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.

Pothole payouts in Oxfordshire double

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE amount of compensation claimed by Oxfordshire drivers for pothole damage more than doubled in two years.

No snow for Oxford again but chance of white morning in Chipping Norton and Banbury

Oxford Mail: Pictures of snow from across the county

6:45pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

SNOW is no longer expected to hit the majority of the county tomorrow morning.

Travellers leave Botley Road Waitrose site after being handed eviction notice

Oxford Mail:

5:52pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Travellers left the Waitrose site in Botley Road today after being handed a 24-hour eviction notice.

Jayden trial: Jury in Jake Blakeley case sent home until Tuesday

Oxford Mail: Jake Blakeley, 18, from Didcot

5:49pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE jury in the trial of Jake Blakeley will continue considering its verdict on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Delays on Cotswold Line between Oxford and Worcester after person hit by train

Oxford Mail: A First Great Western High Speed Train

4:30pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THERE are delays of up to 40 minutes on rail services between Oxford, Worcester and Hereford this afternoon due to a person being hit by a train between Moreton-in-Marsh and Kingham.

UPDATE: Tesco Metro in Bicester to shut wih 56 job losses after firm announces national closures

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Tesco Metro in Bicester will close on April 4.

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