Former county hall Liberal leader dies

Gordon Payne
Gordon Payne

A former Liberal leader on Lancashire County Council, Gordon Payne, has died at the age of 84 after a long illness.

The Preston-born politician stood for Parliament in the city in two general elections and also fought the Chorley constituency.

Described by his family as a “proud Prestonian,” Mr Payne was educated at Deepdale Primary School and Preston Grammar School before taking up a job with the Colonial Service in London at the age of just 16.

He did his National Service at RAF Warton in Lancashire and then worked for the Preston Chamber of Commerce.

He was later employed by Leyland Motors, spending two years working for the company in Persia, now Iran.From 1966 to his retirement in 1992 he worked for Preston-based architectural firm Building Design Partnership.

Mr Payne, an associate of the British Institute of Management, made his first attempt at becoming an MP in 1970 when he contested the Chorley seat, finishing third.

He then stood in Preston in both the February and October elections of 1974, also finishing third. He contested elections for Preston Borough Council and Fulwood Urban District Council before winning a seat at County Hall in 1973, taking the Preston No 2 Division for the Liberals by just three votes.

The result was little short of a sensation, with Mr Payne doubling the Liberal Party’s share of the vote from 19 to 33 per cent. Later he put the success of his campaign down to listening to the public. “If it’s not about people, it’s about nothing,” he said.

He was elected leader of the Liberal group for four years, but lost his seat to Labour’s Frank McGrath in 1977.

Away from politics, Mr Payne loved golf, bowls, was a referee in local parks football and a manager of Deepdale FC. He leaves a wife Sheila, two daughters and five grandchildren.