A ROW has erupted between top Tories after two council bosses refused to join their counterparts in backing plans for an Oxfordshire ‘super council’.

The shake-up could save £20m a year by scrapping the six biggest local authorities and replacing them with one organisation.

It was proposed by Oxfordshire County Council and has been backed by Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils, which are Conservative-controlled.

But James Mills, leader of Conservative-run West Oxfordshire District Council, said there was ‘no way’ he would back the plans because it would mean a council tax hike for residents. His authority charges the lowest annual rate of council tax in the county – just £86.63 – but under a super council rates across different areas would be ‘harmonised’ to become the same.

Mr Mills said: “We will not be doing any deals, no matter how they dress it up.

“One council for Oxfordshire will inevitably mean council tax rises for people living in this area. I am also concerned it could bring an end to our free parking policy, which is vital to businesses and tourism.”

Cherwell District Council leader Barry Wood also criticised the super council plan on Monday night, claiming it would ‘wreak devastation’ on people he represented.

Mr Wood, whose authority is also Tory-run, accused his counterparts at Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils of being ‘fickle’.

He added: “The fact they have defected does not alter my position or opinion.”

Meanwhile, Labour-run Oxford City Council has also come out strongly against the proposals.

At a meeting on Monday night, city council leader Bob Price claimed a super council was a ‘Tory stitch-up’ that would take away Oxford’s ‘control of its own destiny’.

He told councillors: “We need to be very clear this is an asset-stripping exercise.”

This was disputed by the Liberal Democrat city group, however, with leader Andrew Gant saying: “We must be clear – nothing has been agreed yet, so we do not know what the new council will be like.

“We need to address the concerns about democratic accountability head on.

“I for one would suggest turnout may be higher if we have one council with just one election every five years... because the next morning people can wake up and see what they’ve done.”

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "Two weeks after publishing our draft proposal, I am pleased that three of the six councils are now working together to create a brand new council for Oxfordshire that really will be the best of both worlds – lower cost and more local.

"I hope that other districts and city councils will join us to get the best out of the new council for their areas."