Over 100 attendees from 75 parishes or town councils attended the Talking Oxfordshire event held at Matthew Arnold School on the evening of Monday 9 November.
Community First Oxfordshire’s CEO Jon Bright chaired the event and attendees heard speeches from Oxfordshire County Council’s Chief Finance Officer Lorna Baxter and the Leader, Cllr Ian Hudspeth. They spoke about the County Council’s financial position, what had already been done to make savings and the importance of engaging Town and Parish Councils in the debate about budget reductions.
Following the speakers, a lively Question and Answer session took place. Other county council officers were in attendance to answer questions and join in the discussion. This focussed on the budget cuts Oxfordshire County Council is required to make and how these will affect services. The discussion centred on possible responses with some arguing for an increase in council tax above 2%. This, of course, would require a referendum – the cost of which would be £600,000 – £800,000.
After the Q&A session the group divided to discuss:
- What are the main impacts to your parish or town? and
- What are the possible local responses?
There were some interesting and innovative contributions. These will be captured in the report Community First Oxfordshire will prepare.