Lord Smith started his career in local government when he was elected as a Labour Party ward councillor for Leigh West in 1978. From 1991 to 2018, he served as Leader of Wigan Council. In 1999, he was made Lord Smith of Leigh in recognition of his work in local government.
A fierce proponent of devolution and local accountability, Peter led the Partnership since its inception until March 2020. Devolution saw the city-region take more control of powers and budgets from central government, including the annual £6bn health and social care budget.
Peter was passionate about improving public services to help those who needed it most. He championed integration – bringing services closer together, both within the NHS, and wider public services.
He felt strongly about improving life expectancy in Greater Manchester, addressing the causes of ill-health, looking to social issues not just medical – and helping people to stay in work, and reduce poverty.
Peter was key to the successful implementation of the £450m transformation fund awarded to Greater Manchester as part of its health and care devolution deal; and signed a number of agreements committing to closer working with carers, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, Sport England, Healthwatch and others.
Sarah Price, interim Partnership chief officer said:
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Peter’s death. He was an ardent supporter of devolution and health and care reform; and as such was key to the formation of the Partnership and our early successes. He was a source of wise advice and guidance to the Partnership board and team. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones and local community.”
Sir Richard Leese, Partnership chair said:
“Peter was at the heart of his community and a key figure in Greater Manchester. I am very sad to hear of his death. He passionately believed in reforming public services to support those who needed it most. Devolution would not have happened without Peter and his role in this is often underestimated. He will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time.”
On behalf of the Partnership, we all extend our deepest condolences to Peter’s wife, Lady Joy Smith and their daughter, Anna.