DIDCOT’S vision for a ‘Garden Town’ could miss out on £240m worth of government funding if councils fail to agree on their approach to bidding for the money.

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is preparing a bid to the government’s £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for money to build roads, bridges, energy networks and other utilities to support the building of thousands of new homes.

The proposal for Didcot asks for £171m for transport improvements and a further £70m for cycle and other sustainable transport improvements so that 22,000 new homes can be built in the town.

But the county council says a ‘lack of confidence’ in South Oxfordshire District Council’s (SODC) commitment to working with it has contributed to Didcot’s slice of cash removed from the bid.

The leader of SODC, John Cotton, warns this could see Oxfordshire miss out of getting any of the cash altogether.

And he said he believed his council was missing out on the bid because of its failure to sign up to a support a separate ‘growth deal’ for the county.

Mr Cotton said: “The county council is trying to conflate the growth deal and the HIF bid - they think that two are inextricably linked but that is not our view.

“I think they will realise that’s not a very practical approach. If the council doesn’t put the best scheme forward, then they risk missing out on the money entirely.

“We would love to be supportive of the growth fund but we have a number of significant queries.”

The county council now has until September 28 to decide which schemes to back, with cash towards improving the A40 in West Oxfordshire and a North Oxford road scheme also in the running.

Mr Cotton said that he was still confident he could convince the county to make the Didcot plans top priority again, and that his council’s own analysis showed it was the best value for money..

Neville Harris, the independent county councillor for Didcot Ladygrove said: “In the county we need and deserve better infrastructure. All the councils need to present a meaningful united front to the government to stand any chance of getting the money.”

The county council invited SODC to provide a 'stronger governance proposal' and match the commitment of other district councils.