Sir Jeremy My Pal: PM; GORDON BROWN'S TRIBUTE AS COUNCILLOR LEAVES THE LGA

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

FOR decades he's been at the heart of local government.

But Sir Jeremy Beecham has announced he will not seek re-election as leader of the Labour group within the Local Government Association, sparking tributes from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Sir Jeremy, 65, helped establish the LGA and was its chair between 1997 and 2004.

He is considered a close friend of Mr Brown, who hailed the Benwell councillor's achievements.

He said: "I want to pay tribute to Jeremy and all he has done as the leader of the LGA Labour Group and as Chair of the LGA between 1997 and 2004. Jeremy's leadership helped found the LGA, so that all sectors of local Government could work together.

"His determination and drive placed the LGA at the forefront of many important policy debates, such as urban regeneration and free local bus travel for elderly and disabled people.

"Jeremy is also a muchrespected member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee representing and standing up for Labour councillors and local government issues.

"He chaired the NEC brilliantly for a year and I know he will remain an active member of the Labour Party, not least as a councillor in Newcastle.

"He is a good friend and when he steps down the NEC will miss his judgement, expertise and wit - I am glad that in the meantime we will continue to draw upon these assets during a critically important General Election. …