Devolution and Reorganisation
Competing devolution proposals should both be withdrawn
27 June 2017
Last year the County and Districts commissioned rival consultants’ reports about how Oxfordshire could be reorganised and given devolved powers as a way of accessing increased government funds for infrastructure and other development. The two sides still can’t agree on the way forward: the County, supported by South Oxfordshire DC and Vale of White Horse DC are pushing a ‘One Oxfordshire’ Unitary Authority solution; the other Districts including the City prefer 5 Unitary Authorities and a Combined Authority.
We are following these arguments closely and expressing our views as opportunities arise. We have analysed the competing proposals using a ‘Gap Analysis’ focusing on governance and accountability rather than financial savings. We are using our spin-off website Oxfordshire Futures to publish these articles under the ‘Devolution‘ heading.
We commented on the County’s ‘One Oxfordshire’ consultation paper, which we found to be ‘fatally incomplete’, and the follow-up ‘Better Oxfordshire’ published on 3 March, three days after we sent our comments on ‘One Oxfordshire’. We maintain the new proposal is still too incomplete to be submitted to the Secretary of State.
We took the opportunity at the County Cabinet meeting on 14 March to speak against submitting the proposals as they stand to the Secretary of State. However, despite the opposition of the City Council and two District Councils the Cabinet decided to go ahead. Nothing further will happen now until after the general election on 8 June.
27 June 2017: The three councils who do not support the ‘One Oxfordshire’ proposal have drawn up and submitted their own alternative plan. Oxford City, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Districts favour a Combined Authority made up of the five Districts and the Oxfordshire LEP working with a strengthened Oxfordshire Growth Board. We still find the conflict among the districts and county disappointing, unhelpful and unproductive and have called on both sides to withdraw their proposals and get together to produce a consensus view.
Here is a list of our articles so far:
Alternative Devolution Proposals Published (in Oxford Civic Society, 27 June 2017)
Alternative Devolution Proposals Published (in Oxfordshire Futures, 27 June 2017)
County decides to submit ‘Better Oxfordshire’ proposal (16 March 2017)
Better Oxfordshire? Not Really. (10 March 2017)
One Oxfordshire – OCS response (1 March 2017)
Restructuring – a Gap Analysis (27 Feb 2017)
Devolution and Restructuring in Oxfordshire (30 Jan 2017)
Local Authority Devolution (3 August 2016)