THE new Lib Dem leader of the Oxfordshire Growth Board has revealed that members have agreed to review its name and responsibilities.

Sue Cooper has warned the body, which channels government funding, that the word ‘growth’ scares people.

Mrs Cooper, who took the chairmanship after being elected leader of South Oxfordshire District Council in May, said members had agreed to look at how it works this summer ahead of possible changes in September.

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Speaking at a meeting in Didcot on Tuesday she said: “‘Growth’ seems to scare a lot of people. We want to work in partnership rather than as a board.”

The board has been seen as the leading driver of improving infrastructure and increasing development in the county.

Its voting members are the county’s six council leaders.

Witney Gazette:

Sue Cooper.

Other members include representatives from Oxford’s two universities.

Lib Dem Mrs Cooper replaced the former Conservative leader of South Oxfordshire District Council Jane Murphy.

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Her election, along with that of Emily Smith, the new Lib Dem leader in Vale of White Horse, has tilted the board’s political balance.

Previously there was just one non-Conservative councillor on the growth board – Susan Brown, the Labour leader of Oxford City Council.

Any considerable change to the way it has been working is likely to annoy Conservatives.

Ian Hudspeth, the Tory leader of the county council, said Oxfordshire had achieved far more than other parts of the country and that success, in part, was due to the growth board.

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Mr Hudspeth (above) said: “Whatever we are, whether we are a board or a partnership, we have been very successful at getting money for infrastructure.

“I hope that message is not lost on central government because we are not the only growth board (in the country).”

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Its most obvious success was agreeing the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, which meant £215m of Government money will be spent to support 100,000 new homes. The vast majority of those have been included in councils’ housing programmes until the mid-2030s.

Hundreds of millions of pounds might also follow in future, including money for Didcot Garden Town.

Lib Dems and Greens are concerned about accepting the government money in exchange for building so many homes.