John Detre obituary: Council stalwart and former housing association boss
PUBLISHED: 10:22 25 July 2019
Long-serving former Brent councillor John Detre died this weekend aged 72 after a short battle with cancer.
Colleagues and political adversaries have paid tribute to John, who served the town hall as a Conservative in two stints - first following a by-election in 1976 - and played a role in the building of the Brent Civic Centre. He was the cabinet's regeneration lead for four years from 2006.
The current leader of the Conservative group on the council, Cllr Reg Colwill, told this newspaper: "He was a level headed, forward thinking, loyal Conservative."
Deputy chair of the Brent North Conservative Association Kanta Mistry added: "I learned a huge amount from John. He had great people skills. He was a good friend to our association and I was very sad to hear of his death."
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Long-time friend and current councillor for Kenton Cllr Michael Maurice added: "He was a really really lovely guy. I knew him long before I became a councillor, and he will be much missed. He was a true gentleman."
The third current Conservative councillor, Cllr Suresh Kansagra (also Kenton), said: "He was a great friend and a very good ward councillor: an activist and party member who had very good ideas."
The current mayor of Brent, Cllr Ernest Ezeajughi, led the tributes from across the chamber. He said: "On behalf of all at Brent, my thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."
John was first elected for Wembley Park, before moving to the Preston Ward in 1978. He was re-elected in 1982 but did not contest the 1986 elections - he returned as a councillor in 2006 in Northwick Park - and with the council run by a Lib Dem-Tory coalition, he joined the cabinet and helped drive the award-winning civic centre project in Wembley. He lost his seat in 2010.
Outside politics, John was a businessman and director. He spent time running first the Harrow Churches Housing Association and then the Harrow and Brent Health Authority.
He came to London as a small child with his parents having been born in Cold War-era Hungary, and continued working into retirement part-time as a business studies lecturer at the University of Westminster. He is survived by two sons, Adam and Greg.