Councillor Lawrence ‘Mac’ McGuire, a long serving Cambridgeshire councillor, died on New Year’s Eve. A kind, principled, supportive gentleman who devoted a quarter of a century to public life.
He had been, since May 2021, the Conservative county councillor for Yaxley and Farcet but his political career ranged from chairmanships of both Huntingdonshire District Council to Cambridgeshire County Council.
His colleague Cllr Simon Bywater of Sawtry and Stilton division, described Mac as “a loving family man, friend and someone who spent most of his life helping others”.
Mac was an RAF veteran and contributed hugely to commemorative events across Cambridgeshire.
“He was brilliant in helping and supporting me and many others as a newly elected councillor and his words of advice will stay with me for life,” said Cllr Bywater.
“I guess we had lots in common, but it was our connection as veterans that brought us together.
“Mac was also a former resident and councillor for the old Sawtry ward. He will be missed by so many, and my thoughts are with his wife Viv and all the family at this sad time.
Mac was first elected to Cambridgeshire County Council in 1997. He is a former deputy leader of the county council and once served as cabinet member for community engagement.
He was re-elected in May 2021 representing Yaxley and Farcet division and of late had been a member of the highways and transport committee.
Outside bodies included membership of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority.
In 2021 he took a public stance on Covid-19 vaccination, then aged 82 and whilst county council chairman, posing for photographs of receiving his vaccination to encourage the roll out of the biggest immunisation programme in NHS history to gain further momentum across Cambridgeshire.
He said: “I feel very lucky to have received the vaccine to give me protection from Covid-19. It was safe, quick, and painless. A heartfelt thanks for those working so hard on getting the vaccine rolled out.
“Everyone should take the opportunity of getting their vaccine when invited to do so.”
During Covid he also launched a monthly scheme to highlight the sterling work of those who have helped communities across the county since the virus outbreak in March.
All councillors were asked to make suggestions each month of people in their wards whose efforts were worthy of receiving an official chairman’s commendation
In February of 2021 he again took the helm when raising “a new more inclusive Rainbow Flag at Shire Hall”.
He said: “It will fly for the whole month in honour of LGBT+ History Month and as a way to show our staff, customers and the communities we serve our resolve on inclusion and diversity matters.”
Until May 2022 he was also Huntingdonshire district councillor for Yaxley and Farcet, when he lost his seat to an Independent.
Mac knew the reality of political life, recognising that electoral success could never be taken for granted.
In 2013, for instance, he was part of the inner core of Tories on Cambridgeshire County Council forced to consider options following their loss of overall control to what UKIP county councillor Peter Reeve described as “The Peasants’ Revolt”.
Cambridgeshire’s final tally was Conservatives 32, Lib Dems 14, UKIP 12, Labour seven and independents four.
And Mac was one of two prime candidates for leadership – the other being Cllr Martin Curtis of Whittlesey, both of whom had stood against the previous leader Nick Clarke in 2011.
Nick lost his seat in 2013, but Tories retained control of the council with Cllr Curtis becoming leader.
Cllr McGuire, who had held his Conservative seat in Norman Cross while UKIP took the other seat in the ward from the Tories, was for a very short spell interim leader pending a vote of Tory councillors.
He attributed UKIP’s success to voters expressing anger at national politics.
“I don’t think there is any argument that its national issues not local issues,” he said. “UKIP has been riding a wave and we’re paying the price for national politics.”
Cllr Mac McGuire ‘father of the council’ ‘a steady guiding force, a font of knowledge’
Cambridgeshire County Council has paid tribute to ‘father of the council’ Cllr McGuire.
“Mac was a proud servant of Cambridgeshire people and a strong and effective chair of the county council, as well as being immensely proud of his Scottish roots,” said Cllr Sebastian Kindersley, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council.
“It is very fitting for someone so invested in making improvements for generations to come, that it was he who buried a memory box under our New Shire Hall headquarters in 2021.
“As well as mementos of that time, it contains the hopes of local school children for their future and is set under a plaque which bears his name.”
Council leader Lucy Nethsingha said: “Mac was not only a long serving councillor but an extremely dedicated and important one.
“He played a critical part in making the decisions which led to the improvements to the A14, to the setting up of the combined authority and as chair of the council during the pandemic helped to guide our meetings through that incredibly difficult time.
“He has also been a friend and support to so many of us across the political lines in the council. Unfailingly polite and charming, we will miss his presence, his good humour, his experience, and wisdom enormously.”
Cllr Elisa Meschini, deputy leader of the council, said: “I remember Mac fondly from the time I joined the council as a backbench opposition member.
“He was always happy to chat, to advise, and to work across political lines. I will always be grateful for the help and advice he gave me, and I will miss him enormously. My thoughts and those of the Labour Group are with his loved ones at this very sad time.”
Cllr Steve Count, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “It has greatly saddened me and the members of my group to learn that Councillor Mac McGuire has passed away.
“Our condolences and sympathy are with his wife Viv and the family he leaves behind.
“Mac was a steady guiding force, a font of knowledge and help to one and all.
“For me, I was extremely grateful for the support he unselfishly gave me in all the 12 years we have worked side by side. He will be missed by me immensely.”
Cllr Tom Sanderson, leader of the Independent Group on the council, said: “Mac was the sort of public representative who put the community first. He was always willing to help if you went to him with a local issue, particularly related to highways and road safety.
“He leaves a remarkable legacy of public service, and we will all miss him.”