Notes from a new Councillor: My maiden speech

Both nervous and determined, I stood to make my first speech at the full Oxfordshire County Council meeting on July 11th. In fact, I spoke twice.

First, I supported the motion for the County Council to move to a committee system of governance rather than the existing cabinet system. I spoke about working together, across party lines, for the common good. And how this could be best achieved through a committee system, encouraging round-table decision making, than the cabinet model of top-down governance. The motion, with amendment to investigate the options available and to change the structure as soon as practicable, was carried.

I also spoke in favour of a motion to invite all Oxfordshire MPs to come to a meeting of County Council to discuss how we can work together to better serve our local residents. When this happens, I plan on asking questions about school funding, local bus services and protecting the Green Belt, amongst other issues. All elected representatives have a duty to their electors. Integrating our local and national efforts to achieve the best outcomes for Oxfordshire residents makes sense.

My appetite is now whetted, and I have mental drafts of three motions I wish to put to full council in September. Of course, our Lib Dem Group will work through all of our ideas and choose the best ones to present to council. It is great to be part of a team of 13 Lib Dem County Councillors. I’m learning a huge amount from my colleagues who have served for many years, and also enjoying the company of fellow newbies like the wonderful Liz Leffman, who brings a wealth of experience into the role.

Choosing our priorities and working as a team is definitely effective for political action. In the Lib Dem Group we each have our assigned committees and duties. I’m serving on the Planning and Regulation Committee and on Corporate Parenting. I’m also substituting for the Education Scrutiny Committee. A lot to learn, but what a difference we can make. Time well spent, from my point of view.

* Kirsten Johnson is an Oxfordshire County Councillor and Day Editor for Lib Dem Voice. She stood as the Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Congratulations on your election, Kirsten and good luck in your new role.

  • Jackiecharlton 15th Aug '17 - 4:52am

    Great to have this news from Oxfordshire. Same number of County Councillors as here in Powys. Both those motions are worth knowing more about. I know one Lib Dem councillors here in Powys is also keen to get back to a committee structure rather than cabinet. I also now see why it serves people better as a new councillor myself. Will pick up more from the Oxfordshire website. Good luck for future motions.

  • Great job Kirsten! GBJ.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Aug '17 - 2:38pm

    Good stuff.

    (Pendle BC is reverting to a committee system next May after several years of pressure from us. Not a revolutionary as on a big county (and we have always had strong area committees since we set them up 25 years ago) but still a very good thing.)

  • Kirsten Johnson 17th Aug '17 - 2:27pm

    Thank you all for reading. Simon, sorry for the delay in replying but I have been travelling and just picked this up. Here is the full transcript of the meeting

    The motion was proposed by Labour (you will see the original text); Labour accepted our/Lib Dem amendments (Cllr Webber); Conservative Independent Alliance proposed further amendments. It was then passed. The Conservatives, with Independents, form the ruling group (The Conservative Independent Alliance) with 31 councillors; Labour is the opposition with 14 councillors, Lib Dems have 13 councillors.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Harding 18th Nov - 5:11pm
    Is this just HQ staff or does this include the staff we have working for local parties?
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 4:08pm
    @ Andy Daer, "the intelligentsia of the country are on our side" They, and yourself, may think they are "the intelligentsia", but, generally speaking, they,...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 18th Nov - 3:11pm
    Thanks Lorenzo Unfortunately the sad fact is that my current condition is permanent. I have tried everything and there doesn't appear to be any cure.
  • User AvatarAndy Daer 18th Nov - 2:27pm
    Frankie, 70% of MPs are on our side, the intelligentsia of the country are on our side (sorry, Leavers - but it's true), the EU...
  • User AvatarMike Read 18th Nov - 1:55pm
    From a Devon & Somerset perspective, the West Country Lib Dem slump v the Tories pre-dates the Coalition. In the 2009 Devon county council elections,...
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Nov - 1:40pm
    Apologies second part of the comment should have been to Andy not Peter. I fear my brain is going all Brexiteer on me.