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AN INDEPENDENT councillor will take a new senior post at Oxfordshire County Council after cutting a deal with the Conservatives.

Mark Gray, pictured, is set to become cabinet member for ‘community and inclusivity’, he told the Oxford Mail.

The role will oversee so-called ‘community hubs’ across the county, such as libraries and children’s centres and will encompass work being done by multiple council departments.

It comes after talks between Mr Gray and Conservative group boss Ian Hudspeth, whose party is one seat short of a majority after this month’s elections.

Mr Hudspeth needs the support of independent councillors to allow his group to form an administration, with Benson and Cholsey councillor Mr Gray and Bicester West councillor Les Sibley seen as most likely to lend their support.

Mr Sibley already hinted he would back the Tories in exchange for guarantees about Bicester road schemes. And Mr Gray, who last week said he faced a ‘difficult decision’, has now said he too would join them.

He added: “I have been offered a cabinet position which I find difficult to turn down.

“Given I am very much a community politician, the opportunity to shape the council’s future community services – particularly if we get a unitary authority – really appeals to me.”

The council is due to hold its first meeting since elections on Tuesday, at 10am, in County Hall.