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18.05.17

Oxfordshire unitary advocate remains head of county council

Plans for a unitary authority in Oxfordshire look set to remain on the table as Ian Hudspeth, a major advocate of the proposals, has retained his place as leader of the Oxfordshire County Council.

At a vote on Tuesday, Hudspeth allegedly struck a deal with two independent councillors to win a majority in the council by 33 votes for and 15 against, with 15 abstentions. This allowed him to select his cabinet.

Prior to the county council elections, Oxfordshire, alongside two district authorities, submitted controversial plans for a unitary bid which divided councils in the area.

Leader of the council Hudspeth said: “Following the recent elections the cabinet takes on a fresh look with experienced county councillors in the shape of Yvonne Constance and David Bartholomew joining the team and working alongside colleagues who have served previously on the cabinet.”

It was also announced that Cllr Mark Gray will be the county council’s new cabinet member for local communities. This will include overseeing the council’s links with local communities, parish councils and others.

Hudspeth added: “Cllr Gray’s role is an exciting one seeking to build on work the council has been undertaking for some time now to strengthen its links with Oxfordshire’s localities. It is a role to which he is well suited and for which he is very enthusiastic.”

Unitary bid

Proposals to bring the Oxfordshire’s six councils together into one unitary authority were submitted to the DCLG in March, and were supported by Oxfordshire CC, Vale of White Horse District and South Oxfordshire District, but opposed by three others – Oxford City, Cherwell District and West Oxfordshire.

In the past, councillors for Oxford City have argued that the unitary bid was made in an attempt to block plans for devolution in the area.

Cllr Bob Price from Oxford City had previously said that a unitary authority would lead to the voice of the city being lost and vital services in Oxford being put at risk.

And Cherwell’s Barry Wood had also stated: “If a county-wide unitary model were adopted the specific needs of each district would be ignored in favour of the needs of the county, with a sterile uniformity and local voices would be lost in the distance.”

Top Image: Cllr Ian Hudspeth (middle) with Vale of White Horse District Cllr Matthew Barber (Right) and South Oxfordshire Cllr John Cotton (left)

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