COUNTY COUNCIL LEADERSHIP: New chief expecting 'mammoth task'

Herald Series: Ian Hudspeth after his victory Ian Hudspeth after his victory

IAN HUDSPETH last night promised to bring fresh ideas and a new approach to Oxfordshire County Council after winning the battle to succeed Keith Mitchell.

Mr Hudspeth, 52, was voted in as the new leader of the ruling Conservative group at the council during a secret ballot yesterday, defeating the current deputy leader David Robertson.

Mr Mitchell will stand down as leader of the council officially on Tuesday, May 15, and a vote by all councillors will be taken to formally anoint Mr Hudspeth as his successor. That will be a mere formality given the Tories’ dominance.

It is a political comeback for Mr Hudspeth, who has represented Woodstock since 2005. He was ejected from Mr Mitchell’s cabinet last year after unsuccessfully standing against him in a leadership contest.

Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for about 80 per cent of all public sector spending in Oxfordshire and Mr Hudspeth will control a budget of about £970m.

He will oversee services such as the county’s state schools, highways, fire and rescue service, social care, libraries and waste disposal.

After the vote, Mr Hudspeth said: “My first job is going to be sitting down and working out who is going to be on the cabinet and scrutiny committees and make sure we use the talent we have got to our best advantage.

“We have got to make sure we deliver first-class services to the residents of Oxfordshire, and that is going to be my main priority.”

Asked why he thought his colleagues had voted for him, he said: “You will have to ask them that question.

“But I would hope they can see that I am bringing fresh ideas and a new approach to the county council.

“I feel very elated and very pleased and very honoured with the result. But there was a moment I thought ‘crikey, this is a mammoth task I am taking on and a massive pair of shoes to fill’.”

Mr Robertson, 70, said: “I am feeling remarkably okay.

“I am looking now to go and do other things in life outside of the council. In some ways it has done me a favour.

“It is important that a new leader is given the space to do what he wants to do. Keith has stood down and is standing back and I am likely to do the same.

“Ian won fair and square and should be given room and space and not have me hovering around in the background.

“He has got to be given space and he has my support to do that.”

He said he will spend more time at work – he owns a company that sells file transfer processes to local authorities – and will remain a councillor for Witney East.

Mr Mitchell, who has been council leader for more than 10 years, said: “Ian has my full support.

“I congratulate him and wish him well. It is a tough job but a great one.”

The race was expected to be three-way, but backbencher Pete Handley pulled out on Wednesday and backed Mr Hudspeth.

The Conservative group did not release information about how many votes each candidate received, but the Oxford Mail understands Mr Hudspeth won conclusively.

Comments (15)

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9:29am Fri 27 Apr 12

Major Oxford says...

lets hope he is as good as mitchell has been
lets hope he is as good as mitchell has been Major Oxford

10:02am Fri 27 Apr 12

Bart Simpsonxxx says...

Lets hope not!!! Remember he was responsible for wasting thousands on the Cornmarket fiasco with the resurfacing and concerte seats. Also the wasted thousands on the 20mph scheme that he went ahead against all advice (he knows best) God help us.
Lets hope not!!! Remember he was responsible for wasting thousands on the Cornmarket fiasco with the resurfacing and concerte seats. Also the wasted thousands on the 20mph scheme that he went ahead against all advice (he knows best) God help us. Bart Simpsonxxx

10:42am Fri 27 Apr 12

Christine Hovis says...

So, he's convinced at least 25 of his fellow conservative councillors with his new ideas. The rest of us, the 650,000 that live in Oxfordshire, don't get a say?
So, he's convinced at least 25 of his fellow conservative councillors with his new ideas. The rest of us, the 650,000 that live in Oxfordshire, don't get a say? Christine Hovis

1:40pm Fri 27 Apr 12

EMBOX1 says...

Ian, good luck on the new job.

But the time has come for the district councils to be axed - OCC spends 80% of public money in Oxfordshire, that means less than 20% is spent by districts - they aren't VFM, so get rid of them.
Ian, good luck on the new job. But the time has come for the district councils to be axed - OCC spends 80% of public money in Oxfordshire, that means less than 20% is spent by districts - they aren't VFM, so get rid of them. EMBOX1

2:18pm Fri 27 Apr 12

Trevor Craig says...

Embox1 is right, money has to be saved and there will be lots of duplication in each district. Going unitary is the way forward.
Embox1 is right, money has to be saved and there will be lots of duplication in each district. Going unitary is the way forward. Trevor Craig

4:35pm Fri 27 Apr 12

Tom Cranmer says...

I hope that Cllr Hudspeth will use the Cabinet system in place rather than being a one man band. As for the spending of money, tertiary government in this climate will probably not save any money. The roles that the county council and district/city councils have are distinct, with no duplication of services. The County Council is responsible for education, libraries, social services, transport, strategic planning, consumer rights, fire and waste management. The district councils are responsible for cemeteries and crematoria (in some cases, parish or town councils take responsibility), council tax collection, housing, licensing, local planning and waste collection. There is obviously some co-operation on matters such as Oxfordshire Waste Partnership, and Strategic Planning, but each tertiary council has a defined role within the partnership.
I hope that Cllr Hudspeth will use the Cabinet system in place rather than being a one man band. As for the spending of money, tertiary government in this climate will probably not save any money. The roles that the county council and district/city councils have are distinct, with no duplication of services. The County Council is responsible for education, libraries, social services, transport, strategic planning, consumer rights, fire and waste management. The district councils are responsible for cemeteries and crematoria (in some cases, parish or town councils take responsibility), council tax collection, housing, licensing, local planning and waste collection. There is obviously some co-operation on matters such as Oxfordshire Waste Partnership, and Strategic Planning, but each tertiary council has a defined role within the partnership. Tom Cranmer

4:48pm Fri 27 Apr 12

Abingdon Neil says...

Oxfordshire County Council does not spend about 80% of public spending in Oxfordshire - it spends about 80% of Council spending, which is a lot, lot less than 80% of overall public spending.

And a huge proportion of what it does spend is spent by schools who are largely independent of it.
Oxfordshire County Council does not spend about 80% of public spending in Oxfordshire - it spends about 80% of Council spending, which is a lot, lot less than 80% of overall public spending. And a huge proportion of what it does spend is spent by schools who are largely independent of it. Abingdon Neil

5:26pm Fri 27 Apr 12

xjohnx says...

Will he investigate the Witney Corn Exchange fiddles?
Will he investigate the Witney Corn Exchange fiddles? xjohnx

6:30pm Fri 27 Apr 12

BEN1146 says...

I dont think so he does things off his own back we shall see
I dont think so he does things off his own back we shall see BEN1146

6:38pm Fri 27 Apr 12

BEN1146 says...

Save a few million and get rid of the COGGES LINK ROAD.
Save a few million and get rid of the COGGES LINK ROAD. BEN1146

11:47pm Fri 27 Apr 12

simplicissimus says...

EMBOX1 wrote:
Ian, good luck on the new job.

But the time has come for the district councils to be axed - OCC spends 80% of public money in Oxfordshire, that means less than 20% is spent by districts - they aren't VFM, so get rid of them.
Ditching an entire tier of local government would be great, provided that service levels stay the same or improve, while management costs are made to plummet. We have a glut of chiefs, but too often it is the injuns that get cut. The latter do the real work. (The sacked Bicester gardener being a shining example of a very bad cut.)

Rarely, if ever, do we see tiers of management stripped out. Yet that is where cuts will do least damage, and improve VFM most.

And senior management salaries, perks and packages need trimming back, also.
[quote][p][bold]EMBOX1[/bold] wrote: Ian, good luck on the new job. But the time has come for the district councils to be axed - OCC spends 80% of public money in Oxfordshire, that means less than 20% is spent by districts - they aren't VFM, so get rid of them.[/p][/quote]Ditching an entire tier of local government would be great, provided that service levels stay the same or improve, while management costs are made to plummet. We have a glut of chiefs, but too often it is the injuns that get cut. The latter do the real work. (The sacked Bicester gardener being a shining example of a very bad cut.) Rarely, if ever, do we see tiers of management stripped out. Yet that is where cuts will do least damage, and improve VFM most. And senior management salaries, perks and packages need trimming back, also. simplicissimus

7:07am Sat 28 Apr 12

hesperus says...

Yes, let's get rid of a tier of local Government. But it should be the wasteful and inefficient county council that goes. The amount they have spent patching a creeping fault on a local road is extraordinary. A cursory look on FOOT would reveal the problem. The road is failing. After all it was last fully laid in the 1960's. Since then it has received patching only. The builders did an excellent job but it will not last for ever without resurfacing!
Yes, let's get rid of a tier of local Government. But it should be the wasteful and inefficient county council that goes. The amount they have spent patching a creeping fault on a local road is extraordinary. A cursory look on FOOT would reveal the problem. The road is failing. After all it was last fully laid in the 1960's. Since then it has received patching only. The builders did an excellent job but it will not last for ever without resurfacing! hesperus

8:14am Sat 28 Apr 12

Mike Ratcliffe says...

The problem with getting rid of layers of local government is that we'll be stuck with the countryside dominated ruling party making policies for the city.

Their view of Oxford is how fast can we get in, and out. They make sure that their bijou schools are well funded, while the city schools pile up.
The problem with getting rid of layers of local government is that we'll be stuck with the countryside dominated ruling party making policies for the city. Their view of Oxford is how fast can we get in, and out. They make sure that their bijou schools are well funded, while the city schools pile up. Mike Ratcliffe

8:23am Sun 29 Apr 12

AngelicaLouisa says...

God! He looks every inch a modern Tory doesn he? White, middle aged, male of course, jowly, greedy, terribly pleased with himself....and rather stupid (this is the man whose traffic plan for Oxford did not include the word or concept, 'cycle' and whose lasting monument is that costly and unnecessary traffic light system at Botley interchange. Is this really the best they can do?
God! He looks every inch a modern Tory doesn he? White, middle aged, male of course, jowly, greedy, terribly pleased with himself....and rather stupid (this is the man whose traffic plan for Oxford did not include the word or concept, 'cycle' and whose lasting monument is that costly and unnecessary traffic light system at Botley interchange. Is this really the best they can do? AngelicaLouisa

12:31pm Fri 4 May 12

BEN1146 says...

He should go now
He should go now BEN1146

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