THE majority of Oxfordshire county councillors have failed to say whether they back chief executive Joanna Simons.

On Tuesday a serious case review published by Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board condemned failings at the council that resulted in opportunities to stop the sexual abuse of six girls being missed.

In 2013 seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years for raping, prostituting and sexually abusing their victims between 2005 and 2012.

On Wednesday the Oxford Mail emailed every elected member of the local authority asking if the chief executive had their full support.

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Replies were received from three individual councillors and on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group as a whole.



We asked the same question yesterday and the only additional reply was from Conservative councillor Sandy Lovatt who said: “You are trying to orchestrate a witch hunt and I will play no part in it.”

We also asked all 63 elected members of the local authority if Miss Simons – who earns £217,640 including salary, pension contributions and possible bonuses – should return any severance payment when she steps down.

Councillors voted to make her position redundant from June last month, which would have seen her receive a payout of almost £600,000, but the decision was put under review last week by council leader Ian Hudspeth.

The full list of councillors who replied is: Labour councillor Nick Hards, Liberal Democrat Richard Webber, independent councillor Neville Harris, Liberal Democrat Neil Fawcett, who wrote on behalf of his whole group, and Conservative member Sandy Lovatt.

Mr Harris said: “The overwhelming majority of people are appalled, horrified and sickened by the continuing revelations of depravity on a global scale.

That said, a great many committed people are working hard to protect the vulnerable in our society.

“However, protecting reputations political or otherwise have no part to play in this process.”

80 per cent think Simons should go

MORE than 80 per cent of those who voted in a poll on the Oxford Mail website think Joanna Simons should resign.

Following the publication of the Serious Case Review on Tuesday we asked our readers: “Should Oxfordshire County Council chief executive Joanna Simons resign over the Bullfinch failings?”

A total of 326 people, or 81 per cent, voted “yes” and 76 people, or 19 per cent, voted “no”.