By Tristan Harris 24/08 Updated: 24/08 20:43
A FORMER Bromsgrove District Council leader and chairman has died at the age of 87 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Margaret 'Rita' Taylor passed away peacefully at her home on Monday (August 20).
She served on the district council for 34 years after first being elected as a member for Barnt Green in 1973.
The village later became included in the Linthurst ward which Mrs Taylor represented until 2007.
During that time, she held several key roles on the authority - she was planning committee chairman from 1976 to 1980, chairman of the council from 1981 to 1982, leader of the council from 1987 to 1992, leader of the opposition from 1995 to 1999, deputy leader, cabinet member responsible for planning and the first chairman of the Standards Committee.
In November 2003, she was cabinet member for policy and strategy and communications and, in 2004, became the cabinet member for Finance, including revenues and benefits, procurement and risk management.
She was also a county councillor for the Hereford and Worcester authority from 1985 to 1998 and served as a governor at several schools. She was chairman of governors at Linthurst First School, now Blackwell First School, from 1985 to 1999. She was also vice chairman at St Peter's First School from 1983 to 1999, chairman at Waseley Hills High School from 1978 to 1980 and a governor at St Augustine's in Redditch.
On a national level, Rita has been the chairman of the County ADC (Association of District Councils), chairman of finance and Conservative Group Leader of the National ADC and Conservative Group Whip of the Local Government Association.
Her other roles included a place on the Public, Private Partnership Programme and being a member of the LGA Housing Executive and the Local Government Management Bureau.
She was a founder member of the Barnt Green branch of the NSPCC and served on that for 35 years and was a member of the Tidy Britain Midlands Region Advisory Committee.
Outside of her political life, Rita, who was born in Scotland in 1925, became a teacher after gaining a history degree at Leeds University and a diploma in education.
She taught A-level and scholarship history and economics, along with geography at the Convent Holy Child School in Edgbaston, which is now The Priory School. She and her husband Brian, who is also a former county councillor, settled in Barnt Green for 44 years - living first at Linthurst Court and in Twatling Road.
They had two sons, two daughters and nine grandchildren.
Her son Kit, a current Bromsgrove District Councillor for Linthurst, said when she was diagnosed, everyone knew she would put up a lengthy fight against the illness and that was exactly what she did.
"It is going to be very strange that such a seemingly indestructible and indomitable force has gone from our lives and that the pithy and often humorous remarks about the running of the council will no longer occur.
"My mother will be greatly missed by all that knew and loved her," he added.
Rita's funeral will take place at St Peter's Catholic Church, Rock Hill, on September 5, with donations going to the Primrose Hospice. The charity provided help and support for Rita during her illness.
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