OXFORD'S next Lord Mayor is abusive, threatening, and unworthy of the honour, her political opponents claim.

In an unprecedented personal snub, Lib Dems on Oxford City Council plan not to vote for Labour's Carole Roberts, pictured, as Oxford's next Lord Mayor at the mayor-making on Wednesday. Members of the Green group may also abstain.

Traditionally, the Lord Mayor, who is also council chairman, is the longest-serving councillor who has not already held the office. It is a non-political post and voting is normally unanimous.

But the Lib Dems' Jim Campbell said Mrs Roberts, a city councillor since 1983, would not behave appropriately in the ceremonial role.

He said: "We believe the role of mayor is important and we want to see the perception of that role raised rather than lowered.

"We're afraid, if she behaves even partly as she has in the past, that may be the case.

"We respect Carole Roberts very much as a councillor and as chairman of housing. We think her manner is often not suitable, she is bad-tempered and abusive. "This will be seen as a snub to Carole, which we can't deny it is. I don't believe we're flying a party flag. We feel strongly as a group that we want a good mayor, we had a very good one last year and we don't think we're going to get one this year."

The Greens, the third political group on the council, will have a free vote at the mayor-making but spokesman Mike Woodin said some Greens were likely to abstain.

He added: "Carole keeps shouting and interrupting and threatening. There is an unease amongst opposition members at how she will treat standing orders as chairman of the council.

"We have a lot of respect for Carole Roberts's commitment to the poor people of Oxford and see her as a true Old Labour councillor. She'd be a good representative of the people of Oxford - it's perhaps the issue of the conduct of meetings."

Until Wednesday, Mrs Roberts is chairman of the housing committee and Sheriff of Oxford. In her years on the council she has also chaired the personnel and highways committees and been been chairman of Oxford East Labour Party.

In the past year some of the key projects she has promoted have included a Foyer centre for young unemployed people in Oxford and the launch of the city's Partnership for Youth. Outside the council she is a welfare advice worker. She has attracted controversy in the past, notably in 1990 when she resisted paying her poll tax in protest at the hardship it caused many people. Back in 1985 she branded a Conservative councillor an 'uninformed liar' but was forced to withdraw the remark.

Both the Lib Dems and the Greens were angered by her behaviour at the last council meeting on April 20 when she accused Dr Woodin of making inflammatory remarks and using sneaky tactics when he tried to make a statement about Donnington Community Centre.

She also seconded a motion to try and gag Dr Woodin by using council's standing orders, but was overruled by chief executive Mr Bob Block.

Labour is the majority party on the city council and Mrs Roberts will become Lord Mayor with the backing of her political colleagues.

Adam Sandell, chairman of the council's Labour group, said: "Carole is an outstanding politician. and has been involved in serving Oxford for many, many years. I'm delighted that she's going to be Lord Mayor. She's a very charismatic character and if the Lib Dems can't deal with that, it is sad they are not able to support her in this non-party political, ceremonial role."

Stan Taylor, the council leader, said: "Carole is forthright and I see no reason why she shouldn't be if necessary, and I'm sure that she will be an excellent Lord Mayor."

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