Liverpool regeneration leader Ray O’Brien dies

Ray O'Brien, former chairman of Speke Garston Development Company, has died after a long illness at the age of 74.

Liverpudlian O'Brien was chief executive of Merseyside County Council before it was disbanded in the 1980s. His tenure included the summer of 1981 when the Toxteth riots struck the city.

In the late 1990s, the pioneering work of Speke Garston Development Company was hailed nationally and internationally as an exemplar of property-led regeneration. SGDC became Liverpool Land Development Company and eventually merged with Liverpool Vision. O'Brien was awarded the CBE in 2000.

Jim Gill, chief executive of Liverpool Vision, was at English Partnerships in the mid 1990s when O'Brien was appointed to head the SGDC board. EP was one of the sponsors of SGDC. Gill said: "Peter Bounds, then chief executive of Liverpool City Council, introduced me to Ray O'Brien in 1995 as a potential chairman of the Speke Garston Development Company. The decision to appoint Ray was the right one.

"He brought a combination of long experience, diplomacy, common sense and hard-headedness to the job, and was a major factor in the success of that company and, later, Liverpool Land Development Company. He was hugely committed to the City of Liverpool and to Liverpool Football Club. Somehow I always came off second best when discussing the relative merits of our football teams [Gill supports Manchester United]. I'm glad I knew him."

A Requiem Mass and burial will be held at SS Peter and Paul Church in Crosby on Friday 7 May at 10.30am. O'Brien is survived by Wendy, his wife of 51 years, four children and eight grandchildren.

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Ray was an outstanding CEO of the the County Council and played a huge part in helping create the Liverpool that we know today. He will be missed for his infectious spirit – let alone the spirit that flowed every Friday evening in his office.

By Old Hack

Ray never seemed to get that self-important bug that a lot of modern quango chiefs have. The job was never more important than serving the people and doing your best for communities and he wasn’t ashamed to say it over and over again. A good man.

By An admirer

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