Oxfordshire County Council: Interviews underway in search for interim chief executive

Six councillors have started to whittle down applicants for the £185,000-per-year job of interim chief executive at Oxfordshire County Council.

By Andy Mitchell, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 11:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 11:08 pm

Councillor Liz Leffman (Lib Dem, Charlbury & Wychwood), leader of the county council, revealed that the authority’s remuneration committee would be running the rule over candidates for the post, which is also known as head of paid service on Wednesday, February 2.

Their verdict will then need to be ratified at a meeting of full council, one that all councillors typically attend, on Tuesday (February 7).

It comes in the wake of plans to end the arrangement that sees the county share employees, particularly senior management posts, with Cherwell District Council.

Six councillors have started to whittle down applicants for the £185,000-per-year job of interim chief executive at Oxfordshire County Council.

Designed to save costs, the partnership is set to be axed less than four years after being established with staff capacity “now stretched at a strategic leadership level” and “wider partnership working throughout the (Covid-19) pandemic” prompting a rethink.

While the split, which has to go through the formality of being ratified by both councils next week, is set to officially end on August 31, services will be pulled apart either side of that.

Yvonne Rees, the joint chief executive of both councils, will go back to fulfilling that role at Cherwell only as soon as the call is rubber stamped, while Cherwell District Council will be recruiting a new monitoring officer and director of finance.

The county’s remuneration committee decided against shrinking the size of the group looking at appointing a permanent chief executive.

Cllr Leffman said any sub-committee would need to fairly reflect the political balance of the council which is run by the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance, a ruling group made up of Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green councillors, with the Conservatives, the previous ruling group, in opposition.

Councillor Eddie Reeves (Con, Banbury Calthorpe), the leader of the opposition, said: “I would be minded to suggest, given the relatively small size of this committee and its proportionate political balance, that we stick as we are, provided we are all happy to engage.”

That view was unanimously agreed.

It marks a change in the way some senior posts will be filled by the county.

The Joint Shared Services & Personnel Committee, a group made up of councillors from both authorities and different parties, had handled the recruitment process for any chief officer roles that spanned Oxfordshire and Cherwell councils. Now the remuneration committee will have sole responsibility at county level, although full council will have to sanction the appointments of any chief executive, director of finance or monitoring officer.