OXFORDSHIRE’S new finance chief has dismissed concerns over underspending and mounting reserves.

Charles Shouler attended his first cabinet meeting in three years after returning to the executive under new leader Ian Hudspeth .

In a financial monitoring report, councillors were told that the council had underspent by £1.4m on a budget of more than £400 million since April.

Concerns were raised by opposition members, who also questioned the need for a reserve pot of £170m.

Lib Dem councillor Roz Smith said: “I’m concerned about some of the underspends reported and the reasons behind some of them.

“It could lead one to think that there are services which are being affected.

“The Liberal Democrat group also believes that the earmarked reserves are already too high.”

But Mr Shouler, who previously served as cabinet member for finance during the reign of Keith Mitchell , said underspends happened when money didn’t need to be spent.

He said: “Underspends are better than overspends, and if a budget is consistently underspent, then maybe that budget is too much.”