Sir Simon Milton was ‘the best leader Westminster ever had’
Friends and colleagues pay respect to the man who ran the council with distinction
Tributes have been paid to Sir Simon Milton, a former leader of Westminster Council for eight years, who died on Monday aged 49.
Sir Simon served the borough for 20 years in total, first elected as a councillor in 1988 before he became leader in 2000. He resigned in 2008 to work alongside Boris Johnson in the Mayor of London’s office as Deputy Mayor for policy and planning.
His death in hospital after a short illness sees him leave behind his long-term partner Robert Davis, Westminster Council’s current deputy leader, with whom he entered into a civil partnership in 2007.
Cllr Colin Barrow, council leader, said: “Simon lived a full life in fewer years than he deserved to enjoy. His role in London government, in the Conservative Party and the Local Government Association made him one of the leading Conservative politicians of his generation.
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“He led this council with great distinction for eight years and I have always felt honoured to follow him as leader and implement many of the policies he initiated.
“His work as the leader of our city council – for the people of Westminster – will mean he will retain an enduring place in our respect and affection across the city. Our thoughts are with his partner Robert and their family.”
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Sir Simon, who was once a close colleague of disgraced Westminster leader Dame Shirley Porter, survived the home-for-votes scandal to receive a knighthood for services to local government in January 2006. He was also elected chairman of the Local Government Association in 2007.
Mayor Boris Johnson described Sir Simon as “a wonderful colleague and friend”.
“He was kind, he was decent, and he was universally acknowledged to be brilliant at his job,” he said.
“He was a widely admired leader of Westminster Council, who played a key role in launching the first academy schools. He brought the same calm, logic and warmth to his role at City Hall.
“It is a great shock that Simon has been taken from us when he had so much still to offer.”
Mark Field, Cities of London and Westminster MP, said: “It has been my enormous good fortune to be the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster during part of Sir Simon Milton’s inspiring leadership of Westminster City Council, making it accepted as one of the leading councils in the country.
“Let no one be in any doubt that Simon is leaving behind a huge creative legacy in local government which is unsurpassed in my opinion in recent times.”
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the opposition Labour party in Westminster described Sir Simon as “the best leader that Westminster council has ever had” and “the most formidable political opponent”. “He understood local government, he was an expert political manager and it was no surprise when he was asked to organise Boris Johnson’s Mayoral office in 2008,” he said.
“His death will leave a big hole in London government. We send our sincere condolences to Robert Davis and the rest of Simon’s family.”
Westminster Council has opened a book of condolence in the lobby of its main office in Victoria.