Councillors’ tribute to Freeman of the Borough

Merton Councillors will gather together tonight to pay tribute to former Deputy Leader and Honorary Freeman of the Borough, Danny Connellan who sadly passed away this week.

Elected in 1971, Danny was a popular councillor on both sides of the chamber and will be best known for his achievements in town planning where he was instrumental in successfully negotiating the building of the Baitul Futuh Mosque and the relocation of Tooting and Mitcham Football Club.

During his 23 years of service, Danny served as Deputy Leader of the Council where he represented Merton on many organisations, both London-wide and nationally. He originally become a ward councillor for Cannon Hill, and served as Deputy Mayor in 1973-4. In 1986 he was elected to represent the residents of Figges Marsh, a position he held until he stood down in 2006.

Danny held senior positions on several committees, particularly in the area of town planning. He orchestrated for Merton to become one of the first London boroughs to open up the Development Control Committee to the public, a model that was replicated across many London boroughs. In 2000, Danny became a Cabinet Member with specific responsibilities for many corporate and financial activities. He was involved in the Schools Re-organisation project, successfully negotiating the Private Finance Initiative scheme to finance the secondary school element of the transfer from a three-tier to current two-tier system which exists today.

In 2006, Danny was recognised for his outstanding service and commitment to the people of Merton and was awarded Honorary Freeman of the Borough, the highest recognition a councillor can receive.

Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams said: “I have had the honour of serving alongside Danny Connellan as a Merton Councillor for many years. He had a tremendous spirit which he always brought to his speeches and they were enjoyed by both sides of the chamber. He will be sadly missed.”

Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “When Danny left in 2006, Merton lost a great councillor. We now mourn the loss of a great man. He was someone who took pride in his role as councillor and enjoyed helping to improve the lives of people in Merton. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Debbie Shears said: “Merton has lost one of its great servants to public life with the death of Danny. He was respected by all who knew him and was always the gentleman regardless of political differences. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.’

Leader of the Merton Park Independents Councillor Peter Southgate said: “As a newly elected councillor in 2002, I always looked forward to Danny’s history lessons on the early days of the borough to enliven council meetings. On a personal level I found him to be both helpful and charming.’

Leader of Liberal Democrats, Councillor Iain Dysart said: “In memory of a character who will be very much missed but never forgotten. Merton will be poorer without him.”