Greater Manchester Mayor 'deeply saddened' by death of Wigan's ex-council leader

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has paid tribute to Wigan Council's former leader Lord Peter Smith, describing him as "utterly dedicated" to the borough and its people.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 12:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 12:42 pm
Andy Burnham and Lord Peter Smith at Wigan Infirmary in 2017

Andy Burnham, who was previously MP for Leigh, worked closely with Lord Smith during his long tenure at the council, as well as in the various roles he had within Greater Manchester.

He has now added his voice to the many political figures paying tribute to Lord Smith following his death at the age of 76.

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"Peter was one of a small number of people who built Greater Manchester into what it is today and, as such, helped lay the foundations for the devolution that we see across the rest of England. He helped lead English local government out of the wilderness years and was truly one of its towering figures.

"I saw first-hand Peter’s determination to lift the communities of a Wigan borough ravaged by the 1980s. As a local son, he was utterly dedicated to this place and to its people. He brought in thousands of new jobs and millions of pounds of new investment whilst at the same time overseeing one of the best-run councils in the country. Very few politicians manage that. It was his combination of intellect and passion which made Peter such a formidable force and so widely respected.

"It is painfully fitting that, at the moment we heard of Peter’s sad death, we were celebrating the silver medal for Keely Hodgkinson, a local athlete who trained on the outstanding Leigh Harriers facilities which Peter was instrumental in building at the Leigh Sports Village. It confirms how lives have been changed by Peter’s love for sport, and for his home town of Leigh, and is proof of the legacy he leaves.

"On a personal level, Peter and I began a journey together 20 years ago in which we sought to change the fortunes of our borough and the North as a whole. I have learnt so much from Peter and, whilst we had our differences along the way, we also achieved a lot together and I will always be proud of our partnership. Peter was always a source of wise advice and loyal support and I will miss him greatly.

"I know that Peter’s passing will leave an unfillable hole in many people’s lives but no one more so than Joy and Anna. I send my love to them, and all of Peter’s family and many friends, and I hope that in time they will be comforted by a lifetime of achievement and incredible service to others."

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