Statements on the passing of Lord Peter Smith

Statement from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lord Peter Smith.

"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."

Statement from Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)

“The news of the passing of Lord Peter Smith, former Leader of Wigan Council, is very sad indeed. My thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time.

“Peter was a hardworking and dedicated public servant who has left an indelible mark on Wigan and Greater Manchester. He was an influential voice as Chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) from 1986 and instrumental in originating and delivering GMCA, including as Chair between 2011 and 2015, at a time when the devolution of powers to Greater Manchester was a significant political achievement.

“He served with distinction as Chair of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, a role to which he was ideally suited given he cared deeply about the health and wellbeing of our city-region’s residents.

“Peter was Leader of Wigan Council for 27 years – when he stood down from the role in May 2018 he was the longest serving council leader in Greater Manchester. That alone shows his dedication to local Government and public service, and his enduring commitment to his borough. He will be greatly missed.”

Article Published: 03/08/2021 17:23 PM