The city council has prioritised £16,000-worth of flowers over hardship funding in setting its budget for the 2024/25 year.

Oxford councillors faced tough choices in the four-hour meeting as amendments to the original motion were tabled unsuccessfully by three parties across the chamber.

The Labour-controlled council decided to absorb most of the Liberal Democrat proposals prompting the party to withdraw their proposed amendment.

READ MORE: Oxford corner shop handed shocking food hygiene rating

Flowers formed a large part of the discussion with some parties believing that planned decoration at Frideswide Square should be replaced with investment into other initiatives.

Oxford Mail: Frideswide Square.Frideswide Square.

A Green group amendment wanted to introduce a hardship fund for "those hit hardest by the cost of living" and said it would finance this by removing investment in flower beds at Frideswide Square in the centre of Oxford and introducing increased charges for park and ride services.

Concern was raised about the trade off however and the amendment was rejected.

Party leader, Chris Jarvis, said: "The administration's budget also hinges on increasing car parking charges by a lesser amount.

"In previous budget rounds you have supported a hardship fund."

Oxford Mail: Chris Jarvis.Chris Jarvis. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

The final budget, which is worth about £100m every year, includes £4.4m to redevelop East Oxford Community Centre, £4m to refurbish the council's leisure centres, and £7.6m to improve the energy efficiency of council homes.

An amendment from the Independent Group called for a council tax decrease though objectors criticised the methods of reduction.

It proposed to finance this through closing public toilets.

Mr Jarvis said he supported the thrust of the amendment but concurred with Liberal Democrat group leader Dr Chris Smowton in thinking public toilets are "incredibly important".

The Oxford Socialist Independents Group also took out spending on flower beds at Frideswide in their amendment and sought more advice centres to help with the cost of living.

Councillor Jabu Nala-Hartley, of the Barton & Sandhills ward, said: "The inequality in our city is rampant.

Oxford Mail: Jabu Nala-Hartley.Jabu Nala-Hartley. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

"Advice centres are a bone of what is happening in the city."

Councillor Katherine Miles had also questioned the need for "such a lot of flower beds when you can pop down to the garden centre".

Lye Valley ward councillor, Ajaz Rehman, said: "Locally when people are suffering you cannot say that flower beds for one year is going to make a difference to what people think of Oxford."

The chamber rejected the Oxford Socialist Independents amendment.

Carfax and Jericho ward councillor, Alex Hollingsworth, suggested flowerbeds only represented a small portion of the budget.

"I hope that will put it in context," he said.

Oxford Mail: Susan Brown.Susan Brown. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

The budget was passed though some councillors abstained from the vote.

Council leader Susan Brown said: "We are continuing to provide the services so sorely needed by Oxford residents.

"I'm proud of our great city.

"Today we are delivering a budget that stands up for our city and our citizens."

Dr Smowton said: "The vast majority of our budget amendment is absorbed into the Labour group's budget amendment.

"Genuinely thank you for doing that."

A city council spokesman added: "The medium-term financial plan until 2028 includes £553m of capital investments in Oxford and the delivery of 1,277 new council houses."