THEY are two words guaranteed to send shivers down the spines of most county politicians: Unitary status.
The mere mention of them is enough to provoke a defensive reaction not seen since the French built the Maginot Line.
That didn’t help the French much. Nor will ducking the unitary debate do anything to stop it now that county council leader Ian Hudspeth has let the cat out of the bag.
He hasn’t said as much, but Hudspeth may envisage a countywide unitary authority sweeping away the five districts, bringing savings galore and a greatly streamlined system of local government.
It would also outflank the last bastion of the left in the county, Oxford City Council, at a stroke by absorbing it into a Greater Oxfordshire. There will be many in Oxford choking on their breaksfasts over that one this morning.
Canny city leader Bob Price is well aware of that and has already set out his own vision of a unitary Oxford.
It is not impossible that both the city and county could become unitary authorities, which would leave the other districts as cannon fodder in what could be a long and bloody political battle.
Leaders such as Barry Norton in West Oxfordshire and Matthew Barber in Vale of White Horse may well be stockpiling food and filling sandbags today in readiness.
But forget the vicious infighting that is imminent. Ultimately, any decision must be based on what is right for the council taxpayers, from the point of view of value for money and quality of service.
Things may get rough but, like it or not, this is a debate we simply must have.
Let battle commence.
6:30am Tuesday 1st December 2015
THE gun has been fired for next year’s Oxford Mail OX5 Run.
9:00am Tuesday 1st December 2015
AN Oxford University student who told a teenager in a nightclub he wanted to assault and rape her was just making a joke inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, a court heard.
8:30am Tuesday 1st December 2015
PEOPLE in Headington fear they may be unable to access their homes by car for weeks at a time after health bosses revealed the full extent of their plans for an inter-hospital heating pipe.
8:00am Tuesday 1st December 2015
WHEN David Hunt walks into the first day of his job as manager of the new Rose Hill community centre today he will start putting the finishing touches to the building before it opens next month.
6:00am Tuesday 1st December 2015
A MAN who escaped from a harrowing ordeal at the hands of a “physically and emotionally abusive” wife has told of his battle to heal the trauma he suffered.
8:00am Monday 30th November 2015
OXFORD’S five tower blocks are about to undergo the biggest makeover in their 50-year existence.