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Tributes after former councillor Leila Roy passes away

'Our community has lost a great lady'

27 February, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Leila Roy with Claire-Louise Leyland, in a photo shared by the former group leader this morning

TRIBUTES have been paid to former councillor Leila Roy – the first black woman to represent the Tories at the Town Hall – after she passed away from a heart condition last night (Friday).

She had sat on the opposition benches between 2014 and 2018, just missing out on re-election by nine votes three years ago.

The leader of the Conservatives for most of this period, Claire-Louise Leyland, tweeted this morning: “Thinking of you Leila Roy. You brought such passion and energy to every single thing you did, regardless of how it hard it was for you. An amazing mum, caring friend, caretaker of bees, chickens and bountiful crops of veggies, a tireless campaigner and above all, such a good person.”

The current leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “Leila threw herself into everything she did. Helping Belsize and Chalcots residents. Supporting democracy in Africa. Raising the most brilliant and caring son. Ensuring thousands received remote lessons last summer. A force of nature who will be sorely missed by so many.”

In Manchester for the Conservative party conference in 2019 with another former Camden councillor Don Williams

Ms Roy, 39, blamed her exit from the council not on local issues but the wider Brexit divisions – she herself had supported Remain – and carried on campaigning in the area after her time at the Town Hall.

“For the first time in four years, I’ve slept eight hours,” she said after the 2018 elections. “They won’t get rid of me that easily and I’ll still be around but now I get to spend time with my son, and be around for him for the last years of him being a child.”

Celebrating her election with fellow Conservative candidate Jonny Bucknell

Her teenage son, Anton, was never far from her side and excelled at his studies while helping his mother out with her activities – including her beloved garden in Gospel Oak.

She had not contracted Covid-19 but had suffered from a heart condition.

Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Simon, one of the members now representing the split Belsize ward, said: “Very sad news. Leila was a real community champion, particularly for the Chalcots Estate following the evacuation.”

Ms Roy’s death was announced on social media by Belsize community campaigner Linda Grove, who said “our community has lost a great lady”.

Green Party councillor Sian Berry said: “Leila was absolutely lovely always to me. Even when we disagreed on policy she debated with good humour and passion. And she was phenomenal during the Chalcots evacuation. A real loss to Camden.”

Labour councillor Richard Cotton said: “I first met Leila when she was the Conservative candidate at a council by-election in March 2013. We spent a couple of hours taking (and swapping) numbers at the Polling Station at Gospel Oak School and we forged an immediate connection because my late mother is buried in France. At that first meeting I was struck by Leila’s warmth, friendliness and joie de vivre.”

He added: “Later we were both members of the Housing Scrutiny Committee and I was always impressed by her commitment and the force of her arguments, which were never personal. She was genuinely popular with councillors in all parties because she truly cared about everybody.”

Siobhan Baillie, the MP for Stroud who served on the council with Ms Roy, said: “I still can’t process this awful news. It’s so sad and devastating for Leila’s son to lose his vibrant mum so young. Thoughts and prayers with him and her family.”

A full statement from the Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Association said: “There is something so cruel when a young life with so much to give is cut short. This is no more true than in the case of our former Council colleague, our friend and community champion Leila Roy.

“Leila was a vibrant soul, one who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. She was full of joy and ready to help out, no matter what the problem was. She was a fearless defender of the local community in her ward of Belsize, fighting injustices and challenging authority whenever it was needed.

“Her death – at such a young age – will deprive Camden of one of its strongest voices, one of its most determined campaigners and certainly one of its most popular community leaders. This is a loss not just to the Conservative Party but to us all. But let us not forgot she was also mother to a wonderful young man – Anton – and our thoughts at this time must be with him and her family.

It added: “Passionate, determined and a fierce voice for our community, Leila represented the best of us.”

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