Published on 4 February 2021
It is with deep regret that Stratford-on-Avon District Council has been informed of the sad passing of Les Topham the former Leader of the Council (2005 - 2010), on Tuesday 2 February.
Les had served the residents of Sambourne Ward as a District Councillor from 1996 to 2010 and was Chairman of the District Council between 2001 and 2002. During his time on the District Council he also served on a number of Committees including: Environmental Health, Planning and Audit and held the Local Economy Portfolio in 2002 before becoming Deputy Leader in 2004.
Les took over the Leadership of the Council in 2005, following the resignation of Chris Saint and helped drive the improvements across the Council. This included the rating of 'Good' for the Council Comprehensive Performance Assessment from the Audit Commission in 2007.
Les was also the driving force behind the World Class Stratford project which was a multi-million pound development of the Waterfront in Stratford-upon-Avon. Les was very proud of the district and once rigorously defended a stinging attack on the character of town from Germaine Greer in 2007 as 'inaccurate' and 'misleading'.
A larger than life character and whilst he was a strong Conservative, respect for Les transcended political boundaries with his straight talking and dry wit. Les was inclusive of all views from the Council and during his time as Leader included an opposition member on the Executive.
Born in Birmingham, he spent most of his career at British Leyland, before running his own successful garden centre in Mappleborough Green near Studley, Warwickshire.
Married to Gill, he included collecting Jaguar cars, playing the piano and organ as his hobbies.
Cllr Tony Dixon, Chairman of Stratford-on-Avon District Council said: "I joined the Council 12 months after Les and worked with him until we both stood down in 2010. Les enjoyed being in the centre but would sometimes comment that he never really wanted to be the leader, somewhat uncomfortable with speeches his emotions could take over and I do recall tears being shed.
"He was rightly proud of his achievements and of our district and during his year as our Chairman took the opportunity, at his own expense, to visit America and publicise the delights of our district. The downside was that his visit coincided with 9/11. Our thoughts at this time are with Gill, his family, and their many friends."
The District Council expresses its sincere condolences to his wife Gill and all their family and friends.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575