Former leader of Brighton and Hove council resigns his seat

Posted On 16 Nov 2011 at 9:35 pm

One of Hove’s longest-serving councillors resigned this afternoon (Wednesday 16 November).

Brian Oxley, 52, the Conservative leader of the council from May 2007 until May 2008, said in a statement: “I am standing down today as councillor for the Westbourne ward in Hove.

“This is a purely personal decision.

“I have sold my flat as I need to live closer to my father, who lives in Derby, to give him the support he needs as he gets older.

“It has been an immense privilege to represent Westbourne ward for over 16 years and the good people who live within its boundaries. 

“I hope I have, in whatever measure, improved the lives of people in the area.

“I shall miss the many friends I have made over the years both within the ward and across the city as a result of the various roles I have held on the city council.

“I wish Brighton and Hove all the very best in the future.”

A by-election will be held although a date has yet to be set.

The contest is expected to be closely fought, with fewer than 250 votes separating the Conservatives and the leading Labour and Green candidates at the local elections in May.

In May Mr Oxley topped the poll.

He was first elected to Hove Borough Council in 1995 and served for its final two years before the merger with Brighton.

He was elected to Brighton and Hove Council in 1996 serving on the shadow council during the year of preparing to take the reins.

He first became leader of the Conservative group on the council at the age of 41 – ten years ago – relinquishing the post in 2004.

He became the Tory group leader again in 2006, standing down two years later after serving the final year as leader of the council. He was replaced by Mary Mears.

Away from the council he works as senior parliamentary assistant to Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby.

He previously worked at Westminster for former Arundel and South Downs MP Howard Flight and Teresa Gorman, the former Billericay MP.


Mr Oxley, who has a degree in chemistry and economics, has also been a guest lecturer at a number of American colleges in London on the workings of Parliament.

Fellow councillors seemed shocked and surprised at Mr Oxley’s resignation.

One said: “He’s quiet but effective. He’s hard-working, diligent and conscientious.

“We don’t always see eye to eye but he’s always polite and courteous.”

He stood for Parliament in the safe Labour seat of Sheffield Central in 1987, coming second to long-serving Labour MP Richard Caborn.

And he twice came close to securing the nomination to stand in Hove.

A colleague said: “Brian is loyal, principled and determined – and a fantastic ward councillor.

“There’s a real risk we could lose his seat, which would be a shame because I suspect that would be a reflection on the situation at Westminster rather than the situation locally.”

After graduating, Mr Oxley worked in an accountant’s office for a year and for Derby City Council for five years.

He has spent 22 years in Brighton and Hove having come south in 1989. In that time he has won widespread respect across party lines.

  1. Valerie Paynter, Reply

    The fact that Cllr Oxley gave his fellow councillors no warning of his intentions (which is being confirmed to me all over the shop – bypassing them entirely to instead let them find out on the actual with-immediate-effect day is deeply shocking stuff.

    Why, even the Council website erased his presence on Wednesday. All done in a single, simultaneous, shock and awe move.

    What’s up Doc? Why the dramatic exit?

  2. Aaa Reply

    Be careful here, it seems for family reasons. If he has stated that, it is wrong to stir up rumour otherwise.

  3. Julian Wadey Reply

    Brian Oxley will be missed by all politically active people in Brighton & Hove, he has worked hard for our city and leaves B&H a lot better then he found it thanks to his input-he can be proud.

  4. Valerie Paynter, Reply

    JW, you make a mighty big claim for the value of BO. are you able to identify what exactly you think he has done to leave “B&H a lot better than he found it”?

    And, Aah, I gather from members of the Tory Party that his no-notice resignation was “his parting shot”. He’s escaping as well as thinking of his father in my view. And still packing up his flat too I’m told.

    His true legacy is elaborately polite manners (wheeled out in a control-freak kind of way) and prompt replies to emails, etc. but he was an essentially authoritarian Nasty Party stalwart, it always seemed to me, who did nothing to gain inward investment of significance that would have improved his ward.

    He supported the closure of the Nuffield Hospital in New Church Road and its conversion to inadequate flats, thinking that getting a bit of s106 money would be a great treat voters would be impressed by (no doubt). That hospital should have been kept on and used for a dental/GP/physio, etc. facility and he campaigned for NOTHING, made no attempt to retain that hospital for a related re-use that is much needed there.

    A politely authoritarian man. No more.

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