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BIRMINGHAM: ‘Towering figure’ of city politics honoured

BIRMINGHAM: ‘Towering figure’ of city politics honoured

Former deputy council leader Andy Howell.

Tributes have been paid to an “irreplaceable” former Birmingham City Council deputy leader and Labour stalwart who has died.

Andy Howell was a former Labour councillor for Moseley who was deputy leader of the council under Sir Albert Bore (Lab, Ladywood) between 1999 and 2003.

The honorary alderman of the council passed away at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham after a short illness.

Mr Howell served as a councillor between May 1991 and May 2003, with other responsibilities including serving as chair of the education committee.

Serving councillors have recounted stories of how he has continued to help and mentor until very recently, while city MP’s highlighted his work “combating the abuse by bad landlords”.

Mr Howell’s wife Kate Foley, director of housing at the Pioneer Group, said: “Andy was Birmingham to his core although he also had a huge love of the hills and the great outdoors.

“He touched many lives across his wide range of interests including the arts, charitable and education sectors as well of course as the politics of the city.

“We are stunned at his passing and we know many people are deeply saddened.”

Council leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) tweeted he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of the death of Mr Howell, son of former MP Denis Howell.

Cllr Ward said: “Shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Honorary Alderman Andy Howell after a short illness.

“A good Labour man who was committed to the people of Birmingham. My thoughts and condolences with his family at this very sad time. RIP.”

Deputy leader Brigid Jones (Lab, Bournbrook and Selly Park) said: “Shocked and so very sorry that former Birmingham City Council deputy leader Andrew Howell has left us so suddenly.

“My inbox and Twitter are awash with tributes to him.”

A number of Birmingham’s MPs honoured Mr Howell with tributes, with Jess Phillips MP, MP for Birmingham Yardley, posting: “If you grew up in the Birmingham Labour Party he was a permanent feature. Very sad news.”

Jack Dromey MP, MP for Birmingham Erdington, tweeted: “Andrew Howell was a towering figure in Birmingham for a generation.

“From his service to the people of our city on Birmingham City Council to combating the abuse by bad landlords of exempt accommodation, he was an inspiration and a joy to work with. RIP Andy.”

Speaking on behalf of the Labour group, Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Muhammad Afzal said: “I am incredibly sad to hear the news of the passing of former councillor and Honorary Alderman Andy Howell.

“Andy was passionate about Birmingham and its residents and he will be very much missed by all who knew him. Sincere condolences to Andy’s family at this sad time.”

The Local Government Association Labour Group also paid tribute, tweeting: “All of us at LGA Labour are saddened to learn of the death of Andy Howell.

“Andy was a former deputy leader of Birmingham City Council and we know many of you will be shocked and saddened as well. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Respect for Mr Howell also came from other sides of the political spectrum, with Conservative group leader Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) tweeting: “Sorry to hear Honorary Alderman Andy Howell has passed away. Thoughts and prayers with his family.”

Paul Dale, former public affairs editor of the Birmingham Post praised Mr Howell’s tireless work for the Labour party.

He said: “Andy Howell was quite simply one of the most influential and highly regarded Birmingham Labour party figures of the modern era.

“Son of former MP Denis Howell, he was born into the Labour tribe and worked tirelessly for the party over 40-odd years, serving as a councillor, education committee chairman and former deputy leader of the city council.

“His networking locally and nationally was second to none. Andy knew everyone worth knowing at Labour, trade union and local government level, and could also count as friends a fair few members of other political parties.

“He loved life, loved to gossip about politics over a pint or two, and crucially was one of few Birmingham politicians of his generation to regard the media as useful and to go out of his way to cultivate contacts among political reporters.

“He will be sadly missed by so many, and is of course totally irreplaceable.”

Mr Howell is survived by Kate and son Kieran. Ms Foley has said anyone wanting information about funeral arrangements can contact her at: kate.foley@mac.com

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter


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