Obituary: Margaret Bates, former Mayor of Kirklees

Woman who rose from humble roots to be area's first citizen

Margaret Bates at an election count in Dewsbury

She was a miner’s daughter who never forgot her roots.

But Mrs Margaret Bates, who died at the age of 69, was also a woman with a strong determination.

In fact, she vowed to be a mayor after hearing a speech from a civic head while she was a teenage schoolgirl at Princess Royal School in Batley.

Decades later she achieved the honour when she became the first female Conservative Mayor of Kirklees, serving between 2002 and 2003.

Margaret Bates in her mayoral regalia
Margaret Bates in her mayoral regalia
 

Margaret Gomersall was brought up in Batley as the daughter of a miner who worked at a colliery in Gomersal and had two older sisters.

She went to school in the town until she was 15, when she got a job in the local branch of the Co-operative. She worked in the pharmacy department .

She married local builder Michael Bates in 1967 and the couple had a son, Charles.

Her interest in politics stemmed from lively family debates in the Gomersall household but it was not until 1987 that she won a seat on Kirklees Council. She was elected to serve as a councillor for the Spen ward in 1987 and had held seats in Spen, Birstall and Birkenshaw and latterly the Liversedge and Gomersal ward.

In recognition of her service, she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 2003. She had various responsibilities, including health and adult services.

During her mayoral year she supported the Dewsbury, Batley and Spenborough Centre for the Deaf and the Huddersfield Society for the Deaf causes that had long been close to her heart.

Mrs Bates played a key part in the Cabinet when the Conservative ruled the authority and when she stepped down last year she said it has been a hard decision to make but said that after a quarter of a century of public service the time had come.

Mrs Bates also worked as an assistant to Batley and Spen Tory MP Elizabeth Peacock after meeting in 1987.

Away from the council corridors, Mrs Bates enjoyed the theatre and local history,

She was a goevrnor of Batley Grammar School and involved with the Blind Society in the area.

A funeral service takes place on Thursday, September 4, at 12noon at Batley Central Methodist Church.

 
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