Oxford City Council is the local authority for the city of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. Oxford has had a council since medieval times, which has been reformed on numerous occasions. Since 1974, Oxford has been a non-metropolitan district, with county-level functions in the city provided by Oxfordshire County Council.

Oxford City Council
Half of council elected every other year
Coat of arms or logo
Logo
Type
Type
HousesUnicameral
Term limits
None
History
Founded1 April 1974
Leadership
Mike Rowley,
Labour
since 16 May 2024[1]
Susan Brown,
Labour
since 29 January 2018[2]
Caroline Green
since February 2021[3]
Structure
Seats48 councillors
Political groups
Administration (20)
  Labour (20)
Other parties (28)
  Liberal Democrats (9)
  Green Party (8)
  Independent (7)
  IOA (4)
Elections
First past the post
Last election
2 May 2024
Next election
7 May 2026
Motto
Fortis est Veritas (Latin)
Meeting place
Town Hall, St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1BX
Website
www.oxford.gov.uk Edit this at Wikidata

The city council has been under no overall control since 2023. It is based at Oxford Town Hall.

History

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Oxford was an ancient borough, being governed by a corporation from medieval times. The borough gained city status in 1542. It was reformed in 1836 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 to become a municipal borough. When elected county councils were created on 1 April 1889, Oxford was initially within the area of Oxfordshire County Council. Seven months later, on 9 November 1889, the city become a county borough, making it independent from the county council.[4] In 1962 the council was given the right to appoint a Lord Mayor.[5]

Local government was reformed across England and Wales in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, which established a two-tier structure of local government comprising upper-tier counties and lower-tier districts. Oxford became a non-metropolitan district, and county-level functions passed up to Oxfordshire County Council.[6]

In early 2003, Oxford City Council submitted a bid to become a unitary authority.[7] This was received by the Department for Communities and Local Government,[8] but subsequently rejected.[9][10][11]

In 2016, Oxfordshire County Council put forward a 'One Oxfordshire' proposal which would see Oxford City Council and the four other district councils in Oxfordshire abolished and replaced with a single unitary county council for Oxfordshire.[12] In 2017, Oxford City Council voiced their opposition to the proposal,[13] and it was subsequently dropped.

Governance

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Oxford City Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Oxfordshire County Council. Some outer parts of the city are also included in civil parishes, which form an additional tier of local government for their areas.[14]

Political control

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The first election to the reconstituted city council following the Local Government Act 1972 was held in 1973. It operated as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until it came into its powers on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since then has been as follows:[15][16]

Party in control Years
Labour 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1980
Labour 1980–2000
No overall control 2000–2002
Labour 2002–2004
No overall control 2004–2010
Labour 2010–2023
No overall control 2023–present

In October 2023, the Labour Party lost control of the council after 9 Labour councillors resigned the party in protest at Keir Starmer's refusal to call for a ceasefire in the 2023 Israel–Hamas war.[17][18] A tenth councillor resigned the part on 14 November, ahead of a vote in Westminster on an SNP amendment to the debate on the Speech from the throne.[19]

Leadership

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Political leadership is provided by the leader of the council; the role of Lord Mayor is largely ceremonial and usually changes hands each year. The leaders since 2000 have been:[20]

Councillor Party From To
Corinna Redman Liberal Democrats 2000 May 2002
Alex Hollingsworth Labour 30 May 2002 May 2006
John Goddard[21] Liberal Democrats 18 May 2006 May 2008
Bob Price[22] Labour 15 May 2008 29 Jan 2018
Susan Brown Labour 29 Jan 2018

Composition

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Following the 2024 election, the composition of the council was:

Party Councillors
Labour 20
Liberal Democrats 9
Green 8
Independent 7
Independent Oxford Alliance 4
Total 48

Of the independent councillors, three sit together as the 'Oxford Community Independents' group, two form the 'Oxford Independent Group' and two form the 'Real Independent Group'. The next election is due in 2026.[23]

Premises

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The city council meets at the Town Hall on the street called St Aldate's in the city centre. The current building was completed in 1897, on a site which had been occupied by Oxford's guildhall since the thirteenth century.[24] Between 1967 and 2022 the council had its main offices at St Aldate's Chambers at 113 St Aldate's, a 1930s building opposite the town hall, but continued to use the town hall for meetings.[25] In 2022 the council moved its offices back into the town hall.[26]

Elections

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Since the last boundary changes came into effect for the 2021 election, the council has comprised 48 councillors representing 24 wards, with each ward electing two councillors. Elections are held in alternate years, with half the council (one councillor for each ward) elected each time for a four-year term of office.[27]

Councillors

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Oxford City Council is composed of the following councillors as of May 2024:

Ward Name Party Next Election First Elected
Barton and Sandhills Asima Qayyum Labour 2028 2024
Barton and Sandhills Mike Rowley Labour 2026 2010 (by-election)
Blackbird Leys Lubna Arshad Labour 2026 2018 (in Cowley Marsh)
Blackbird Leys Linda Smith Labour 2028 2014 (by-election)
Carfax and Jericho Lizzie Diggins Labour 2028 2021
Carfax and Jericho Alex Hollingsworth Labour 2026 2014 (by-election)
Churchill Susan Brown Labour 2026 2014
Churchill Mark Lygo Labour 2028 2008
Cowley Ian Yeatman IOA 2028 2024
Cowley Mohammed Latif Independent[28] 2026 2021 (as Labour)
Cuttleslowe and Sunnymead Andrew Gant Liberal Democrats 2028 2014 (in Summertown)
Cuttleslowe and Sunnymead Laurence Fouweather Liberal Democrats 2026 2021
Donnington Rosie Rawle Green 2026 2022
Donnington Max Morris Green 2028 2024
Headington Mohammed Altaf-Khan Liberal Democrats 2028 2006 (in Headington Hill and Northway)
Headington Christopher Smowton Liberal Democrats 2026 2021
Headington Hill and Northway Barbara Coyne Independent[18] 2026 2021 (as Labour)
Headington Hill and Northway Nigel Chapman Labour 2028 2016
Hinksey Park Naomi Waite Labour 2026 2021
Hinksey Park Anna Railton Labour 2028 2022 (by-election)
Holywell Dianne Regisford Green 2028 2024
Holywell Edward Mundy Independent[17] 2026 2021 (as Labour)
Littlemore Anne Stares IOA 2028 2024
Littlemore Tiago Jorge de Assis Caldeira Cruz Corais Labour 2026 2018
Lye Valley Judith Harley IOA 2028 2024
Lye Valley Ajaz Rehman Independent[19] 2026 2021 (as Labour)
Marston Mary Clarkson Labour 2028 1998
Marston Kate Robinson Green 2026 2024 (by-election)
Northfield Brook Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini Independent[17] 2026 2018 (as Labour)
Northfield Brook Simon Ottino Labour 2028 2024
Osney and St Thomas Susanna Pressel Labour 2028 1996
Osney and St Thomas Lois Muddiman Green 2026 2022
Quarry and Risinghurst Roz Smith Liberal Democrats 2028 2018
Quarry and Risinghurst Chewe Munkonge Labour 2026 2014 (by-election)
Rose Hill and Iffley David Henwood IOA 2028 2024
Rose Hill and Iffley Edward Turner Labour 2026 2002
St Clement's Alex Powell Green 2028 2024
St Clement's Jemima Hunt Labour 2026 2021
St Mary's Emily Kerr Green 2026 2022
St Mary's Chris Jarvis Green 2028 2021
Summertown Theodore Jupp Liberal Democrats 2028 2024
Summertown Katherine Miles Liberal Democrats 2026 2021
Temple Cowley Mohammed Azad Independent 2028 2024
Temple Cowley Sajjad Malik Independent[29] 2026 2004 (as a Liberal Democrat; later Labour)
Walton Manor Louise Upton Labour 2026 2013 (by-election)
Walton Manor James Fry Labour 2028 2012
Wolvercote Steve Goddard Liberal Democrats 2028 1996
Wolvercote Jo Sandelson Liberal Democrats 2026 2022

Climate change

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Oxford City Council became the first UK authority to divest from fossil fuel companies in September 2014.[30]

In 2011, Oxford City Council had reduced their carbon footprint by 25% against a baseline of 2005/6, and continues to reduce carbon emissions from its own estate by 5% year on year.

In 2014, Oxford City Council was named 'Most Sustainable Local Authority' in the Public Sector Sustainability Awards.

Oxford City Council leads the Low Carbon Oxford network, a collaboration of over 40 organisations working together to reduce emissions in the city by 40% by 2020.

Oxford City Council also leads on delivering the annual Low Carbon Oxford Week festival, which uses culture, creativity and, community to inspire local people to take action on climate change. In 2015, the festival saw over 60 local organisations partner to deliver over 100 events across the city and attract over 40,000 visitors.

In 2023, Oxford City Council voted to serve plant-based, vegan food at council events. Butchers and animal farmers protested the vote, which came after a similar policy was adopted by the Oxfordshire County Council.[31]

Energy Superhub Oxford

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Energy Superhub Oxford is a power optimisation project at Redbridge park and ride. It includes a lithium-ion battery of 48MW/50MWh, a vanadium flow battery of 2MW/5MWh, 20 fast electric vehicle chargers for public use and ground-source heat pumps for residential properties.[32][33]

See also

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References

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  1. ^ "Council minutes, 16 May 2024". Oxford City Council. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  2. ^ "Oxford City Council elects Councillor Susan Brown as new Leader". Oxford City Council. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  3. ^ "The Chief Executive". Oxford City Council. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  4. ^ Annual Report of the Local Government Board. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 1890. p. 324. Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Stephanie (9 August 2009). "Mayors of Oxford in early medieval times 1205–1348". Mayors of Oxford. Stephanie Jenkins. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Local Government Act 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70
  7. ^ Oxford City Council: the case for unitary status, draft version, 18 January 2007.
  8. ^ Communities and Local Government press release: Kelly welcomes proposals to improve local services: 26 local authorities bid to move to single tier local Government, 26 January 2007.
  9. ^ Communities and Local Government: rejection letter to Oxford City Council’s unitary authority bid.
  10. ^ Communities and Local Government press release: Woolas announces sixteen successful bids for unitary status to improve local services, 27 March 2007.
  11. ^ Oxford City Council press release: Government backs off Oxfordshire reorganisation, 27 March 2007.
  12. ^ One Oxfordshire, February 2017.
  13. ^ Oxford City Council website: Hands off Oxford City, February 2017.
  14. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  15. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  16. ^ "Oxford". BBC News. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  17. ^ a b c Oxford City Council councillors (20 October 2023). "Labour Loses Oxford City Council Over Gaza". Tribune. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Labour loses majority on Oxford City Council after ninth resignation". BBC News Online. 26 October 2023. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  19. ^ a b Cllr Ajaz Rehman [@ajazrehman3] (14 November 2023). "Resignation statement from the Labour Party Cllr Ajaz Rehman Cabinet Member Inclusive Communities. #CeasefireNOW #Gaza #BringThemHome" (Tweet). Retrieved 15 November 2023 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ "Council minutes". Oxford City Council. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  21. ^ "Council minutes, 18 May 2006" (PDF). Oxford City Council. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Oxford City Council elects Councillor Susan Brown as new Leader". Oxford City Council. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Oxford". Local Councils. Thorncliffe. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  24. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall, Municipal Buildings and Library (Grade II*) (1047153)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  25. ^ "No. 44458". The London Gazette. 21 November 1967. p. 12728.
  26. ^ Norris, Miranda (1 September 2023). "New tenants set to move into Oxford City Council's former HQ". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  27. ^ "The Oxford (Electoral Changes) Order 2019", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2019/1162, retrieved 15 July 2024
  28. ^ "Labour Oxford councillors quit over Starmer comments on Israel Gaza war". BBC News Online. 14 October 2023. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Deputy Lord Mayor - what happens now after domestic violence?". Oxford Mail.
  30. ^ Climate change: how to make the big polluters really pay Naomi Klein The Guardian 17 October 2014
  31. ^ Stavrou, Athena; Halford, Ed; Sheldon, Liberty (27 March 2023). "Furious backlash after meat banned from Oxford council events". oxfordshirelive. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  32. ^ Council, Oxford City. "£41m project to support Oxford on journey to zero carbon". www.oxford.gov.uk.
  33. ^ "Project with world's largest lithium-vanadium hybrid BESS officially launched in Oxford, UK". Energy Storage News. 5 July 2022.
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