A FORMER city councillor and Lord Mayor of Oxford has died aged 71, a week after receiving national recognition from her party.

Carole Roberts, a veteran former Labour councillor of more than 20 years, passed away due to cancer on Sunday in the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

She had represented Northfield Brook, Rose Hill and Iffley and Temple Cowley – and the Labour Party’s national executive committee gave her a merit award on Monday, August 3.

The award is reserved for members “who have a distinguished history of service to their local communities”.

The great-grandmother, who grew up in Oxford, served as Lord Mayor in 1998-99 having previously held the titles of Deputy Lord Mayor and Sheriff.

She also managed the Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre, which she joined in 1989 as the first advice worker until stopping recently due to her illness.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price led tributes to Mrs Roberts, who he said was “one of the city’s leading councillors for many years in the 1980s and 1990s”.

Mr Price said: “She always spoke her mind without fear or favour and was a clear-sighted and confident leader in the development of council policies.

“Her personal warmth, good humour and kindness never left her, despite her long and debilitating illness in recent years.

“She will be badly missed by her many friends and extensive family.”

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, said: “Carole was a good friend as well as distinguished former councillor, Lord Mayor and chair of Oxford East Labour Party.

“She was always forthright and brave, especially in standing up for those who are most disadvantaged.

“It was typical that even when seriously ill she wanted to get back to her work helping people at the Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre.

“She will be missed, and never forgotten.”

Mrs Roberts joined the Labour Party in 1959 and became a city councillor for Temple Cowley in 1983.

She represented the area until 1995, when she was elected councillor at Iffley, and served until 2002.

In 2005 she briefly came out of retirement to seize victory in the Northfield Brook ward in a by-election, but lost the seat the following year.

She had worked in catering in the city, including at the Churchill Hospital and J Lyons & Co, and was an active member of the National Union of Public Employees.

She married her husband David aged 19 and the couple had two children, Debbie and Tony. She also had another son, Brian, from another relationship.

They divorced and, while working at the Bullnose Morris pub on the Blackbird Leys estate, she met her second husband Jimmy Roberts.

Mr Roberts had two children, Tina and Kevin, from a previous relationship and together he and Mrs Roberts had a son, Michael.

The family lived in Blackbird Leys.

Mrs Roberts is survived by three children, Debbie, Tony and Michael, as well as 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Her husband died aged 80 in 2008 and the couple’s son Brian died in 2005.

Oxford Mail:

  • Treasured: Flashback to 1999 and then Lord Mayor Carole Roberts handing over the chain of office to the late Val Smith


Carole Roberts was born in London in 1943, during the Second World War.

Her family came to live in Oxford when she was a child and she Woodstock Girls’ School, as well as Ruskin College.

After joining the Labour Party in 1959, she went on to become a city councillor in 1983, for Temple Cowley, and campaigned on local issues such as housing.

By 2002, when she stepped down as a councillor for Iffley, she had served on the authority for almost 20 years.

Mrs Roberts returned briefly in a 2005 by-election and won the Northfield Brook seat, but did not hold it in 2006.