Oxford City Council pays tribute to former Councillor Jean Fooks

Published: Thursday, 29th November 2018

Oxford City Council has regrettably been informed of the sad news that former long-serving councillor and former Lord Mayor Jean Fooks has died, just the day after she was invested as an Honorary Alderman of the city.

Jean Fooks served as a City Councillor for 26 years before finally standing down in May of this year. She will be greatly missed by her friends, fellow City Councillors, officers and the many members of the community who knew her.

Jean was first elected to the City Council in May 1992 and represented North Ward until 2002. She was re-elected in 2006 to represent Summertown Ward until May 2018. She was Sheriff 2011 to 2012, became group leader of the Liberal Democrats and Leader of the Opposition on the City Council from 2012 to 2016, and was Lord Mayor of Oxford 2017 to 2018. She chaired the Highways and Traffic Committee 2000 to 2001, Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee October 2001 to June 2004.

Jean was the Councillor in charge of the City Works Department in 2006 when wheelie bins were rolled out and recalled that recycling rates doubled within six months.

She also served on Oxfordshire County Council, representing Oxford Cherwell Division in June 2001. She was re-elected in May 2005 and June 2009 for Summertown & Wolvercote Division. In May 2013, she was returned as the Councillor for Wolvercote & Summertown Division, finally standing down in May 2017.

Jean grew up in Reading and Bath, studied physics at Somerville College in 1958-1961 and went on to work at the then Radio and Space Research station in Slough and at the European Space Data Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

She moved to Oxfordshire in 1982 to work in health service research, doing data analysis on mental and physical health records, leukaemia and in her last job on problems faced by premature babies and was always interested in traffic problems.

Jean was a school governor since 1992 and involved with the Cutteslowe Community Association, Wolvercote Young People’s Club, North Oxford Associations, Neighbourhood Forums and many other groups. She was a strong advocate of ethical and environmental issues. Until recently Jean was part of the city’s twinning link with Bonn in Germany.

Her most recent efforts saw the installation of new play facilities, helped keep the community association funded, set up a community bus service after some routes were cut and saved the local children’s centre from closure.                                                                   

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Jean was a determined and hardworking councillor with a very strong sense of public duty who served the city since the early 1990s. She had a strong and forthright character and was regarded with great respect by all who knew her. Even though she had recently moved to be near her family, Jean was very much part of Oxford. She left an indelible mark on our city and will be missed. I am very sad that Jean was not well enough to join us at the ceremony to make her an Alderman, marking her contribution to our city earlier this week. I am, however, very grateful to former councillor Stephen Brown for standing in for her at the ceremony and then taking the presentation to her.” 

Councillor Andrew Gant, Leader of the Opposition, said “I learnt so much from Jean. Her capacity for hard work, clear sense of principle, depth of knowledge and above all her care and compassion for people were simply inspiring. She brought real personal bravery to her work, both in the way personal circumstances inspired her desire to help other people, and in standing up to criticism when she knew she was right (which she usually was). When she became Lord Mayor she said “it has been wonderful over the years to be able to do my small part… Sometimes you can help by just knowing the right person to talk to,.. There are so many lovely people in Cutteslowe. I tend to see them every year when I go door-knocking and remember things we’ve been through together – and this year I realised just how long I really have known some of them.” That remains her legacy. Jean was a wonderful colleague and councillor, and we will miss her.”