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Anita was a great leader, a passionate ambassador for Newcastle; WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR HER 'ABSOLUTE DEDICATION'.

Byline: Ian Johnson Reporter email

A LONG-standing Newcastle councillor who displayed a "great commitment" to the city has died at the age of 63.

Liberal Democrat Anita Lower had served as a councillor for a quarter of a century, and only last month was unanimously elected as the city's Sheriff and Deputy Lord Mayor.

Her death, following a short illness, was announced by the party yesterday. A spokesperson confirmed it was not Covid-related.

Tributes from now poured in for a politician who broke down barriers locally, and whose contribution to the city "will be ever remembered".

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Newcastle, Nick Cott, said: "She will be sorely missed by many in local government, in Newcastle and further afield, and by her constituents who she has served with great commitment over many years.

"She will be missed incredibly by her council colleagues and the Liberal Democrat family here in Newcastle. Anita was one of our own and losing someone so close as Anita is incredibly hard.

"Anita's depth of knowledge, wise advice, friendship, appetite for hard work, and absolute dedication to local government, will be ever remembered.

"Our thoughts go out to all Anita's family and friends, particularly Phil, her devoted husband and her son Andy and daughter Ellie."

First elected onto Newcastle City Council in 1996, she represented the Blakelaw ward until 2004. Since them, she served the Castle ward until her passing. A key figure within the local party, she repeatedly made history as the first female to hold top council posts in the city.

In 2011, when the Lib Dems ran the council, she was the first female deputy leader. Two years later, she became the first leader of the opposition.

"Anita was a great leader, a passionate ambassador for Newcastle and someone who commanded the respect of officers and politicians from all sides of the chamber," said Newcastle City Council leader, Labour's Nick Forbes.

"She gave 25 years distinguished service to the city and was a formidable opponent, but always constructive and someone whose company I always enjoyed.

"I will remember Anita as a warm person, with a great sense of humour and someone who always represented the interests of her constituents.

"My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at this sad time."

It was only last year that she stepped down from her role as leader of the opposition, stating how she wanted "the younger generation to take over and move us forward".

Her death has been met with sadness throughout the party, with fellow officials paying tributes.

London-based community campaigner Terry Stacy MBE tweeted a picture of him with Anita, adding: "You will be missed by us all, a true friend and a true Liberal."

Flags at the Civic Centre will be flown at half-mast on Saturday in tribute to Coun Lower.

Lord Mayor Habib Rahman said: "I am shocked and devastated by this very sad news and at the loss of someone who I had come to regard as a dear friend.

"Anita was a real champion of Newcastle and a source of support and inspiration to me. I held Anita in high regard and, as the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, was looking forward to fulfilling my duties alongside her as the Sheriff and Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

"My deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with her husband Phil and all their family."

Nationally, her work at the Local Government Association won her recognition in national circles while she held national positions within the Liberal Democrats as a member of the party's Federal Board and as Vice- Chair of Campaigns at the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners.

Locally, she was also the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary candidate for Newcastle North in both the 2015 and 2017 elections.

The impact of her work for all communities in Newcastle was recognised in 2020 when a room in the new Arches Reception at the Civic Centre was named in her honour.

Coun Lower also represented Newcastle on the national political stage through her work with the Local Government Association.

She chaired several key committees with the City Council including chairing

Overview and Scrutiny Committee, sitting on Licencing Committee and Cabinet.

Council Chief Executive, Pat Ritchie, added: "My heart goes out to Anita's family and friends at this sad time.

"Anita was highly respected by everyone at the city council, she leaves an incredible legacy and lasting contribution to our city. She was a great character and was wonderful company both socially and during council business.

"Her unwavering passion for her community did not stop throughout the pandemic and she continued to work tirelessly to support everyone impacted.

"She will be sorely missed by all of us at the council and in the community she represented."

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Author:Ian Johnson Reporter email
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Jul 4, 2021
Words:807
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