Friends say goodbye to country’s longest serving councillor

TOP political figures gathered to pay their respects to legendary politician, Camden Councillor Roy Shaw

Katie Davies

TOP political figures gathered to pay their respects to legendary politician, Camden Councillor Roy Shaw.

A Labour councillor for Hav-erstock until he was forced to resign due to ill health last year, Roy Shaw OBE served the council for 52 uninterrupted years - a national record.

At his funeral last Friday, the great and the good from the local community and the Labour party spoke in his honour. Tessa Jowell, Dame Jane Roberts, Lord Tony Clarke and a representative on behalf of the Prime Minister were just some of the leading figures to attend Golders Green crematorium, as well as scores of friends, family and colleagues.

The Prime Minister was unable to attend in person because he was in China, but in a speech he paid tribute to Councillor Shaw's "extraordinary impact".

"Roy Shaw had one of the most remarkable careers in local government, serving half of the Labour Party's life," Dr Dianne Hayter, chairwoman of the party's National Executive read, on Gordon Brown's behalf.

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"His dedication to people and the party in the Camden borough never wavered. His example is one to be admired but his loss is one to be mourned."

Tessa Jowell, a close friend of Cllr Shaw who also sat on the council from 1971 until 1986, emotionally directed her words to him.

"I remember when I first met you," she said, "I was a young Camden Councillor elected by mistake to the seat. I was told Labour had never won and would never win.

"I was so proud to serve with you in Camden, Roy. I remember the night when Camden Council decided to set a rate and there was a riot in the town hall about it.

"I sat behind you that evening. I will never forget as people shouted and abused you and you sat there solid as a rock. That courage in progressive politics is something I have learnt from you."

Cllr Shaw was elected to the Metropolitan Borough of Hampstead in 1956, St Pancras Council in 1962 and then Camden Council in 1965.

He was council leader in 1975 and in the 80s supported the moderate Labour Solidarity Campaign.

He also played a key role in the formation of the Audit Commission and from the mid-90s sat on the London Fire and Civil Defence Au-thority. Last year he was made the council's first honorary alderman.

Cllr Shaw's personal character outside of political life was also acknowledged at the service. His much-loved opera punctuated the ceremony and anecdotes were exchanged about 'Roy the ladies man', who described his recreational activities in his Who's Who entry as "entertaining attractive women."

John Langman from Kentish Town City Farm said: "He was a man who could be approached, always willing to listen, but didn't suffer fools. He would sit in the [Sir Robert] Peel pub with his pipe and a crossword and if people needed to speak to him out came the notebook.

"A number of people I know are grateful for the help he gave them."

His sister Pamela told the Ham&High how honoured she was by the tributes to her brother.

"It was a beautiful service and I could see Roy grinning at it," she said. "The most important thing is that all these people were Roy's friends. I am not political so I didn't really know that side to Roy. He was just my brother and I will miss him."