Leader’s Report to South Oxfordshire District Council – Thursday 14 February 2019

Released on February 18, 2019

Report to council by Cllr Jane Murphy, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council

I recently attended the District Council Network conference to represent our council, at which the Secretary of State for Local Government gave a speech. 

Oxfordshire, working together to achieve better outcomes, was mentioned several times, and it made me very proud to hear our council being spoken of as a shining example of the good work local authorities can do on behalf on their residents.

He particularly spoke highly of work we’re doing with our partner authorities on the Growth Board, including the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, and our Local Plans, which support it.

At the conference, all councils were raising the long term financial challenges they might face in the coming years, something that has been discussed here tonight.  It was mentioned that one way that government could help address those challenges was by supporting our ability to raise revenue locally. Liz Truss MP, who is leading the fair funding review,  indicated that a review of the cap that currently exists on changes to council tax rates was one option under consideration to better empower local councils to make the right decision for their residents.

On a different note, I’d like to say how pleased I was to see South Oxfordshire ranked as the sixth best place to live in the country in the latest Halifax Quality of Life Survey.  I’m sure this wasn’t a big surprise to any of us, as we all know what a great place to live it is. But I do want to say that these things don’t happen by accident, and I believe our administration of this district council has contributed very strongly to maintaining and improving quality of life over the years. 

This aim is something that drives everything we do, including the work we’re currently doing with our partner authorities in Oxfordshire around the future growth that is needed to ensure we secure the infrastructure we need. Whether this is the right roads in the right place, improved health care and leisure facilities or the schools which are vital to support high quality education so that future generatiions continued to grow and prosper.  

Some of these things you may feel are beyond our remit but we have a part to play in all this, and that is why districts are so important.

We’re also doing our bit to contribute to bigger international issues as well, like climate change.  Once again, we’re up near the very top of the national recycling league tables – the competition at the top has been fierce in recent years with many areas upping their game to catch up with us, but we’re currently the 4th best recycling area in the country. I’d like to thank our Environmental Services team for the hard work they put in, as well as our contractors Biffa and all of their extremely hard-working staff – but mostly I’d like to thank our residents for their ongoing commitment to recycling as much as they can.

Finally, as this is the last full Council before the elections in May, and because it is valentine’s day and love is obviously all around, I’d like to offer my thanks to all of you here who, as Councillors, have worked hard to make sure the residents of their wards are represented over the past four years and have supported our officers to ensure that South Oxfordshire remains one of the very best and highest performing district councils in the Country.  Thank you for what you do for South Oxfordshire and good luck.

Note - a further additional special meeting of council has been called for Thursday 11 April 2019 – the agenda will be confirmed on the meeting page in due course.