‘Uber-Growth Board’ could cut local views out of OxCam discussions

Need not Greed Oxfordshire is appalled that a small group of Local Authority leaders are now going to take the lead on discussions with Government about development proposals along the OxCam Arc.

This ‘uber-Growth Board’, an executive sub-group of the OxCam Arc Leaders Group, has not published its terms of reference and has no public accountability. Neither the sub-group or its parent body have ever met in public or published agendas or minutes.  NNGO understands that the sub-group will include representatives from lobby groups such as the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Universities, but not from environmental or community groups.

Despite this, the Oxfordshire Growth Board has already chosen three of our local authority leaders to sit on this sub-group, leaving the other three Oxfordshire local authority leaders out in the cold.

Need not Greed Oxfordshire condemns this entire process as lacking any public accountability or democratic process.  It has written to the Chair of the OxCam Arc Leaders group, Cllr Barry Wood (also Leader, Cherwell District Council) to express its concerns about this ‘behind closed doors’ approach.  It has also written to the Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, Cllr Emily Smith (also Leader, Vale of White Horse District Council) to ask how the Board could have elected 3 Oxfordshire representatives to the sub-group, without discussing its terms of reference.

NNGO expects:

  1. Each local authority to establish a clear, democratic mandate for its position on the Arc.
  2. The terms of reference for the OxCam Arc Leaders Group and Executive Sub-Group to be subject to public debate and consultation
  3. These terms of reference to be focussed on environment, wellbeing and the post Covid reality of the need to focus any growth on wholly sustainable lines. These terms of reference can then inform debate as to the correct representation on the group/s.
  4. No further meetings of the OxCam Arc Leaders/Chief Executives/Executive Group to take place unless such meetings are held in public (virtually, if necessary), with published agendas and minutes, and with the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions and address the Groups.

NNGO believes that the Government is still wedded to its proposals for massive development along the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and is gearing up to push these through, regardless of public opinion or environmental imperatives, as part of a Covid-19 recovery package.