Friday, 29 April 2016

AN OUTDOOR MAN

Rhyl councillor Mayor

Sorry to report that David Thomas has passed away. Dave made several contributions to this blog and to Rhyl life in general. He is pictured above in 2007 during his year as Mayor of Rhyl, with a lifeboat man and schoolkids at the 75th Anniversary of Foryd Bridge. Photo by Tony Mottram.

Dave was from Llandudno way, but he had been in Rhyl a long time. He worked at the fun fair in the 1960s and ‘70s and did some market trading such as selling sweets at Tir Prince. He liked to be in the open air and liked Rhyl’s open spaces such as Brickfields Pond.

Dave and I first met in late 1990s in a residents’ campaign to try and stop Denbighshire council and Welsh Water from destroying the heritage value of Marine Lake. We failed; the biggest sewage tank in Wales was put under the lake and the original walls of the lake were ruined.

Rhyl’s dead-loss Labour councillors just let it happen, and this was one factor in Dave's deciding to stand for election himself as an Independent. I remember helping him by doing some leafleting on the housing estate where he lived, The Reso. He didn’t win.

Dave, like so many others regardless of their personal or political beliefs, had to join the Labour Party to get elected and I watched him get drawn into the party culture and the workplace culture of the council chamber - and further from grass roots.

He was elected to the cabinet of Denbighshire council where he served as lead member for Regeneration, and this was his downfall. He infringed a Labour Party rule that prevents Labour councillors from being in cabinet in an authority where Labour does not have a majority.

[Be aware! Labour Party candidates don’t tell you about the rule when they come round asking for your vote.]

Therefore like others before him, Dave was expelled from the party. He stood for re-election again as an Independent and again didn’t win. The double whammy of being stabbed in back by Labour and then snubbed by the electorate hit him hard; it took him a while to recover.

Eventually Dave was drawn to Botanical Gardens where in recent years he helped to run a horticultural project. Last I heard from Dave was about a week before he died and he made no mention of feeling ill, so the news of his death came as a shock.

I took the following photograph in 2012 at Botanical Gardens. Dave was more or less standing in the way as I lined up a shot of the pond. The photo catches him in contemplative mood, menthol cigarette hidden in the palm of his hand Reso-style.

So long Dave, thanks for what you did and what you tried to do.


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