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 was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at

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  • 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.

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