Tributes paid to former Hastings councillor, Mike Howard

Tributes have been paid to a former Hastings councillor, who has died.

Mike Howard SUS-211130-095938001
Mike Howard SUS-211130-095938001

Mike Howard, who was elected to represent West St Leonards ward on Hastings Borough Council in 2012, passed away aged 69 on November 11 with his wife and son at his side.

The Labour councillor was remembered for ‘vigorously’ taking on local residents’ issues and supporting a number of campaigns, Hastings and Rye Labour Party said.

In 2018 Mike he stood down to care for his wife, Dee.

Paying tribute, former mayor Nigel Sinden said: “I joined the council at the same time as Mike and right from the start we became friends.

“He had a really good sense of humour and was a very down to earth councillor. They still talk about him in West St Leonards. They still miss Mike.”

Cllr Sinden said he remembers Mike setting up a children’s playground by Skinners Sheds, just one of a number of local initiatives.

He said: “What he did, he did well.”

Former council leader, Peter Chowney, said: “Mike was a good comrade, and a very good local councillor – the only Labour councillor to successfully defend West St Leonards ward. We shall miss him.”

Mike also found time to be a member of Hastings Borough Bonfire Society and Old Hastings Preservation Society.

He was also keen on the cultural life of the town, and embraced the town’s traditions such as Jack in the Green, Hastings and Rye Labour Party said.

Mike was born in Hackney in 1952 to socialist parents whose families had fled from the threat of pogroms in Lithuania and Poland.

After graduating from Newcastle University, he spent some years in the north east, then moved to London continuing his work as a librarian.

He was active in the Labour Party Young Socialists in the 1970s and it was there that he met his wife Dee.

Mike became stepfather to Dee’s daughter Jenny and they had a son, Robin together.

As a chartered librarian, he worked in public, school and university libraries until taking early retirement.

He progressed to senior management positions, while all the while taking on the concerns of colleagues as a shop steward and later convenor for his union, NALGO, and later Unison.

Fellow trade unionist Simon Hester, a member of Unite, said: “I only got to know Mike over the past year but, it’s strange, it feels like I knew him a lot longer. He was such a friendly and welcoming comrade.”

Friend and former councillor Leah Levane, said: “Many in the party have commented on how friendly he was. It was Mike who welcomed young people, made sure they were invited to the pub after meetings. Several have said that they learned so much from him.”

Mike is survived by his wife Dee, son Robin and stepdaughter Jenny.

His funeral is being held today (Tuesday, November 30) Hastings Cemetery and Crematorium.

Those wishing to pay their respects to Mike are invited to contribute to Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, donations can be made directly or via Towners Funeral Directors 2-4 Norman Road.