Long-serving county and city councillor and former teacher Susanna Pressel has been elected as the new chair of Oxfordshire County Council.
The chair is the ceremonial head of the council. The chair must be a serving county councillor but must remain politically impartial. A new chair is elected each May at the annual general meeting of the county council, which this year was on Tuesday May 17.
Councillor Pressel represents the Oxford division of Jericho and Osney at the county council and has lived in Oxford for most of her life since being a student at Oxford University’s Somerville College.
After graduating, she spent five years in Zambia and then returned to teach in state secondary schools in the county for many years. She has been a city councillor since 1996 and a county councillor since 2009.
Councillor Pressel said: “It’s a great honour and privilege to be elected chair of Oxfordshire County Council. I look forward to visiting every corner of the county and to meeting many of our residents. I was lord mayor of Oxford some years ago and I suppose it will be similar, but on a larger scale. Funnily enough, my husband, James Fry is to be Lord Mayor at the same time as I am the chair of the county.”
Councillor Pressel’s chosen charities for her year of office will be Age UK Oxfordshire, ARCh (an Oxfordshire charity that helps primary school children to read), Asylum Welcome and the Oxfordshire County Music Service.
The new vice-chair of Oxfordshire County Council will be Councillor Felix Bloomfield who represents Benson and Cholsey.
The ceremonial duties performed by the chair include: being the politically impartial civic leader of Oxfordshire, promoting the objectives and services of the county council and Oxfordshire, acting as an ambassador for the county council and Oxfordshire and fostering community identity and pride.
The key responsibilities include: presiding over meetings of the full council, accepting invitations on behalf of the county council to attend events, inviting individuals and representatives of key organisations to events at County Hall and other venues.