A PLAN to give councillors an individual kitty to spend £15,000 each in their divisions has been passed – despite opposition from Labour.

The council will give all 63 members the money – at a total of £945,000 next year and in 2019/20 if the policy is successful – to spend in areas which they feel are the most appropriate.

But Labour’s Laura Price said the Conservatives had ‘discovered the magic money tree’ with their policy, and her group urged the money to be spent in places where it is most required, rather than jointly across every division.

Helen Evans, Labour’s shadow member for finance, said: “In Oxfordshire we have areas like Blackbird Leys which are among the 10 per cent most deprived in the country, alongside areas like Woodstock which are in the 10 per cent least deprived.

“Public money should go where need is highest. It should not be used by the Conservatives to placate their backbenchers.”

But Pete Handley, Conservative councillor for Carterton South and West, said not enough attention was being paid for rural areas.

He said: “Every day of the week I hear about Blackbird Leys.

“What we have got in rural areas is nothing.”

He said the impact of bus cuts have meant that people in his division have had to find another way to work.

As part of the Councillor Priority Fund, money can be spent within one division, or councillors can potentially group together to fund services which will benefit resident across several areas.

In his speech to the council, council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “I would encourage members to work with others in their locality. Perhaps they could find match funding to gain greater spending power.

"I know that residents are concerned about highways so that may be where most of the funds will be spent.

“But the money could also be used for day centres, community bus projects, children’s centres, village hall or homelessness projects."