Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council gets £2.2m budget boost

Some under threat county council services in Oxfordshire could be saved following a £2.2m budget boost.

The authority's government settlement has been set £900,000 higher than the initial assessment in December.

Most of the remaining money has come from higher than expected returns from council tax collections.

About £1.6m will be spent on youth services and could delay the closure of some centres while other cuts, like library closures, could be reviewed.

The Conservative-led county council, which is set to vote on budget plans on 15 February, said initial calculations meant it had to save up to £203m by 2015, but that figure has been revised down to £119m in light of the government settlement.

Olympic torch relay

It has proposed turning off half of the county's street lights, axing several recycling centres and closing 20 of its 43 libraries.

Residents will now get the chance to tell the authority how it should spend £450,000 of the extra funding.

The remaining £140,000 will be split equally between any costs arising from military repatriations being moved to Brize Norton, if government plans are agreed, and any highways costs from any part of the county being in the London 2012 Olympic torch route.

Councillor Keith Mitchell, leader of the council, said: "The good news is that we have at least some more money to spend than originally thought.

"The bad news is that we still need to save a vast amount of money.

"We've proposed setting aside some money to give us extra flexibility to respond to the results of the consultations that we are undertaking across services affected by the cuts."

He added that the boost from council tax collections must be seen as a one-off as it cannot be guaranteed every year.

He said this meant it could not be spent on any recurring costs.

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