Lewis recalls his five decades of loyal service

Democratic Services Manager Lewis South from Wath, who has recently retired.

Democratic Services Manager Lewis South from Wath, who has recently retired.

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A COUNCIL boss described as “one of local government’s best known characters” has retired after a career spanning nearly 50 years.

The amazing long service of democratic services manager Lewis South was officially acknowledged last week at Rotherham Council’s annual meeting when he was presented with gifts by council leader Roger Stone and civic mayor Dave Pickering.

Councillor Stone said: “He will be sorely missed because of his wealth of local government experience.

“He has seen seven chief executives and four leaders in the past 46 years and his help and advice has been invaluable as local government has evolved.

“On a personal level, his dry and sardonic sense of humour has also kept us amused over the years.”

Mr South, 62, of Wath, started work at the former Rotherham County Borough authority in 1966 at the age of 16 when he left Swinton Comprehensive School.

He began as a junior clerk in the building works department and stayed there for just a year before moving to the town clerk’s department, where he was eventually appointed democratic services manager in the 1980’s.

Over that time he witnessed first-hand how local have authorities changed and evolved.

In particular the biggest shake-up - the national re-organisation of local government in 1974 - that resulted in the formation of Rotherham as a metropolitan authority, which assimilated numerous smaller local councils.

Mr South told the full council meeting that he had enjoyed every second of his working life.

He said: “I love Rotherham and its people and the whole point of local government is to try and make life better for the local people. I cannot believe it is nearly 46 years - it does not seem real at all.

“The committee services section has always been busy - at one time we had 3,500 meetings a year to organise and minute, which meant that I have worked with hundreds of councillors and officers over the years.

“I stayed in committees - working on every salary grade possible because it was always a lot of fun and like me very few people left. As a result I have been very fortunate - having enjoyed a very happy and interesting career.”

Lewis is now looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Anne, their three sons and their two young grandchildren. The Rotherham United fan is looking forward to seeing his team in their new stadium.