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.

UPDATE: Tributes paid to Ann Ducker, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, who has died

Oxford Mail: South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker

10:21am Monday 22nd September 2014

Ann Ducker, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, has died.

Corn Exchange's future debated

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The future use of the Corn Exchange will be discussed at a meeting tonight.

Minibus in accident near Littlemore

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9:10am Monday 22nd September 2014

A minibus carrying a group of youngsters was involved in a crash with a car on the A4142 Eastern Bypass. Three adults, 10 teenagers and a child were involved in the crash.

Electricity line drama after fire wrecks shed in Yarnton

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9:10am Monday 22nd September 2014

Electricity cables collapsed after a blaze in a large garden shed in Yarnton on Sunday.

Attacks prompt appeals for more police on the streets

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Monday 22nd September 2014

TWO men were last night in police custody after two women were raped in Oxford.

Shoppers jump in to stop would-be shoplifter

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SHOPPERS stopped a would-be thief from escaping from a Wallingford supermarket without paying for a trolley full of goods.

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