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.

Dad walking tall after his 70-mile trek for charity

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 31st July 2014

IT was a fitting end to an admirable feat.

Developer submits fresh plans for 127 homes in Bampton

Oxford Mail: Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens and director Ben Bolt film a scene in Bampton

9:00am Thursday 31st July 2014

A DEVELOPER previously denied permission to build 127 homes in the village where ITV period drama Downton Abbey films outdoor scenes has returned with a new planning application.

Ambulance service cuts 12-hour shifts 'to reduce staff fatigue'

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 31st July 2014

OXFORDSHIRE’S ambulance staff shifts could be shortened as part of plans to ease pressure on paramedics.

Confusing tale of two signs calls for a speedy solution

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Thursday 31st July 2014

DRIVERS should be paying attention to the roads when watching their speed limit.

Courts prove an inspiration to grandfather in his poetry

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Thursday 31st July 2014

IN his job as a court usher Mike Lacey has seen people from all walks of life.

F1 team sues ex-employees

Oxford Mail:

7:10am Thursday 31st July 2014

LEAFIELD-based Formula 1 team Caterham is counter-suing a group of former employees who banded together to take the firm to court after being laid off.

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