West Oxfordshire District Council is under public scrutiny for its recent decision to spend around £500,000 of taxpayers' money on the refurbishment of the council chamber. The extravagant allocation of funds has raised concerns among local residents and taxpayers about the responsible use of public finances.
The decision, which was made by the coalition at West Oxfordshire District Council, has sparked a significant concern from opposition councillors. Conservative councillors argue that the expenditure on a council chamber renovation during a time of economic uncertainty and pressing financial challenges for the council is unwarranted.
Cllr Michele Mead, Leader of the Conservative Group said, "Council chambers play an essential role in the democratic process, but the question remains whether such an investment is justifiable in the current fiscal climate. When I was leader of the council this proposal arrived on my desk but I didn't consider it necessary for taxpayers' to be funding such an upgrade given we have key frontline services to run. I'm not sure residents will be happy with the amount of money being spent on this"
A report which was signed off by the executive in June 2023 showed that the council refit based on the Quantity Surveyor assessment would be £242,350 to complete and then furniture would be an additional £131,210 and for mechanical and electrical adjustments the cost is expected to be £83,700.
The council is also spending £250,000 on upgrades to technology in the new council chamber and the committee rooms to improve the audio and visual for council meetings.