Tributes paid as former Sheffield Council leader dies, aged 77

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Tributes have been paid to former Sheffield Council leader Mike Bower, who has died aged 77 after a long illness.

Mike led Sheffield Council for six years in the 1990s, helping bring about huge changes to both the city centre and its east end.

Before that he was a journalist at the Sheffield Telegraph where he became heavily involved with trade union politics, eventually being elected to Sheffield Council in 1972.

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Sheffield’s current Lord Mayor, Councilor Tony Downing, described Mike’s dedication to the city as ‘first class’.

Former Sheffield City Council Leader, Mike Bower.Former Sheffield City Council Leader, Mike Bower.
Former Sheffield City Council Leader, Mike Bower. | JPIMedia

He said: “Mike was a central figure in Sheffield’s politics and progression, both as leader of Sheffield City Council in the 1990s and in the instrumental part he played in setting up the Supertram, a service which has been integral to many residents lives for over 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.”

After training as a civil engineer, Mike’s first job was as a reporter on Mechanical Handling magazine, before he moved to the Sheffield Telegraph as labour correspondent in the 1960s.

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He was first elected to Sheffield Council in 1972, and served for 26 years, the last six of which were as leader.

During that time he set in motion the Heart of the City scheme, which brought to Sheffield the modern Peace Gardens, the Winter Garden, St Paul’s Place and the Millennium Gallery.

He was also instrumental in turning the old Aizlewood’s flour mill into a cooperative working space, buying it for just £1 and securing a grant of £750,000 to renovate it.

During his time as leader he also met Nelson Mandela when Sheffield presented him with the freedom of the city.

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Veteran Sheffield politician Richard Caborn, who worked with Mike in the city 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.

“The economic regeneration he helped bring about is there for people to see today and that is the best tribute you can give him.

“He was also well respected in the union movement and a good friend.”