Tributes paid after death of 1970s leader of Islington Council
PUBLISHED: 11:20 13 July 2011
»Tributes have been paid to the man who led Islington Council for most of the 1970s after he died last week.
Gerry Southgate, who died aged 81 last Thursday, led the Labour council from 1971 to 1981 before he defected to the Social Democratic Party.
He had been battling ill health for around three years and was living in Highgate Nursing Home in Hornsey Lane, Archway, towards the end of his life.
Friends, colleagues and the former editor of the Gazette remembered him as a gentleman who was well-liked and highly respected.
David Hyams, who worked alongside Mr Southgate as a councillor, said: “He led the council and Labour very well through difficult times.
“There was a degree of calmness about him and the way he thought through problems. He was a gentleman and a great friend.”
He added that Mr Southgate steered Islington through some major changes, including the revitalisation of the Angel and Nag’s Head.
He was later part of a group of Labour councillors who joined the SDP when they felt the party had moved too far to the left.
Former Islington mayor Joe Trotter said: “He was not one of those for shouting and hollering – he was a quiet, unassuming man and he was very well-liked.”
Mr Southgate worked as office manager at Bindmans, a firm of solicitors in King’s Cross. He represented Clerkenwell ward, where he lived in St John Street before later moving to Widdenham Road in Holloway. He twice stood for Parliament before becoming a councillor.
Tony Allcock, who retired as editor of the Gazette in March after taking up the post in the mid-1970s, said: “Gerry Southgate was a politician of great integrity who gave many, many years of outstanding service to the council and the people of Islington.
“He served on the council during turbulent times when the Labour Party and the newly-formed SDP were at loggerheads over its control and he always retained his dignity and calm authority and was a very intelligent and courageous politician.”
“Personally, I admired his honesty and no-nonsense style of politics. There was no showboating and posturing with Gerry and he stuck to his principles.”
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