City council 'plans to abolish area committees'

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

First published in News by

OXFORD City Council is pushing ahead with controversial plans to overhaul its decision making despite public opposition.

The authority plans to downgrade its area committees that deal with neighbourhood issues, planning applications and grants to community groups.

It would also hand greater power to councillors on the executive board, allowing them to take decisions on their own. The Labour administration said it would improve efficiency and decision making.

It also said area committees were “overly influenced” by the public on planning decisions which had lead to the council losing costly appeals.

But the council’s public consultation revealed the majority of people were against the moves and opposition councillors claimed it had been designed to centralise power within the ruling Labour group.

Public opposition to each of the changes ranged between 55 and 86 per cent.

The council executive board is set to approve the plans at its meeting tonight, but a meeting of full council would need to ratify the decision next week.

Under the proposals, the six area committees that meet monthly would be axed and replaced by area forums that would meet quarterly.

They would also be stripped of planning powers, which would be handed to two newly created east and west planning committees.

Individual councillors would also be given a £1,500 budget to spend on neighbourhood projects or holding community meetings. Liberal Democrat leader Stephen Brown said their was “no reason of justification” for removing planning powers from area committees.

He said: “It is patently obvious, by any stretch of the imagination, the public do not want these changes.

Related links

“What is the point of having a consultation and then appearing not to take any notice of it? It is all about centralising and controlling.”

But council leader Bob Price said allowing single executive board members to take “non-controversial” decisions would improve efficiency.

He said area committees were not objective enough in deciding planning applications and this had lead to costly appeals being lost.

And he added the public consultation was not a fair representation of Oxford.

He said: “The number of people who responded was about 180.

“It is not a significant proportion of the city and most of them had a vested interest in maintaining the current committees.

“The opposition parties tried to get people to write in.”

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:59am Wed 13 Apr 11

mjdmorton says...

Oxford City Council is taking the corporate model as far as democratically possible. Whilst riding the opportunity of having a slim majority the Labour dominated Executive is instigating a number of changes which will enable it to serve its clients more efficiently. It has given up on the notion of persuasive politics as it has become exasperated by a population who do not understand them. The new regime will enable the executive to realise their ambitions before the next election when they may loose control of the city once again. Who are the clients? Think who will best benefit from a streamlined planning process, which has to now been (slightly) hindered by public opposition.
Oxford City Council is taking the corporate model as far as democratically possible. Whilst riding the opportunity of having a slim majority the Labour dominated Executive is instigating a number of changes which will enable it to serve its clients more efficiently. It has given up on the notion of persuasive politics as it has become exasperated by a population who do not understand them. The new regime will enable the executive to realise their ambitions before the next election when they may loose control of the city once again. Who are the clients? Think who will best benefit from a streamlined planning process, which has to now been (slightly) hindered by public opposition. mjdmorton
  • Score: 0

9:17am Wed 13 Apr 11

EBTWO says...

Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations.

GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY

Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially...
Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations. GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially... EBTWO
  • Score: 0

12:03pm Wed 13 Apr 11

OxfordResident says...

EBTWO wrote:
Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations.

GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY

Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially...
OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you?
[quote][p][bold]EBTWO[/bold] wrote: Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations. GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially...[/p][/quote]OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you? OxfordResident
  • Score: 0

12:08pm Wed 13 Apr 11

newcy says...

The consultation system is bad enough anyway - before the recent decision to stop sending out written notices of planning applications, the written notices tended to come through the door on the closing date for feedback or the day after.
The consultation system is bad enough anyway - before the recent decision to stop sending out written notices of planning applications, the written notices tended to come through the door on the closing date for feedback or the day after. newcy
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Wed 13 Apr 11

newcy says...

My point being that they are now being more open and official about their efforts to reduce or remove public 'say' in planning decisions. Not that this is a good thing.
My point being that they are now being more open and official about their efforts to reduce or remove public 'say' in planning decisions. Not that this is a good thing. newcy
  • Score: 0

12:18pm Wed 13 Apr 11

newcy says...

EBTWO "Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompetent idiots. The estates department especially..."


Seconded! Driven entirely by profit-seeking and idleness -only motivated by the quest for maximum revenue for minimum or no effort. If it doesn't pay nicely, they won't do anything.
EBTWO "Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompetent idiots. The estates department especially..." Seconded! Driven entirely by profit-seeking and idleness -only motivated by the quest for maximum revenue for minimum or no effort. If it doesn't pay nicely, they won't do anything. newcy
  • Score: 0

12:59pm Wed 13 Apr 11

EBTWO says...

OxfordResident wrote:
EBTWO wrote:
Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations.

GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY

Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially...
OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you?
"OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you?"

I was - that was a long time ago. I am Oxford born, have lived in and owned a business in Oxford, so have had to deal with many sections of Oxford City Council, and I can honestly say they are hopeless.

No-one takes any responsibility - all the staff can do is "take instruction" (this is what they say on the phone) and pass it on to another manager, who passes it on......and repeat. They are just abysmal.

I hate Oxford City Council. They were partly responsible for my business closing and they have ruined one of the most famous cities in the world.

If you're as proud of your city as I am, you'd feel the same way.
[quote][p][bold]OxfordResident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]EBTWO[/bold] wrote: Typical Labour control freakery. Spend money on more bureaucrats and making non-jobs. So now we have no say in planning and other council services. No more consultations. GET RID OF THESE IDIOTS BEFORE THEY SPEND YET MORE OF OUR MONEY Better still just get rid of Oxford City Council. Never before have I met such a bunch of incompenant idiots. The estates department especially...[/p][/quote]OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you?[/p][/quote]"OX11 8AZ - you appear to be from Didcot, so what relevence exactly does Oxford City Council have for you?" I was - that was a long time ago. I am Oxford born, have lived in and owned a business in Oxford, so have had to deal with many sections of Oxford City Council, and I can honestly say they are hopeless. No-one takes any responsibility - all the staff can do is "take instruction" (this is what they say on the phone) and pass it on to another manager, who passes it on......and repeat. They are just abysmal. I hate Oxford City Council. They were partly responsible for my business closing and they have ruined one of the most famous cities in the world. If you're as proud of your city as I am, you'd feel the same way. EBTWO
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Wed 13 Apr 11

Mr Peter Mcvay says...

newcy wrote:
My point being that they are now being more open and official about their efforts to reduce or remove public 'say' in planning decisions. Not that this is a good thing.
It is actually a good thing, Newcy. Because all the NIMBYS get certain planning permission turned down through personal interest and not on the merit of the application, which in turn costs us £thousands when the developer wins the appeal. Whereas now this should not happen so often, as applications will be judged solely on merit, and not by some hysterical mob ranting no to this and that all the time.
[quote][p][bold]newcy[/bold] wrote: My point being that they are now being more open and official about their efforts to reduce or remove public 'say' in planning decisions. Not that this is a good thing.[/p][/quote]It is actually a good thing, Newcy. Because all the NIMBYS get certain planning permission turned down through personal interest and not on the merit of the application, which in turn costs us £thousands when the developer wins the appeal. Whereas now this should not happen so often, as applications will be judged solely on merit, and not by some hysterical mob ranting no to this and that all the time. Mr Peter Mcvay
  • Score: 0

7:32pm Wed 13 Apr 11

Victor Meldrew2 says...

It's odd that when the subway in Headington was closed 58% of 428 people polled was an overwhelming mandate, that led a 4000 + petition to be ignored. But 55 - 86% of 180 people is 'not representitive.'
If the poll had been opened to the public ' do you want more power to go to the councillors' I'm sure we all know the result of that.
Now we have democracy, British democracy and Bob Price democracy which appears to give decisions to fewer and fewer people as the general public can't be trusted to make the 'correct' decisons.
It's odd that when the subway in Headington was closed 58% of 428 people polled was an overwhelming mandate, that led a 4000 + petition to be ignored. But 55 - 86% of 180 people is 'not representitive.' If the poll had been opened to the public ' do you want more power to go to the councillors' I'm sure we all know the result of that. Now we have democracy, British democracy and Bob Price democracy which appears to give decisions to fewer and fewer people as the general public can't be trusted to make the 'correct' decisons. Victor Meldrew2
  • Score: 0

8:16pm Wed 13 Apr 11

Oxford taxpayer says...

The only thing Oxford City Council is good for is raising council taxes and introducing stealth taxes. It is obvious that our councillors care little for democracy. How clever of them to introduce this when there are no local elections in the city this year.
The only thing Oxford City Council is good for is raising council taxes and introducing stealth taxes. It is obvious that our councillors care little for democracy. How clever of them to introduce this when there are no local elections in the city this year. Oxford taxpayer
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree