Popular Labour politician Renee Spector, who was a key player shaking up Birmingham’s concrete image and setting up the ring and ride service, has died aged 84.
Former councillor Mrs Spector was key player on Birmingham’s powerful planning committee for 17 years, including six as chairman, during which time developments such as Brindleyplace, the Bullring and Selfridges and the breaking of the concrete collar came through.
She spent 32 years as a councillor, first for Billesley in 1973, followed by a spell as West Midlands County Councillor for Chelmsley Wood before representing Erdington from 1986 until her retirement from front line politics in 2007.
Mrs Spector was awarded the MBE for services to disabled transport in recognition of her key role in setting up the ring and ride service which continues today.
Speaking on her retirement she said: “When I came on to the planning committee, I wanted to get rid of the concrete image of Birmingham and I think I was fairly successful in that.
“And as chairman of arts in Birmingham I got a lot of public art put in place, and people have grown to love these. The Iron Man sculpture and the “Floozie in the Jacuzzi” were mine, although floozie isn’t the sort of word I use.”
Former Coun Spector also chaired the Birmingham Airport Committee.
Mrs Spector grew up in Stoke Newington and Brighton in the 1930s the daughter of a butcher and bookmaker.
After the war she joined the Labour Party and in 1948 went to the London School of Economics where she met Cyril, then a third year economics student. They married a year later. Cyril died in May this year.
They moved to Birmingham in 1967 when Cyril became head of economics and social science at Birmingham Polytechnic. They have three children, Jonathan, Adam and Felicity.
Felicity said: “She loved Birmingham with a real passion – she loved walking through the pedestrianised city centre, the CBSO and her much loved constituency where she would constantly stop and chat to people in the street to hear local concerns and find out what needed to be done.”
Tory councillor Peter Douglas Osborn, who served on the planning committee and later became chairman himself, said: “She was a lovely person and so was Cyril. I can remember one of our first meetings when I was involved in a development at Highgate.
“She said it looked like a ‘public toilet’. I approached her after and she said ‘If I knew you were involed I’d have criticised it.”
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “She played a very active role in the politics of the council with a particular focus on transport.
“Her other passion was planning and, in fact, she became more knowledgeable than most other members of the council.
“At the same time, Renee was active in community politics and took up interest in individual residents and streets across the areas she represented.
“She and her late husband went out in snow, rain and sunshine to ensure that leaflets or letters were regularly delivered to residents.
“She will be sadly missed and was an inspiration to all who knew her during the period she was active on Birmingham City Council.”