OBITUARY:T. M. Haydn Rees

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The Independent Online
T. M. Haydn Rees combined formidable administrative skills with energetic public campaigning to a degree unusual among senior local government officials. He spent a lifetime in public service in Wales, becoming chief executive of Clwyd County Council in 1974 when local government in the principality was subjected to a substantial reorganisation which tested the mettle of administrators almost to breaking-point.

Rees put Mold, a town with a population of 10,000 and home of the county council's headquarters, firmly on the map. As well as guiding the new authority through its formative years he lobbied persistently for the setting up of Mold Law Courts, making the town the principal legal centre in North Wales. Theatr Clwyd, built overlooking the town near County Hall, is reckoned to be one of the most innovative and successful regional theatres in Britain; its existence owes much to the efforts of Haydn Rees.

In the early 1980s North Wales, like much of Britain, faced seemingly intractable economic problems. The textile industry on Deeside was declining rapidly and the axe poised over Shotton steelworks, which employed more than 10,000, was descending. Rees led a tenacious fight to retain steel- making, but as the stark industrial philosophy of the Thatcher government scythed its way through heavy industry the works was closed. Rees immediately immersed himself in a battle to bring in new employment - a campaign which led to the establishment of the Deeside Industrial Park where big firms like the paper makers Kimberley Clark and Iceland Frozen Foods are located.

Born at Gorseinon, near Swansea, Rees finished his education at Swansea Business College and in 1947 was appointed assistant solicitor to the former Caernarfon County Council. The following year he went north to Flint County Council in a similar role, becoming county clerk in 1967. In 1974 he took the helm at the new Clwyd authority, retiring in 1977. From 1967 to 1977 he was clerk to the North Wales Police Authority. During his long service his battles with the Welsh Office to secure parity with South Wales when the distribution of government funding was discussed became something of a legend - and won him wide respect.

Retirement seemed not to figure in his vocabulary. He was a member of the Welsh Arts Council from 1968 to 1977, and served on the Mold magistrates' bench from 1977 becoming chairman in 1985. From 1977 to 1982 he was chairman of the Welsh Water Authority when the organisation was a much-respected public utility. He was a member of the Severn Barrage Committee from 1978 to 1981, a member of the National Water Council from 1977 to 1982 and a part-time member of BSC (Industry) Limited from 1979 to 1983.

The arts held a special place in his affections. Theatr Clwyd stands as a tribute to his successful efforts to introduce culture in its widest sense to Wales. He sat as a member of the Welsh Arts Council from 1968 to 1977 and was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards of the Royal National Eisteddfod.

Tony Heath

Thomas Morgan Haydn Rees, local government official: born Gorseinon, West Glamorgan 22 May 1915; Member, Welsh Arts Council 1968-77; Chief Executive, Clwyd County Council 1974-77; CBE 1975; Chairman, Welsh Water Authority 1977-82; married 1941 Marion Beer (one daughter); died Mold, Clwyd 28 October 1995.