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Wooden armchairs remember ‘honourable’ Holborn councillor

Wooden armchairs unveiled in memory of former chair of planning wrongly accused of bias

22 August, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Shaku Woodrow, left, and Cllr Sue Vincent sit in the armchairs in memory of Brian Woodrow

TWO wooden armchairs have been unveiled in memory of a long-serving senior councillor who was “willing to stand up for the little man”.

Brian Woodrow, who died in 2015 aged 79 after 12 years’ representing Holborn and Covent Garden ward, was described at the event in Great Ormond Street as an approachable and generous public servant.

He was, however, not afforded the same sense of dignity while in charge of the council’s planning committee, when he was accused of showing bias against the £3billion

King’s Cross railway scheme before a decision to approve it had been made.

Cllr Woodrow stood down as chairman and was reported to the Standards Board, but after two years of investigations, he was vindicated in 2006.

Brian Woodrow (left) with Robert McCracken QC after his vindication

Holborn and Covent Garden councillor Sue Vincent spoke to the ward members, councillors and campaigners who gathered to watch the unveiling on Monday, saying: “I don’t think we can talk about Brian without having back- ground memories of that dreadful time that led up to the vindication when Brian was falsely accused of trying to influence the planning decision of King’s Cross.”

She added that what happened to Brian was far more revealing about his accusers than about him. “He was an honourable man, he was a very decent man,” she said.

The two wooden armchairs unveiled in Brian’s memory sit on the corner of Great Ormond Street, opposite the Perseverance pub, and read: “Brian Woodrow 1935-2015, Holborn’s Champion.”

The event was organised by the Rugby and Harpur Residents Association, which Brian was a part of for more than 40 years.

Cllr Vincent, who unveiled the chairs with Brian’s widow Shaku Woodrow, said: “Brian also loved the little people and supported the little people, realising that the big people always got their fair share of whatever was being handed out, particularly around the planning game issues. He saw that very clearly through his eight years as chair of planning.”

Janet Dobson, married to former MP Frank Dobson, said: “We were first introduced [to Brian] at the end of the 1960s and have been friends and campaigners ever since.

“The impressive thing about Brian is that he kept on going, campaigning for what he believed in for all those years – that’s 50 years ago.

“Although he was very interested in buildings, architecture and architectural history, he was just as interested in the local community. A lot of campaigning and work was actually to preserve and improve and get more local housing for local people, and to keep the community together. I think it is really important to remember that.”

Shaku Woodrow added: “I’d like to say an enormous thanks to the local people and in particular the Rugby and Harpur Residents Association.”

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