Council Leader Barry Wood stands down as the top Conservative at Cherwell


He was first elected in 1983 – some 40 years ago

The man who’s led Cherwell District Council for the last twenty years is stepping down as the leader of his group.

Barry Wood’s colleagues have been paying tribute to the prolific local government stalwart, who was first elected as a councillor at Cherwell District Council for the Conservatives in 1983.  

In 2004, as the leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Wood was elected to the role of Leader of the Council.   It’s a role he has held ever since, including during the last year when he has overseen a minority administration after the Conservatives lost overall control of the council.

At the most recent local elections the number of seats held by Conservatives reduced further with the Liberal Democrats announcing they would be putting themselves forward to form a new administration.

Whilst Councillor Wood will remain as the Councillor for Fringford and Heyford he has told his fellow Conservative councillors that the time was now right for him to step down as his group’s leader.   Eddie Reeves has been selected to take on the role.

Speaking to Banbury FM Councillor Wood acknowledged life will be different for him in the Council chamber from now on.   He said: “It’s going to be quite pleasant because leadership is quite a demanding task.   So for me to be able now to sit on the back benches and say what I want to say rather than what I ought to say is going to be good fun!”

On his time as Council leader he said: “There have been lots of challenges at different times.   You always have to be on the front foot, innovate and look for new solutions.   Even if there isn’t a challenge it’s good to always have a continuous improvement culture.   I’ve been lucky with the officers at Cherwell District Council because they’ve endorsed that philosophy and it’s been very successful.”

During the last couple of years Adam Nell has been the person responsible for looking after the finances in Barry Wood’s administration.

He said: “Barry Wood is a very distinguished figure in local government.  He’s given many, many years of service as a councillor and as leader of Cherwell District Council.

“Not only has he superintended the Council, but he’s got lots of achievements to his name and a really excellent record of getting things done.    You could look at the Graven Hill Centre in Bicester, which is the largest self-build housing development in Europe.   You could look at the revitalization more recently of Banbury town centre with the new Light cinema and the Premier Inn hotel being built as a regeneration project.

“He’s been a fantastic leader and we’re very sorry to see him go.   At the same time he’s himself chosen after so many years to step down after the most recent election results.”

Looking back at his time in charge Councillor Wood said he is particularly proud of the regeneration work the Council has completed at Pioneer Square in Bicester and Castle Quay in Banbury, alongside the improvements to leisure centres, including building the new Spiceball.    He also noted the help given by the Council dealing with crises in society, such as the pandemic.

But whilst Councillor Wood is proud of the achievements he doesn’t want to take the credit.   He said: “I don’t claim these things as ‘I did that’.    I claim them as these things happened and were delivered by the Council whilst I was leader.    There’s a subtlety of difference there.   That’s what I’m proud of – to have been a part of that great expansion of the Cherwell district.”

Adam Nell noted the particular skills that have helped Councillor Wood remain the Council’s leader for 20 years.   He said: “Barry’s a witty and charming individual in private, but I think he recognises that when you’re dealing with public events, a dry and calm way of dealing with things really works.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current track