OXFORD City Council may have to delay some ambitious projects, including climate change measures and new community centres, because of the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city council's cabinet is due to meet on June 24 to discuss the extra costs it has had to bear over the last few months of lockdown.

The cabinet will look at what parts of its capital programme – large publicly funded building projects – can be put on hold.

Some of the big projects likely to be delayed include rebuilding the Bullingdon Community Centre, and plans to renovate the East Oxford Community Centre.

The council has also warned that some climate change measures could face a delay, though the authority has stressed it 'remains committed to becoming a Zero Carbon Council and city'.

It will also continue a £100 million capital investment programme on low carbon measures.

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In April, the council revealed it was on course to be £24 million out of pocket due to the pandemic over the next few years.

This was due in part to £1.9 million extra spending on services in the city, including a support network for the vulnerable during lockdown.

But it was mainly because of a loss of income, as money from commercial property rents, car parks, community centre bookings, leisure centres, and other sources dried up during lockdown.

The position in other local authorities is similar, with a £100 million funding gap across Oxfordshire’s six councils, and a total £13 billion shortfall across England according to the Local Government Association.

The council is also taking advantage of the government furlough scheme, with 40 members of staff off at any one time.

Its wholly-owned company ODS has also furloughed 200 employees.

A report due to be discussed by the cabinet called the 'Covid recovery programme' will be presented to cabinet next week.

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Ed Turner. Picture: Oxford City Council

Ed Turner, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and asset management, said: “Our financial situation is extremely challenging, and it is disappointing in the extreme that central government is so far off helping local authorities in the way it initially said it would: around £1.6 million of extra help is welcome, but is a drop in the ocean compared to £24 million of projected losses."

Mr Turner added: "We want to harness some of the things we have learned in this pandemic: such as how communities can rise to the challenge of helping those in need, how there is great potential to increase cycling, and about different ways of delivering council services."

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He also said: "We should be able to meet some of the one-off costs because we have a prudent level of reserves, but there are likely to be some difficult decisions in the coming months in order to give us a balanced budget in future years. Many of the impacts of this pandemic will, sadly, be felt for years to come."

The Covid recovery programme will also be discussed by the council's scrutiny committee tomorrow.