Council officers: It has been a great pleasure to be a county councillor in a council served so well and so professionally by its officers. In particular, leading the council for almost eleven years brought me into contact with many of our more than 20,000 staff. It was fantastic to work with Joanna – a truly great Chief Executive – and with the top management team. We had our moments and our problems but team work and good leadership kept us together. Councillors are well served by the democratic services team and I take my hat off to their professionalism and courtesy. Leaders and cabinet members rely on the media team and policy officers and we were always well served. I enjoyed positive contacts and relationships with managers and front line staff in all of the directorates, not to forget our schools and the many partners in the private and voluntary sector. Combining Leader of the Council with constituency councillor was demanding but well supported by officers at all levels. I cannot end without a special word for my PA, Meg and our political assistant, Niina. I always said there were four women in my life – Lynda, my partner and Joanna, Meg and Niina. They kept me sane!
Retiring councillors: A number of my colleagues are retiring, some by choice and others not by choice. I count myself lucky because I chose the nature and the moment of my going. I know some would have wished to carry on for another term. I wish them all good fortune in their new roles. I am sure their time as a county councillor will stand them in good stead. I am particularly delighted to be invited to the Queen’s Garden Party with my good friends Charles, Don and Jim and our other halves.
Councillors standing again: To my Conservative colleagues, I wish you good fortune. The majority of 30 that we enjoyed in the last council is a luxury I would willingly have done without. The next council is smaller and the national political position will present us with some challenges. However, to lose a majority entirely is unthinkable and would be what Lady Bracknell would describe as “careless”. I therefore look forward to a further Conservative administration in Oxfordshire after the count and, hopefully, with a tighter majority and stronger group discipline to ensure success.
I am assuming Labour will become the official Opposition in the new council and I wish Lady Brighouse well. She has always had a tough job, given the nature of her group.
I suspect the Liberals will be reduced to a rump.
Of course, the interesting conundrum lies in the fate of the Greens and UKIP. The Greens in the last council were a one-man band and of the hard left. They seem confident to establish a base this time; I wonder! As for UKIP, I have some sympathy with their European views but I fail to see their relevance in a county council?
I will not be at the count or the after-proceedings but my spies will keep me posted. I have asked for three texts:
- Arash Fatemian’s result in Deddington Division;
- Kieron Mallon’s result in Bloxham & Easington Division;
- Confirmation of the size of the Conservative majority.