A study into local government structure for the Oxfordshire Growth Board has been criticised as "deeply flawed" by Oxfordshire County Council.

The county's five District Councils have commissioned an independent study to investigate all the options for how the councils could be reorganised, including the possibility of a unitary authority.

A statement issued by the Growth Board this week called on the county council to get on board instead of conducting its own research.

It said: "The Board welcomes this initiative and urges Oxfordshire County Council to join with the Districts in the commissioning and managing of this study, rather than duplicating this work by commissioning a separate study to cover the same ground.”

But county council leader Ian Hudspeth has hit back at the claims today, saying there is "no confidence" that the aims of the Growth Board's study can be achieved..

He said: We will know that the district councils are serious about partnership working when they talk to us before issuing press releases telling us what we should be doing.

"What we proposed from the start was a proper independent study treating all options equally with proper involvement from all partners. This was ignored by the Districts, who have commissioned a study designed to give them the answer they seek.

"They have said they have amended the study and asked us to join, yet we still have not seen those changes.

"What they seem to be trying to do is repair a deeply flawed tender,  which we have no confidence can be achieved. We have no alternative but to do our own study and invite key stakeholders to participate.”

Yesterday the county council published an invitation to tender for an indepenent study that would look at all options for government reform.

Mr Hudspeth added: "We would be happy to pause this process and talk to the districts about a joint, independently commissioned study. But until they are actually prepared to talk to us rather than issue media statements, we are continuing to proceed.”