OXFORDSHIRE county councillors backed proposals to set up a new joint committee looking at the future of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

The county council was asked to approve proposals to move all responsibilities over the matter to a new joint committee. The body will be made up of councillors from the county, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. All other matters of health policy will still remain with its existing committees.

But the joint committee will respond to a consultation over the services and will be the only one able to refer to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt on the ongoing consultation of consultant-led obstetric services at the Horton.

Conservative councillor for Deddington, Arash Fatemian, said the move was 'welcome' for people who, like him, have lived in the area and campaigned for the hospital.

Labour councillor Mark Cherry, who represents Banbury Ruscote, said: "The hospital has always been a big thing in the community and it seems like an endless battle."

In March, Mr Hunt wrote to Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC).

He said 'further action is required locally before a final decision is made about the future of maternity services in Oxfordshire.' On April 19, the Oxfordshire CCG confirmed its intention to consult on the obstetric services.