AUTHORITY leaders again urged South Oxfordshire District Council to keep its Local Plan, worrying that scrapping it could wreck partnership working.

Susan Brown, the city council’s leader, and Ian Hudspeth, the leader of the county council, both said it is critical South Oxfordshire council (SODC) retains the programme after a senior civil servant warned funding could be at severe risk.

Senior councillors from other authorities have said in private that they still are unclear about what SODC will decide to do next month – whether to scrap its Local Plan, change it or keep it.

That is despite concerns that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of government funding could be lost.

READ MORE: Leading civil servant urges action on key Local Plan

Last week, SODC was told funding would ‘immediately’ be at risk if it withdraws its programme by Tom Walker, the director general of decentralisation and growth at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Ms Brown told the Oxfordshire Growth Board she worried close working between authorities could be damaged if SODC ditches the Local Plan.

She said: “This is the last opportunity at the Growth Board before [SODC] makes that decision (about its Local Plan).

“I just wanted to say I think it’s important, the work we do here as a Growth Board, working together in partnership to discuss various things where we are more than the sum of our parts.

“I think that – I certainly hope – South Oxfordshire councillors will be taking that into consideration when they make a decision."

Ms Brown added: “I note the letter that was sent to Mark [Stone, SODC’s chief executive] [by Tom Walker], which I’m sure has been circulated to all South Oxfordshire councillors – it was sent to all of us as leaders – which makes pretty clear that there is a risk if the decision is to withdraw the Local Plan.”

Mr Stone confirmed legal advice has been given to South Oxfordshire councillors, addressing the implications of pulling its Local Plan.

That advice will stay secret for the time being, the authority said.

The county council's leader Mr Hudspeth added: “We have all heard today how badly we need infrastructure funding. What we mustn’t do is miss the opportunity of the infrastructure funding, which we haven’t had for the previous 30 to 40 years for Oxfordshire.

“It’s really vital that we make sure that we do our best to get that infrastructure funding – otherwise I think it could be detrimental for all the residents of Oxfordshire.”

READ MORE: Oxfordshire Growth Board review will start this month

SODC's leader Sue Cooper said the authority has received representations from across Oxfordshire about its Local Plan.

Her authority is set to make a final decision on what to do about it on October 10.

Official papers regarding the Local Plan, which will be discussed by SODC's scrutiny committee next Tuesday, had not been published yesterday.