Reading-based readers of this blog may well remember Dave, who was a friend of mine for many years, and who was a fellow ward councillor for several of those years. Dave was Mayor of Reading twice - the first time at the instigation of myself and significant other, who sat him down in the pub and told him he was the best person for the job. And a great Mayor he was. There were those in the Reading Labour Group at the time who wanted as Mayor the useless Ceinwen Williams, the councillor who very nearly got the Reading Festinal closed down by her incompetence in dealing with the police as lead councillor for Licensing. Fortunately it soon emerged thatr the hapless Williams (now mercifully forgotten by most) and her handler Josephine Lovelock did not have the support they needed, and Reading got the Mayor it deserved. Dave was a kind man, a funny man, and a Christian Socialist with an unshakable sense of honour. There should be more like him in politics. When there was a plan (before ,my time as a councillor) to build a Tesco on green land, and councillors in the controlling Labour Group were informed that if they voted against it they could be personally surcharged, Dave's was the only hand which went up to vote No. Dave was one of the Cross Town Route Five (which included me) who voted against the dirty deal brokered by Martin Salter (later MP for Reading West) and Tony Page (later defeated candidate for Reading East) to permit the construction of a dual carriageway on the Thames and Kennet riverside. This infamous and wrongheaded plan was ultimately turned down in 1993 by the then Secretary of State, John Gummer. Support for it remains Reading Labour Group policy.
Dave had been ill for some time, and died last week at the age of 72. I am sorry he is gone. He was a man who made many friends and who kept those friends. He was a man of decency and honour, and plentiful wisdom for those who knew how to listen. He was bullied in the Labour Group by Josephine Lovelock, and I will never forget thatr he was one of the very few who spoke up for me when I suffered similar treatment, with accompanying briefings to the Guardian Diary. I lnew some of Dave's family too, and I will also never forget the funeral of his mother Frances. She had been a Spiritualist, and I can tell you that Spiritualists have the happiest funerals. They know they are going to see each other soon, on the other side. But the family was stalked at the time of Frances' death by Martin Salter, then an MP but not Frances' MP, who told other family members that Frances had wanted him to speak at her funeral. Dave knew that was rubbish, and told me so, but other family members did not know, and Dave stayed quiet for the sake of family peace. I hope Salter is proud of himself for that.
Thank you Dave for being a friend and for giving me the privilege of working with you, and learning from you, as a ward councillor. I hope you get the civic farewell you should get, and that the members of the Labour Group who treated you and others sso aboinably findd a path to penitence at last.