Bicester’s hospital campaigner - Les Sibley - becomes Chairman of the County Council
Almost a quarter of a century of service as a councillor in Bicester by Les Sibley has culminated in him taking on the important role of Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council.
It was in May 1995 that Councillor Sibley was first elected to Bicester Town Council and Cherwell District Council having lived in the town for over forty years.
Les has seen many changes in Bicester and Oxfordshire as a whole since those days. The town of Bicester has grown considerably since he was first elected to the county council in 2001.
He’s best known to the people of the town for leading the campaign to secure a new 12 bed Community Hospital for Bicester - the first new hospital to be built in Oxfordshire for over 40 years! Les also organises and sponsors the popular annual gardening competition, which has been held in the town throughout the summer months for the past 21 years.
Les worked for the Ministry of Defence in Bicester for over 30 years until taking early retirement in 2013. He and his wife have brought up two daughters in the town
He said: "back in 1995 I wanted to do more in our local community and I was asked to get involved and stand for election. I haven’t look back since!
“When I was elected to the county council in 2001 I became Chairman of the Environmental Committee. I’ve served on the Bicester Town Council and Cherwell District Council throughout the time since 1995 and became a county councillor again in 2013.
“During the last year I’ve served as the Vice-Chairman of the county council and now have a real insight as to what is involved.”
The Chairman is the ceremonial head of Oxfordshire County Council. He or she is the politically impartial civic leader of Oxfordshire and acts as an ambassador for the county council and Oxfordshire. Key responsibilities include presiding over meetings of the 63 county councillors, accepting invitations on behalf of the County Council to attend events and inviting individuals and representatives of key organisations to events at County Hall and other venues.
It's a busy role and Les will have more difficulty this year than in most to fit in his interests of playing golf, watching all sports on TV from the comfort of his armchair, gardening and following the Formula One season – in past years he and his family have been able to travel abroad for a few days to watch the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. His ambition is to get to be able to find the time one year to visit the Monaco Grand Prix.
He said: “Having been Vice-Chairman I know what is expected in the role of Chairman and I am looking forward to visiting as much of Oxfordshire as I can and representing the council.”
“As with all previous Chairmen and women of the council I will be raising money for local charities throughout the year. It really is a fantastic privilege and honour to be elected to this role and I will do my utmost to serve the council and residents of Oxfordshire in the best way I can. I am even looking forward to the challenge of being chairman of the full council meetings!”
Les was formally elected to the role at the full council meeting at County Hall in Oxford on May 21. The new Vice-Chairman of the county council will be County Councillor John Howson who represents the St Margaret's Division in Oxford.