Oxfordshire County Council agreed a 6% increase in council tax at a meeting this week. The largest rise in 14 years and the biggest increase they could have implemented without triggering a local referendum. The cost for a Band D property will rise to £1426 from April 2018.
The Council tax rise will deliver extra money for adults and children’s social care, extension of £500,000 contribution for homelessness for an extra year in 2019/20 (subject to consultation), a 10-year programme to improve transport network and release more money for road maintenance and £15,000 for each of the 63 county councillors to spend on local priorities in their area.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“For the first time, we have created a 10-year capital programme so we can take a longer view of the costs and benefits of road repairs. By taking the long view, we can spend less on filling potholes and more on repairs that will last for years.
I do not believe in raising taxes unnecessarily. But I am confident that people understand about the rising cost of social care. In return, we will always ensure the money is spent as efficiently as possible.
Last year I said the council had made some tough decisions. I don’t want to downplay the impact these decisions have had on council services. But without those difficult decisions we might be facing a very different budget. By focusing resources where they have greatest impact, I can present an affordable budget to Council. Services for the most vulnerable adults and children across the county will continue.
We took difficult decision to reduce bus subsidies, and reorganise family support services and day services for adults. That meant that we could deliver a balanced four-year budget. Today we benefit from that difficult vote we all took in 2016.
People are rightly concerned about the impact of savings on services, and on the voluntary sector that does so much in our communities. I am concerned about this too, and believe this budget will make the best use of scare resources. I would particularly like to highlight the way more than 30 community groups have stepped in to provide services such as ‘stay and play’ for families with small children.
We have provided some financial help, but it is those community groups that have made it happen. That is what we mean by ‘thriving communities’.”
Henley’s County Councillor, Stefan Gawrysiak said, “Residents of Henley are quite rightly exasperated by the state of our roads. In Oxfordshire we have a backlog of £200 million in repairs and a budget of only £20 million. So we have to make the jam go along way and be very careful with the spend of this money. In January 2017 we logged 2000 pothole issues, this year 7000 potholes were logged. Central government gave us another £1 million to tackle the urgent repairs. My £15K this year will be spent exclusively on repairs to B roads in Henley e.g. Nicholas Rd, Elizabeth Rd near Valley Road School, Makins, Wotton Road and others. Areas that are used by traffic frequently.
May I also draw attention to the Fix my Street APP. Get in on your phone. This app allows the user to GPS locates a pot hole and take a photograph. A few quick comments. You can log a pothole, drain, dip in the road, broken manhole cover in about 30 seconds flat. Fix my Street is working very well at the moment and getting our potholes fixed rapidly.