% for
each of the next 2 years with O% in the third year, we have decide to take that option; again we have to demonstrate where
that extra funding is being spent.
We will use just over £1.0 million to Grow, develop and build resilience in the external care workforce.
We all know the pressures in this area and its vital we train the workforce for the future.
We will transform delivery by using almost
£1.5 million by optimising the use of available care capacity, improving purchasing, sourcing and working with people
who use services along their carers to make services better.
For day time support an additional £650,000 will be added to the permanent £225,000 a year above
the figures mentioned in the consultation. These additional funds will deliver a more phased transition to lower levels of
Last week I visited the Hanborough Day centre
and saw for myself the excellent work that is done and the enjoyment that users got from the service
We must not forget that the voluntary sector provides around ¾ of day time support without any funding
from Oxfordshire County council. I thank all those involved for the excellent work they do in delivering support.
I will now praise the Districts and City councils for some excellent work in better than expected business
rate collection and council tax surplus that has resulted in an additional £1.9m over and above the position reported
to cabinet in January.
It would be very easy to use
all of these funds in a giveaway budget ahead of elections in May but that would not be responsible given the savings
that we still need to make therefore a total of £800k will be added to balances and contingency in 2017/18, but the
on-going funding will be held until 2018/19 to ensure that the money is spent in a considered way.
On top of the £4m already proposed, an additional £600,000 will be invested in children’s
social care an area that has been exempt over the years from the cuts but has experienced significant rising demand on services
in common with children’s social care departments across England.
The transition fund for the children’s centres has worked well and I praise all those that are working
to find solutions about services delivery and produced well thought through business plans.
This years funding allocation for the Local Growth Fund was not as good as we had hoped but if you consider
the funding over the years Oxfordshire has done well from the Conservatives government’s investment programme.
We have a clear planned work programme and can see the benefits at:
Chilton A34 Junction
These will provide a real boost to the transport
network and promote growth in the county. Ensuring Oxfordshire continues to be a World class economy.
The growth of the economy is vital as we move towards an income system that relies on council tax and Business
rates. It is important that we grow business rates to ensure that we have the income to provide the services for the vulnerable
adult and children of Oxfordshire.
There is a lot of good and excellent work
carried out by the staff at Oxfordshire County Council
Assess the care needs of over 10,000 vulnerable people and rising
Funds long-term social care for 6,500 adults
Purchases a million hours a year of support a year, as well as assisting thousands of carers.
Assess almost 4,000 children, including over 1,500 protection issues
Support, currently, 600 looked after children, and 600 subject to a child protection plan
Works to turn around 550 “thriving families”
Registers 20,000 births, deaths, and marriages
Maintains almost 3,000 miles of road
or renew over 40,000 concessionary bus passes in year
of over 300,000 tonnes of waste
Responds to over 5,000
Fire and Rescue incidents
Of course we know that there is a better way
which would include devolving powers down to local members
pleased to announce that there will be a £250k one-off funding initially for a pilot Communities Fund for communities
schemes or projects to supplement services following changes/reductions.
The bids would be agreed through the locality members against locally determined priorities
this demonstrates how funds can be devolved down so that key decisions could be made locally. For instance in my own division
I would welcome a proposal for the ‘Our Bus’ a community bus project which has been set up
to provide a service for residents run by volunteers.
In Oxford it would be the local decision of the locality
members to allocate funds or not for Donnington Doorstep which I recently visited and saw first hand what they delivered
in the locality.
This is a small example how we could deliver
better services to Oxfordshire’s residents.
We also propose to reinstate £150,000 funding for the area stewards function, an area that all members
The Conservative government has provided an
additional £1.3 million next year for pothole repairs. This will be added to the funds we already use to fix over 30,000
potholes in the last year; however we need more capital investment to replace roads rather than just repairing them. That
could come from having our own Oxfordshire infrastructure fund.
I’m pleased to announce that working with our partners Skanska an additional Dragon patcher will be
purchased enabling more road defects to be repaired.
is a budget that delivers
that works for everyone
COUNCILLOR IAN HUDSPETH
Leader of the Council
Response to Cherwell Local Plan
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on the revision of the Local Plan. This is my personal
view and does not represent the view of Oxfordshire County Council.
The key issue is that the extra numbers are due to the unmet demand
from Oxford City therefore it’s important that they are located as near as possible. We have to acknowledge there is
a demand for houses especially affordable houses for young people; we simply have to provide the houses.
Not only should the houses be located
near to the city; there should be commercial development to provide jobs to encourage residents to live near employment so
that they can walk/cycle or use public transport to get to work which reduces congestion
It has to be acknowledged that the A44/A4260
corridor has excellent public transport routes into the City and London with good connections to the A34/M40/M4. It has a
business parks that are at the cutting edge of technology with an airport that has a longer runway than London City airport.
Added to of all this there is a World heritage site at the end of the A44 dual carriageway. This makes the area a good choice for development although we have to protect the individual communities and avoid
complete coalescence of villages.
The Green Belt is a 1950’s idea that has served well but now is acting as a constraint
and needs to be revised for the 21st century. I do not advocate building
on all the Green Belt but I do feel we need to consider the land itself and is it serving a purpose for all the community?
Should any Green Belt land be developed then an amount equal or greater should be designated as 21st century Green Belt. My personal preference is that we should develop green corridors or fingers that can reach out
to the countryside so that we can develop excellent sustainable transport links such as quality cycle and footpaths. Should
land be released from the Green Belt then areas currently adjacent to it should be considered for inclusion into a revised
Green Belt/Corridor. I would argue that land around Woodstock is considered for inclusion prior to any development proposals.
An example of Green Belt
land that I feel is not fit for purpose is the land between the Science Park and the railway line. The land is poor quality
farmland with little value; if this was re-designated and developed then more quality jobs could be provided yet there would
be no coalescence between Begbroke and Yarnton.
Any development has to take into account the new station at Oxford Parkway currently
the land to the south east is open land in the Green Belt, this has to be considered first for development as the location
close to the new station would mean fewer vehicles on the roads. Any developments to the north of Kidlington would mean residents
getting into their cars to go to the station adding to congestion.
I would go even further and use part of the land to develop a world
class sporting facility on this site involving the professional clubs and the Universities. In transport terms there is not
a better location in Oxfordshire with a rail link and excellent links to the A34/M40/M4. The current football stadium is in
poor condition, little room to expand beyond its current capacity with poor transport connectivity. By developing a new stadium
with room to expand and a hotel with conference facilities Oxford could attract national or even international sporting events.
There is no reason why a 50m swimming pool could not be part of the development as I believe there is not such a pool between
London and Birmingham. The ice rink could be relocated to provide a new facility fit for purpose rather than the current one
that news a major revamp. The added advantage of creating such a sporting facility in a new location would mean that the existing
stadium and ice rink could be redeveloped for housing thus reducing the demand for more houses outside Oxford possibly by
800 units, with some of them located in the heart of the City.
Any proposed development needs to be taken in consultation with adjoining
planning authorities as there is a knock on impact and they cannot be developed in isolation. Any development at the southern
end of the search areas must be taken after intense consultation with the City council.
Likewise any development along the corridor must
keep the identities of the village communities.
Any development near Woodstock can only be done if the entire required infrastructure
is taken into account and work with West Oxfordshire District Council. There simply can’t be a ‘bolted on’
development with no consultation/consideration to the Town of Woodstock and its community just because it’s not within
Cherwell District council.
The potential in the area is great but there must be a masterplan identifying the infrastructure required along with
an indication of the phasing of any development. Above all any land released from the Green Belt must be replaced and the
identity of communities respected.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth
11th January 2017
I have considered very carefully if I should stand as a prospective Conservative candidate for the Witney by-election.
After considerable soul searching
and deliberation I have decided that now is not the time to put my name forward for the selection process. There are 2 main
reasons for this decision:
I strongly believe in Local Government and in particular the services that are delivered within Oxfordshire. I’m
sure that everybody is aware that 2 reports have shown we could save over £110 million over 5 years in Oxfordshire.
I want to work with partners and stakeholders to realise those savings for the benefit of the residents, whether taxpayers
or service users.
2013 I have led the council with a minority Conservative group, I want to stand in the May 2017 elections to deliver a Conservative
majority for the benefit of the residents whether taxpayers or service users.
I wish the successful Conservative candidate all the best and will
be campaigning to ensure he or she is returned as the MP for Witney.
Response to 16/01364/OUT-2 Land
East of Woodstock
current regulations this application is difficult (if not impossible,) to reject on planning grounds: this site is part of
the SHLAA, and WODC does not yet have a current local plan.
concern for Woodstock is the lack of forward planning for infrastructure. Over the years incremental development has added
pressure on, but not addressed that problem.
We are all aware of the
issues: dwindling customers for the shops, parking, poor public transport to railway stations, lack of capacity at the doctors,
pressure on places at the junior school, insufficient demand for 6th
form and a lack of affordable homes.
Those of us who are fortunate
enough to have a home cannot ignore the fact that many children growing up in Woodstock have to move away simply because there
are not sufficient houses.
If we continue to battle against development
under all circumstances, Woodstock will suffer from a lack of infrastructure due to a lack of engagement, whilst inappropriate
development will be likely to continue.
The Woodstock of 1950 was far
different to today. The Woodstock of 2082 will be different again. Blenheim has been here for over 300 years and will still
be here in another 300 years, long after we have all gone. Developments by Blenheim are designed to blend in with the location
and remain there for many years. The current development at Bladon is a good example: a well-designed scheme that will create
much needed jobs and houses for the village.
This current application mitigates
the infrastructure issues for the application. However, if we do not consider the overall development then we will not address
the underlying issues. We have to find a sustainable future for Woodstock.
I think we should approve this development, adopt the same sensible pragmatic approach as we did with the Young’s
garage development, to work with Blenheim to try to deliver: more customers for the town centre shops, a solution to parking,
upgraded S3 to Oxford, half hourly 233 to Hanborough station, a bus link to Oxford Parkway, a new doctors surgery, a sustainable
solution to the junior school, more pupils for the 6th form and above
all more affordable homes so that children can remain in the town they love and grew up in.
reject the development will mean we will not solve any of the infrastructure problems in Woodstock; the town will continue
its decline into a dormitory town for commuters and a place for the wealthy.
The weekend 4th – 7th August, Blenheim Palace will be hosting a new event Countyfile Live. This promises to be a fantastic day
out for all the family and will attract visitors from all over the country to Blenheim Palace. Full details can be
found at http://www.blenheimpalace.com/
for Countryfile Live is currently anticipated to be considerably lighter than the Game Fair in 2014, there are 8 signed
traffic routes to Countryfile Live. Traffic from the North will be split onto 4 routes, in addition to motorway traffic
continuing south on the M40 to J9 and the A34. The A34 is the preferred route for traffic coming from the South-East
and M40 westbound.
The decision to use the 8 routes was agreed at
a traffic planning meeting with representatives of Oxfordshire County Council Network Management Group, West Oxfordshire
DC, the Emergency Services (including Thames Valley Police Traffic Management Unit and Roads Policing) and with other
stakeholder involvement such as local bus operators. The same routing plan was implemented successfully for
the CLA Game Fair in 2014. If traffic congestion is seen to be extremely high through one route, the event organiser
has the option to sign traffic to another route.
There will be increased traffic
over the days, with the traffic management in place disruption should be minimal and everybody will be able to enjoy
Joint statement from Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire’s district/city
Joint statement from Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Cherwell
District Council, Vale of White Horse District, South Oxfordshire District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council
Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council
John Cotton, Leader of
South Oxfordshire District Council
Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council
James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council
Bob Price, Leader of Oxford
Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council
a new Prime Minister and new Secretary of State now in place and a number of pressing economic and policy issues to work through
at national level , we recognise that it is sensible to take the time to understand how the government intends to take forward
devolution and local government reorganisation in Oxfordshire and other areas before presenting further proposals for reforming
public services and changes to council structures in the county.
Following discussions with civil
servants last week all the Oxfordshire councils have agreed to work together to discuss areas of common ground, assess potential
options and establish whether we can agree a way forward building on the work we have both done to date. We have agreed to
postpone publication of both the Grant Thornton and PwC studies, and pause plans for consultation until these plans have been
Our aim has always been to seek investment in housing and transport infrastructure;
to improve skills training and develop the local economy. This investment is needed if we are to reach our potential, and
therefore agreeing a way forward with government is a high priority for all of us.
|Click on the picture to view OCC web site
|The launch of the Comet at Stanton Harcourt
The Oxfordshire Comet
Our bookable transport service for those who can't access suitable public transport.
What is it?
It is a not for profit service, created
to allow people without suitable access to public transport to make the journeys they want.
The Oxfordshire Comet can be booked for any type of trip. Whether it’s to meet friends in town, travel across
the county, attend an appointment or pop to the shops. The service is available 10.15am - 2.30pm Monday to Friday (not
It’s easy to book, with a pre-paid account that can be set up on the phone.
Your vehicles, not ours
The Oxfordshire Comet uses vehicles
that normally take children to school and adults to day care centres. We identified the times of the day when they weren’t
being used and are making them available to you so that you can make the journeys you want. Because we already own these vehicles,
we only have to cover running costs, meaning we can keep costs down for our passengers.
Who is it for?
Oxfordshire residents who don’t
have access to suitable public transport, wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.
It can be booked by
- local communities.
At your service
We can do one-off journeys, regular and group trips. We can also offer regular routes for local communities (similar
to a bus route) that do not have access to existing public transport.
16-seater vehicles are fully wheelchair and pushchair accessible, and our friendly drivers are only too happy to help. Just
let us know if you need some extra assistance getting on or off the Comet, or with carrying shopping inside.
Options for travel
- Exclusive use – you will have sole use of the
vehicle and can bring up to 15 companions with you.
- Shared travel – if you don’t mind travelling with others and can be flexible
about what day you travel, we will try to match your journey with other bookings in your area to reduce the price.
You can also bring a companion (or your children) with you, free of charge.
Organisations / groups
We can do one-off or regular group trips, or set up a regular route for a community, similar to a bus service.
We charge a different rate for groups, so please call to discuss the service you want and we will give you a quote.
Register before you book
- call 01865 323201 to register and we’ll create
an account for you
is a one off registration fee of £3 and we will send you a membership card
- buy credit for your account to make future
over the phone (credit/debit cards) to top up your account:
£10 top up
£5 free credit
£100 top up
£10 free credit
- call 01865 323201
to register and we’ll create an account for you
- there is a one off registration fee of £3 and we will send you a membership
will provide a quote for the trip(s)
- you can pay by invoice after you travel.
How to book?
Once you’ve registered, book a trip by calling 01865 323201 (9am – 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-4pm
Just tell us where to pick you up and where you want to go.
If you are using our shared travel service, make sure you ring at least 24 hours before you want to travel. Generally we would advise you to ring the week before for shared travel, as the earlier
you ring for a shared service the more likely it is that we will be able to do your journey.
The service runs 10.15am - 2.30pm Monday to Friday (not Bank Holidays).
We’re charging passengers to cover
running costs, not to make profit, meaning we can keep prices to a minimum. Costs will vary based on the length of the
journey and which travel option you choose.
- Exclusive use - 5 mile journey from £7
- Shared travel - 5 mile journey from
bookings - minimum of £20 per hour to cover our basic costs.
When you book we will always let you know the maximum amount we will charge.
Huge rise in new members at Bicester’s brand new library
02 June 2016
1,000 new members have joined Bicester library since it opened its doors for the first time on 11 April.
have been pouring into the new facility, which was created by Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council as
part of Franklins House - the new community building at the heart of the multimillion-pound regeneration of Bicester Town
The county council’s Cabinet Member for Cultural Services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: “In just six
weeks we have enrolled 1,037 new members and that really is tremendous news. We know that people are impressed with the improved
facilities and we believe this is a sign that the library is already becoming a focal point for the growing town of Bicester.
are no longer just about the number of books issued. They have a much wider role including digital access to council services.
Bicester is leading the way.”
The new library is larger than the previous facility, has more public access computers, WiFi, a broader choice of books and audio visual
items and increased opportunities to join in with regular activities such as weekly rhyme-times for babies and toddlers, family
learning activities and reading groups and we are hoping to start a Code Club helping young people learn and understand computer/ICT
coding in a fun way for in the near future.
Bicester Local History Society and Cherwell District Council Bicester Job
Club have their own dedicated areas in the library and there is a fortnightly Job Club surgery in the Bicester Connect area
of the facility.
There is a Cherwell District Council Link Point alongside a restaurant and both office and retail space
in the new building that also plays host to the library.
The project to create the new facility was paid for by developers
as part of the expansion of Bicester.
To find out about all the changes happening in Bicester, visit http://www.growingbicester.co.uk/. This website has been established following feedback from residents and traders who have requested more information and
consultation regarding the town’s growth.
I welcome the fact that the Leaders
of the City and District councils now recognise the need to change the way local government operates in Oxfordshire. I have
wanted to have the debate for several years so that we can provide the best service for all of Oxfordshire's residents.
I want to have a full, open and transparent debate with all options considered rather than just trying to push through 1 option
Having said that I feel that all options lead back to having 1 back office and if that's
the case then we should have 1 front office too. It is not about 1 council taking over another as all the councils will have
to be abolished and a new one or ones created.
Below is a statement from all the
political group Leaders at the County Council calling for the debate:
Last week the four districts and city councils announced plans to create four ‘quasi-unitary’
authorities for Oxfordshire, with bits of Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire bolted on. Oxford city would have its own council,
with three other councils made up of pairs of districts covering the north, west and south of the county.
This announcement came as the ink was barely dry on a devolution bid to government on behalf of all the county’s
councils, which could have coordinated £6.6bn investment in infrastructure and put the control of £1.3bn health
and care budgets in the hands of the people of Oxfordshire.
Now, before government has even responded
to the first proposal, a new is plan on the table. The press release announcing this new proposal was headlined ‘Council
Leaders propose simplification of local government to support a devolution deal for Oxfordshire’.
This ‘simplification’ would involve: five NHS clinical commissioning groups; three police forces and
three Police and Crime Commissioners; four local enterprise partnerships (LEPs); three highway authorities; three fire and
rescue services, and three local resilience forums with responsibility for emergency planning.
being described as a unitary bid to create single councils for each area, this proposal also retains two layers of local government
in the form of four ‘quasi-unitary’ councils with a ‘combined authority’ quango covering three counties
laid on top.
We are still unclear about which of the above bodies were involved in developing
these proposals, or were even aware of them. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s logo was included on the
website, and then removed within a day. The CCG in Gloucestershire is opposed to the plan.
– a key partner in the original bid - was not aware of the new proposal until they saw the press release, and the LEP
in Gloucestershire has also come out against the proposal.
To be clear, the county council
was not involved in developing these quasi-unitary proposals, despite being responsible for 80% of local government spending
in Oxfordshire. Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire councils were also not aware of proposals to carve off parts of their
However these proposals have revealed one point of strong agreement – the
structure of local government in Oxfordshire needs to change to meet future financial challenges and rising demand for children
and adult social care.
We are writing as the four political group leaders of Oxfordshire
county council because we believe that for reasons of history, geography and practicality, we should be looking for a ‘one
Like the backers of the new proposal, we are all convinced
that the unitary model – a single council serving an area - makes most sense. But they have to be real unitaries, not
two layers of local government by another name.
The proposal to create a combined authority
quango simply replaces the county council, covering a bigger area and with less democratic accountability. Under this proposal,
responsibility for adult social care, along with council tax payers’ money to pay for it, would be handed to the NHS.
Joining up health and social care makes a lot of sense and that project is well underway in Oxfordshire.
But handing over powers and budgets requires a proper debate to understand the implications.
an important decision cannot be done on the basis of a political deal and a press release – we need real openness and
proper information about the implications of each option for Oxfordshire.
Today we are inviting
all stakeholders to work together in a jointly agreed process to develop a business case for each of the options, including
a single council for Oxfordshire and the four quasi-unitary option put forward by the districts. We will all need to agree
the criteria, but efficiency, effectiveness and democratic accountability must be key.
once they are in full command of the facts, the public can make up their own minds about the most efficient and effective
way to deliver public services for Oxfordshire. Let the people decide.
Cllr Ian Hudpseth,
Leader of the Council
Cllr Liz Brighouse, Leader of the opposition Labour group
Cllr Richard Webber, Leader of
the Liberal Democrat group
Cllr David Williams, Leader of the Green group
My speech on 15th January 2016 at the Oxford Union in a debate for Strutt
and Parker titled ' How should Oxfordshire plan to meet its housing need'
is a world brand where ever you are in the world people know where we are, it use to be that they thought we were a suburb
of London now that has changed to next to Bicester Village. As everybody know where that is especially the Chinese.
Not only do they know where
we are, they know what we live in and who we are. We all live in a Harry Potter world and are Rich, Posh and well educated.
We know different to that and I’m the classic opposite of what I’ve just said.
We should not be scared/afraid or ashamed to use
these facts as it’s a unique selling point for us.
That’s the key as we are not competing with Leicester or York or even Grenoble or Frankfurt we are
competing with Seattle, San Paulo and Shanghai.If you look at our competitors they are not on the scale of Oxford they are on the scale of Oxfordshire or
larger and its vital that we do likewise in a sustainable manor.
The knowledge spine from Bicester through Oxford down to Harwell is where we should be ensuring we have the
employment sites, housing and connectivity to ensure a sustainable county.
I hear people say why do we need the growth? Why can’t we just
remain as we are? Quite simply if we remain
as we are then we move backwards and it’s not just the local economy that suffers it the national economy as we are
1 of the few areas that contributes to the exchequer.
Through our devolution deal locally we will be able to improve skills to ensure that all children have the
correct skills for the 21st century then there will be a job and good quality housing for them, we simply cannot deny them that right.
Soon the funding of local government will be solely through locally delivered income especially business
rates. If we have a strong economy and maintaining and attracting businesses then we will have the funding to protect the
vulnerable in the county who need our safety net. Oxfordshire County Council has a statutory function to protect those vulnerable
residents and without that funding then we can’t.
So it’s not just about the Rich, Posh and well educated___ as that should be our aim for all residents
perhaps not all Posh.
The world has changed and is changing, we may not approve of everything but we have the ability to shape it to provide
that sustainable future. The young of today communicate in a completely different way. Yesterday, as most days, I communicated with my 21 year
old daughter not simply by speaking on a regular phone but we Facetimed, Snapchatted, What’s Apped, Facebooked Tweeted
in fact how did I do any work as I must been in constant contact.
The youth of today do not communicate in 1 way its multi plat formed and we have to react similarly.
Of course the common platform is broadband and I’m pleased to say that Oxfordshire County Council has rolled out a programme
for 95% of premises within the county to have access. What about the other 5% I hear you say well it may be we can reach 100%
however we have to ask the question if you do live in an area with no street lights, no mains gas and a cesspit do you want
to be bombarded by What’s App? It’s important we do not disenfranchise those that do not want, for whatever reason,
to be part of or need it.
We must not forget the emerging market of computer gaming that Oxfordshire is a leading force in an industry
valued at £1 billion to the UK economy. These companies are young and at the cutting edge where the employees want to
enjoy a lively city such as Oxford. We need to create a city centre environment for them to live and work in.
Over the last few months I’ve
been made aware of 2 companies with turnovers of around £10 million with 100 employees who wish to expand to around
£50 million turnover with over 500 employees within the next 5 years. They want to remain in Oxfordshire but are struggling
to see how they can do.
They have recruitment pressures around housing and travel this is a common theme expressed by business to me.
that we’ll debate Grenoble Road but why are people fixated by an area that has to overcome huge planning issues and
still does not deliver good connectivity?
By the autumn it’ll be quicker to get to the centre of Oxford by public transport from Bicester than
it is from Grenoble Road. We should be thinking about the knowledge spine and relocating Hi Tech industry to Bicester to help
the town grow in a more sustainable manor than just building distribution sheds. It’s an ideal location on the M40 half
way between London and Birmingham with excellent rail connections. There is space to deliver good quality industry and an
appetite for growth providing we can deliver the infrastructure.
The Northern Gateway is another location that can be developed now
that there is one land owner with a clear vision. Should the 18.2m height regulation of Oxford be challenged to provide an
iconic building perhaps not quite as tall as the Shard but it would greatly improve density and allow more units within the
of Northern Gateway is ideal only minutes from Oxford Parkway Station with Marylebone less than hour away, Bicester and Oxford
less than 10 minutes, soon Heathrow will be less than 50 minutes. Easy access to the A34 to either the
M4 or M40. What a fantastic location.
That leads to the A44 corridor that is a dual carriageway leading firstly to Begbroke Science park that must
be allowed to expand towards the railway line. Then on to Oxford airport with a runway as long as London City airport, 1552m;
think of the potential locations that could be served by the airport, reducing the need for businesses and residents to have to travel to Heathrow, Gatwick.
Beyond that is Blenheim Palace,
a world heritage site. It’s difficult to think of a better connected area anywhere in the country or even the world.
There are the world
class companies we have at Harwell/Culham; it’s the centre of the European space industry approx. 1,500 ‘high
tech’ companies that are “Most innovative in the UK”
It’s stated that it has the “Highest % professional,
scientific and technical jobs outside London”
Should we be aiming to make London the "Highest % professional, scientific and technical jobs outside
JET – fusion facility
Diamond – synchrotron light source
Isis – neutron science facility
Vulcan – Petawatt laser facility
I would ask that you do not ask me technical details about these projects. However I have to add that the recent visit by
the Vice Premier of People’s Republic of China, Madam Liu, was followed by a trip to Bicester village showing the real
strength of the knowledge spine.
The road infrastructure remains a challenge and we need to think about how we connect Didcot station with
Milton Park, Grove/Wantage and Harwell. This would assist in developing
the Power station site in Didcot that needs a bridge over the mainline to provide better access from the A4130. Does there
need to be another Thames crossing to link up to Culham?
Devolution would help provide some of the funding but we would still need developer funding to deliver the
County Council through the Local Transport Plan 4 we have ambitions for a public transport solution and we will be able to
deliver it working with our colleagues in the bus sector.
Should we be more ambitious on the lines of a tram/light railway/monorail using the land by the railway track
and even the old railway bed from Didcot towards Harwell. This would have the advantage of being able to provide high class
cycle routes too; taking more traffic off the road network.
Reopening Grove station would transform the area but the only way is to have more development to provide
the core funding to allow us to bid for more government or Network Rail funding to complete the project.
The A34 is always a problem as it seems every
couple of weeks a car transporter falls over and blocks the road. We do have contingency plans at Oxfordshire County Council
to divert traffic off the road but sending 70,000 vehicles along the Botley Road only can lead to more congestion and even
gridlock. We have to look at the where these accidents occur, sometimes near laybys and then look to provide better facilities
off road to allow the safe movement of HGVs. Could this provide the answer to south facing slips at Lodge Hill?
have some indicative funding for junction improvements at Pear Tree and Botley junctions on the A34 thanks to Nicola Blackwood.
They will improve capacity but are not the solution. There is funding for a new junction on the M40 and then the government’s
ambition for the Oxford – Cambridge express way. These are fragmented schemes that are thought of in Whitehall with
devolution we could have the ability to use our local knowledge to pool all these funding streams to come up with 1 proposal
that may provide the solution and assist growth not just in Oxfordshire but Nationally too.
The A40 is a road that has been described by my
local MP as ‘a foot on the wind pipe of businesses in West Oxfordshire’. This is very true as we have around 30,000
residents using the A40 in morning peak to get to work. Oxfordshire County Council is working on improving capacity at the
Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts. We will be delivering a bus lane by 2018 with plans for a link road from A40 to A44.
All these will improve capacity and traffic flow but are not the solution. We have consulted on options from duelling the
A40 to light rail and trams which require massive capital outlay. To deliver such schemes means that we have to find funding
streams and that means more development.
We know that more housing units are required in West Oxfordshire rather
than spread them around the towns and villages, not providing the infrastructure, which would add to the pressure on the A40.
We should be
considering a larger scale development that provides the funding to improve the A40.
The irony is by improving the A40 it removes the biggest
barrier for companies to locate in West Oxfordshire that should lead to more companies moving to the area reducing the need
for residents to travel out for employment therefore reducing congestion on the A40.
I’m sure that there are some in the audience
that will feel I wish to concrete over Oxfordshire, that’s far from the truth as the Countryside is a major plus for
us when looking to retain or land companies. We have to establish a balance to ensure we can deliver the 100,000 homes in
the SHMA in a sustainable manor with the proceeds paying for the infrastructure that everybody would welcome.
Devolution will help by bringing all the councils together to deliver the homes, jobs and infrastructure on a strategic
level, should we be combining our planning departments?
However it’s not just about local government
as closer integration between the NHS and Social care will deliver savings and a better service for all of Oxfordshire’s
is just the start of closer working together and seriously looking at co location of all public assets.
The future is bright for all
of Oxfordshire’s residents, including the most vulnerable who need assistance, if we deliver a strong growing economy
with a sustainable future.
Community Action Day 22nd November 2015
Park Close, Bladon
|The team before heading to the White House
Thank you to everybody who took part in the action day or should I say action1
hour and half, as that’s all it took, to make a massive difference to the land at the corner of Park Close. Thanks go
to those that provided cups of tea and biscuits which were really appreciated along with the green waste bins that meant we
did not have to make a trip to the recycling centre. Thank you.
County council leader backs
communities to soften impact of budget cuts
County Council has launched a public consultation on new ways to save money as government reduces funding as part of its work
to tackle the national deficit. Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the Leader of Oxfordshire
County Council, said: “The council will have to make some difficult decisions about local services but in Oxfordshire
we have already seen communities willing and able to take over where funding has been reduced.” “Community libraries are being kept open through the support of a volunteer army and youth services
continued across the county when funding was withdrawn several years ago. This is what the prime minister calls the ‘big
society’ in action in Oxfordshire.
“The saving we have to make from 2016-2020 could be as much as £50m. However the council regards
this figure as a ‘worst case scenario’ which leaves time to find ways to minimise the impact on frontline services,
including helping communities take over valued local services. “There
are more than 90 savings options to consider across many areas of the council’s services. Those linked to child protection
are not included in any of those options. We have options for savings in the library service but none of our 43 libraries
would close. We want to make them our customer service “front door” in Oxfordshire communities.
“The council provides
80 per cent of local government services in Oxfordshire – including highways, social care, fire and rescue, trading
standards and many others.We are consulting much earlier than normal about the financial challenges ahead.This is the start of an open, transparent process where people can have a genuine say over
services and sets out how they can do so.”
Safety net for the vulnerable
Oxfordshire County Council is now in its sixth year of making savings
and by 2020 we will have completed a full decade of having to make cuts. That means there is no alternative to reducing some
services or stopping them altogether.
Councillor Hudspeth added:
“Half of our budget already goes on helping the most vulnerable two per cent of the population. That proportion will
rise to three-quarters of our budget by 2020 as demand goes up for care services for our growing and ageing population. Unfortunately
we need to save money from other services to fund those vital services, providing a safety net for the vulnerable. “We have a legal and moral duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I want to make sure
that people who can’t help themselves are looked after and I’m sure most people feel the same. In particular we
are thinking about children at risk of abuse and neglect and adults who need help with washing, dressing, eating and other
Working with communities
Councillor Hudspeth added: “Where the council has to reduce or
withdraw funding we are determined to find ways to keep services running through community support. “We are helping parish councils take on some council functions such as grass cutting. Communities are
already coming forward to find if they can help to keep children’s centres open - just as happened when funding for
youth services was reduced some years ago. “There is the opportunity
for us to do things in a different way and seek a positive outcome from a very challenging situation.
Why is council funding under financial pressure?
There are three main contributors to the significant pressure on budgets for all local authorities. Grants from central Government have diminished every year since 2011 and are forecast to continue to do so
up to 2020. At the same time there are huge pressures on services with the prime
example being social care. People are living longer, placing ever rising pressures on adult social care budgets. Meanwhile
in children’s social care the number of children in care is also rising at a fast pace. Almost half of the council’s
budget goes on helping two per cent of the population – those in receipt of care services. Councils have not been allowed by Central Government to raise Council Tax to any degree since 2011.
Putting our own house in order
Cllr Ian Hudspeth said: “We have put our own house in order since
austerity began in 2010. We have always made back office savings to protect frontline services. “There are a number of examples of this. In recent years the council has removed more than 100 properties
from its portfolio. “The council is in the lowest quarter of
spenders among county councils on back office functions. There has been a 40 per cent reduction in senior management since
2010 and staffing overall is down by a third. “Support services
such as HR and finance have been outsourced and the council is working in partnership with other organisations – such
as the joint fire and rescue control centre with Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. “We want
to continue to cut costs to reduce the impact on the frontline. For instance we would like to increase revenue from our properties.”
How will people be consulted?
The council is consulting the public before taking the decisions and delivering a balanced budget on 16 February
2016. Talking Oxfordshire, the council’s budget consultation, will start on 20 October, when all the savings options
will be published on the council’s website. There will be three public
events with an independent chair alongside the leader and chief finance officer to provide residents with a chance to find
out about the council’s budget position and have their say. Comments will be collated as part of the feedback process.
The events are 7-8.30pm and dates are:
27 October – County
2 November – Banbury
5 November – Regal
People need to register in advance
to attend the event so the council can manage numbers. To register for an event or take part in the consultation online go
to www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/talkingoxfordshire. Hard copies of the budget consultation
documents will also be available in every library.
Budget process timeline
Spending Review, which sets out how the government will invest in priority public services and deliver further required savings.
||25 November 2105|
|Budget consultation closes.||30
|Council’s Performance Scrutiny Committee considers all detailed savings options and the feedback from the public and consultation responses. ||17 December 2015|
|Draft Local Government Finance Settlement
issued by Department for Communities & Local Government.||Mid-December 2015|
|Cabinet agrees budget proposals.||26 January 2016|
|Council agrees budget.||16 February 2016|
|Briefing the Prime Minister on the A40 options
|Views sought on longer term solution for the A40 corridor
detailing the options available are below:
Wednesday 30 September between 4pm and 8pm. Oxfordshire County Council,
County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND
Friday 9 October between 12 noon and 7pm. Cassington
Village Hall, The Green, Cassington, OX29 4AX
Saturday 10 October between 10:30am and 4pm.
Eynsham Village Hall, 46 Back Lane, Eynsham, OX49 4QW.
Link to the County council website
My statement to Full Council
8th September on the refugee crisis
in Oxfordshire, I have been shocked and saddened by the images we have seen of refugees fleeing brutal regimes such as Syria,
where civil war is raging. The numbers on the march in Oxford at the weekend surprised even the organisers, and shows the
strength of feeling and compassion of the people of Oxfordshire.
Prime Minister announced that Britain would need to accept more refugees from Syria, the county council has been talking to
partner agencies to see what we can do together. Public bodies responsible for health, housing, adult and children’s
social care and education, along with the voluntary sector, will all have to do their bit.
From a county council perspective, our priority is safeguarding children and providing support to families in
need. We currently have around 50 unaccompanied asylum seeker children – more than double the number we had last year.
Clearly the Prime Minster is right when he says helping orphaned and vulnerable children is the priority.
The children’s services team is in the process of making sure we can respond to
more arriving in the county. It is both our legal and moral duty to make sure that refugee children are looked after and kept
safe, and the county council will always meet those duties.
I fully support
the government’s stance on the refugee crisis – we need an urgent humanitarian response, while keeping in mind
the need for long-term solutions that reduce incentives for people to leave their country. We need to help people in danger,
but avoid doing anything that encourages more people to make the dangerous journey towards Europe.
The Local Government Association has said the extra cost of supporting refugees needs to be underwritten by central
government. I broadly support that stance. Without additional funding, we might find ourselves having to make difficult choices
between the needs of local residents and those of new arrivals in the county at a time when we are already having to cut services.
But I also think there may be things that councils, the health service and voluntary organisations
can do in Oxfordshire to help refugees without incurring additional costs to our agencies. I am keen to see what can be done
using our existing resources, and this is something we are discussing with partners.
There are many strong and active community and faith groups in Oxfordshire who also may want to be part of the
I hope that members across the council can support this approach,
and welcome their suggestions and support so Oxfordshire can help with the nationwide response to the refugee crisis.
Oxfordshire County Council leader on £4bn investment bid
04 September 2015
Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council has commented on the submission to Government of an expression of interest
by public bodies in Oxfordshire that asks for greater local control over £4bn of funding for transport, skills training
and health services.
He said: “The government has made clear that vital investment in local areas – particularly
in roads and transport – has to be linked to economic growth. They also require public bodies including councils to
work together. By working together, there is an opportunity to take control of more than £3bn of money spent in Oxfordshire
so that we can plan and manage growth in the best way for Oxfordshire.
"The expression of interest sent to government
is the start of a process that could lead to greater democratic over public spending in Oxfordshire, including skills training
and health services. Oxfordshire already has a strong economy but if we are to continue to create good jobs and opportunities
for future generations we cannot stand still. The county council is committed to working with local partners to shape that
future, and I am encouraged that we have jointly agreed this expression of interest.”
Work has started on the Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts to improve capacity at
these vital junctions as part of the programme to improve traffic flow along the A40. For full details click on the pciture.
We are doing both roundabouts at the same
time as, although this will be disruptive, the work needs to be done in one go. The junctions are so close together that any
works to one impacts on the other and will cause only slightly less congestion as doing them together. Doing them together
reduces the length of time significantly that drivers will be impacted and ensures that works are completed before other developments
are completed and fully operational.The work will take more than a year –
we could have done it more quickly, but that would have involved closing key roads which would have been unacceptable.
During the work you will be able to get into and around Oxford.There
will be a major impact on your journey if you plan to travel through these junctions. Our advice is to plan your journeys
now – consider other modes of transport, or other routes or maybe travelling at other times.There is a great deal of work to do to improve Oxfordshire’s transport network.
have completed work on the A423 Kennington and London Road meaning that potential alternative routes are available
Following a motion to Full council by Cllr Kevin Bulmer I sent this letter to the Secretary
of State for Transport:
Joanna Simons will be stepping down as Chief Executive in September in order that
the council can carry out a review of senior management arrangements. The aim is to reduce costs in the light of further funding
cuts announced by the government.
Earlier this year the council had
a series of robust debates about whether to remove the post but concluded that a permanent change required further consideration.
Following further cross party discussion, it has been decided to put an interim arrangement in place pending a senior management
review. The council has reached an amicable agreement with Joanna to step down so this can take place.
The post of Chief Executive will not be deleted in the first instance to enable the council
to consider the best management arrangements for the future, without ruling out any future options.
It is proposed, subject to Council decision, that the interim arrangement will involve the Chief Executive’s
responsibilities being shared amongst the management team with Peter Clark, currently Chief Legal Officer, becoming the statutory
Head of Paid Service, and the other directors taking on additional duties in support.
I am confident that we can reduce the costs of the senior management team, which was always my aim. The council will
now do a cross party stocktake and review all the senior management options, with new arrangements announced in due course.
In considering management options, we will have to balance reducing costs with the need to
ensure the council has the right structure to face difficult financial challenges ahead. Proposals for the new arrangements
will be considered by full council and will form part of the budget, which is agreed in February 2016.
Joanna will leave at the end of September 2015, and I would like to thank her for ten years
of dedicated service as a highly effective Chief Executive who has made a great contribution to public services in Oxfordshire.
She has steered the council successfully through unprecedented changes in local government,
and leaves the council in very good shape to meet the challenges ahead. In my time as leader, I have valued her wise counsel
and ability to look ahead, which ensured that we have been able to prepare for difficult times and take opportunities. I would
like to thank her personally for that advice and support, and wish her the very best for the future.
Supported Transport (subsidised buses and Dial-A-Ride) consultation
Oxfordshire County Council would like your views on its service
change proposals for subsidised bus services and Dial-a-Ride.
The council needs to save more than £6 million on
supported transport services. We can save money by running existing services more efficiently, however that is not enough.
Savings will also have to come from reducing the current £4 million a year the council pays in bus subsidies and to
run the Dial-a-Ride service.
Currently Oxfordshire County Council subsidises over 100 bus services in Oxfordshire, which
makes up around 9% of the bus network. This means that more than nine out of ten services run without any public subsidy.
proposals in this consultation will affect some bus users and all Dial-a-Ride users. Read the consultation document and complete
the online feedback form to register your views.
Find out if a bus service on a route you use may be affected using
the online map here or download the full table of routes listed in Annex X (at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stconsultation).
Why is the council making savings?
Ongoing cuts in central government funding mean Oxfordshire
County Council has to make savings.
The council is currently in the process of making approximately £290 million
of savings. Those savings began in 2010 and run until 2018. On top of those savings, the council currently believes it may
need to save a further £60 million. Its calculations are based the Government’s broad savings targets across the
public sector for the new parliament.
We have already made £204 million in savings since 2010 and are continuing
to work hard to hold down costs and find new ways of working as the money we get from the government is reduced, whilst demand
for our services increases.
The council will learn more specifics about how much local government in general and Oxfordshire
County Council in particular will need to save following the Chancellor’s July budget, the Government’s Comprehensive
Spending Review and the local government settlement in late 2015.
Supported Transport Savings
part of the council's budget setting process in February 2015, councillors reduced the overall supported transport budget
by a fifth (£6.3 million).
As far as possible, we are trying to make savings in supported transport by running
services more efficiently. We have identified that we can achieve nearly £3.7 million in savings by bringing together
all the supported transport services we operate and fund. However, this is not enough.
The council needs to find a minimum
of £2.6 million in additional savings and this means looking at supported transport services which the council is not
required to provide by law. This will inevitably impact some people in the county.
We welcome your feedback. Tell us what you think of our proposal for the Dial-a-Ride
service, and our proposals in relation to subsidised bus services including:
- Subsidised buses -
Withdrawing bus subsidies altogether
- Subsidised buses - Reducing funding to subsidised bus services
- and adopting the principle of prioritising , where possible, services most likely to be used by the elderly and disabled
- Ending direct funding of the Dial-a-Ride service - encouraging community transport groups across the county to
deliver a replacement service.
For each please let us know whether you agree or not with our proposal, including
what you think the likely impact will be and how we might be able to minimise this.
Oxfordshire County Council have
asked that the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC), a not for profit, community development organisation are the independent
facilitator during the consultation. If you need support in commenting on the county council’s proposals or are interested
in attending one of our 5 public consultation events, please get in touch with the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council on
01865 883488 or email email@example.com.
findings of Bullfinch serious case review
Oxfordshire County Council fully accepts the findings of the serious case review into child sexual exploitation and
apologises that the child protection system failed to prevent horrific abuse of six girls. The Independent Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation
in Oxfordshire was published today (Tuesday 3 March 2015) by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.
serious case review followed a trial in 2013 in which seven men were imprisoned for a total of 95 years for their crimes which
took place from 2005-2011.
Jim Leivers, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Children, Education and Families, said:
“Like the whole community
we are horrified at what happened in Oxford. We fully accept that we made many mistakes and missed opportunities to stop the
the trial, the council apologised to the girls for not stopping their abuse sooner, and I do so unreservedly again today.
They suffered dreadfully at the hands of these violent men, and despite many attempts we failed to keep them safe while they
were in our care.
“Since then we have been determined to make improvements and have worked hard to ensure that everything possible
is done to make children safer in Oxfordshire. We are totally committed to tackling this abuse and the county council has
already implemented all the recommendations for improvement, which the report acknowledges.
The report describes ‘concerted and vigorous
action’ by all agencies to tackle child sexual exploitation and concludes: “Oxfordshire has made very significant
progress from the time in 2011 it was finally realised there was a pattern of organised child sexual exploitation (CSE) and
Supporting witnesses, convicting abusers
In 2012, the county council, Thames Valley Police and the health service set up a specialist team to tackle
child sexual exploitation called the Kingfisher Unit.
The Kingfisher team has supported witnesses leading to nine convictions men serving a total of 42 years.
Kingfisher is currently working with around 70 young people who have been or at risk of being sexually exploited.
The report also says: “Oxfordshire now has a
nationally renowned level of expertise in how to approach the multi-agency investigation of CSE.
” The report makes clear that there were mistakes
made by all agencies including the county council and opportunities missed to stop the abuse. It also says there was “no
evidence of wilful professional neglect or misconduct by organisations.”
The report notes that five of the seven convicted perpetrators as part of Operation Bullfinch
were of Pakistani heritage and concludes that in Oxfordshire there is: “No evidence has been seen of any agency not
acting when they should have done because of racial sensitivities”.
The conclusions of the report follow on from an
inspection by children’s services inspectorate Ofsted in 2014, which rated Oxfordshire’s child protection system
as ‘good’ and described its approach to tackling child sexual exploitation as ‘high quality’.
The power of the abusers was
Jim Leivers said: “If we knew then what we know now about the grooming process, this would have been stopped much sooner. Before
Operation Bullfinch people didn’t believe something this horrible could happen. We are under no illusions about child
sexual exploitation now.
“This was organised crime on a massive scale that we had not seen before. Girls were systematically
groomed to think their abusers were their boyfriends. Social workers tried to protect individuals, as the Serious Case Review
in some cases children were treated as wayward teenagers consenting to sex. That was wholly wrong. Our whole approach has
now changed – children are believed, we can spot the signs of grooming and sexual exploitation and the Kingfisher team
embodies that huge change.
In addition to setting up Kingfisher, other action taken to tackle child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire includes:
7500 staff now trained to spot warning
signs of CSE and take action – including police, teachers, care workers
Around 18,000 school children seen
drama about child sexual exploitation and discussed the risks of grooming in class
School nurses in every secondary school
with role in identifying children at risk
· Building four new children’s homes to keep most vulnerable children in Oxfordshire
County Council secures £3.3m funding for cycle scheme
Council have secured funding through the Cycle City Ambition Grant to provide improvements along the Thames towpath and build
a new bridge.
The scheme will be made up of a number of improvements
including a pedestrian and cycle bridge at Oxpens to connect to future City centre redevelopment and the train station, improvements
along the Thames towpath including certain sections being widened, resurfaced together with the installation of lighting as
well as widening of the foot and cycle bridge over Bulstake Stream.
Proposals also include provision
for re-routing the National Cycle Network 5 via Old Greyfriars Street and new pedestrian and cycle crossings of Thames Street.
The council are ambitious for Oxford to become a world-class cycle city and has a long-term ambition to introduce
a tiered structure of cycle routes across the city that will help encourage more people to cycle as well as reduce congestion
Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Cabinet Member for Environment said: “I
am delighted that we have been successful with our proposal and the benefits this will bring to the community. As has been
laid out in our Connecting Oxfordshire transport plan, we are keen to encourage cycling across the city.
“We have great plans for cycling, not just with this project but with other projects in progress like
the Plain roundabout and Frideswide Square but future developments in Oxford and across the county.”
Simon Pratt, South East Regional Director at charity Sustrans said: “We thought it was a good proposal
and were happy to support this bid to the Department for Transport. This will provide excellent links for cyclists and pedestrians
and connect people to key employment areas as well as improved recreational facilities.”
|The proposed Cycle scheme
|My cabinet report covering agenda item 6 on 27th January is printed below:
Agenda Item 6 Division(s): All
– 27 JANUARY 2015PREPARING FOR FUTURE FINANCIAL
Report by the Leader of
the Council, Cllr Ian Hudspeth Introduction
1. Local government faces the most extreme
financial challenge of my lifetime,both in the short and longer term. The
budget proposals that will go to Councilin February set out how Oxfordshire
County Council is required to find anadditional £28m of savings on top
of the £265m that has been achieved or isalready planned by 2017/18.
2. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's
Autumn Statement made clear that thelonger term picture is no rosier. Whilst
great strides have been made inreducing the national deficit there is a substantial
amount still to do, andpoliticians of all parties have made commitments that
will see the need for verysubstantial further cuts to public services. Over
recent years local governmenthas delivered enormous savings but I anticipate
that we will be expected tobear much of the brunt of these cuts, as health
and education and others areprotected. We are beyond the point where further
savings can be achieved byfinding more efficiencies or 'salami slicing'
of services and we must find adifferent way of being able to provide essential
services to our residents.
In real terms the County Council has seen its government grant cut by 50%since
2010, and we are severely constrained in our ability to raise income tomake
up any shortfall. Currently around half of our current budget is spent onservices
for the neediest 2% of the population - targeted care for vulnerableadults
and children. Demand for these services is rising rapidly. By 2017/18demographic
trends mean that if we made no savings in those areas, this couldrise to three
quarters of our spending. This means that any services where thecouncil has
any discretion and that are more universal in nature are inevitablyhaving
to be squeezed further.
As Leader of the Council it is my job to leave no stone unturned in seeking toprovide
the best services for Oxfordshire's residents. Fundamentally I mustensure
that we have the resources available to fund the services that ourresidents
need. It is in this context that I commissioned a report fromindependent consultants
Ernst and Young to explore the potential savings thatcould be made in Oxfordshire
were there to be some form of unitary structure oflocal government. The report
is appended at Annex 1.
5. Local government in Oxfordshire currently
consists of Oxfordshire CountyCouncil, four district councils and a city council,
in addition to a large number oftown and parish councils. The proposed models
would not affect the town andparish council tier of local government and would
in fact provide the opportunityfor them to play an enhanced role as a crucial
link to local communities.
My decision to commission this work followed discussion in the local media inApril
2014, with the Leader of the City Council calling for a unitary solution foran
expanded area around the city of Oxford, and further discussion at CountyCouncil
last summer when I answered a question on this issue.
7. The report proposes that there are three potential models of councilreorganisation covering county and district / city council functions:
a single unitary council for Oxfordshire;
two unitary councils, based on the city of Oxford and the rest of the
• three unitary councils covering the city of Oxford, north Oxfordshire andsouth Oxfordshire.
There may be other options that people wish to propose, I will welcome theopportunity
to consider these as part of the debate.
9. The report finds that the single council option would release by far the largestamount of potential savings to reinvest in frontline services. A single unitarycouncil for Oxfordshire would save up to £32.5m per year, and could:
Protect front line services for Oxfordshire's residents•
Reduce the number of chief executives and senior managers that areduplicated across the current arrangements;
• Reduce the numbers of councillors and their costs. There are currently309 Oxfordshire councillors at county and district / city council levels, withexpenses of over £2m per year. This could be reduced to under 100councillors,
sitting on a single council and dealing with all service issues ina coordinated
reduce council tax levels for 80% of Oxfordshire's residents tothe current
lowest rate in the county. This would reduce bills for many,particularly residents
in the city of Oxford who currently pay £167 per yearfor city council
services. This could be reduced to the level in WestOxfordshire, currently
£82 per year.
simplify issues for residents - there would be a single councildealing with
all matters, be that highways, housing or anything else. Thecurrent system
is confusing and makes it difficult to provide the joined uppublic services
that our residents want.
council reserves, that currently total over £250m, together into asingle
pot to invest strategically in vitally needed infrastructure. Forexample potentially
providing the much wished for relief roads in Banbury,
• Didcot and Wantage, and tackling congestion on the A40.
10. It is clear from the report that there
are great savings to be made. I am notrecommending a particular course of
action, indeed it is not within my gift tomake any local structural change
happen, as this responsibility rests with thenational government. But the
opportunity to achieve the benefits above, and atthe same time play a bigger
role in nursing the national economy back to robusthealth, is not something
that should be dismissed without debate. Indeed if asingle tier of local government
was to be rolled out nationally then I estimatethat we could save in the region
of one billion pounds across the country.
11. The county and district / city councils already work well together on manyissues, focused on meeting the needs of residents. I do not wish to jeopardisegood relationships, however if we were starting with a blank piece of paper I donot believe that we would design the current structure, with complex splitresponsibilities between different organisations.
12. Times are tough for all of local government, but particularly for upper tierauthorities with strategic responsibilities for social care and transport. I feel thatit would be a dereliction of my duty not to be putting this information into thepublic domain and encouraging debate on this issue. My own view is that wecannot carry on along our current course, where services, particularly for themost vulnerable residents are having to be cut and we are also unable toprovide the infrastructure to support our buoyant economy. This debate isneeded
urgently and I am therefore proposing that a special council meetingshould
be held in March to seek the views of my fellow councillors. I am ofcourse
also keen to hear from the council's partners and, most importantly,from
the public who pay for the services that are provided by local governmentin
the government has made it clear that it is keen to encourage localareas to
work together through a combined authority model. This is a joined-upway of
working on planning for economic growth - it is not the same as a unitarycouncil.
I, with my counterparts in Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire,have recently
announced that the three county areas will be exploring thepossibility of
establishing a combined authority focused on supporting economicgrowth through
working together at a sub-regional level on infrastructure andtransport. Our
three authorities collectively have substantial financial muscle;we truly
are the powerhouse of the national economy and we must ensure thatwe can effectively
access government funding to unlock further growth. Ourcollective economy
approaches that of Greater Manchester and is twice aslarge as the Sheffield
city region. Working together we hope to be able todeliver ambitions for East-West
rail and the expressway to Cambridge.
14. A combined authority model will not address the spending squeeze that isaffecting our ability to provide essential services to Oxfordshire's residents. Iam clear that it is not in residents' interests to continue to chip away at servicedelivery, and our options are so limited that we must consider radical options,including major structural change.
15. Were any of the proposed options to happen all councillors would face reelectionin new divisions. The role of Leader would stem from those electionresults so I must stress that this is not about me personally or a desire for morepower in my position as Leader of the County Council. Nonetheless for too longthis issue has been the elephant in the room in Oxfordshire, the time has comefor us to consider it head on and take the steps that are needed to put us in thebest position possible in order to ride the turbulent times ahead.
16. Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to consider the Ernst and Young report andto refer it to Council in order that all Members can debate the issues.
CLLR IAN HUDSPETH
Leader Oxfordshire County Council
Annex 1: EY Report, Strategic Financial Case for a Unitary Council
The question of councillor's allowances
is always tricky and there is never a good time to debate them. An Independent Allowance panel of 3 people made
an assessment of councillor's allowances. The last time we had a full review of allowances was in 2011. Allowances
were frozen then.
In 2013 we reduced the number of councillors from 74 to 63 this had an impact on councillors
increasing the size and area of their divisions. Last year the panel reviewed the new structure but felt it was best to do
a full review once a full year had taken place so that they could get a better understanding of the workload. The saving resulting
from the reduction in councillors from 74 to 63 was £117K
The Independent panel produced their
recommendations on councillor allowances. Some allowances were cut or removed whilst others increased. It would not be correct
to pick and choose which recommendations to take.
Once again I state that there is never a good time to review
councillor allowances however the recommendations came from an Independent panel based the work load of councillors.
Oxfordshire County Council's councillor allowances are among the lowest of all county councils across the South of
Current basic Allowance
West Sussex £11,140
East Sussex £10,950
Current Leader of the council allowance (Oxfordshire
16th out of 21)
West Sussex £31,051
East Sussex £24,328
and Woodstock East Proposal
I fully accept that I represent the residents of the Woodstock division and
am content for my record to be examined prior to the election. When I state that we want more powers devolved down from central
government it is with that fully in mind. If that is the case then local politicians would become more accountable rather
than following central government's policy. I think we can all accept that one size does not fit all. Following the result
of the Scottish referendum to stay as part of the United Kingdom ( something I fully support) I feel it's now time to
ensure that all areas of the UK have the same devolved powers.
The current system has meant that the residents
of Oxfordshire have been disenfranchised from their ability to determine their future. Oxfordshire is a growing economy that
is driving the growth agenda in the country as it contributes £16.5 billion pa to the national economy, and is one of
few areas in the country to pay more in tax than it receives back. If we were able to determine where that money was best
spent within Oxfordshire then many of problems we suffer from could be alleviated.
The powers that I am
asking to be devolved are around funding and transport. Since 2010 central government has cut the funding to Oxfordshire County
Council by 40% and by 2020 all central government funding will probably have ceased whatever the result of next year's
election. By the end of this financial year we will have saved £200 million with another £85 million of savings
to be made by 2018. If we had devolved powers to set the level of council tax then a small increase above the referendum threshold
may have reduced the need to make such large savings. If Oxfordshire had the power to retain all business rates then we would
be investing in the vital infrastructure that is required to maintain our growth, unfortunately that is not the case with
funds being diverted to other areas of the country. Successive governments of all political persuasions have stuck to the
belief that by supporting other economies they will grow. Quite simply that is not the case as we still have big divergences
despite this policy over the last 50 or more years. We should be bold and allow areas to retain their funds and allow them
to grow. This would encourage other areas to improve to follow the growth as opposed to the current system of propping them
up. If we had had those powers can you imagine the improvements we would have made to the A34 and the A40? We would have resolved
the situation rather than having to wait for funding streams to become available. Unfortunately the mandarins at the department
of transport do not see either of these roads as such a high priority therefore we are unable to address them in the way we
would if we had devolved powers.
I have to remind you that planning matters are the sovereignty of the District
councils, the role of the County council is purely advisory relating to such matters as transport and education. The comments
below are my own thoughts on planning issues.
I was as shocked and surprised as any local resident with the announcement
of the Woodstock East proposals and do not support it however the decision rests with the planning committees of Cherwell
and West Oxfordshire District councils not me or the County Council. The majority of the homes are based within the boundary
of Cherwell District council. While Councils are democratic bodies, their existence, powers, and duties, are primarily decided
by Parliament. Parliament has in particular decided that planning applications should be a special case, where Councillors
are supposed to vote only on legal grounds, not based on the personal or political views of themselves or their local residents.
I do not wish to be critical of Cherwell District council as they are not alone in the country in not having
a Local Plan in place or an identified 5 year land supply. Due to the current regulations set down by Brandon Lewis MP this
means that if an application goes before the Cherwell planning committee there are very few grounds to reject it. In fact
should they reject the plan and there is a successful appeal they would be at risk of paying the developer's legal costs
also they will lose out on several million pounds of New Homes Bonus which could be used to deliver vital infrastructure to
mitigate against the development, however these funds can be used for any purpose by Cherwell District council. The funds
would be better used to mitigate the huge impact that the development will have on the area for instance additional bus services
could be subsided to Witney on the 233 linking with Hanborough station or to the new station at Water Eaton. An alternative
would be to see if we can improve the A44 between the Turnpike and Loop farm. Whilst I do not support the development and
hope that Cherwell reject the application, I think we have to be realistic to achieve the best mitigation for Woodstock.
We are all growing older which is good news but is does mean that we are an increasing population that requires more
homes especially affordable homes. Whilst there has been very vocal opposition to the development, there are residents within
Woodstock who welcome it as it may enable children to have their own home within Woodstock, currently they are moving to other
parts of the county or country to live.
The housing numbers that have come out of the Strategic Housing Market
Assessment (SHMA) were not plucked out of thin air, they followed an agreed procedure by the City and District councils to
establish the need across the County. The Vale District council has accepted the figures and used them from their Local Development
Plan, so too has Cherwell District council, the South and City Councils are reviewing their plans with respect to the SHMA
figures. West Oxfordshire is challenging the figures and in the process of submitting a plan. It does leave the unmet demand
from the City council that is being questioned but is between 10,000 to 20,000 extra homes. There is a duty to cooperate (supported
by Brandon Lewis MP) that means the District councils have to try to allocate this unmet demand across the county however
it's not a duty to agree.
I completely agree with Brandon Lewis that we should use brownfield sites as opposed
to greenfield but this highlights the fact that one size does not fit all. There are many brown field sites across the country
unfortunately that is not the case within Oxfordshire as there are limited sites.
The Vale council has undertaken
a partial review of its Greenbelt and the South are proposing a similar review, there is pressure on the City to review
their Greenbelt within its boundaries, this does mean they are freeing up Greenbelt land. I think that it's impossible
to review the Greenbelt in limited areas as I feel they should all be tested against each other.
I would welcome
a strategic land review across the county to try and see if there were sites that could better take the unmet need if that
were the case then there might not be a need for a review of the Greenbelt. If there were to be a review then it does not
mean the loss of any land as it should be done on a 1 for 1 basis ie if 1 acre is released than another acre elsewhere most
be added in to maintain the Greenbelt. It has to be remembered that the Greenbelt was set up over 50 year ago and might not
be fit for purpose today. For instance it seems unbelievable to me that Woodstock is not within the Greenbelt given its historic
nature and the proximity of a world heritage site. There are areas within the Greenbelt that are questionable and certainly
nobody could consider them worthy of that distinction against the case for Woodstock to be included.
I hope you
can appreciate that with more devolution of powers it would mean more local accountability.
|Oxford Mail, Mark Hemsworth
GROWTH DEAL HERALDS
NEW ERA FOR OXFORDSHIRE ECONOMY
The Oxfordshire Local
Enterprise Partnership today agreed an historic Growth Deal with the Government. The Deal will see at least £108.6million
invested in Oxfordshire. £15.7million has been confirmed in the first year, and as part of the Government’s
on-going commitment to the Oxfordshire LEP it has provided an indicative award of a further £92.9million of funding
from 2016/17 onwards. This deal will help to create up to 5,700 jobs, allow over 4,000 homes to be built and generate over
£100m in public and private investment.
The key features of the deal are:
Investing in substantial measures to reduce
the risk of flooding, so that businesses can continue to operate, roads and railway lines are kept clear, and people can be
confident that their homes and businesses won’t be damaged.
Investing jointing with the University of Oxford in a new Centre for
Applied Superconductivity which will bring university professors and entrepreneurs together to collaborate on exciting developments
in fields as diverse as computing, cryogenics, x-rays and MRI scanning and electricity storage.
Investing with the City of Oxford College,
and Abingdon and Witney College, in state-of-the-art skills centres that will train local people in science, engineering and
technology, providing them with the skills they need to get a job.
Significant investment in better transport
links including roads, parking, and cycling networks – joining up Oxfordshire’s world class universities with
its businesses and helping people get to where they need to be faster.
Additional investment into the Oxfordshire Growth Hub to help
local businesses access support and make the connections they need to grow.The Oxfordshire Growth Deal is part of a national £12 billion
long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are the latest and greatest example of the British economy being
rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country. Local businesses and council leaders
have been invited to open discussions immediately on the next set of projects to be funded, building on the momentum that
has been established.
The Prime Minister
said: “Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.
too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. They are about
firing up our great towns and cities, boosting local economies and driving growth across the country.
deal means real change for Oxfordshire including better transport links to connect businesses and ease commutes, reducing
the risk of flooding to protect homes and businesses, and investing in skills in key sectors such as science, engineering
By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing,
we can create thousands of new jobs. And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hardworking
people across Oxfordshire”.
The Deputy Prime
Minister said: “The Oxfordshire Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs,
provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, build of new homes and improve transport links across the
region for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
We’re placing the power and money in the hands of people in Oxfordshire
who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities.”
Adrian Shooter, Chairman of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We
are delighted with the Government’s continued support of Oxfordshire’s growth ambition in transport infrastructure,
education to support big science and the flood relief scheme, building on the recently agreed innovation led City Deal. This
funding will enable the delivery of more than 4,000 homes, supporting 5,700 new jobs in Oxfordshire and is the start of an
on-going Programme for Growth to 2020 and beyond”
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The
Government has shown its commitment to Oxfordshire’s ambition to be a global leader in science and technology, with
more than £100m of funding for major schemes that will support job creation in Oxfordshire. I am particularly pleased that £35m has been committed to the continued development of the
‘science transit’ public transport links between major research establishments and the much-need improvements
to the A40. All these improvements will massively improve transport
connections within the county and encourage science and technology companies to invest in Oxfordshire.”
Local Government Question at Full Council 1st July 2014
1. COUNCILLOR CHARLES MATHEW
the Leader consider that there is any substance in the reported possible bid for Unitary Oxford City Governance?
COUCILLOR IAN HUDSPETH, LEADER OF THE COUNCILIf you read the article in the Oxford Mail 21st
April 2014 it would appear that there
is substance in a possible bid for Oxford City Governance.
In the article it is clear that the Leader
of the City, Councillor Bob Price, has had a discussion with the reporter Damian Fantato that has led
to the quotes.
It is clear that Cllr Price believes that should Labour win the General
Election the Labour policy will be to implement the Adonis recommendations however my
understanding of the Adonis report is that the recommendations will be similar to Lord Heseltine’s
view that it should be on County boundaries.
It is clear that Cllr Price realises that the
small size of the City council is an issue by talking about land grabbing Kidlington, Botley and land
south of Grenoble Road however even then it would not be of sufficient size to be a functional economic area. Where next will Cllr Price turn his sights on, Abingdon,Eynsham and Kennington?
I did raise the question about this article at a recent City County bilateral; Cllr Price said it was pure speculation related to a question at the City council. I did ask had
he read the article and he replied he did not read the Oxford Mail.
I did ask him
was the City Council working on a Unitary bid and he assured he that no work was taking place at the
City Council on a Unitary bid. So to that end it would appear there is no substance in the article that
Damian Fantato wrote on 21st April
2014.Verbal follow question:
Cllr Charles Mathew "Does the Leader think that Cllr Bob Price's
vision is the way forward"
Thank you for the question.
I have to start by reminding everybody that it’s not up to local government
to decide if or when a reorganisation takes place that is a job for Central Government. The current government has made it clear that they would only consider reorganisation if all councils agreed
the way forward, currently I do not see this happening in Oxfordshire.
Whatever the colour of central government in Parliament I will work within the framework that they
set to get the best possible deal for the residents of Oxfordshire. Cllr Price was referring to a report that is due out today written by Lord Adonis, he is suggesting a review
of Local government which may be in the Labour manifesto. However rather than the fiddling around with boundaries I understand that Lord Adonis is suggesting something
similar to Lord Heseltine’s ‘ No Stone Unturned ‘ report that local government should be on viable economic
areas similar to the LEPs. In Oxfordshire’s case this would be co terminus with the County’s boundaries also those
of the Clinical Commissioning Group.
If there were to be a reorganisation of Local Government then we have to remember that this county
council delivers 75% of Local Government services within Oxfordshire. That means we have 1 Social services dept., 1 Highways dept., 1 Library service, 1 Children’s service,
1 trading standards service, 1 Fire service, 1 Registration service the list goes on
If we were split into 4 unitary authorities as Cllr Price is suggesting then we would have 4 Social
services dept., 4 Highways dept., 4 Library service, 4 Children’s service after hearing about the good Ofsted rating this morning why would
we want to split this service up? 4 trading standards service, 4 Fire service, 4 Registration service along with 4 Finance
dept., 4 HR dept. This would obviously increase the
cost to the residents of Oxfordshire.
If we were to have 1 unitary authority then we would only require 1 of each dept. I’m sure there would be greater savings across the councils but I can think of 2 sensitive subjects. We currently have 5 Chief Executive officers across Oxfordshire
costing £573,000 pa If
we went to 4 unitary authorities as Cllr Price is suggesting then I suspect we would have 4 Chief Executives earning £145,000
each so no savings to the residents of Oxfordshire.
However if we had 1 Chief Executive then we would save nearly £400,000 every
year! Or should we go even further and
have no Chief Executives saving £573,000 of tax payers’ money every year.
We have 309 County, District & City councillors across Oxfordshire costing £2.3
million every year. If we went
for 4 unitary authorities as Cllr Price is suggesting then I suspect we would end up with between 200 & 250 councillors
so there would be saving but not massive savings. If we had 1 authority we could increase our current number of councillors to 97 to take into account the additional
workload, the extra 34 is around the number of dual hatters we have in the chamber. That means we could shed over 200 councillors
and save the tax payers over £1.3 million every year.
I’m sure if I knocked on the doors of the residents of Oxfordshire and told them I had a plan
to get rid of 5 Chief Executive Officers and over 200 councillors that would save them around £2 million every year
along with other savings that could be better used to protect and provide the services they value.
They would tell me to get on with the job!
we need to do is establish all the costs then have a debate
I will sum up where I started by saying that it’s not up to local government to decide if or
when a reorganisation takes place that is a job for Central Government to decide. The current government has made it clear that they would only consider reorganisation if all councils agreed
the way forward, currently I do not see this happening in Oxfordshire.
Whatever the colour of central government in Parliament I will work within the framework that they
set to get the best possible deal for the residents of Oxfordshire.
County Council Leader outlines his vision for transport in ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’
Published 03 April 2014
A vision of a thriving Oxfordshire supported by a 21st century transport
system has been unveiled by the Leader of the county council.
County Councillor Ian Hudspeth outlined how Oxfordshire County Council is rising to the challenge of ensuring that
investment in transport matches growth in jobs, housing and hi-tech industry beyond 2020.
In ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’,
Councillor Hudspeth looked beyond the planned £800m of investment in transport in the county to another wave of transport
innovation and investment.
Around 80,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes are expected to come to the county by 2031.
As the transport authority for Oxfordshire, the county council plays a leading works with public and private sector partners
to improve the transport network.
Watch Councillor Hudspeth introduce the vision below:
of £800 million
As the number of people living and working in Oxfordshire increases dramatically, the county
council is in involved in laying the foundations for a transport system that include:
- The new Oxford Parkway station
at Water Eaton as part of East West Rail, with improvements to Oxford and Didcot stations
- Northern Gateway roundabout
improvements and new link road connecting the A40 and A44
- Improvements at Frideswide Square and surrounding area as
gateway to Oxford
- Improvements at Junction 9 of the M40
- Improvements around Science Vale Oxford at Milton
and Chilton interchanges
- Bicester park and ride
County council leading way on economic growth
Earlier in the year the county council signed up to a City Deal with government that will see the private sector invest
over £1bn – but that investment relies on improving transport links. The programme is designed to make the most
of Oxfordshire ‘knowledge economy’ based on science and technology.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth said: “Oxfordshire
is looking forward to a period of new jobs and great economic growth. The county council is putting plans in place to ensure
that the county and its residents are able to make the most of this and thrive.
“The bottom line is, with such
enormous growth and massive opportunities forecast – doing nothing is not an option.
starts a debate about meeting the long-term challenges and thinking creatively about improving the transport network to create
a 21st century transport system that connects people to places and jobs.
“One of the biggest challenges is delivering
a transport system that truly matches the county’s ambitions, but I think that the schemes we already have ready to
deliver along with the ideas we have for development mean that we are equal to this challenge.”
As the transport
authority, Oxfordshire County Council is about to starting consulting over its new transport plan. This is a strategic document
that shapes the long term development and improvement of the transport network. Also to be called Connecting Oxfordshire,
it will be a robust evidence-based plan for developing the 21st century transport system outlined in Cllr Hudspeth’s
Councillor Hudspeth continued: “We have a history of developing innovative and successful transport
projects such as the world’s first park and ride, and now they are biggest and best used in the UK. Oxford also has
the greenest buses outside of London and, with our plans for a new park and ride for Bicester and innovative schemes such
as smart ticketing and mass transit
“You may ask how we will be able to afford any of this given that local government
is facing an unprecedented financial squeeze. The answer is that the county council will invest what we can but more importantly
will need to work with private sector investors and transport operators to develop the transport network of the future. Connecting
Oxfordshire is about starting the debate on how we can work together to make it happen.”
There is already massive
demand for transport in Oxfordshire. To put this in perspective:
- There were 16 million rail journeys to or from
Oxfordshire stations in 2012/3 (up 3%) and 39m bus journeys
- The A34 carries 70,000 vehicles per day and the M40 carries
102,000 vehicles per day
- Thanks to efforts to improve the transport system traffic on routes into city centre has
reduced by nearly a quarter (24%) since 1993 – despite growth in the city and county
- Oxford High Street carries
around 180 buses per hour
- 80,000 vehicles (including cycles) carry 130,000 people across the ring road in 12 hours
Exciting times ahead
Councillor Hudspeth continued: “There are exciting times ahead.
Towns across Oxfordshire are going to increase in size, with places such as Bicester set to double in size over the next ten
years. We are also seeing the technology and knowledge industry Science Vale Oxford really take off and the county council
needs to lead the way in developing the supporting infrastructure.
We can’t rule out ideas that might seem
fanciful, such as creating a passenger service on the Cowley branch line, a mass transit system into Oxford. And why couldn’t
we create a monorail connecting key locations around the city’s ring road?
“This is not just going to be
about building new things – we will also be looking at whether there are ways in which we can get more out of some of
the existing infrastructure, such as the Cowley branch line, to help people get around more easily.”
BETTER BROADBAND ARRIVES IN ALVESCOT
The roll out of Better Broadband across Oxfordshire
has started and I was delighted to attend the launch at Alvescott with the Prime Minister.
The full programme
will be delivered by 2015, the details of when Better Broadband arrives locally are to be found on the council's website
Thank you chairman
I would like to start by thanking
Lorna Baxter, Chief finance officer, she has seamlessly taken over from Sue Scane and being invaluable in helping to prepare
this budget. She has been ably assisted by Katy Jurczyszyn and
Stephanie Skivington along with the rest of her team.
Also I would like to thank Cllr Fatemian who has taken over the finance portfolio, coming to grips with all
the issues quickly.
This is my 2nd budget as Leader of the council and I had hoped that it would be easier than last year’s
however that has not been the case.
It is the first budget of the new administration and I would like to thank my independent colleagues who
have supported the budget process to enable a stable administration to deliver this budget. I think the residents want that
stability rather than us all arguing and trying to point score at today's meeting.
I have been very open and transparent with the
main opposition parties by providing information on the budget process prior to any announcements, sharing information with
them since October.
My reason was quite simple.
This budget is a major challenge for us and there is no way we can disguise the cuts, if there were any areas
we could work on, then I was content to see if we could deliver a united budget today. Unfortunately I see we have amendments put forward that
could have been discussed at an earlier time to assist the process.
I suspect this is a budget that no group would really want to put
through as it’s a cutting budget. I remember at last year’s budget, Councillor Brighouse made the comment about the Liberal Democrats
tinkering at the edge. I would suggest that with the minor amendments the Labour group have made they have joined forces with
the Liberal Democrats in tinkering.The Liberal Democrats have not only continued to tinker around the edges but have pulled off a remarkable
feat. Nationally the Liberal Democrats are following the sensible policy of reducing the nations reliance on borrowing. Locally
the Liberal Democrats are today proposing to increase borrowing on the failed spend now pay later policy of the Labour Party
We have to be realistic and
acknowledge that this is a cutting budget and it's simply not possible to have no cuts what so ever. It is the 2nd year in a row I have proposed an increase of just 1.99%
this is once again the lowest actual increase by the county council.This small increase of just 46p per week has enabled us to protect some vital services across the county.
In 2010 we started a programme
of reducing the budget by £201 million. By the end of this year we will have achieved £170 million of savings with the balance being taken
out over the next 2 years. The spending review announcement last summer meant we had to find another £64 million of
savings. Bringing the total to an eye watering £265 million.
I fully understand the financial situation that many households across
the county face and any increase however small should be avoided. However this small increase will enable us to continue to
provide valued services to the residents of Oxfordshire.
Can you imagine the reception I would have received in 2009 if I was proposing 2 years of increases of just
1.99% whilst taking out £261 million. This chamber would have thought I'd lost my mind as that year we proposed an increase of 3.75% almost
double this year’s increase without anywhere near the savings.
We have had to redesign services. Share functions such as IT with
Hampshire County Council. Trading standards provide services for other councils making that service almost cost neutral to
Oxfordshire residents. Sharing the back office functions of the fire service with other councils. These are some of the innovative
ways we have worked to reduce costs.
We will have to do more working together especially around sharing buildings as the general public do not
differentiate between Woodstock town Council, West Oxfordshire District Council and the County Council. They simply see us
all as the council and want us to reduce our costs whilst still retaining the services that they value.We have to prioritise our limited funds to the
services that we have a statutory function to deliver.
There are some hard decisions we have to make such as the
reduction in the Homeless grant. This grant has been reduced by the government to the County Council and we have effectively
been subsidising the City & District councils for a number of years.
There is still a challenging target of £3 million
of savings that have to be made by Children centres & Early intervention hubs.
By April we will have reduced directors by 50%,
senior management by 40% along with overall staff reductions of 30%.It's a tribute to our staff that we have been able to make the savings and still have basically the same
service delivered to our residents.
I want to add a positive statement about the Living wage, we are committed to deliver
the Living wage and are working towards implementation with our partners as soon as practicable.
We have plans for additional investment of £32m
in our Capital Programme up to 2017/18. However, the announcement about our basic needs funding in late December means we
have to rethink our plans for capital investment in Education over the coming year to address the £19m shortfall we
now have in funding school places. I’m taking this matter up at the highest political level to reinstate this funding.
Additional funding has been confirmed by the Department for Transport
providing almost £11m of capital funding for Oxfordshire to part meet three significant schemes; the Northern Gateway
Cutteslowe junction; the Wantage Eastern Link Road and Bicester London Road schemes. These will provide a real boost to the
transport network and promote growth in the county. Ensuring Oxfordshire continues to be a World class economy.
I am also delighted that the
City Deal has now been announced which will bring £55m of central government investment to Oxfordshire. This will enable
us to improve the skills of people in Oxfordshire, improve the housing and then we will be able to improve our ability to
tackle the issues around homelessness. The City Deal will pay for major transport schemes as well as jobs in hi-tech industries
and construction and speed up the building of 7,000 homes across the county and is a great boost to Oxfordshire. The implications
of this major programme will need to be assessed and reported on later in the year.
I am sure we'll have an interesting debate today but I urge all
members of the council to vote for this budget that I am proposing today.
To vote against or abstain from this budget is
To vote against
abolishing 15 minute home care visits,
To vote against putting an extra £1 million into highway maintenance,
To vote against maintaining laundry services for
To vote against providing valuable funding for youth protection.
To vote against putting money into mainstream
To vote against respite breaks for children's carers
To vote against extra money for flood relief
Do you really want to vote
against these essential services that we need to deliver for the vulnerable people of Oxfordshire.Quite simply to ensure all these happen you must
all vote for this budget
I commend this budget to council.
Council to be asked to approve £64m of new savings from
2014 to 2018
Oxfordshire County Council is set to end
15 minute visits for personal care when it sets its budget for the period 2014-2018 later this month.
The council's cabinet has recommended ways that £4m of funding could be spent as
part of its budget setting process for the period 2014 to 2018 - while still facing having to making around £64m of
savings. A total of approximately £2.7m will be invested in priority areas while previously proposed savings are proposed
to be reduced by around £1.3m.
One of the key proposals is that
a total of £800,000 would be invested adult social care so that 15 minute care visits for personal care can be stopped.
During December, the council learned that grant levels from Central Government would
mean it would have slightly more money than expected when it set out its budget proposals earlier that month. During late
January and early February the council received business rates forecasts from Oxfordshire's district councils which are
higher than had been factored in to its overall calculations. The overall impact is that there is £4m more to allocate
in its budget calculations than was the case in early December.
annual budget setting meeting of all 63 Oxfordshire County Councillors will make final decisions on the budget at a meeting
on February 18.
As much of the money is being reinvested in to priorities
as opposed to reducing spending, the council's overall new savings figure remains at £64m, with £31m of savings
having already been planned. The council is on track to have made £170m of savings from 2010 to 2014.
How will the extra money be spent?
On top of the £800,000 investment
in ending 15 minute visits for personal care, the following additional investment is being made:
- An extra £350,000 will be available for the setting up of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding
Hub in Oxfordshire.
- There will be £1m for extra for general highway
maintenance to be spent across the county - with priorities for this spend to be determined during coming months.
- A total of £400,000 will be set aside as a contingency to deal with issues stemming from
flooding and other winter weather issues - the exact nature of how this money will be spent will be determined once full assessments
have been made when waters have subsided.
- A total of £315,000 will
be invested in community budgets
- A total of £100,000 is to be reinstated in to budgets for respite breaks
for carers of children with special educational needs and disability
for adults with learning disabilities will benefit from £700,000 reducing savings required in this area
- The council will continue to subsidise the laundry service for people who suffer from incontinence
in adult social care having previously proposed to cut all subsidy in this area. The saving will be reduced from £120,000
- Original plans for phased reductions of grants over
the course of the council's financial plans (2014-2018) amounting to £62,000 will now not go ahead. These savings
would have affected the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford, the Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership and the Oxfordshire Visual Arts
Development Agency had they gone ahead
- The original plan for a phased
reduction of £25,000 in grant funding to Victoria County History will now not go ahead
- A total of £200,000 will be put back in to mainstream welfare rights and advocacy reducing the saving required
Home to School
On 4th February Oxfordshire
County Council’s Cabinet took the decision to provide free Home-to-School Transport to eligible children who attend
their nearest school. There was an extensive consultation process that involved 10 public meeting. The decision was taken
after the cross party Education Scrutiny committee had fully reviewed the proposals and issued recommendations to the Cabinet
that were accepted. The decision to adopt the ‘nearest school’
policy is partly about reducing the cost of providing home to school transport as part of the County Council’s savings
programme. But we also need to prevent future liability for providing transport to schools with much wider catchment areas
e.g. academies and free schools, as would have been the case by adopting a ‘catchment school’ policy.
The proposals will be phased in from September 2015 for new starters,
which means families currently receiving free transport to schools which are not their nearest will continue to receive the
benefit until their children leave the school they are currently attending. No child will be required to change schools as
a result of this policy, and parents will still be able to exercise their choice for a school that is further away. However
they may have to pay for transport or organise it with other parents or the school. We will be working with schools to assist
them in their planning. Children from low-income families – i.e. those entitled to free school meals – will continue
to be offered free transport to any one of the three nearest secondary schools between two and six miles from their home.
In recognition that some villages
are ‘split’ between two ‘nearest schools’ the council has agreed that where at least 20 per cent of
addresses within a village are nearest to the catchment school, free transport will be provided to the catchment school for
all addresses within the village. The decision was taken in the context of the Council’s
dramatic reduction in funding, these are the hard choices that have to be made. Any policy has to be fair and equitable to
all Oxfordshire’s 635,000 residents.
There is a
briefing with frequently asked questions on the county council’s website (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/schooltransport).
|With Chairman Peter Henley & CEO Joanna Simons
|Interviewd after the Witney Talking Oxfordshire
I would like to say a big thank you to everybody who attended the Talking Oxfordshire
road shows. all the comments were noted and will appear on the OCC web site. they will be fed into the budget setting process,
which will be very difficult and challenging this year with the proposed funding reductions.
would also like to thank all the staff who helped make the events run so smoothly.
Public services in Oxfordshire
are changing – have your say
Oxfordshire County Council has less money to spend and public services will have to change. That’s the stark message behind ‘Talking Oxfordshire’ - a series of public events and online
consultation where residents can have their say about service changes and ways to save money. As part of the Government’s programme to reduce public spending, the County Council has seen significant
reductions in its funding. The County Council has to find another £60m worth of savings over the next four years before
setting its budget in February 2014. Five public meetings will be held across the county
during mid-October with leading councillors and officers to explain the Council’s financial position, answer questions
and hear the views of residents.
The County Council
“It is important that we hear from residents
about the services they value most and which ones they could live without. We want to hear ideas about how people and communities
can get what they need without relying on public services. We also want to talk about charging for services or raising income
in other ways.” “We want to make changes as
fairly as possible while protecting services for the most vulnerable people. To do that properly, we need to hear first-hand
from people in Oxfordshire. We want people to have an influence on how we manage these very difficult changes.”
to make cuts is nothing new to local councils. Since 2010, at Oxfordshire County Council, we have
worked hard to save £127m. We have reduced costs by becoming more efficient and cutting bureaucracy. For instance we
have nearly halved the number of senior managers - so the council is much leaner. “Now we have to reduce costs further than we had already planned for the next four years.
After years of reducing budgets, finding further savings will be immensely difficult. We will continue to wish to reduce our
‘back office’ costs, by vacating under-used offices and possibly contracting private companies to provide services
where it is cheaper to do so. “We
can’t make changes on the scale that will be needed without some services that are valued by residents changing, or
even stopping altogether - and we know all too well that this will be unpopular and that there will be real dilemmas. “These are difficult conversations but Oxfordshire
people know what matters most to them and their communities, and we need to hear from them before making decisions.”
When are the meetings?
Monday 14 October: Banbury,
· Tuesday 15 October: Oxford, County Hall
· Monday 21 October: Wantage, Civic Hall
Wednesday 23 October:
Didcot, Cornerstone Arts Centre
· Thursday 24 October: Witney, Henry Box School
All meetings will run from 7.30pm to 9pm.
What services does the county council provide?
Oxfordshire County Council provides around 80 per cent of local government services in Oxfordshire. Apart from schools
which are directly funded by Government, the largest areas of spend are social services for adults and children. The council
also provides highways and transport services, libraries, services for children and families, trading standards, waste disposal,
the Countryside Service.
How is the council
funded and how much will it have to save?
(57%) of the funding for Oxfordshire County Council comes from central Government grant. These grants are forecast to be cut
significantly from 2014 to 2018. With restrictions on how much councils are allowed to raise council tax, it is thought Oxfordshire
County Council could have to save £61m on top of the £74m it had already planned to save up to 2018.
The country is reaching a stage where we could soon have an energy crisis on our hands. Despite being in power for 13 years the previous
Labour government failed to address the future energy needs of the country. Whenever a new method
is proposed, there is an outcry from some sectors that means we do not take tough decisions. Fossil fuel power generation
is on the decline and we need to find alternative forms of power generation. There has been a reluctance to invest in nuclear
power stations; solar, wind and wave farms appear to be unreliable, with objections raised by nearby residents. The
County Council already has food processing plants which produce electricity for around 9,000 homes from our food waste. We
are in the final stages of completing an Energy from Waste facility which will produce electricity for approximately 38,000
homes from the waste that has not been recycled and would otherwise would go to landfill. Currently Oxfordshire has the highest
recycling rate, over 60%, for a county council in the country.
Fracking has become
a national debate in Britain. If we do not investigate
this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive.
Without it, we could lose ground in the tough global race. As with any advance in technology,
fracking – drilling for so-called “unconventional” gas – has rightly given rise to scrutiny. A lot of myths have also sprung up.
are not turning our back on low carbon energy, as I mentioned above but these sources aren’t
enough. We need a mix. Latest estimates suggest that there’s about 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lying underneath
Britain at the moment and that study only covers 11 counties. To put that in context, even if we extract just a tenth of that
figure, that is still the equivalent of 51 years’ gas supply. This reservoir
of untapped energy will help people across the country who work hard and want to get on: not just families but businesses
too, which are really struggling with the high costs of energy. Just look at the United States; they have got more than 10,000
fracking wells opening up each year and their gas prices are three-and-a-half times lower than here. Even if we only see a
fraction of the impact shale gas has had in America, we can expect to see lower energy prices in this country.
Secondly, fracking will create jobs in Britain.
In fact, one recent study predicted that 74,000 posts could be supported by a thriving shale gas industry in this country.
It is not just those involved in the drilling. Just as with North Sea oil and gas, there would be a whole supply chain of
new businesses, more investment and fresh expertise.
will bring money to local neighbourhoods. Companies have agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an
exploratory well where they’re looking to see if shale gas exists. If gas is then extracted, 1 per cent of the revenue, perhaps as much as £10 million, will go straight back
to residents who live nearby. This is money that could be used for a variety of purposes,
from reductions in Council Tax bills to investment in much needed infrastructure. It is
important that local people share in the wealth generated by fracking. If neighbourhoods
can see the benefits and are reassured about its effects on the environment, then I do not see why fracking should not receive
real public support.
The Government are issuing very firm guidance; firms looking
to frack should make people aware of their plans well before they apply for a permit. Dialogue is important and if residents
express specific concerns, then companies should take them on board. Equally, we must make the case that fracking
is safe. International evidence shows there is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies or other
environmental damage, if properly regulated. Also, the regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the
world. If any shale gas well were to pose a risk of pollution, then the regulatory bodies have
the necessary powers to close it down.
When all is said and done,
though, one myth still remains – that fracking damages our countryside. I just do not agree with this. Our countryside
is one of the most precious things we have in Britain and I am proud to represent a rural division.
I would never sanction something that might ruin our landscapes and scenery. Shale gas pads are relatively small – about
the size of a cricket pitch. But more than that, similar types of drilling have been taking place for decades in this country
without any real protest. The South Downs National Park remains one of the most beautiful parts of Britain, yet it has been
home to conventional oil and gas drilling since the Eighties. The huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor changes
to the landscape.
Currently there are no applications
for fracking pending at the County Council. Should there be an application then it would have to go through due process and
be judged on its merit against national and local development plan policies and all other relevant
|Cutting the ribbon with Teresa Ceesay
HANBOROUGH STATION CAR PARK
On 24th July I officially opened
the new car park at Hanborough station which provide around 200 places for people to park safely. the station has
benefited from an improved service along the Corswold line since the redoubling by Network Rail. This has cuased pressure
on the previous small car park. Customers wanting to take advantage of the 9 minute journey time into Oxford rather than sitting
on the A4095/A44/A34 for 60 minutes began parking on the verges.
The slip road in front of
resident's houses was frequently blocked causing them problems. During the summer with a hard surface on the grass
verge it may not appear to be a problem. However in the dark wet winter moths car frequently got stuck in the mud and
needing assistance to get out. There was also the problem of cars revsering across a pavement onto the busy A4095 with poor
visabilty potentially an accident waiting to happen.
These issues have now been resolved and although there is
a charge I'm sure users will find saving 50 minutes on their journey time well worth the cost. It now means I can
catch a later train into Oxford without having to worry about where to park my car.
Below is my speech at the Cabinet meeting 16th July regarding Home to school Transport:
Thank you for
taking the time to attend this meeting and speak I can assure you when it comes back to cabinet you will be allowed to speak
again. I would like to thank everybody for all the email and letters that I’ve received. I have tried to answer them all but some may have slipped through the net. Given
the issue around the process it would have been very easy to simply cancel this agenda item. However I have to admit that
over the recent weeks it is clear to me that I need to know more about the impact on schools. I would have been putting forward
a recommendation to re-consult in September with more information on the affected schools; with the decision to be taken at
the November meeting allowing sufficient time for a full dialogue with those schools. The change in the statutory guidance
has in any event meant that we need to re-run the consultation exercise. I do not want to rush through this but need to fully
understand the implications of any change to our policy.
I find it difficult to understand when people say that £310,000 is not a significant sum of money, compared to our overall budget. Over the last 4 years we have
saved £127 million from the budget, we had a target of
an additional £74 million in the coming 4 years.
In the recent CSR the Chancellor
Reform: an obligation to ensure more is gained from every pound of taxpayer’s money.
Growth: to provide schools, science, transport links and reliable energy to enable business to grow.
all sections of the population play their part and those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden.
He also announced that we will
have to make at least an additional £25 million at least, bringing
the total to an eye watering £226 million. This amount of
money cannot be made up simply of 1 large scale saving, it's made up of a number of small savings such as this.
People tell me private business
would do this differently, yes the would they would simply close this down or sell it off as non-core business. We have obligations
as a local authority and we simply do not have that luxury.
I know from my experience last year as cabinet member for finance we
look at all the budget lines to ensure value for money in fact I can say I spent part of last weekend looking through the
budget book line by line to see where reductions can be made.
The proposals would have brought us in line with the neighboring authorities
of Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Swindon, Warwickshire and West Berkshire. Nobody who currently receives
or is about to receive free transport would be affected through their time to year 11, as these proposals would be phased
in. I think some people have assumed that the proposed changes would occur immediately and for all students. What is
important to remember is the vast majority of the students attending school would
not be affected by this proposal.
My ambition is simple for schools in Oxfordshire. I want them all to be good or excellent, if that is the
case then there is no reason not to send students to their nearest school. I will be working with heads and governors to try
and make this happen.I am struggling to understand why people expect the council to pay to transport students to school when they live within
walking distance of another, there appears to be no logic at all to this. What I would be interested to hear from people is
why they expect the council to pay for transport to go past one school to attend another further away. That is money that
could be spent on other much needed services.
On a parochial issue there seems to be some anomalies that have to be further investigated such as Middle
Barton; as the community looks towards Chipping Norton yet the Marlborough school is a mile nearer in that instance the differential
cost would be minimal if Chipping Norton was the nominated school. What we have to ensure is that we are not using 2 coaches
going in opposite directions as the cost savings are obviously from a reduction in coaches or students paying. Another issue
is looking at existing public transport such as the case in Yarnton. The nearest school is Gosford however there is no direct
public transport route so if a student misses the coach or stays late then there is no method of getting home. Whereas the
S3 runs every 30 minutes at least between Yarton and Woodstock so students could use that if needed. Section 38 of the report
indicates season tickets are available.
Having said all of that I do have an open mind and will be available to meet with schools so that we can
have an open and honest dialogue.
My recommendation is to re start the consultation process in September bringing the results back to the November
cabinet for decision. I would ask that officers carry out detailed studies of the schools affected.
Milton Interchange announcement welcomed
News that the Government has announced that it will fund a major transport improvement project
in Oxfordshire has been welcomed by the leader of the county council.
The Department for Transport has put forward £5m of the £11million needed
to improve the Milton Interchange near Didcot. The scheme has also received strong support from the Local Enterprise Partnership
and its chairman, Adrian Shooter.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is great news which has positive implications
for the local economy.
“The county council has
championed this scheme in order to enhance accessibility to Science Vale and deliver the Enterprise Zone.
“We will now speak with the Highways Agency in
order to secure work which I believe will see one of the county’s major traffic ‘pinch points’ become known
for innovation, accessibility and success.”
transport scheme will convert the current junction - where the roads from Didcot, Milton Park, Harwell and Wantage join the
A34 - into a 'hamburger' style roundabout. This will support the development of new employment
opportunities in the Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone and new housing in the Didcot, Wantage and Grove areas.
The £11m million scheme will also be supported by developer contributions held by the County
Council and by funds from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Notes: The Government has stated that it is ‘Minded to approve’ the funding subject to further clarification
on a number of design and technical issues. Between the county council and Highways Agency.
Who am I to disagree with Dan Hannan?
The revolution is coming
MEP, County Councillor and MP together in Thame – but none of us gets to decide
can exclusively reveal the result of Thursday's county council elections. They will be won by the Stay-at-Home Party,
which will secure more support than all the others combined. Indeed, I shouldn't be at all surprised if more than two
thirds of the people who have taken the trouble to register to vote decline to cast their ballots on 2 May.
at this stage in the electoral cycle, like to talk up their prospects, but I've never seen much purpose in contrived optimism.
I've spent six weeks canvassing all over my South East constituency. I've knocked on doors in seven counties. I've
spoken at rallies for party activists and at open meetings. I've stuffed leaflets through a thousand letterboxes. I've
given rolls of "Vote Conservative" stickers to children as they gush forth from school. I've flirted politely
with their mothers at the gates.
What is The Voice Of The People saying? Ask canvassers from any party and, if they're
honest, they'll tell you the same thing. The Voice Of The People is saying, 'Meh.' Pressed further, The Voice
Of The People will elaborate thus: 'It makes no difference how I vote: nothing's going to change'.
of course, it has a point. Decisions that ought to be made in local councils are too often made by remote bureaucracies. Powers
that, in the rest of the Anglosphere and in Europe, are devolved – education, taxation, welfare – have been centralised
in the United Kingdom. Three quarters of local government finance comes from the Treasury – the highest proportion of
any EU state except Malta.
One of the reasons I was an early enthusiast for the Coalition – though my feelings
have since cooled – was that I hoped that it might disperse, diffuse and democratise power. And d'you know something? It has. Or
at least, it has started.
I spent part of the weekend in the pretty Oxfordshire market town of Thame, represented previously
by Boris Johnson, now by a local champion called John Howell. John was there, as were local councillors and the brilliant
leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Ian Hudspeth. But – this is the best bit – none of us really mattered. Because,
on Thursday, the people of Thame will decide, in a local referendum, where to build their new houses. The politicians have
been cut out. Here, along with elected sheriffs, is a foretaste of the direct democracy that Britain might one day enjoy.
We've still got a very long way to go,
of course. But give credit where it's due. Governments hate giving away any jurisdiction. Yet, on an issue that matters
enormously to people across my Home Counties region, power is passing from a remote bureaucracy to a local community. If we
can have local referendums on planning, we can have them on policing priorities, tax levels, road schemes. This could be the
beginning of, literally, a revolution: a turning of the wheel, a setting upright of that which has been turned on its head,
so that the state once again becomes the servant of the citizen rather than the other way around.
One good reason to
vote Conservative on Thursday? Localism.
As a young man of 19 years I was inspired by Baroness Thatcher
to vote at my first General Election for the Conservative Party.
She transformed the Winter of Discontent into the Spring
of Economic Growth.
My thoughts are with her family and close friends.
I had a meeting with Stephen Hammond MP, Minister for Transport and Nicola Blackwood
MP to push for greater local control of the A34. We would then be able to make changes that benifit the residnets of Oxfordshire
whilst not forgeting the national strategic importance of the road.
|Thank you to the Oxford Mail
Budget Council 2013/14 – speech
This is my first budget since becoming Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, and it could not
be a harder time to balance the books. I
believe we have a budget that balances the need to protect the most needy and vulnerable in the county, with our ambition
to see Oxfordshire continue to thrive through hard work and economic growth.
Before I talk you through the budget, I would like to thank Sue, Lorna, Steph
and the rest of the finance team, along with the Directors and their departmental teams. They have all worked exceptionally
hard this year, particularly given the late announcement of the figures.
I would also like to thank Cllr Shouler who started this budget off when
he was Cabinet member for Finance; unfortunately ill health prevented him from continuing in the role. I wish him all the
best for the future. He will be greatly missed at the council.
This budget is set against a back drop of reduced funding and significant changes to local authorities
funding. There is the localisation of council tax support, and changes in funding for schools and education services. The
responsibility for public health is also coming back to local government.
The council’s finances have changed dramatically under Conservative
control - firstly in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2001 then outright control since 2005. My predecessor, Cllr
Mitchell, left a legacy of a financially sound council and I would like to pay tribute to his leadership over 10 years.
When I first became a County
Councillor in 2005 we were dealing with Council Tax rises of over 4% and worked hard to deliver an increase of less.
Today I am proud to deliver a budget with
an increase of less than 2% without any additional support from central government..
The proposed increase of 1.99% is 44p per week for a band
D property; this is below current inflation levels.
We appreciate that our residents, whether individuals, families or pensioners are feeling the
squeeze but we believe that 44p per week to ensure we maintain our services to protect the most vulnerable in our society
can be justified, preventing even more deeper cuts in future years.
For 2014/15 we have planned for an increase
in council tax of 2.5% and for future years we have maintained increases at 3.75% in line with the current medium term financial
has considered the comments of individual Scrutiny Committees, as well as feedback from the public consultation through the
Oxfordshire Voice Panel in October and November 2012.
Three-quarters of the panel thought a below inflation increase was acceptable. I would like to say that the coming years will be easier.
However due to the economic climate we have another £46 million of savings to make. This will bring the total from 2010
to 2017 to £200 million.
Some of the savings will be re-invested in our priority areas. We continue to manage pressures from our aging
population and the increased demands on our Children’s care service. We will be putting £13.7m of our savings
back into the most important areas of our services in 2013/14 which is on top of the £45.9m re-invested since 2011/12.
The Cabinet continues to protect front line
children’s safeguarding services along with the Fire & Rescue Service with savings in those areas to be achieved
only through genuine efficiency.
The vast majority of children grow up in safe, happy homes but a few are not so lucky. We are doing everything
we can do prevent children being exploited and working closely with the police to bring anyone who does exploit children to
justice. We have said clearly that we will never give up on a child.
Children’s social care has always been a service this council has protected
from cuts. Sadly there has been a steep rise in referrals over recent years leading to larger caseloads. We will invest an
additional £1.4m to recruit additional experienced child protection professionals to protect the most vulnerable young
There are 44 Children’s
Centres across Oxfordshire. These have been funded through the Early Intervention Grant, which is being reduced nationally.
We are not proposing to close any centres, but will review their management and support structures, to protect the front line
Care accounts for 40% of our spend, and pressures on this budget will continue to grow too. We will continue to provide care
for the most needy and vulnerable, and make it as easy as possible for everyone to get the care and support they need to live
healthy, independent lives. As this is such a large proportion of our spend we must also reduce costs. We are investing an additional £10.3m in 2013/14,
although some of this is for the short term. These investments are spread across services for older people and people with
have received some additional income coming from the NHS, as the government have recognised that the NHS should be protected.
But unless health and Adult Social Care are considered together, real savings cannot be made. We will work
to reduce people's need for care by intervening early and in the right way.
We are pleased to see Public Health returning to Local Government.
We now have the opportunity to shape public health services ourselves over the coming years.This year’s budget includes health expenditure, with a ringfenced government grant,
which has been confirmed for 2013/14 and 2014/15 at £25.3m and £26.1m respectively.
Highway maintenance is another budget saving, but we have
done everything we can to reduce the impact. We recognise its importance to the economy and are re-instating a previously
planned reduction. We hope to offset
this using the Area Stewardship fund through one off funding in the future. Our plan is to change the way the fund has operated,
keeping the knowledge of local members, but restricting the use of the fund to maintenance.
Efficient public transport is vital to Oxfordshire’s
economy,I am pleased to announce one off funding of £50,000 to come
from the Efficiency reserve in 2013/14; so that we can develop improved and joined up technical solutions to paying for journeys
across Oxfordshire and beyond. We will be working closely with the Bus and Rail companies along with the City & Districts
to enable residents to move easily around the county encouraging them to use public transport.
We are no longer going to be able to provide free day-time
parking at our Park and Ride sites. We recognise that the public will find this hard, although it will remove the confusion
caused by the City Council already charging at their sites. We will consult over the level of increase with a view to introducing
the charges from the Autumn.
Economic growth is vital. I am pleased to inform the council that our Oxford and Oxfordshire City has been accepted as one
of 20 successful City Regions. The bid was centred on the universities and the key science growth areas
of Culham and Harwell. The bid is
supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership and all Districts councils. We want to improve the infrastructure across the
county enabling spin out companies from the Universities to grow and remain within Oxfordshire, as well as encourage new firms
to locate here.
of our commitment to economic growth, we have allocated £100k for the next three years to increase the County Council’s
capacity to pursue growth opportunities with our partners in the public and private sector.
I expect this money will bring in many times that investment
into the county to enable new and existing companies to invest in Oxfordshire and create jobs. We are getting the message
out there that Oxfordshire is open for business.
We can also make savings on our waste disposal responsibilities, with sound procurement, and the phased removal
of non-statutory incentives for waste targets.
We want our Customer Services Centre to offer the best response to the public, and are therefore not making any
cuts in that area.
the changing relationship with schools though, we feel it is now the right time to phase out the subsidy we have been providing
for their back office support.
the financial situation I’m pleased to announce that capital investment over the next four years will be £352
million. Included in this is approximately £70 million to be invested in the Transport network. On top of this funding
the creation of the Local Transport Board will bring an additional £16 million that we can determine locally where its
There will be capital spending of £153 million on schools over the next four years, to ensure
that we provide the best possible start to children so that they can achieve their potential.
The military are important to Oxfordshire. We were the
first county to sign the military covenant. We work closely with the RAF, the District and Town Councils and voluntary organisations
to carry out repatriations to RAF Brize Norton with dignity and respect. I am particularly pleased that we have been able
to continue the funding of £100,000 we have made available in the past four years to ensure the social, economic and
environmental well-being of service personnel and their families.
The Big Society Fund was introduced in 2011/12, and changed into a Councillor Community
Budget in 2012/13. Throughout the budget process I have said how good it has been at delivering local projects. I am pleased
to announce that the scheme will be extended for another year. This will be £10,000 per councillor and will be funded
from the Efficiency Reserve in 2013/14, to allow local councillors to make local decisions for their divisions.
We have balanced the need to protect the
most needy and vulnerable in the county, with our ambition to see Oxfordshire continue to thrive through hard work and economic
I commend this
budget to the chamber.
From 1st November the Council maintains a watch on the weather to determine if gritting is required for full details
please use the link below:
At the AGM of the Conservative County Councillors on 26th April 2012 I was chosen
as the group leader that means I will be nominated as the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council on 15th May, this is obviously
a tremendous honour for me as well as being a challenge. I will work hard for all the residents of Oxfordshire.
Mitchell has led the council with distinction for the last decade and I am sure I speak for councillors and officers alike
at the council in wishing to record immense gratitude to Keith Mitchell for his dedication and service to the county of Oxfordshire
over the past decade.
The work now starts on forming a new cabinet and committees.
Well done to Cllr Colin Dingwall for finding a solution to the car parking at Hanborough station.
The article below appeared on the Oxford Mail web site by Tom Jennings:
For full details:http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/9663570.Grant_bid_for_car_park_plan/
PLANS have been put forward by First Great Western to build a new 197-space
car park close to Hanborough railway station. The station's 50-space car park is often full by 6.45am
and dozens of drivers park on the grass verges along the A4095 and outside nearby residents' homes. FGW
is seeking funding for the car park on a nearby former plant hire depot, next to North Oxford Garage's Mini showroom and body shop. Blenheim Estates purchased the site, off the A4095 Main Road,
formerly owned by Hewden, in March and is in discussions with FGW about converting it into a car park. But
the plan hinges on FGW securing a grant from a Network Rail station improvement fund, which is expected be decided at a meeting on May 10. If the
scheme does go ahead, drivers would be charged to use the station's car parking spaces, with the county council putting
no-waiting restrictions in place on nearby roads and the verges.
West Oxfordshire District Council member for Freeland and Hanborough, has been working on finding a solution to the parking problem for three
years. He said: "It is of the utmost importance. The situation down there is dangerous and is a
tremendous nuisance for all the people who live in the area.
It is also a nuisance for all the
people who want to travel by train to relieve the congested roads."
Mr Dingwall is also
working on a scheme to build a housing development in a field alongside the railway line, which would combine affordable housing
with a 100-space car park for rail users.
Cotswold Line Promotion Group Hanborough
representative Andrew Wilkins said: "I've counted more than 70 cars parked along the A4095, which is very annoying
for residents but also creates a danger with cars backing out on to the road."
of passengers using Hanborough station has grown by almost 50 per cent since 2005, from 70,500 journeys starting or ending
there in 2005-6 to 104,000 journeys in 2009-10.
FGW spokesman James Davis said: "For customers
to make the most of the services that First Great Western offers, providing suitable parking facilities can only be of benefit."
Blenheim Estates property director Roger File said: "We have acquired the Hewden site as
a commercial investment. "We have a number of options, one of which is to do something with Network
Rail, subject to their grant coming through. We would rather help solve the traffic problems than something that does not offer that benefit."
The change of
use would need to gain planning permission from West Oxfordshire District Council.
The Prime Minister
and a Pasty!
During the recent debate regarding V.A.T. on a pasty the Telegraph
remembered he ate one when he visited the Farmers Market at Woodstock during the 2010 election campaign. His pasty was cold
so would not have attracted V.A.T. and please note I resisted eating one!
click on the link below:
Woodstock farmers market
Concessionary travel tokens must be used before end of March 2012
West Oxfordshire residents are reminded that any concessionary travel tokens must be used by
March 2012. After this date the tokens will cease to be valid.
Council, who took over running the concessionary travel scheme from the District Council last spring, removed the use of travel
tokens from the service due to government grant cuts.
West Oxfordshire District Councillor,
David Harvey said "It's important that people are aware that they are nearing the end of the ‘grace period'
for using up any previously issued travel tokens.
"Eligible residents are now issued
with a free national bus pass. This can be used on all local scheduled bus services across England. During the week the
bus pass can be used from 9am in Oxfordshire and from 9.30am in other areas. There are no time restrictions at weekends or
on Bank Holidays."
Bus passes will continue to be issued from West Oxfordshire District
Council's Town Centre Shop, Welch Way, Witney until 31 March 2012. From April residents will need to contact Oxfordshire
For more information call 01993 861000 or visit www.westoxon.gov.uk/bus
The Leader of the County Council, Cllr Keith Mitchell CBE has announced that he will
be standing down as Leader at the Council's AGM on 15th May 2012.
I would like to take this opportunity
to congratulate Keith on his 10 years as Leader of the County Council. Despite all that has happened I can genuinely say that
I have a huge respect for him and all that he has done transforming the organisation from its previous status as a hung council
with no overall direction, no leadership and a mediocre service record to one that is seen nationally as high performing and
able to punch above its weight. In his resignation letter, Keith made it clear that he will be the leader until
15th May 2012 and in the meantime its ‘business as usual'. The most important business we have to deal
with is the budget, we have to ensure that we deliver a zero increase whilst protecting our front line services.
There has been speculation regarding possible candidates for the Leadership, at this stage I feel that we should be
concentrating on delivering the budget as there will be sufficient time in the New Year to deal with the Leadership issue.
The County Council were consulting on the Minerals & Waste Strategy, full
details can be found on the council's website at: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/mineralsandwaste. The consultation finished on 31st October.
Below is my response that I submitted on 5th September:
The revised annual figure is welcome news and gives the Council a robust argument for future planning applications
in regard to land bank requirements, this should stop unnecessary development.
announcement of the Enterprise Zone in the Science Vale area is a new development since the Cabinet meeting in July and means
that the proposed allocation sites have to be re-visited. Prior to the announcement there was an imbalance in site allocation
as the South/Vale area was projected to have an addition 22,000 homes that would require 21,000,000 tonnes for development
(as per the Atkins report) whilst only 7,450,000 have been identified in the area, Sutton Courtenay 2,550,000 & Cholsey
4,900,000 as the 4,000,000 at Caversham will be primarily exported out of the county. The Enterprise Zone is expected to bring
8,000 jobs to the area, which has a low unemployment rate. To be sustainable, in line with current polices, then an addition
8,000 homes will be required otherwise new jobs will only bring more commuting and gridlock to the area. This will require
approx 7,700,000 tonnes of additional minerals creating a shortfall of approx 21,000,000 tonnes that would have to be transported
across the county.
Policy C7: Transport and rights of way policy
Minerals and waste development will only be permitted where provision is made for convenient access
to and along the primary road network in a way that maintains or improves:
safety of all road users including pedestrians;
- the efficiency and quality
of the road network;
- residential and environmental amenity.
Proposals for mineral working should
wherever possible, transport minerals by rail, water, pipeline or conveyor, rather than by road
•b) minimise the number of miles that have to be travelled
to reach markets if this can be achieved using roads suitable for lorries
the recently endorsed Local Transport Plan 3 one of the requirements to be taken into consideration is:
5. Minimise the distance minerals need to be transported by road and encourage where possible the movement of aggregates
by conveyor, rail and on the River Thames in order to reduce the adverse impacts of mineral transportation on local communities
and on the environment.
To satisfy both of the above policies then more sites have
to be identified in the South of the county, otherwise the County Council is contradicting itself, the whole Minerals &
Waste policy would be found unsound and could be challenged.
The improvement to the A40
via Access to Oxford has been cancelled and the Highways Agency will object to a strategy that will add approx 700,000 HGV
movements to the A40. This would have a negative impact on the local road network especially the A4095 & A44.
The Enterprise Zone will attract new government funding that will not be available to other areas, which
can be added to the £6.5 million investment in the southern ring road by the County Council. This additional funding
of infrastructure will mean that the Southern area will be best equipped to deal with the HGVs to satisfy policy 5 of LTP3
and policy C7 of this strategy.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth
|The steam train journey to celebrate the Cotswold Line re-doubling
|I spotted this at the Game Fair and have passed on to Highways
It was good to be at the official launch of the first part of the Cotswold redoubling
held at Charlbury Station. Congratulations must go to all those involved in this project to improve the efficiency of the
line. Obviously the team from Network Rail who carried out the work but we must not forget the part the Cotwsold Line Promotion
Group have played in maintaining the pressure on the authorities to deliver the scheme.
We now must all work together
to improve the parking at both Charlbury and Long Hanborough to ensure that when the improved service attracts more customers
it does not add to the parking problems outside the stations.
A new consultation
process has started regarding the libraries. This is a significantly different offer from that explored in Autumn 2010 and
means that all of our libraries will be kept open and will receive substantial financial support.
Under our revised proposals all libraries will:
- Have a good book stock, public
access computers and online resources
- Be cost-effective and efficient
- Have self-service as standard
- Have tailored opening hours
a broad range of supporting services tailored to the community e.g. bookclubs
- Work closely
with a community support network (e.g. Friends Groups)
- Encourage use of library buildings as
However the savings still have to be made and the proposal
is that some of the libraries will have to find volunteers to maintain their hours. This does mean that Woodstock library
is in a group that has to find volunteers to work alongside the staff for 1/3 of the time. I will be working with everybody
to achieve the best way forward for Woodstock library under these new proposals. At this stage I must emphasize that
these are proposals that are out for consultation until 30th September 2011 then all the responses will be analysed
with a proposal coming out based on the new consultation. It is important that as many people as possible respond to this
consultation details are available on the website. The library service will be fully funded as it is for the remainder of the year.
I have to make an apology, as in my April report I mentioned the proposal regarding the Visitor Information
Centre at the museum. What I failed to mention is the loss of the staff and the excellent work that they have carried out
at the centre. They worked hard with their colleagues from the museum and often covered for each other in busy periods. They
will be missed and I apologise not to have mentioned their good work and I wish them well for the future.
At the annual County Council meeting on 17th May the new
cabinet was announced without me involved. I am disappointed not to have been selected however I respect the Leader's
decision and will support him in the year ahead.
I will continue to work hard for the resident's in my
division of Woodstock
Budget Update 15/02/11
budget setting council is always the most interesting meeting and this year it attracted more interest in light of the reduction
in spending to reduce the Country's deficit. At the start of the meeting there were a large number of speakers mainly
concerned about libraries and youth centres, all the speakers spoke well, in particular some of the children delivered some
The headline news was a 0% increase in council tax recognising the fact that residents are
facing a difficult financial climate. We have been able to freeze the council tax despite the fact that over the next 4 years there will be savings of £119
million. I'm sure that everybody is aware of the headlines relating to libraries and youth clubs, its important that we
have services fit for purpose in the 21st century. We did ring fence the funding for child protection and the fire
service but had we ring fenced more, then the reductions in other areas would have been greater.
There are areas
that people say we should reduce such as the Oxon News, which we stopped in November. Senior management costs have been reduced
by 40% with middle management costs reduced by 25%; councillor's allowances have been frozen. The political assistants'
posts have been deleted saving £140,000 pa, something that both the Liberal Democrats and Labour groups wanted to be
retained. We are raising income by increasing the parking charges in Oxford and unfortunately re-introducing parking charges
at the Park & Ride Sites. The Liberal Democrats proposed introducing entry charges at Woodstock museum; something that
I felt could harm this valuable resource, fortunately the amendment was not passed.
We had previously taken a
prudent view that the Music Service grant would not be awarded and had already proposed to fund it from our original general
funding allocations. Having received grant funding, the knock-on effect is that we can release the money to spend elsewhere.
The grant is in the region of £640,000 per year. In 2011/12, it is proposed that £300,000 be set aside for community
library support. The remaining £340,000 is proposed to lessen reductions to services in adult social care for vulnerable
adults with learning difficulties. From 2012/13, the entire new £640,000 of extra money would be allocated to adults
with learning disabilities. From 2012/13 we have set aside new funds for dealing with consultation responses (including continued
support for community libraries) across a range of services. This amounted to £450,000. A further £150,000 is
now to be released from reserves to top this fund up to £600,000. We are proposing that ongoing support for community
libraries from 2012/13 will come from this fund.
There is no doubt that this has been the hardest budget the council
has faced and we hope that the result is as balanced as possible in the circumstances.
This is useful information from the government regarding
clearing pavements. To get onto the website this is the link:
Clearing snow and ice from pavements yourself
There's no law stopping you
from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or
held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Follow the snow code when clearing
snow and ice safely.
The snow code - tips on clearing snow and ice from pavements or public
extra attention to clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways - you might need to use more salt on these areas.
you clear snow and ice yourself, be careful - don’t make the pathways more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. But
don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured.
Remember, people walking
on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely
Clear the snow or ice early in the day
It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather
than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the
morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You
can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.
Use salt or sand - not water
you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible
and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table
or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work. Don’t use the salt found in salting bins -
this will be needed to keep the roads clear.
Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage.
you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as well as salt,
but will provide good grip under foot.
Take care where you move the snow
When you’re shovelling snow,
take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle
of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path
to the sides.
Offer to clear your neighbours’ paths
If your neighbour will have difficulty getting in
and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well. Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours
are alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact the county council.
Tuesday 28th December:
is no planned gritting tonight as the temperature is not due to fall below zero with no ice or snow forecast.
SE 5-10 becoming S through the evening and easing a
little to S 5 overnight. Becoming S 5 or less through Wednesday morning.
Hour Weather Summary
with outbreaks of mainly light drizzly rain at times this afternoon with misty conditions struggling to clear in places and
fog forming over hills. There is a low risk of seeing a moderate shower at times across northern parts with the risk dying
away by around 2100. Remaining cloudy with outbreaks of light rainy drizzle at times through the night. Widespread misty
or foggy conditions are expected overnight particularly over the hills, which will be slow to clear on a cloudy damp
Monday 27th December:
There was no action taken
on 25th December
A full pre-salting run took place from 14:00 on 26th December
No action is scheduled for today as there
is residual salt on the road surface.
(mph)||S 10-15mph through today, becoming SE 10mph through the night and remaining
so through Tuesday morning. |
/Hoar Frost||Ice is a risk briefly in the North, where wet surfaces fall below zero or
where ever snow becomes compacted.|
|Snow||Light rain will turn briefly to sleet of snow as it intensifies between 2200
and 0200. Accumulation is not expected in central and southern domains but a short-lived accumulation of 0-3/4in is expected
in the North. Mild air and rain is expected to melt any lying snow by dawn.|
|24 Hour Weather Summary|
|North||As Central but with sleet expected to turn to snow and briefly accumulate.|
|Central||Mostly dry today but cloudy, possibly giving the odd moment of very light
drizzle. Through the evening patchy light rain will turn persistent and then give a brief burst of sleet. This is not expected
to accumulate and it will turn back to rain later in the night. The rest of the period will be damp and grey but it will steadily
become less cold.|