New interim chief executive at Oxfordshire County Council

An interim chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council has been appointed following an internal recruitment process among existing directors.

Stephen Chandler will take on the role from Wednesday, 9 February following approval at a meeting of full council on Tuesday, 8 February. The move follows the announcement of the start of the process of ending the partnership between Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council that has been in place since 2018.

 Yvonne Rees has been the joint Chief Executive of Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council since 2018, having previously been chief executive of the district council. She will return to her substantive post as CEO at Cherwell District Council on 9 February.

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I’m very pleased that we are able to appoint Stephen and warmly welcome him to the role.

“He has been part of the council’s leadership team since September 2019 in the role of director of adult services and is therefore already very well known to county council staff and county councillors. We are in the process of making the necessary arrangements for backfilling this post.

“We look forward to working with Stephen as we plan ahead to meet the challenges and opportunities in the coming months.

 “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Yvonne Rees for the committed and dedicated service she has given since 2018. The past few years have presented us with some of the most challenging circumstances we have ever seen, and Yvonne has expertly navigated us through these, ensuring the best possible outcomes for our residents.”

 As Interim Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Chandler will be responsible for:

  • Providing strategic leadership to dissolve the agreement between the county council and Cherwell District Council by August 2022.
  • Supporting all members of staff through this period of change.
  • Overseeing regular communications with staff, elected members, external partners and the public.
  • Working with the senior management team to create robust and resilient structures in all directorates to ensure we can continue to deliver the administration’s nine priorities.
  • Providing an effective link with government departments and external agencies and bodies, including integrated health systems.
  •  Supporting the continued recovery from COVID-19 with health partners and the district and city councils.

Stephen’s previous role before joining Oxfordshire County Council was as director of adult services with Somerset County Council. He is also the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

Stephen Chandler said “I am really pleased to be appointed to this interim role and look forward to working closely with our residents, elected members and staff over the next few months to maximise the opportunities for Oxfordshire.  This is truly an exciting time for the council.”

This appointment is a temporary position, and the process of recruiting a permanent chief executive officer will begin shortly. A new sub-committee of the Remuneration Committee, comprising all the members of that committee, has been established for this purpose.