OBITUARY:Philip Squire

Philip Squire was for decades one of the most influential figures in Welsh local government. A Labour man through and through, he was informed by strong principles of fair play and exercised considerable power with humanity and firmness.

Born in 1905, five years after Keir Hardie became MP for Merthyr Tydfil, he initially nursed ambitions to become a lawyer. But on leaving grammar school he joined the family's haulage business - then a horse-and-cart enterprise - which was facing competition from motor vehicles. He was still in his teens when he joined the Independent Labour Party. In 1930 he transferred to the Labour Party and won his first local government seat in 1934 to become a member of Ynysawdre Parish Council.

This marked the start of half a century's service. Squire was elected to the old Glamorgan County Council in 1946; that authority split three ways in 1974 to become Mid-Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and West Glamorgan. He became Mid-Glamorgan's first chairman and led the authority for 15 years before retiring at the age of 83 seven years ago. Ironically Mid- Glamorgan will be consigned to history in April when another round of local government reorganisation takes effect.

As leader of an authority dominated by Labour, he was sometimes criticised for running a "Squirearchy". However his considerable energy was focused on obtaining the best possible deal for one of Britain's least prosperous counties.

In his latter years he won praise and criticism for offering free meals to miners' children during the 1984-85 strike and for threatening to deny council facilities to rugby clubs during the Welsh Rugby Union's flirtation with South Africa's apartheid regime. He chaired the South Wales Police Authority from 1974 to 1987 and was a key member of the committee which organised the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1968.

Tony Heath

Philip Squire, local politician: born Bridgend 22 May 1905; Leader, Mid-Glamorgan County Council 1974-89; married Doris May (deceased; two sons); died Bridgend 4 February 1996.