News and information for county council stakeholders

November 2018

Welcome to our latest newsletter

We hope you enjoyed reading last month’s edition of Oxfordshire Matters, thecounty council’s newsletter for our stakeholders.

In this edition:

  • Innovative funding for daytime support services
  • Council probes Thames Water’s Oxfordshire reservoir plans
  • Consultation on improving transport in Didcot
  • County council welcomes additional government funding but budget pressures continue
  • County council consults on A40 improvement plans
  • CQC reviews Oxfordshire’s health and social care system
  • Oxfordshire gets ready for winter

Innovative funding for daytime support services

Seven projects totalling more than £84,000 have been approved from a county council “Innovation Fund” for daytime support services.

The fund was created last year after Oxfordshire County Council made changes to daytime support for people aged 18 and over in 2017.Its aim is to provide one-off funding to support the development of self-sustaining projects, supporting the county council’s commitment to thriving communities. Funding is available to community and voluntary sector organisations proving there is a need for a service that can help people lead full and varied lives. More details are available here.

Corporate priority: Enabling older and disabled people to live independent lives

Council probes Thames Water’s Oxfordshire reservoir plans

The county council has concerns about the size and need for a reservoir proposed by Thames Water to the southwest of Abingdon, between Steventon, East Hanney and Marcham. A report to the council’s cabinet on November 20 sets out these concerns in full.

Further clarity is sought from Thames Water on whether other potential sites have been fully assessed across the southeast region. Only when these details are provided in the form of a regional water resource plan for the south east, will the council be able to decide on whether to back the principle of having a reservoir at this location.

Corporate priority:enhancing quality of life and protecting the local environment

Consultation on improving transport in Didcot

Oxfordshire County Council has launched a consultation on improving transport for Didcot and surrounding areas to support planned growth. A package of measures will be put forward as part of a Government bid for funding under the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), announced last year. Some of the options included are:

  • A4130 dual carriage and a Science Bridge over the railway with improved pedestrian and cycling routes
  • Culham River Crossing on the Thames
  • Clifton Hampden Bypass

The town was awarded garden town status by the government to help plan for the expected 16,000 homes due to be built over the next 20 to 25 years. In addition, the next 20 years will see 20,000 new jobs created in and around the town and the Science Vale area.
However, progress on delivery of Oxfordshire’s successful HIF bids have been slowed through dealings with Government. As things stand, the county council is proceeding at risk, developing the detailed submission and associated schemes, before funding is finalised to ensure delivery of additional homes as the government expects.

Corporate priority: supporting a thriving local economy by improving transport links to create jobs and homes for the future.

County Council welcomes additional government funding but budget pressures continue

The county council secured additional funding in the Chancellor’s Budget, particularly for social care services (an estimated £6.2m) and highways maintenance (£7.4m). This is welcome and will help to address budget pressures from the rising demand for adult and children social care, and pay for much-needed road improvement.

Several national announcements were relevant Oxfordshire’s local economy and housing/infrastructure needs were also made:

  • Funding for work on the central section of East-West Rail
  • Further funding for the science and innovation economy
  • A “future high streets fund”, and business rates relief for smaller businesses
  • Proposals to develop a simplified system of developer contributions, capturing a greater proportion of land value uplift for infrastructure
  • Additional funding for the Housing Infrastructure Fund
  • Further investment to deliver full fibre broadband in rural areas

The funding announcements only related to the current or next financial year, with considerable budget uncertainty thereafter. When combined with rising demand for children and adult social care, balancing the books from 2020/1 onwards will be very challenging.

Corporate priority: listening to residents so we can continuously improve our services and provide value for money.

County Council consults on A40 improvement plans

Oxfordshire County Council is consulting on proposals to deliver £180m worth improvements to the A40 between Witney and Oxford, including a new park and ride facility in Eynsham; better cycling facilities, and an eastbound bus lane between Eynsham park and ride and the Duke’s Cut canal bridge near Wolvercote. The plans will go on show at three public exhibitions at the start of December.

The bus lane project also includes new bus stops at Eynsham on the A40 and Westbound bus priority on the approaches to Cassington traffic signals and Eynsham roundabout. Junction improvements between Eynsham park and ride and the Duke’s Cut canal bridge near Wolvercote are also proposed and the two-way shared walking and cycling path along with the northern verge will be widened and the southern path will be retained.
This project is largely funded through the Local Growth Fund and the council has provisionally secured £35m toward the cost. Construction is currently programmed to take place from 2019-2021 and it is expected that Eynsham park and ride will be subject to a planning application in spring 2019.

Corporate priority: supporting a thriving local economy by improving transport links to create jobs and homes for the future.

CQC reviews Oxfordshire’s health and social care system

The CQC visited Oxfordshire early in November to review our progress with the action plan agreed after their original Local System Review, which took place in November 2017.

At the end of the two days the CQC held a short informal feedback session in which they stated that they believed relationships across the system at a senior level were much improved and we were working in a more collaborative way. They felt we were engaging with the local population effectively as evidenced in the design of future strategies. They acknowledge we had made excellent progress in ensuring that where possible people did not stay in hospital any longer than was necessary and they were extremely impressed with the enthusiastic and committed staff working in Oxfordshire.

The CQC noted that there still some areas for improvement, particularly in reviewing the services we commission and ensuring that the pathways for people leaving hospital are as straight forward as possible.

The CQC will now write and publish a short follow up report which they will then present to our Health and Wellbeing Board at the end of January 2019.

Corporate priority:enabling older and disabled people to live independently; caring for those in greatest need.

Oxfordshire gets ready for winter

Preparations for winter are being stepped up with key advice to residents from Oxfordshire County Council, as the long-range forecast suggests cold weather may be on its way.

‘Be the warmth in your community’ is the message promoted by the council’s public health team and aims to empower residents to look out for their vulnerable neighbours, including making sure their homes are affordably warm. Read more here.

The county council has also launched a ‘Winter in Oxfordshire’ web page (here), which includes advice from the council’s road safety experts, firefighters and public health and social care teams. It also includes information on flood risk, river levels, gritting and school closures.

Corporate priority: helping people live safe, healthy lives and play an active part in their community.

Oxfordshire County Council consultations

The county council believes it is important to consult its stakeholder groups and residents when planning, managing and delivering its services.

To view all of Oxfordshire County Council’s current consultations, the results of consultations that have closed; consultations by the city and district councils, the clinical commissioning group and central government please visit:

Major transport projects latest

Further updates on all road schemes can be found at including progress, road closures, diversions and expected completion dates. Just type in the location you are interested in. You can also set up email alerts.