Former council leader and mayor of Merton marks 40 years serving residents

He has been a council leader, head of the opposition, the mayor of Merton, dedicated ward councillor and countless other roles; now Councillor David Williams is marking 40 years of cumulative service to the borough’s residents.

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Cllr David Williams outside the Civic Centre for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Cllr Williams is the longest serving sitting councillor in the borough, having been a ward councillor for 40 years. Aged 22, he was elected to the Cannon Hill ward in May 1974 and was hailed by prominent journalist Bryan Appleyard as a young Conservative trailblazer.

“In the early 1970s there was a lot of social change going on. I wanted to make sure young people had a voice in local affairs and I was interested in Conservative politics,” Cllr Williams said.

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Cllr Williams was there until 1987 but then took a short break from Merton when he went to live in Hong Kong for business. In 1990, he returned to his Merton home and was re-elected the same year, this time as Hillside ward councillor in Wimbledon, where he has remained ever since.

Among his many roles, Cllr Williams has been Conservative council leader and member of the London Councils Leaders’ Committee (May 2006 to May 2010), mayor of Merton (May 2012 to May 2013) and leader of the opposition (1999 to 2006).

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Cllr Williams with now-foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the ground breaking event for the Acacia Centre in Mitcham

He was the London Councils Representative on the London Waste and Recycling Board and chairman of their audit committee from 2008 to 2016. Since 1986 he has been a magistrate (and former deputy chairman) on the Wimbledon Bench (now the South West London Bench). He has held numerous posts at local schools, the Endeavour Youth Club in Morden and Wimbledon Round Table.

Unsurprisingly, he finds it very difficult to single out an overall highlight.

Cllr Williams said: “I have seen some extraordinary scenes in the council chamber and there have been very funny things that have happened too. My over-riding impression is it is such a privilege to have this position to help others and to make things happen.”

He said he did enjoy being leader for four years, being the mayor and deputy mayor, and having the opportunity to make changes and help residents.

Cllr Williams will be honoured at a Full Council meeting on Wednesday 23 November.

Council leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “I’d like to congratulate Councillor David Williams on his 40 years of cumulative service in Merton. It has been a pleasure working with him and I look forward to working with him for many more years to come.”

Merton Park Ward Independent Residents group leader, Councillor Peter Southgate said: “To achieve 40 years as a councillor is really quite exceptional, but for Cllr David Williams it can be explained by his strong ethos of public service, evident also from his many years as a magistrate on the bench at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court. Both in opposition and as leader of the council, David has always put Merton first, considering what is best for the borough as a whole before party political interests. We are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of his unstinting service over so many years.”

Merton Conservative group leader Councillor Oonagh Moulton said: “I am proud to propose a motion at Full Council congratulating Cllr David Williams on his achievement of 40 years’ civic service as a councillor in the London Borough of Merton, firstly for Cannon Hill Ward and now for Hillside. He has served Merton residents with distinction and has held a number of posts and senior positions culminating in leader of the council between 2006 and 2010 and as mayor of Merton in 2012-2013 when our borough proudly marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.”