THE new councillor overseeing highways – including the divisive low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Oxford – has praised the work of his predecessor.

During his time as cabinet member for highway management, Tim Bearder found himself at the centre of heated debates surrounding LTNs.

In February, a decision to defer making LTNs in Cowley permanent was made by Mr Bearder following ‘the sheer number of emails and anger’ he received.

Mr Bearder will now take on the adult social care portfolio, with Andrew Gant becoming cabinet member for highway management.

Oxford Mail: Tim Bearder will take on the adult social care portfolioTim Bearder will take on the adult social care portfolio

Mr Gant, a county councillor for the Wolvercote and Summertown division, told the Oxford Mail: “It’s a great responsibility and an honour to be joining this cabinet, taking over the role which councillor Bearder has filled with enormous energy and distinction.

“I’m an enormous admirer of Tim’s, he’s one of the hardest working people in local government that I know, and Oxfordshire is enormously lucky to have him. He’s a wonderful act to follow.

“I will do things in my way to build on the achievements he delivered.”

Oxford Mail: Andrew Gant has become cabinet member for highway management. Picture: Ed NixAndrew Gant has become cabinet member for highway management. Picture: Ed Nix

On LTNs, Mr Gant outlined the importance of cooling the division currently in communities impacted by the scheme.

“It’s crucial to bring people together, of course it is,” he said.

“We want to deliver a strategy that works for everybody, and I’m absolutely determined to do that.

“At the same time, politics is about choice and the Fair Deal Alliance has been clear about what its priorities are.

“It will involve changes to behaviour, we’re asking people to do things in a different way and that includes all of us – we’re all residents, we all live in the city.

“Car use in our city has grown by something like 30 per cent in 20 years, is that a sustainable model for a medieval city with large amounts of floodplain? No, it isn’t.”

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The changes were made following the county council’s annual general meeting this morning.

On Mr Bearder’s new position, Liz Leffman, the council’s leader, said during the meeting: “This is a very important role – there’ll be great pressure on adult and social care over the next 12 months due to inflation.”

Mr Bearder himself tweeted he was ‘sad to be leaving highways’, adding: “Massive thanks to all the supportive groups and individuals who share the same desire to do things differently, break the mould and create a better Oxfordshire.”

Mr Bearder replaces Jenny Hannaby, who will become cabinet member for community services and safety, which includes the fire and rescue service, trading standards and libraries.

Neil Fawcett had previously fulfilled that role, and is standing down from cabinet.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice