Barry Smith – former Clerk to Maghull Town Council – A tribute

Barry died yesterday after a very long struggle with poor health.

He was Clerk of Maghull Town Council for 13 years and then, despite declining health, he returned just over 2 years after his retirement to help out at the Council when his successor as Town Clerk but one took seriously ill. Barry stayed with the Council for a few months on a part time basis until his health precluded him from working any longer.

My memories of Barry are of a good humoured chap, who was good at his job, who did not suffer fools gladly and who worked very hard indeed.

An accountant by trade Barry was recruited by The Town Council from his previous job within the NHS. He liked to save money and an often used phrase of his was ‘I have done a deal’ when he had negotiated a reduced price on a contract, purchase etc.

On one occasion, whilst Barry was still getting to grips with how to work with an elected body like the Town Council, he said to me that he had found a better way to get the Council’s wages/salary processed and that he had given the work to a specialist company. A great initiative but Barry had not taken into account that the Council needed to approve such a move before he implemented it! With hindsight this showed how committed Barry was to getting good value for money and we often laughed about it in the following years.

In many ways he was a quiet unassuming man with a dry sense of humour but you could not but like him. What’s more the people who worked for him liked him too, probably because whilst being firm and clear in what he wanted he was also a kind and caring man.

My most memorable Barry moment was at his interview for the Town Clerk’s job. You see we got to that part of the interview when we had asked each of the applicants to present a short paper on a particular matter but Barry told us we had picked the wrong approach to the subject and launched into his own take on the matter. It was a risky approach to take but we were hugely impressed with what he had to say and he was clearly the stand-out candidate and was appointed to the job.

Barry leaves behind a lovely family whom he clearly thought a great deal of. His daughter Nickie became a local councillor herself and she has been the inspiration behind Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar and unstinting in her support for Maghull & District Youth Council. I know Barry was proud of her even though he was not the kind of chap to overtly praise anyone.

But finally, my private Barry moment was when I went to him for a bit of advice. Finding myself in a position whereby I was likely to become not only the Leader of my political group on Sefton Council but also Leader of the Council I wanted an independent view on whether I should take on such responsibilities. I knew Barry would give it to me straight, whether I liked the response or not, so I asked him what he thought. He was supportive and told me to go for it, adding that if I turned the opportunity down I would regret it. I followed Barry’s advice and the rest, as they say, is history.

We have lost a great public servant, a decent and kind man and I will miss him.

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