Every area in Oxfordshire will get £15,000 for community project or road repair
A new fund to plough money into local schemes across Oxfordshire is set to come into effect.
Oxfordshire County Council has proposed a new fund which will give all of 63 county councillors £15,000 each to spend in their communities.
The ‘Councillor Priority Fund’ is set to be approved with a package of other measures when the county council’s budget is set next Tuesday.
The council plans for the £945,000 fund to be introduced in 2018/19 and repeated in 2019/20.
Ian Hudspeth, the county council’s leader, said: “It would be each councillors’ decision how their £15,000 would be spent. “They know best what the priority is on their own patch.
“I am sure many will view highway maintenance and repair as important, but others might choose to put funding into community buses, libraries or children’s centres.”
Mr Hudspeth, who represents the Woodstock division for the Conservatives, added: “Each area of Oxfordshire is different and it’s important we recognise that and give county councillors the leeway and latitude to invest the money in the best way they see fit.”
He said he would need to talk to organisations in his division to see where they think the money would be best spent.
Bob Johnston, who represents Kennington and Radley for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I would have several immediate priorities.
“The most pressing is the roads.
“Kennington Road, which is falling to bits, is right at the top of the list.”
Other roads he said that require improvement include the Mathews Way estate in Wootton and others in Radley.
He said councillors have previously ‘occasionally’ been given a ‘little windfall’.
In the past, he spent other community money on removing weeds from roads in his division – which had benefited three roads in Kennington and two in Radley.
He said: “I got exactly what I wanted.”
Sobia Afridi, who represents the Isis division, said she wanted to support groups supporting children and the elderly.
The Labour councillor said an immediate idea would be to give cash to the Grandpont nursery in her division.
She said: “There are some groups here and there are some good residents’ groups.
“When I go around the ward there are quite a few vulnerable people in the ward.”
The plan will be discussed at County Hall next Tuesday as the council sets its budget – and a proposed 5.99 per cent council tax increase for 2018/19.
The Government announced in December that councils would be able to increase council tax by a maximum of 5.99 per cent after previously being told it would only be able to increase by 4.99 per cent.
A total of three per cent of the tax increase must be spent on adult social care under Government rules.
The council said last month that the extra one per cent will be spent on children’s social care.
As part of another move, the council said it wants to set £30,000 aside to pay for commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.