COMMENT: Interesting times ahead for us and our politicians

9:00am Wednesday 2nd July 2014

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.

Black Friday: Shopping traffic causing chaos around Bicester as police warn to avoid area

Oxford Mail:

1:59pm Friday 28th November 2014

POLICE have urged people to avoid the Bicester area due to heavy traffic into Bicester Village on Black Friday.

John Campbell desperate to seize second chance with Oxford United

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Friday 28th November 2014

JOHN Campbell expects it will be a struggle to sleep tonight as he deals with excitement levels beyond anything he experienced playing in two Wembley finals.

Grant: City bids for share of £144m cycling money

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Friday 28th November 2014

OXFORD’S share of a newly-announced £114m grant could be spent on a fully connected city cycle network or teaching cycling in schools, campaigners have said.

Drugs conspiracy case jury considers verdict

Oxford Mail: Scales of Justice

8:30am Friday 28th November 2014

The jury in the case of a pub boss and building company director accused of being involved in a drugs conspiracy has retired to consider its verdict.

Queen of crime who ‘thrilled and inspired a generation’

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Friday 28th November 2014

PD James was yesterday hailed by fellow Oxford literary legend Colin Dexter as ‘one of the most stylish and distinguished modern crime writers’.

Update: Driver taken to hospital after two lorries crash on A34

Oxford Mail: A34 traffic alert

7:38am Friday 28th November 2014

TRAFFIC is "very slow" on the A34 after one lane was closed following a crash between two lorries.

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