Former council leader and ‘stalwart’ of city’s Tory party dies at 85
A FORMER council leader described as a “stalwart” of Conservative politics in Leeds has died at the age of 85.
Tributes have been paid to Peter Norman Sparling, who oversaw the merger of two of the city’s biggest single-sex private schools in 2005.
First elected as a councillor in 1968, he rose to become leader of Leeds’ Conservative party as it claimed partial victory in the 1979 local elections.
Mr Sparling, who was a councillor for 19 years, also served as the leader of Leeds City council until 1980.
Following his retirement in 1987, he was appointed an Honorary Alderman of the City of Leeds.
In 2014, Mr Sparling was named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his contribution to local politics, the arts and education.
Alec Shelbrooke, Conservative MP for Elmet & Rothwell, said: “Peter was a stalwart of Conservative politics in Leeds and our political family in Elmet & Rothwell won’t be the same without him.
“Outside of politics, those who worked with Peter know just how proud he was of the organisations he supported, particularly of Opera North but also of Bardsey Primary School and GSAL (the Grammar School at Leeds) where he served as Chair of Governors”.
Away from politics, Mr Sparling, who lived in the Collingham area of the city, served as chairman during a 30-year stint on Leeds Grammar School’s board of governors. He helped oversee the merger between then single-sex schools Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls High School, in 2005.
Mr Sparling also helped launch the Opera North arts organisation. He leaves behind his wife, Bettie, and two children.