Sir Horace W. Cutler (OH 1927 - 1930)
Sir Horace W. Cutler b.1912 d.1997

Horace Cutler joined the Cathedral School at the age of 15 where he completed his matriculation before joining The Royal Navy.

After serving his country in WWII, he returned home to Ruislip, Middx and began running his own business. He eventually turned to politics and stood as a local Conservative Councillor in Harrow, winning a seat on the then London County Council. H W C was later appointed Leader of the Conservatives within the newly enlarged Greater London Council. When the Tories won back most of their former seats held by Labour in the 1977 local elections, ( Con 64 ; Lab 28 ; Lib 0 ) Horace thus became GLC Leader, succeeding Sir Reginald Goodwin who led the Labour group ( Lab 58; Con 32; Lib 2 ) between 1973 and 1977. Bearded and always wearing a bow tie, Horace was an ardent self-publicist

Sale of the Century - a forerunner to ' Thatcherite ' principals?

It’s worth noting here that the GLC was formed in 1965 following the enlargement of the former LCC by embracing areas of Surrey, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Essex. Horace had proudly presided over this important executive metropolitan authority and, among his many attributes had prepared the groundwork for what later became known as ‘ privatisation ‘ through his selling of council houses, dubbed by the press as the Sale of the Century. Conservatives on Middlesex County Council had thus espoused policies later adopted by Dame Margaret Thatcher who, as Britain's first ever female Prime Minister ( 1979 - 1990 ) set about the process of selling off major state owned utilities soon after she took office in May 1979.

A debt free Authority.

Horace introduced a policy of ‘Homesteading’ , thereby allowing less well-off Londoners to buy empty and abandoned properties and improve them. Squatters were soon evicted from properties they had no legal right to occupy. Cutler wanted the GLC to become a genuinely ‘strategic’ authority with few day-to-day responsibilities. To this end, he commissioned Sir Frank Marshall, ex-leader of Leeds City Council to conduct a full review of the Council and its services. As a result, the Authority reduced the number of planning applications it handled, with many more being dealt with solely by the boroughs. There was a general plan to devolve powers to town halls. Many assets were sold off, to the point where the GLC became debt-free for services other than housing.

Development of London's newest urban underground railway

Cutler investigated traffic delays, particularly to buses. There was an increasing switch from Routemasters to more modern buses. He started the process of moving towards ‘zonal’ fares which led, rapidly, to what we now know today as the Travelcard. This has to a certain extent been eclipsed by the introduction of an electronic pass, known as the Oyster Card enabling passengers to pre-pay for their journey. It helps to reduce queuing each morning at the ticket office, provides flexibility in choice of journey for the customer plus of course fewer traffic hold-ups around bus stops, something which used to irritate Horace ! A new tube line had been started during HC's time, originally referred to as the Fleet Line running right through the most densely populated parts of central London. Unsuccessful efforts were made to secure government support and funding to extend the line towards the City and Docklands ( see Olympic paragraph below ) Horace decided to re-name the new line The Jubilee Line in honour of Her Majestys' 25th year as Queen. Some road-building was started, whereas Cutler was opposed to road pricing. One wonders what HWC might make of the Congestion Charge scheme, pioneered by his GLC successor Ken Livingstone soon after he became London Mayor ?

2012 London Olympics

Horace was enthusiastic about the arts and, in particular sport. OH’s will know about the now well-established Cutler Cup, introduced by HWC to his old school after the War. It now embraces all forms of athletics at the Cathedral School and is awarded annually as a challenge trophy during the Inter-House Athletics competitions. As GLC Leader, Cutler investigated the possibility of London bidding for the 1988 Olympic Games, to be held in Docklands at an estimated cost of circa. £750 m ! A bid was never made during HWC's regime although, with the inspiration of the late Sir Chris Brasher, the Cutler administration was instrumental in creating the now firmly established London Marathon. Meanwhile, Horace would have been very proud to know that, in July 2005 London successfully won the bid to stage the XXX Summer Olympic Games in 2012. With the Jubilee Line now being extended eastwards to Stratford, something that Horace had formerly campaigned for as Leader, plus the link up with other major interchange stations throughout the London network and the new Cross Rail scheme scheduled to go ahead, HWC would definitely be very chuffed to know that his London is now poised to become one of the world's major cities with an increasingly modern urban transportation system.

London Mayor

The GLC was eventually abolished under a Bill introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1986. There then followed the London Residual Body which oversaw the devolution of powers back to local communities and county councils. Greater London House on the southbank, with it's landmark Lion still adorning the main pillar looking over the Thames towards Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, was to be sold for redevelopment and a bill was passed to create a new executive post of Mayor of London. Ken Livingstone, who succeeded Sir Horace as GLC Leader 1981, stood for election to this office and, in 2000 became the first London Major ( ** ) Ken fell out with New Labour under former Prime Minister Tony Blair but stood for re-election as an Independent in 2004 and thus won a second 4-year term. He was eventually ousted when the colouful and rather flamboyant Conservative candidate Boris Johnson won the election to London Major in the May 2008 elections. Like Horace, Boris had entered politics having formerly run his own business. He was elected an MP for Eton, serving as a junior minister in the Tory Shadow Cabinet. Mr Johnson can often be seen sporting a bow tie so we feel sure HWC would approve not only of Mr Johnson's plans for London but that of his sartorial though much less dapper style.

Sir Horace Cutler died in 1997 aged 85
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