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Oxfordshire reinstates chief executive role

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Oxfordshire CC has reinstated the chief executive role and appointed the local authority’s county director Peter Clark to the post.

An assistant chief executive is to be appointed while the number of strategic director positions on the county council will be reduced from five to three.

It is anticipated the new senior management structure will save the council about £450,000 on top of about £300,000 it has already saved by not replacing former chief executive Joanna Simons following her departure last year.

Leader Ian Hudspeth (Con) told LGC the chief executive role had been reinstated as he wanted to “make sure the council is fit for purpose”.

The proposal was agreed at a meeting of full council yesterday following a review of the council’s senior management structure by Penna.

It was announced in February 2015 that Oxfordshire had decided to axe the chief executive post. Ms Simons, who had held the post for a decade, stepped down in June last year.

Since then the county has been operating with a county director – Mr Clark – who has also fulfilled the head of paid service role since July 2015.

In a report which went before councillors on Tuesday it said: “It is proposed that that the title ‘county director’ has served its purpose and that role should be re-designated as chief executive in the new structure.”

Cllr Hudspeth defended the arrangement of operating without a chief executive. He said it “worked very well” and that Mr Clark had delivered a “very good transformation programme”.

He said he wanted to make sure the council had a “robust” senior management structure in place and thought the new structure woul be “better”.

The report said the number of strategic directors would be reduced. The three new roles will cover the broad themes of people, communities, and resources.

Mr Clark is to take on the resources role.

It is proposed that the existing director of public health Jonathan McWilliam will take on the people role, in addition to their current responsibilities, on an interim basis. The county’s directors for children’s and adult services will report to him.

The strategic director of communities role is up for grabs while the assistant chief executive is expected to come from within the resources department. 

The deputy director and corporate advisor roles will be “redesignated as directors unless there is a statutory element attached to the role”, the report said. In those instances officers will be referred to as the head of the relevant service.

Meanwhile, the existing chief legal officer Nick Graham will become the statutory monitoring officer.

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