BLACKBIRD Leys city and county councillor Val Smith resigned from both authorities yesterday in a move that shocked fellow councillors.

Described as a stalwart for the estate, Mrs Smith has been suffering from cancer for the past couple of years and in a statement said: “This now interferes with my ability to do the best for the local community – which is what I have always promised to do.”

She said: “I am so proud to have been able the represent the people of Blackbird Leys and The Leys, and to serve the needs of the city and county as a whole.

“It has been a wonderful experience representing such great constituents.”

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Mrs Smith, married to Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith, has been a city councillor for 24 years and a county councillor since 2005. Last year she stood down from the city council’s executive board because of her ill health.

In her statement, she thanked the residents of the estate for their support, and said: “I have always valued your friendship and support so much. I also thank all the local community groups, my fellow councillors, the officers of the councils, and the local Labour and Co-operative Parties for what we have been able to achieve together.”

Mrs Smith lives on the Blackbird Leys estate with Mr Smith and is mother to Luke and grandmother to Mirai, 16.

She first became a city councillor for Blackbird Leys in 1987, but stood down in 2005 for three years after becoming frustrated with the city council’s lack of power.

When she resigned from the city council she joined the county council, and has represented The Leys on the council ever since.

In her 27 years of representing the people of Blackbird Leys, Mrs Smith also served as Lord Mayor of Oxford and the county council’s vice-chairwoman.

City council leader Bob Price said: “It’s a devastating blow for the city council and for the people of Blackbird Leys, and obviously Val herself.

“She was such a dedicated and important councillor.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Val Smith becoming Lord Mayor in 1991

The county council’s opposition leader Liz Brighouse, said: “We’re losing a colleague who has been one of the cornerstones of the Labour group and the county council.

“It will be a real challenge for us to make sure that what Val did is carried on.”

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “Val will be sorely missed at the county council and she is a very hard-working local councillor.

“My thoughts are with her and Andrew during this very difficult time for them.”

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper added: “She was a stalwart of Blackbird Leys, she will be greatly missed on the estate.

“I wish her the best of everything.”

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