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Councillor reflects on 50 years in local government

A veteran defender of the greenbelt has reflected on 50 years serving in local government.

Since being elected onto the Royal Borough council in 1974, Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) has been mayor twice, established conservation areas and served as a Bray parish councillor.

He moved to Holyport with his wife Margot in 1965 after a stint in the army, serving three years in the Royal West African Frontier Force in Nigeria in the late 1950s.

“I got into politics in the early 1960s because I strongly opposed the wholesale destruction of terraced houses with gardens, which could have been extended and refurbished,” he said.

“Their replacement by high-rise ugly concrete block of flats, which isolated residents from their community, was a terrible mistake with serious social consequences.”

After living in Holyport for two years, the father-of-one became a member of the Cook-ham Rural District Council and a magistrate in 1971.

After local government re-organisation in 1974, he became a councillor for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, serving the Bray ward.

A qualified chartered surveyor and barrister at law, Cllr Walters was mayor for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002/2003 and again in 2007/2008.

When asked about his highlights, he said promoting and establishing conservation areas throughout the borough in the early Seventies and ‘wrestling control of the council from the Liberal Democrats in the 2000 elections’.

Cllr Walters has also faced battles within his own party.

In January, he was removed from his position as chairman of the planning and housing overview and scrutiny panel by the leader, Cllr Simon Dudley, after highlighting the fact that 86 per cent of the total land being allocated for housing in the Borough Local Plan was greenbelt.

When asked why Bray residents continue to vote for him, year after year, he said: “They trust me as a Conservative with an independent mind.

“I have done, and will continue to do, my very best to retain the rural character of the Royal Borough, its greenbelt and the integrity of its villages.”

When asked if he would be standing again, he said he had no plans to stop anytime soon.

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