FORMER Labour councillor Dan Kemp, a key figure introducing scrutiny to local government to hold decision makers to account, has died aged 60.
Dan, who served on Victoria ward from 2002 to 2014, was also vice chair for the overview and scrutiny board from 2003 to 2013.
He knew more than most about many aspects of the council’s operations and finance, and by the time he left the council in 2014 it was a very different place from when he was first elected in 2002 – the same year Jules Pipe became Hackney’s first elected mayor.
Scrutiny was introduced by the Local Government Act 2000 which created separate executive and overview and scrutiny functions within councils.
His fellow Victoria ward councillor Katie Hanson told the Gazette: “Scrutiny becomes even more important when one party has a lot of power, like in Hackney when you have one party with most of the seats. It’s almost like standing up to your friends as well as your enemies.
“Dan really engaged with the changes that happened in local government and became the big lead on scrutiny. Obviously there were officers who would convene meetings but he set the political tone for it, and that was his real strength.”
Dan even wrote a chapter in a book about scrutiny published in 2010 by the Institute of Local Government Studies, called Scrutiny: Theory and Practice in Local Government.
He was a dedicated supporter of West Ham football club, travelling to away games as well as a regular at Upton Park. He worked in finance and had a great passion for political history.
“He would come out with interesting historical facts and bring that to bear to a present day situation,” said Katie. “He would tell funny stories like about being in the queue at West Ham to go in and someone’s phone would start playing ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ which is their official song, but because so many fans had that as their ring tone they would all take out their phones.”
Hackney’s mayor Phil Glanville remembers Dan as a “stalwart campaigner who was always active” across the borough for Hackney Labour when he first ran to be a councillor in 2005.
“On joining the Council in 2006 I swiftly saw he had an equal passion for scrutinising executive decisions at the town hall as well as standing up for Victoria Ward residents,” he added. “He will be greatly missed by all of us.”
RICHARD Bruce, a Labour councillor for Dalston ward from 1982 to 1990, has died, says a report from the Hackney Gazette .
He was a postman for many years, having famously taken a temporary job while finishing his PhD in anthropology, which he never completed.
His anthropological training carried through into his lifelong interest in social justice and political engagement. Richard was very active in the politics of Dalston, and also on the national executive of the Union of Communication Workers.
He met his wife Leslie while studying, and they moved to New York where she was a professor in the field.
He was a keen cricket fan and a member of Surrey CC, even when in America. Richard and Leslie had just returned from watching England versus the West Indies in Antigua a few days before he had a heart attack.
A Hackney Labour spokesperson said: “He was a real character and an absolute stalwart of Labour. An individualist, but always had something useful to say and had to be listened to. A great loss.”