Tributes to 'passionate' former council leader and Sheffield journalist

Many have shared their fond memories of Mike Bower, a ‘passionate’ former Sheffield Telegraph journalist and Sheffield Council leader, who died last week aged 77 after a long illness.

Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 3:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 11:01 am

Mike trained as a civil engineer and his first job was working as a journalist for the Mechanical Handling magazine, before he moved to the Telegraph as Labour correspondent in the 1960s.

He was first elected councillor in 1972 and served for 26 years, the last six of which were as leader - helping bring about huge changes to both the city centre and its east end.

Bob Kerslake, now Lord Kerslake, was appointed chief executive by Mike and worked closely with him during that time.

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He said: “Mike was one of the main reasons I took the job as chief executive of the council. He combined a huge passion for the city with steely realism about the need to do better.

"In my first meeting with him I asked what he thought needed to change. He replied 'everything'. Mike was unstinting in his support for me as we went through a very disruptive and difficult period of change.

“As a leader he was visionary, compassionate, and honest. He argued forcefully for his case but was pragmatic when needed.”

Coun Tony Downing, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, described Mike's dedication to the city as "first class".

He said: "Mike was a central figure in Sheffield's politics and progression, both as leader and in the instrumental part he played setting up the Supertram, a service which has been integral to many residents' lives for more than 20 years.

"He is fondly remembered for his dry sense of humour, passion, commitment and drive to improve services for the people of Sheffield. My thoughts are with Mike's family and friends at this sad time."

Veteran politician Richard Caborn, who worked with Mike over many years, described his leadership as ‘visionary’.

He said: "In the Heart of the City, the Supertram and Aizlewood's Mill, Mike helped lay the foundations of Sheffield today.

As a journalist Mike also became the northern organiser for the National Union of Journalists and campaigned to establish an improved wage structure for reporters.

Mark Hanna, a journalism lecturer at The University of Sheffield and former reporter, said he was a ‘very good’ journalist and posted on Twitter: "Very sad to hear of Mike Bower’s death. He was a magnificent NUJ father of chapel at Sheffield Newspapers and went on to be Labour leader of Sheffield Council.”

As well as his council and journalistic work, he was a keen walker and runner - completing 10 marathons and walking the Pennine Way to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Mike leaves behind his wife Frances Homewood and two daughters Rachael and Sarah from a previous marriage.

Frances said: "His courage and humour were remarkable to the very end and while he was never arrogant about his achievements, his political vision has left a great legacy for the City of Sheffield."

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