County Councils Network announces new Chairman

The County Councils Network (CCN) has announced that Councillor Tim Oliver has been elected the new Chairman of the organisation.

CCN is a body representing 36 county and unitary councils, who collectively serve 25 million people and are responsible for £32bn of public spending each year.

Leader of Surrey County Council since 2018, Councillor Oliver has been elected Leader of the Conservative group for the network and will now be Chairman-Elect after being elected unopposed to the role.

He said his priority was ensuring that CCN’s 36 councils remain at the forefront of the debate on how the country recovers from the pandemic by setting out a ‘positive, transformative vision on how counties can lead the recovery and deliver social renewal’.

Councillor Oliver has pledged to work with government ministers to ensure that the levelling up agenda ‘reaches all four corners of England’ and in making the case for county areas to receive sustainable and fair funding as part of the forthcoming Spending Review.

It is also been announced that Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council since 2017, was elected unopposed as Deputy Leader of the Conservative group and will be Vice-Chairman Elect of CCN.

Both will formally take up their roles at the organisation’s annual general meeting on 16 September, when all political groups confirm nominations for the cross-party CCN Executive Committee.

CCN’s current acting Chairman, Councillor David Fothergill, will oversee the transition to the new leadership over the coming weeks.

Commenting, Councillor Oliver said: “It is an enormous privilege to be elected as the next Chairman of the CCN.

“The network has demonstrated just how effective it can be in protecting and promoting the interests of its members and my priority is ensuring that CCN’s 36 councils remain at the forefront of the government’s agenda.

“As we move out of the current pandemic restrictions, we will need to rebuild our local economies, promote a greener future, address health inequalities and support our communities.

“This will be challenging for all of us, but I want to use the coming period to set out a positive, transformative vision on how counties can lead the recovery and deliver social renewal.

“This means working constructively with ministers to ensure that the government’s levelling up agenda reaches all four corners of England, while securing greater devolved powers for county and unitary authorities to drive the economic recovery.

“CCN must also advocate on behalf of its members to ensure planning reforms do not have a disproportionate impact on our communities. 

“As we head towards this year’s Spending Review, it remains vital that councils have a sustainable and fairer long-term funding settlement. Alongside this, we will work proactively with government to deliver reforms to both adults and children’s social care.

“As a strong cross-party organisation, representing all four corners of England, I will do all I can to ensure that we make a persuasive case to government on behalf of county communities.”

Councillor Lewis added: “I am immensely proud to take up this new role and look forward to supporting Councillor Oliver and the CCN as Conservative Vice-Chairman of the network.

“CCN has built up a reputation for being a forceful voice on behalf of its councils right across the country, while working pragmatically with ministers to deliver positive benefits for the communities it represents.

“It is in the spirit of collaboration that I want to contribute to the strategic direction of the network and the wider debate on the future of local government.

“County and unitary authorities have a key role to play in a green industrial revolution and levelling up communities, to delivering adult social care reform and fairer funding for rural areas.”

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