Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council chief executive to step down and role reviewed

Joanna Simons
Image caption Joanna Simons resisted calls to resign her position following the abuse of girls in Oxfordshire

The chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council is to step down, months after a previous decision to close her post was reversed.

In January, the authority said Joanna Simons would be made redundant to save money.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth later admitted he may have "acted hastily" when he decided to axe the post.

The authority said Ms Simons would now step down in September to allow it to review its senior management structure.

The council has yet to decide whether a new chief executive will be appointed or if the post will be scrapped.

Salary criticism

Mr Hudspeth, a Conservative, said: "The post of chief executive will not be deleted in the first instance to enable the council to consider the best management arrangements for the future, without ruling out any future options."

He added that an "amicable arrangement" had been reached with Ms Simons, whose responsibilities would be shared among other senior managers

Liz Brighouse, leader of the Labour group, said there was cross-party support for the decision, which was "taken by all of the leaders on Oxfordshire County Council".

The council originally said Ms Simons would be made redundant at the end of June in a "plan to protect frontline services".

In February, Mr Hudspeth said he was reviewing those plans after taking legal advice and following concerns raised by councillors.

Ms Simons previously attracted criticism because of her salary, which is currently £194,066 before benefits.

She has been chief executive since 2005, and resisted pressure to resign following the conviction of a paedophile ring in Oxfordshire, in 2013.

Image caption Ian Hudspeth still believes the council can be run without a chief executive

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