What do a north-south divide, a doughnut and behind-the-scenes collaboration have in common? These are all being touted as ways to reorganise Oxfordshire’s local authorities.

Once again led by county council leader Ian Hudspeth, the debate rages as to whether all six councils could – or should – merge and become a unitary body, with pressure growing amid greater austerity.

The county’s auditors Ernst and Young claimed it would save £33m a year.

South Oxon, Vale, West Oxon and Cherwell have ruled out a single authority for all services. Arguably the ‘virtual’ union, where districts join back-office services, which was put forward this week would amount to essentially the same thing.

The ‘doughnut’ model, in which a unitary council made up of the districts surrounds a city unitary council, could be detrimental to the districts and seems unlikely.

In any case, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse already share services.

Therefore, it comes as little surprise that the council favour having three unitary councils – in the north, south and city – but this would require a formidable amount of time and organisation.

It is one thing to suggest streamlining services in Oxford, and quite another to impose similar ideas on the districts.