Council Democracy

Council democracy is under threat on a number of fronts. In West Oxfordshire there is an added factor, with benefits and risks, because of changes to the way we deliver services, known as “Vision 2020”.

Two council-owned companies called Ubico and Publica now employ all our staff, in a shared structure we jointly own with neighbouring districts. The benefits are savings in management costs, more capacity particularly for specialist services like emergency planning, union recognition for staff, and services being brought back “in house” from outside contractors.

Vision 2020 is a programme that involves significant sharing of resources, to cut costs without reducing levels of service. However, there are concerns about staff morale and ability to innovate in response to local need. There is a concern we might end up as a zombie district, or clone authority, providing the minimum locally and shorn of expertise. By looking only at costs, National Government can lose sight of the value we can offer, or what more we can do to make our communities fairer, stronger and more vibrant.

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