TRIBUTES have been paid to long-serving Oxford councillor Barbara Gatehouse, who has retired after 25 years at the forefront of local politics.

At 83, the coal miner’s daughter has finally put her feet up after serving on two councils for more than two decades.

A former resident of Sawpit Road, Blackbird Leys, Mrs Gatehouse represented Ox- ford City Council between 1979 and 1996. She now lives in Headington.

She was one of the first female leaders between 1987 and 1990, as well as Sheriff in 1990 and Lord Mayor in 1993.

After a five-year break from politics, she represented Leys and Lye on Oxfordshire County Council, officially stepping down this year.

Last week city councillor Val Smith and husband Oxford East MP Andrew Smith hosted a celebration to thank her for her work.

County council leader Keith Mitchell called her a “formidable campaigner”, while deputy city council leader Ed Turner described her as a “living legend”.

Born in South Wales during the General Strike, she moved to London when her father found employment, before settling in Headington, where her grandmother lived.

Mrs Gatehouse believes it was these early experiences which drove her career as a Labour campaigner.

She said: “We lived in East London so I was used to knowing how people lived on limited income, and I felt empathy.

“I remember the time we had to pay to go to the doctor.When I was born my parents couldn’t afford the four pence to buy a birth certificate.”

The great-grandmother and wife to Roy, 79, worked at the Oxford Housing Aid Centre in George Street, and campaigned for better housing.

She launched a scheme to help homeless people meet the deposit on rented accommodation after raising £28,000 for her One Small Step Fund.

She served on various committees and was credited with getting Oxford Ice Rink built.

Mr Mitchell said: “While we hold different political views, I’ve always thought she was a remarkable advocate for old-fashioned socialist principles.”

Mr Turner said: “She is a great woman and a living legend.”