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Tributes paid to former Stratford District Council leader Les Topham

Tributes are being paid to Stratford District Council’s former leader Les Topham following his death this week.

Les Topham (44272103)
Les Topham (44272103)

Les, who was leader from 2005 to 2010, died on Tuesday (2nd February).

A Conservative, he served the residents of Sambourne as their district councillor from 1996 to 2010 and was also Chairman of the District Council between 2001 and 2002.

Les took over the Leadership of the Council in 2005, following the resignation of Chris Saint and helped drive improvements across the Council. This included the rating of ‘Good’ for the Council Comprehensive Performance Assessment from the Audit Commission in 2007.

A larger-than-life character, Les was also the driving force behind the World Class Stratford project a multi-million pound development of the Waterfront in Stratford.

Always very proud of the district, he also once rigorously defended a stinging attack on the character of town from Germaine Greer in 2007 as ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’.

Les was born in Birmingham and he spent most of his career at British Leyland, before running his own successful garden centre in Mappleborough Green near Studley.

Married to Gill, he included collecting Jaguar cars, playing the piano and organ as his hobbies.

Cllr Tony Dixon, chairman of Stratford District Council said: “I joined the Council 12 months after Les and worked with him until we both stood down in 2010. Les enjoyed being in the centre but would sometimes comment that he never really wanted to be the leader, somewhat uncomfortable with speeches his emotions could take over and I do recall tears being shed.

“He was rightly proud of his achievements and of our district and during his year as our Chairman took the opportunity, at his own expense, to visit America and publicise the delights of our district. The downside was that his visit coincided with 9/11. Our thoughts at this time are with Gill, his family, and their many friends.”

The District Council expresses its sincere condolences to his wife Gill and all their family and friends.

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