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Column 25th August 2021

An infrastructure Strategy without Health and Social Care?

Last week I talked about the consultation on the vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, now Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS), Stage 1 – 2021-2040 Consultation and next week I’ll cover the Oxfordshire 2050 plan.

This Consultation closes on 31 August so we haven’t much time to get our comments in.

It can be found at https://www.oxfordshireopenthought.org/oxfordshire-infrastructure-strategy-oxis

The key aims for OxIS are to:
- Set out the priority investment needed to support a future that is sustainable, clean, healthy and inclusive for everyone ..;
- Continue to shape and influence investment plans … and make the most of the effectiveness of existing infrastructure;
- Plan for infrastructure long term to complement and support the Oxfordshire Plan 2050;
- Provide an investment prioritisation framework that can be applied as relevant funding sources become available.

At first glance these seem very reasonable but it also says that OxIS seeks to “support and champion the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy and Investment Plan”.

The Local Industrial Strategy was signed off behind closed doors by the unelected and unaccountable Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Government, without going through local authority scrutiny or public consultation and includes the development of 108,000 new jobs by 2040.

Achieving these growth targets and meeting the environmental imperatives do seem to conflict.

We note that the priorities and outcomes were agreed by a group of stakeholders which didn’t include any of the district councils or community groups.

The lack of plans for infrastructure improvement in some areas is very concerning.

The section on water infrastructure for example seems to rely very heavily on Thames Water’s internal priorities and includes only a target of 30% for the reduction in the billions of litres of sewage dumped into our rivers by Thames Water by 2025.

Any future targets will, of course, be exacerbated by the growth of jobs and associated housing.

The report also states that “there is a lack of tangible GP and health centre schemes to address Oxfordshire’s future need to ensure sufficient primary care access” and it “identifies the pressures from a lack of capacity in the primary healthcare system, particularly where current facilities are not fit for purpose to meet current and future demand.”

It also says that “There is an absence of adult social care schemes currently identified to address Oxfordshire’s future needs to accommodate for the ageing population.”

This doesn’t seem like much of a strategy to me.


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