Battling Betty’s fond farewell

Councillor Betty Lowe at home in Rainford.
Councillor Betty Lowe at home in Rainford.
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ST Helens’ longest-serving councillor has announced her retirement - after 37 years of service.

Coun Betty Lowe - known fondly to many ‘Battling Betty’ for her campaigning zeal - was first elected in 1975.

During the early 90s, she was the sole Conservative councillor in St Helens, regularly winding up her Labour rivals by proudly displaying a potrait of Tory PM John Major on her desk during council meetings.

Health concerns (she suffered a mini-stroke in 2008) and the needs of her disabled husband Raymond are behind the decision.

She said: “It has been an absolute honour to serve the people for as long as I have. I will miss it so much but I just know that I cannot continue and give it the full tilt.”

Councillor Betty Lowe MBE’s first entered local politics in 1975. A mum of two young boys, she was prompted to stand after an ugly union dispute with her husband’s engineering firm.

She said: “I never imagined I’d be a councillor for as long as have but having said that once I started I could only see myself continuing.”

Coun Lowe made headlines and earned the name Battling Betty during a dispute with town hall housing chiefs over plans to alter all the house numbers on a road in Rainford to accommodate the building of two new homes.

Standing up for what she believes in has drawn her into dispute with opponents, but she has always retains the respect of those on the opposition benches.

She said: “The thing about the town hall is that it is almost like a family, even though some of them are the opposition some do rise above politics and become human; some are political animals and I don’t think you will ever break the crust with them.

“After I had my stroke the doctor told me to avoid confrontational situations and the town hall isn’t the place for that, although I’ve still been able to do the constituency work.

“I’ve met most of the serving prime ministers during my time as a councillor, including Mrs Thatcher.

“I asked her how she coped with all the reading and preparation that had to be done because I was finding it hard and she told me: ‘My dear, if you make the work your routine, you will be fine.’ I’ve always tried to follow that.”

She will now devote more of her time to her family - but has already made one pledge for election night. “My family are delighted because they’ll be seeing more of me,” she laughed, “but on election night I’m almost certain we’ll be away.”