London mayor Boris Johnson has paid tribute to his deputy mayor for planning Simon Milton, who died yesterday aged 49
The former leader of Westminster City Council was both deputy mayor for policy and planning and the mayor’s chief of staff.
Boris Johnson said: ‘He was a wonderful colleague and friend and will be much missed by everyone who was involved in public life in this city.
‘He was kind, he was decent, and he was universally acknowledged to be brilliant at his job.
‘He was a widely admired leader of Westminster Council, who played a key role in launching the first academy schools. He brought the same calm, logic and warmth to his role at City Hall.
‘It is a great shock that Simon has been taken from us when he had so much still to offer.’
The mayor’s spokeswoman added: ‘Sir Simon Milton, deputy mayor and chief of staff, has passed away at a London hospital.
‘Our thoughts are with his partner, Robert Davis, and his family. He was a great colleague and friend and will be hugely missed at City Hall and by everyone in public life in our capital. London has benefited from his intellect, wisdom and decency.’
Milton, who died on Monday (11 April) at a London hospital, was appointed deputy mayor in September 2008 and supported the mayor on strategic planning applications. As Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, he focused on Greater London Authority (GLA) budgets and administration.
Milton was knighted for services to local government in the New Year’s Honours list in January 2006, following a distinguished career as leader of Westminster City Council.
Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster City Council, said: ‘Simon lived a full life in fewer years than he deserved to enjoy.
‘His role in London government, in the Conservative Party and the Local Government Association made him one of the leading Conservative politicians of his generation.
‘He led this council with great distinction for eight years and I have always felt honoured to follow him as leader and implement many of the policies he initiated.
‘His work as the leader of our City Council - for the people of Westminster - will mean he will retain an enduring place in our respect and affection across the city.’
Boris Johnson came under fire in May 2008 after Milton was appointed as an advisor to City Hall while retaining his councillor position at Westminster Council. Two months later the mayor caved in to opposition pressure and anointed Milton his deputy.
At last year’s BCO conference Milton warned that improvements to London’s infrastructure were vital to the economic recovery. At MIPIN in Cannes last month he joined Boris Johnson in banging the drum for investment in the capital.
As leader of Westminster, however, he was understood to have opposed skyscraper schemes within the area. It was also alleged Prince Charles ‘undermined the democratic process’ by lobbying Milton over the Richard Rogers-designed Chelsea Barracks scheme.
Milton played a key role in salvaging the axed London Development Agency’s assets – including Design for London, which employs a dozen architects and is set totransfer to City Hall this summer.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster Council’s Labour group, added: ‘Sir Simon Milton was certainly the best Leader that Westminster City Council has ever had and he was the most formidable political opponent.
‘He understood local government, he was an expert political manager and it was no surprise when he was asked to organise Boris Johnson’s Mayoral office in 2008. His death will leave a big hole in London government. We send our sincere condolences to Robert Davis and the rest of Simon’s family.’