COUNCILLORS have re-elected Ian Hudspeth as the leader of Oxfordshire County Council.  

Conservatives failed to win overall control of Oxfordshire following the local elections earlier this month, leaving independent councillors holding the balance of power.

This morning, things worked out favourably for the Tories as Mr Hudspeth, who represents Woodstock, was re-installed in the role by fellow councillors. 

Yvonne Constance, Shrivenham county councillor, was given the transport portfolio for the council.

Mr Hudspeth pledged to continue to work hard on behalf of the people of Oxfordshire, and seek a transport solution in Oxford amid the bus companies opposing the pedestrianisation of Queen Street.

After striking a deal with independent councillors Mark Gray and Les Sibley, Mr Hudspeth had enough votes to ensure his Tory-led administration could continue without forming a coalition.

Benson and Cholsey councillor Mr Gray was rewarded with the local communities portfolio in the cabinet while Bicester West councillor Mr Sibley remains on the backbenches.

Labour’s Liz Brighouse, leader of the opposition, accused Mr Hudspeth of ‘pork-barrel politics’ for striking the deal allowing him to continue as leader.

She said: “There has been shenanigans about who gets what - I don’t think that will lead to strong and stable government of this council.”

The vote confirming Mr Hudspeth’s leadership, allowing him to appoint a new cabinet, was close.

Thirty-three councillors voted in favour, 15 voted against and 15 abstained.

Mr Hudspeth, leader of the council for the past five years, said Mrs Brighouse’s ‘pork-barrel politics’ accusation was ‘ridiculous’.

He added: “Over the past four years Mark and Les have been very supportive of the administration on key decisions.

“My focus has always been on the residents of Oxfordshire.

“Soon we will move to a new funding formula driven through business rates and council tax, so we will not be as reliant on government funding.”

He added the cabinet’s ‘fresh look’ featured Yvonne Constance and David Bartholomew working alongside colleagues who have served previously on the cabinet.

He said: “Councillor Gray’s role is an exciting one seeking to build on work the council has been undertaking for some time.”

Mr Hudspeth said he was confident Ms Constance, who replaces David Nimmo-Smith in the cabinet’s transport role, could help to ease Oxford’s traffic problems as the revamped Westgate Centre is due to reopen in October.

Queen Street is due to be pedestrianised but a plan for a turning circle for buses at Worcester Street did not go ahead and now buses are expected to turn in Frideswide Square.

Mr Hudspeth said: “We will work with the bus companies and Westgate Oxford Alliance to secure whatever solutions we can find.”

Here is the full list of cabinet positions decided at today's meeting.

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