Amongst British cities, Oxford is particularly vulnerable to cuts because such a high proportion of its population – about 46 percent – are employed in the public sector. Since the coalition government announced their plans to slash services back in July, the future for Oxford services has become increasingly bleak.
Last month, the Conservative leader Keith Mitchell announced that the county council may be forced to cut £200m and around 1000 employees, nearly half their workforce. The council have specifically put libraries, roads schemes and improvements to emergency fire services under spending review – other services, from recycling to community, are also under threat.
A shake-up in healthcare provision such as that at the John Radcliffe Hospital appears to be on the cards, with Unison claiming to have found a “jobs bombshell” in NHS Oxfordshire’s latest board meeting. They suggest about one in three jobs in NHS Oxfordshire are on the line.
Dr Evan Harris, Oxford West’s former Liberal Democrat MP, has been highlighting the threat to research facilities: graduates could see a drop in the number of research jobs available to them in Oxford and Harris fears a brain drain abroad.
City culture is at risk according to art gallery owners and thevatre directors, who fear cuts to arts venues like Modern Art Oxford, the Oxford Playhouse and Pegasus Theatre.
Speed cameras have already been cut throughout the borough, despite opposition from residents and Oxford’s particularly high number of cyclists.
Some are arguing town and gown need to work together to get through the cuts.
The Oxford community also faces:
-Cuts to the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme around Oxfordshire, including Iffley Mead, Larkmead and Cheney
-14 nurseries, pre-schools and children’s centres in Oxfordshire no longer receiving funding for their projects, following a £2.75m cut by the Department for Education
-A money-saving merger of City Homes and City Works, which has left vulnerable and elderly residents in social housing fearful that their services could be set back 20 years.