A memorial service for former North East Lincolnshire Council leader Muriel Barker will be held later this week. The service at 10am on Friday 18 January at Grimsby Minster follows her death after ill health in October.
After being first elected to Grimsby Borough Council in 1979, Muriel was at the forefront of the dissolution of Humberside and the creation of the four unitary authorities and steered the new authority in its formative years. She became the first leader of North East Lincolnshire Council in 1996 and the first female leader of the local council.
In the 1998 New Year Honours, Muriel was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to the community in Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire. Her worth was recognised by her inclusion in the Committee of the Regions UK and she represented this at the Council of European Union, regularly attending meetings in Brussels.
During her time as councillor, she represented Nunsthorpe, North East and latterly East Marsh ward and received the Freedom of the Borough in March 2008. As chair of the council’s Economic Development Committee, she helped develop the town as a European food processing centre (rather than a declining fishing port) and promoted Grimsby as Europe’s Food Town. Her love of the history and heritage of Grimsby was another passion reflected by the creation of The Fishing Heritage Centre, which has a gallery named after her.
Muriel was interested in education and, as a mature student, trained as a teacher. Through her love of children, she was instrumental in bringing the Sure Start programmes to the area. Muriel cared for the whole community and was a trustee on several committees including Hope Street Clinic. She was until recently, although in failing health, a volunteer there.
Current NELC Leader, Ray Oxby, said: “Muriel was not only a great servant of the Labour Party, she was also a great servant of North East Lincolnshire and I’m sure many people from all walks of life will want to take the opportunity of attending the service to pay their respects.’’