Fond tributes to Cllr Matt Parr

Cllr Matt Parr who died in late July at the age of 61 had served as a councillor for Coldharbour since 2010. An IT manager by profession, he originally came from Liverpool and had lived in Brixton for around 30 years. He was a member of the scrutiny team with particular responsibility for housing, jobs and investments. His political interests included sustainability and green issues.

His dedicated work on behalf of his constituents continued after he was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. He was a passionate supporter of local schemes, including the Boiler House redevelopment programme on the Angell Town Estate, community food growing project Loughborough Farm and Grove Adventure Playground. He was instrumental in securing funding for the rebuilding of St John’s Church of England Primary School in Angell Town.

One of his final acts on the council, approved by Cabinet in July, was a commission setting out steps to ensure all Lambeth residents include those suffering from multiple disadvantage are able to access good quality jobs.

In a joint statement, Cllr Parr’s ward colleagues Donatus Anyanwu and Emma Nye and Lambeth council leader Lib Peck said: “Matt had a particular desire to improve the lives of the area’s poorest
residents. He fought for investment in the area’s estates which saw the transformation of council housing in the area, providing homes that are safe, warm and dry.

“Matt was a kind, thoughtful and decent man, not interested in personal glory or self-promotion. He was happiest working quietly behind the scenes – bringing people together to sort out problems and get things done. He will be hugely missed as a colleague and as a friend.”

Grove Adventure Playground reopened last month after Lambeth Council granted Loughborough Junction Action Group (LJAG), which also runs Loughborough Farm, a three year lease to operate it. “So sorry that Matt wasn’t there to celebrate with us. Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” said a representative of LJAG. LJ Works on
Loughborough Farm, a project Cllr Parr worked hard to bring to life, will open later this year offering jobs and training opportunities to local young people.

Reverend Canon Dr. Rosemarie Mallett of St John’s Church Angell Town said “Matt Parr believed in community cohesion and community enhancement and used his position to work to bring that about. Few weeks would pass without an email or communication regarding fundraising or updating on events. He carried his position lightly and with great humility.”

Vassall councillor and Cabinet member for Housing Paul Gadsby said, “This is a tragic loss. [I] worked on numerous projects with Matt owing to our shared border between Vassall and Coldharbour wards.

“He was a huge source of guidance, experience, common sense and good humour. Fought tirelessly on behalf of all his residents.”

Herne Hill councillor Jim Dickson said, “Matt was a lovely man, a wise and dedicated representative for Coldharbour ward, hugely respected for his hard work, integrity and intellect.”

Conservative councillor Tim Briggs who served on the scrutiny committee with Cllr Parr said, “I am very sad to hear of Matt’s passing. He tried to be objective in all his decisions, not party political, and in so doing served the people in his ward with great commitment”.

Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes said, “So very sad that my friend Cllr Matt Parr has passed away, a lovely man and dedicated representative of Coldharbour Ward since 2010 who was passionate about fighting injustice”. Battersea MP and former Larkhall councillor Marsha Da Cordova said that when they worked together she “saw first-hand his dedication to serving those most in need. His generosity, kindness, and commitment will be sorely missed.”

Matt is survived by his wife Petrina and their young twin daughters. A by-election will be held in Coldharbour Ward on Thursday 13th September.

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