PART of the union is set to break away following a referendum, prompting fears about diversity.

No, it's not Brexit – this is Headington.

Plans are already afoot to give the Oxford suburb its own parish council by next year – but there are now fears it could end up being run by ‘old white men’.

The concerns were raised at the first meeting to discuss the proposed ‘community council' on Thursday night.

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The forum kickstarted a six-week consultation in which residents can have their say.

It follows the Headington neighbourhood planning referendum in 2017 where residents voted in favour of the idea.

Patrick Coulter, chairman of Headington Neighbourhood Forum, told the meeting: “It is important that we don’t just have elderly white men running it, but I think that’s the next stage of this project, if it goes ahead we would run a campaign to appeal to all kinds of people.”

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However city councillor for the area Mohammed Altaf-Khan said it was easier said than done to get a diverse group of people together.

He said: “It will mainly be elderly people: there isn’t anything wrong with elderly people, but it is very hard to get a diverse group of people – working people, young people, Asian people, professional busy people.

“There is nobody to make sure that the diversity is what they say it will be.”

Other residents voiced their concerns about the cost of the council, which will be funded by a new precept – a charge added to council tax.

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Mr Coulter said it was estimated the precept would be around £22 for the first year, but that it was also ‘hard to estimate costs for a council who don’t exist yet’.

The precept would only be paid for by domestic households – residents who pay council tax normally. This excludes students, Oxford Brookes University and the John Radcliffe Hospital.

At the end of the consultation period in August, a report with residents' feedback will be given to Oxford City Council, which will then decide whether to go ahead with the plan.

If the plans are given the go-ahead, Headington community council will join the four other parish areas within Oxford: Blackbird Leys, Risinghurst and Sandhills, Littlemore and Old Marston.

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Mr Coulter added: “The money side of it would not be wasteful, it would be fruitful.

“One project we get so many complaints about, and that is actually a disgrace, is that there are no toilets in the parks in Headington. One thing I also notice is that none of the car parking spaces in Headington have ever been reviewed. What the council will offer is local control.

“You also may not like the way the high street is looking, it does look right shabby, but the community council could be able to do something about this. We could see some of the improvements being made.”

City councillor Roz Smith added: “I believe in the power of local government.”