HACKNEY LABOUR is deeply saddened by the death of former councillor Geoff Taylor at the age of 70.
Geoff served with distinction as a Labour councillor for Victoria ward for sixteen years from 2002 to 2018.
He was a former teacher, and always took a great interest in the welfare of the children in the borough. He campaigned for better secondary school provision in his ward, and was pleased to see the opening of Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy in September 2014 in his ward.
He chaired the council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Commission twice, and was a champion of Sure Start and children’s centres, attending a parenting course to see for himself the quality of what was being provided.
Geoff was Speaker of Hackney in 2004/05, supporting charities offering help and encouragement to new parents.
He was a gifted musician and a founder member of a community choir in South Hackney. He was also for many years the organist at St John of Jerusalem church, South Hackney and regularly organised carol singing in aid of charity round the shops and pubs in Victoria Park.
He was a local historian, and the author of a book, “A Parish in Perspective: A history of the church and parish of St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney”.
For many years Geoff was chair of the Hackney Joint Estates Charity, distributing funds for the benefit of local people through the Hackney Parochial Charities. These included small grants to buy essentials such as washing machines as well as larger grants for advice work and children’s activities in Hackney.
From 2014 to 2017 Geoff was Cabinet member for finance, playing a crucial role in managing the Council’s budget during a challenging period for local government finances.
He stepped back from this role when he became unwell, and stood down from the council in May 2018, but continued to take a keen interest in local affairs.
Geoff was treated in Barts and the Royal London hospitals, and was transferred to St Joseph’s Hospice last week. He was glad to be back home in Hackney, and the care he received in the hospice was outstanding. He died there on Friday morning with his wife Elizabeth holding his hand.
Victoria ward councillor Katie Hanson said: “Geoff was my fellow ward councillor, my mentor and my friend. He was kind, thoughtful and principled, and will be greatly missed”.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney said: “His passion for education, Hackney, local history, young people and Europe was second to none. He’ll be greatly missed by us all.”
Cllr Ian Rathbone, Chair of the Hackney Labour Group of Councillors, said: “I knew Geoff for many years and he was a good community person long before he became a councillor. He was a very dedicated person in helping to improve the lives of others in whatever way he could. He encouraged other newer councillors, and was an excellent mentor and friend to them. A credit to the Labour movement.”
James Gowland, Chair of Governors at Orchard School, where Geoff was a Governor for many years, said: “Geoff was a Governor at Orchard when I first became involved with the schools. He was a font of all knowledge about the schools and the local community and we benefited enormously from his experience of having been a teacher. My family further enjoyed very much his organ playing at St. John of Jerusalem Church. ”
Former Hackney councillor and former Chief Whip of the Labour Group, Luke Akehurst, said: “Very sad to hear that former Hackney Labour Councillor Geoff Taylor has passed away. He was a great campaigner, a passionate advocate for Victoria Ward for 16 years, an effective Speaker and Cabinet Member for Finance and just a thoroughly decent man, committed to public service.”
His funeral was on Thursday 17 October at 11.00am at St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney, with more than 300 people attending.
Geoffrey Noel Taylor, born December 1948, died October 2019.
A potted history of Geoff Taylor’s council career:
GEOFF Taylor was elected as a councillor Victoria Ward in 2002, and was very active in his 16 years on the Council, including being Speaker, chair of Planning, active in scrutiny, and more recently the Cabinet member for Finance.
He first became a member of scrutiny in 2002/03 on its conception, as a member of the Education Scrutiny Panel. He became Chair of CYPS Scrutiny in 2006/07 and 2008/09 and Vice Chair in 2010/11.
Two pieces of scrutiny work stand out in particular, and he was a powerful advocate and supporter of their subjects. First was the work in 2007/08 on youth crime in Hackney. His opening sentence of the report captures the importance Cllr Taylor placed on the borough’s young people.
He wrote that “The way any society treats its young people is a barometer of its health and confidence, because they are its future.” The review covered difficult areas including knife crime and creating space for risk taking behaviour. It was also largely informed by Cllr Taylor’s commitment to involving young people in the process of gathering evidence including through a large borough-wide consultation event in which many young people took part.
Second was the work on Early Years in 2008/09 in which he championed the work of Sure Start and the then relatively new Children’s Centres. In particular Cllr Taylor did a lot to make sure that the importance of helping to develop parenting skills for new parents received the attention it warranted. Including going on a parenting course himself – despite not being a parent!
Geoff was Speaker (civic mayor) in 2004-5, choosing to support charities that offer help and encouragement to new parents.
He has a great knowledge of local history, and wrote a book about South Hackney “A Parish in Perspective: A history of the church and parish of St John of Jerusalem South Hackney” (2002) which is the only available accessible history of South Hackney itself. He has been a historian of the area for many years, and of the town hall.
He has also been active in the almshouse movement in Hackney and for several years was chair of the Hackney Joint Estates Charity, looking after the properties and land given by a few Hackney families from three centuries ago, with the profits from rents being given out for the benefit of the poor through the three Hackney Parochial Charities.
More recently, from 2014 to 2017, Cllr Taylor was the Cabinet member for Finance, and played a crucial role in helping manage the Council’s finances during a very challenging period for public finances in the UK.
He was also an active school governor, particularly with Orchard school, in Victoria ward.