"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Tributes to Norwich man who championed the rights of tenants


edp article

The widow of a tenants’ champion who passed away this week has told how he laboured behind the scenes to improve Norwich’s council housing.

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Geoff Lowe, who died on Wednesday evening, joined the Norwich Tenants’ CityWide Board in 2006 and was in his third year as chairman.

The 68-year-old, from Trafalgar Street, was a former chairman of the Norwich Residents’ Forum and was also chairman of the New Lakenham Tenants Residents’ Association.

His wife Alyson, 55, who is also involved in tenants’ rights and has vowed to carry on, said: “People were not aware of just how much he did behind the scenes.

“Although it was an uphill struggle at times he felt strongly that if we all sat back and did nothing then nothing would happen, but if you try maybe something will.

“When he became chairman of the CityWide Board it was very different. He created the sub-groups which have since achieved a lot and I think his work with the CityWide Board would be the thing of which he would be most proud. He took it and made it an effective tool for resident involvement.”

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council, said: “Geoff was tremendously involved in the council’s housing service for a significant number of years. But more recently he acted as a critical friend, helping us turn the service around – to the extent that the council and tenant representatives in partnership won an award for excellence in tenant participation.

“We were extremely grateful for the huge amount of time and energy he devoted to this. This has come as a terrible shock and his absence will be felt.”

Mr Lowe spent his formative years in Reading and served as a councillor there.

He moved to Norwich more than 20 years ago and had worked as a computer consultant, a trainer and most recently as a quality consultant before his retirement.

Norwich City Councillor Victoria MacDonald, who represents the Lakenham ward and was appointed cabinet member for housing in May, said: “This is devastating news and everybody is absolutely gutted.

“He was very warm and welcoming to me and was the first person to congratulate me on becoming the portfolio holder.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that he only ever had the best interests of Norwich tenants, and the CityWide Board and its work, at heart.

“It can be very difficult to be that critical friend and he always did it so well.”

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