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Brian Hall

Brian Hall served as Leader of Stevenage Borough Council for 37 years (1971– 2006) and was one of the longest serving council leaders in the country has passed away aged 88.

He was made Honorary Freeman, the highest honour that a council of a city or borough can award in September 1996. He was given the title of Honorary Alderman in July 2007. Honorary Aldermen may attend and take part in civic ceremonies as invited.

The former Leader of Stevenage Borough Council was born in Brockley, South London and educated in Haberdashers Aske's School. He joined the Air Force and served for three years and went on to study mechanical engineering.

In1965, he became the youngest serving councillor for Hertfordshire County Council aged 29 years old. He was Leader of the Labour Group from 1969 until he retired in 2006, and he took a short break to become Mayor of Stevenage from 1975-76.

Tributes

“I first met Brian when I came onto the council in 1992 when he was The Leader of the Council.

Brian was certainly a force to be reckoned with and lead the council in his own unique way. Although we were not in the same Political Party, I still admired his determination to get things done and he was always very hospitable to me, especially when we were partaking in our Town Twinning visits.

Brian was the Mayor of Stevenage in the second year Stevenage became a Borough. I did not know him then, but getting to know him many years later, I am sure he would have held that office with a terrific sense of pride. This is my second time as The Mayor of Stevenage and I know what an honour it is.

I send my sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to his wife Stella and family at this very sad time.”

Cllr. Margaret Notley
Mayor of Stevenage

“Very sad to learn that one of the great founding fathers of Stevenage new town, Brian Hall, passed away on Saturday. Brian died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. My thoughts and prayers are with Stella, his wife, his four children and his grandchildren all of whom he adored.”

Baroness Taylor of Stevenage and Leader of Stevenage Borough Council

“Brian was for some years also a county councillor on Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) for Chells Division – the division that I now represent on HCC.

I knew of Brian for many years before I was first elected to SBC in May 1982, so we worked as political opponents, and leaders of our respective groups, for almost 25 years. Our periods on HCC did not overlap.

From 1982, as a member of SBC, I came to know Brian very well. He was a forthright and formidable political opponent. You picked a fight with Brian only after very careful weighing up of the odds.

Brian was a determined and knowledgeable councillor, who knew in which direction he was going and what longer term plans he had for Stevenage.

Asked about how he led his Labour Group, he often gave the answer “I find out where the Group are going, then I lead them there.”

Brian was, it seemed, ever present in the council building, although he did have a job outside as well – as a draughtsman at BAe, I think. He made it his business to know what was going on.

He was always very supportive of the council’s officers in public. He left any admonitions to private discussions.

He devoted a substantial part of his life to local politics and could not be faulted for his sincere commitment and strong belief in local democracy and the best interests of Stevenage.

I clashed with him many times in the chamber and in committee meetings. Not surprisingly, with the large majority that he enjoyed, he always got his way.

However, he very occasionally did yield, if he saw the strength of your case. But then he would quickly adopt an opposition idea, so it became Labour policy anyway. If the issue later went wrong, he was, of course, the first to point out that it had been my idea in the first place.

His grasp of local government finance was second to none amongst elected members far and wide.

Brian was very argumentative in nature. I always said that the best way to get Brian to change his mind, was to agree with him.

Leading a council can – I assume – sometimes be a lonely job. Now it can be told that, a couple of times over the years, he did - perhaps unbelievably - contact me in private for my views on some course of action, or to complain to me about what his own Group were doing or planning. Such is the occasional – perhaps strange – communication between politicians of different parties. Did he act on what I said? Who knows!

A couple of times – also in private – he told me how I could become Leader of Stevenage Borough Council. However, his method unfortunately involved me joining the Labour Party, so was of interest only in some parallel universe.

Whilst we are naturally sad at his passing, as I think about him, a smile is not out of place, as I recollect some of his funny verbal interventions. Brian had the disarming ability to attack you with a sense of humour, but never in a personal or rude manner.

Sometimes, Brian was a bit of an enigma. After he retired as a councillor, I was – to say the least - a little surprised to be reliably told by at least one local resident that, when he canvassed them for Labour, and they admitted that they would be voting for me, he commented “Yes, you should definitely vote for Robin.”

I have always believed that it was a travesty that he was never awarded any national honour and, a couple of decades ago, many of us privately backed an application for such a thing, but to no avail. He was, I am pleased to say, with cross-party agreement, made a Freeman of Stevenage.

Brian leaves his widow, Stella and other family members, and naturally our thoughts are with them at this sad time.

So, many thanks Brian for everything that you did for local government, for Stevenage, for the role of humour in the council chamber and even for me.

Cllr. Robin Parker, C.C.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

The city of Ingelheim am Rhein mourns of its honorary citizen, Brian Hall who passed away on December 16, 2022 at the age of 88 years.

Brian Hall was "Leader of the Council" of our English twin town Stevenage from 1971 - 2006. With his work in local politics, his personal commitment and his enthusiasm for our common goals, he significantly promoted and advanced our town twinning - from 1975 also the tripartite twinning with our French twin town Autun.

In recognition of his great services to the maintenance and development of our town twinning, Brian Hall was awarded honorary citizenship of the town of Ingelheim am Rhein in 2005.

We thank Brian Hall for his tireless commitment and friendship and will honour his memory. Our sympathy goes to his wife Stella and his family.

Ralf Claus
Lord Mayor

Ingelheim am Rhein, December 2022