Tributes have been paid to a “devoted” and “passionate” district and town councillor after she passed away suddenly last week.
Jolanta Lis was a serving councillor for Cherwell District Council’s Bicester West ward and Bicester Town Council’s Central ward when she passed away on Friday, 13 April.
Cllr Lis, who was the current vice-chairman of Cherwell District Council and former mayor for Bicester Town Council, had devoted many years to serving her community as a councillor whilst also holding voluntary positions on local organisations.
Yvonne Rees, chief executive for Cherwell District Council, said: “It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Jolanta Lis; a lady who was truly dedicated to the community in which she lived and passionate about the issues facing Bicester and Cherwell as a whole. Although she was only elected to the district council two years ago, she had already been bestowed the honour of our vice-chairman which is reflective of the respect she had gained amongst her peers for her devotion to the local area.”
Cllr Lis was elected as Bicester town councillor for the Conservative party in 2011 and in 2016/ 2017 she took on the honour of mayor.
In 2016, she expanded her political role when she was elected as a councillor for the Bicester West ward on Cherwell District Council – a seat she was planning to defend at the upcoming elections on 3 May.
Cllr Barry Wood, the Conservative leader for Cherwell District Council, said: “Nothing can convey the feelings of loss at the sudden passing of such a staunch councillor, kind-hearted person and wonderful friend. Jolanta dedicated so much of her life to Bicester and actively worked to make life the best it could be for residents through her work in local government and community organisations. Everything she did, she did for others; no thanks were sought or praise required. No amount of words could do justice to the work she has done over the years but the devastation that is being felt by all who knew her is a true testament to the fantastic lady she was and the hole she has left behind.”
In addition to her role on the district and town councils, Cllr Lis was also a governor at Bardwell School and a member of the Oxfordshire Schools Forum and Bicester Children’s Centres Advisory Board.
She also held a trustee position for Citizens Advice Bicester, was a member of the Bicester and District Twinning Association and an assistant district governor at Rotary through her membership of Bicester Rotary Club.
Cllr Sean Woodcock, leader of the Labour group at Cherwell District Council, said: “I was very sad to hear of the death of Councillor Lis. She was well-respected across the chamber for her kindness and sincerity towards whoever she interacted with. Her contributions at the council and in committee were always thoughtful and considered. She was very passionate about this area and its residents. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”
Following the news of her passing, flags are being flown at half-mast at Cherwell District Council’s offices at Bodicote House and a book of condolence has been opened at Bicester Town Council’s offices in Garth Park. This will be available for the public to sign between 9am and 5pm Monday – Thursday and until 4pm on Friday until the day after Cllr Lis’ funeral, details of which have yet to be confirmed.
A minute’s silence in memory of Cllr Lis will be held at council’s annual council meeting on 15 May and also at the elections count on Friday, 4 May at Spiceball Leisure Centre in Banbury.
Cllr Les Sibley, leader of the Independent group at Cherwell District Council, said: “Our condolences and prayers to the family, friends and colleagues at the sad passing of former Bicester Town Mayor, Cllr Jolanta Lis. She was a hard working local councillor and representative who proved to be a great ambassador during her term of office as Mayor of Bicester and vice-chairman of Cherwell District Council. Jolanta will be sorely missed by all of those who knew her.”
As Cllr Lis was a candidate in the 3 May local elections, the election for the Bicester West ward of Cherwell District Council will be postponed until 21 June. A by-election for Cllr Lis’ seat on Bicester Town Council will also take place.
Letters are currently being sent to all households in the Bicester West ward to notify them of the change to this election date.
All other scheduled elections for Cherwell District Council will continue on 3 May as planned.
Cllr Maurice Billington, chairman of Cherwell District Council, said: “Cllr Lis was one of the nicest people I had ever met and was highly thought of at the council and within the community. From a personal perspective, she was incredibly helpful and supportive in my role as chairman and I had been looking forward to passing the chains over to her. We had formed a close relationship over the years and I really will miss her terribly.”