Long standing parish councillor and chair Gordon Roper has recently passed the baton. As recognition of his years of service to the Leys, he has been awarded a Special Certificate of Merit by the office of Oxford City Council. The ceremony took place in the Lord Mayor’s parlour at the Town Hall amongst friends, family and colleagues.
On receiving the award Gordon said “This award is for my wife Sue as much as it is for me. She’s had to put up with my coming home and going on about this and that, I couldn’t have done half of what I’ve done without her.”
Gordon’s collection of newspaper clippings detailing his many campaigns and achievements is both extensive and impressive, and it’s difficult to select the most prescient. Gordon’s own selection cites the relocation of the skate park, after the site was sold to the co-op, as an achievement in which he is very proud.
“Originally they were going to put it in Blackbird Leys park, but I said, “Well hang on”, because of the noise, and possibly there was going to be a congregation of children, and where they were going to put it was near housing. I suggested they put it in Fry’s hill, they’ve got nothing over there and there’s hard standing already. … It wasn’t as big as we were hoping it was going to be. I went over 2 or 3 times to ask the kids, “Is it adequate?” They said they needed more equipment including a rail and a block, so we got it for them”.
Gordon also includes the closure of the alley way on Windale avenue as an achievement marking the acme of his parish council career, which Highlights his ambition for the Leys to be a safe and peaceful community.
“There was drug dealing in the alley way. Residents were concerned. First the County Council said it was originally a bridal path and couldn’t be closed because horses wouldn’t be able to come down it. That’s ridiculous, so I kept trying and in the end they closed it.”
From his start on the then neighbourhood council in the 1970s, Gordon attributes his many successful Leys campaigns to his persistence, “I don’t give up, I just keep going, until either I’ve worn them down or they’ve worn me down”.
“I have good working relationships with all the city councillors and the majority of the officers, this is how to get things done on the parish council”,
“I’ve learned what you can do, what you can’t do, how hard to push, when to draw the line. This helped me immensely”.
Despite many years of diligence, it seems a man’s hard work is never done, and there are projects Gordon regrets having to leave unfinished. Among these, is the ongoing parking situation at the junction of Balfour and Blackbird Leys roads, and the purchase and siting of two speed alerting and monitoring signs. Yet the aspiration closest to his heart reflects his steadfast dedication to the Leys and the parish council, he said “I only wish that people from Greater Leys would get more involved with the parish council because it’s for all of us.”
Here’s a link to one of his newspaper clippings: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16185633.end-of-an-era-blackbird-leys-council-chief-bows-out-after-two-decades/