Tony aka Anthony Carter (Cambridge & District Trades Council)
passed away peacefully on Sunday 21 March 2021, aged 78.
Loving husband to Sylvia.
Wonderful Dad to Ian, Daren, Jason and Karl.
A fantastic Grandad and Great Grandad.
A loving son and brother.
A Friend & Comrade
Ian Beeby – Cambridge & District Trades Council Treasurer
I first met Tony back in the early 80’s, yes about 40 years ago. It was a meeting of the Trade Council, but back then we used to meet in Alex Wood Hall. In those days members would read or fiddle with newspapers like the guardian instead of their mobiles. There were at least 30 members present. Even then I remember Tony raising his hand and getting up to speak for several minutes about various issues all which escape me now. As a new member and only dealing with agriculture most of it went over my head as it was more about “City” issues and therefore had little relevance to me.
I then re-joined the Trade Council about 20 years ago when we used to meet at the USSC. Again, Tony was there but this time with Sylvia. Tony was still doing his speeches, but these now made a lot more sense to me. I do recall him speaking several times about “academies” and how he was the only one at St Bede’s school on the Board to oppose academies. The Board then started a campaign to get Tony removed as the Council rep, which I recall was the reason why Tony was on the Board of Governors.
Through the years as I got more involved with the Trade Council, I got to know Tony & Sylvia a lot better. After attending meetings together, he would inform me of things he had done in the past. Frequently on returning from SERTUC as we were walking past a fire station, he would tell me about, after a SERTUC meeting, he came across the Firemen taking industrial action and then joined and stayed on their picket for some considerable time. On the way back from the County Association meetings held in Peterborough, for which he had been a delegate and Chair for over 30 years, as we approached the traffic lights at Milton Sylvia and I would say “ what idiot bought a job lot of traffic lights, probably on the cheap, and put them up at such daft places just to get rid of them?”. Afterwards over a “juice” and socialising I would then discuss many different issues with them like their holidays and family and general chit chat.
Tony ended up in Barton Branch, part of Unite where he served as a very outspoken member who would always let everyone else know his views and opinions on every topic. For the record Tony was a Unite, or as he would often say, T & G member for 53 years. He was an active shop steward in the dairy industry and a member of the Dairy National Negotiating Committee. He also sat on SERTUC and its EXEC for many years. As a City and County Councillor he is most remembered for the cycle bridge that is named after him and the then County Transport and Highways chief (Brian Oldridge).
Tony could be relied on for not only attending and being a banner carrier for the many rallies and disputes around the County and Country but was keen to engage with the public and others about the reason we were marching or demonstrating putting his points politely but with conviction.
Finally on behalf of the T & G, Unite, the Trade Council and County we send Sylvia and family our deepest sympathies and best wishes for the future, and thanks for sharing her husband with us.
Andrew Osborne – Unite Cambridge Engineering Branch
Rest in Peace brother Tony Carter… On Sunday an old friend of mine died, brother Tony Carter TGWU/Unite dairy section as he would always introduce himself, Tony was the chair of the Cambridgeshire county Trades Councils association and on the executive of the South East Regional TUC a former Labour county councillor in Coleridge ward, and a former school governor at St Bede’s School, as well as a mainstay of the trade’s union council and wider labour movement in Cambridge. Tony was a bit of a legend, he had genuine staying power and that’s probably an understatement, I first met Tony when i became involved in the trades union movement in Cambridge back in the mid-nineties alongside his wife Sylvia they held the trades union movement in the City of Cambridge and the county of Cambridgeshire together for over three decades at least, movements go up and they go down and the people involved in them likewise but Tony never lost faith and he was the glue that held everything together, he loved his rulebook and constitutions, he was very insistent that meetings were conducted under rule at all times and would talk at great length if allowed, and while at the time it could be infuriating with the benefit of hindsight it was the right thing. One of my fondest moments with Tony was a few years ago, our local anti-cuts group was taking the county council to the high court and campaigning to defend subsidies from the county to vital rural bus routes, we had a slot to address the county council at their meeting at Shire Hall and Tony wanted to do the speech as a former county councillor, not only did he speak his allotted time but just by being the king of not shutting up managed to speak three times his allocation making an impassioned defence of vital rural bus services…..Typical Tony, absolute legend. As a final note when i look out of the kitchen window of my flat i can see the cycle bridge over the railway, that bridge is the Carter cycle bridge named for Tony Carter and if Wikipedia is to be believed was for a brief period the longest covered cycle bridge in the world. Rest in power comrade Carter, my condolences to Sylvia and the family at this terrible time and I’ll miss your wit and humour at my unite branch meetings.
Martin Booth – NHS Campaigner
I am very sorry to hear that my friend and comrade Tony Carter has died. I have known Tony since the 1970s, as a dedicated and principled trade unionist and socialist, who has played a huge part in keeping the labour movement going, especially in Cambridge. Here he is at a demonstration to defend the NHS,( see top photo) a cause very dear to him, a few years ago in Huntingdon. My deepest sympathies to Sylvia Carter and all Tony’s family, friends and comrades – his memory will inspire us to take the struggle forward.
Cambridge News 24/3/21
A former councillor who was behind the iconic cycle bridge by Cambridge Station has died.
Tony Carter, after whom the longest cycle bridge in the UK, is officially named, died at the age of 78.
He worked as a milkman when he became involved in trade union Unite before becoming a Labour city and county councillor.
He was “at the heart of the city’s political life” for his four-decade career in Cambridge politics, said Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner.
He said: “Tony was a great bloke, his heart was always in the right place. He cared passionately about working people and ensuring our city was a great place to live. He was instrumental in the pedestrianisation of the city centre, at the time controversial, but it is now unthinkable it would be any other way. He was a fine trade unionist, a stalwart of the Trades Council and the Cambridge Labour Party, a great campaigner and someone who always tried to get up so many posters in residents’ windows that the opposition didn’t bother! He will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his wife Sylvia.”
The pedestrian bridge, championed by Mr Carter, was built from 1985 to 1991 to improve road accident statistics involving cyclists.
It is 237.6 metres long, or 779 feet and six inches, making it the longest in the UK.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Tony’s central work for the last 20 years has been taking the lead on highly successful campaigns by local trades unions to improve pay for the lowest paid in high cost Cambridge, and tackle all forms of discrimination and racism locally. He chaired a united Cambridge Trades Council for most of two decades. He will be remembered even more for what was, when built in 1989, the longest covered cycle bridge in Britain. Tony was a great local Councillor and one of very few Councillors across Britain to get a bridge named after him. The ‘Carter Bridge’ for people cycling and walking over the railway at the main station is rightly named after Tony. His stamina as a county councillor is the central reason it happened over 30 years ago, and it’s success underlines why now we need a second similar bridge nearer to Hills Road railway bridge, given the massive recent growth in cycling in Cambridge.”
A key ‘part’ of Cambridge TU history that will be sorely missed. Knew him when I was a very ‘green’ delegate to the C&DTC in the 70’s and he was a man who always impressed me, even when I disagreed with him. A solid trade unionist, the likes of which will be very hard to replace. Last saw him & Sylvia at the Burston rally. Solid without any ‘side’ at all. We will miss him. Salud! @
always committed and rock solid, even if one disagreed with him at times. He was very helpful and supportive of Tenants Against Privatisation’s successful campaigns against stock transfer. I have a picture of him carrying a banner with us at a lobby of Westminster. I suspect a lot of pics of him will be with banner in hand! Best wishes to all Cambridge comrades, John.
Tony was a deeply committed trade unionist and we have lost a valuable comrade. I am sure there will be a minutes silence at our next TC so everyone can pay their respects and that our condolences can be passed on to his wife Sylvia. Solidarity !
Paul Clarke – Ex FBU trades council member
Matt Kelly (NEU) -Trades Council ex-chair
Tony was a principled socialist, anti-racist and activist. He held the Trades Council together when it was weak, and he contributed important continuity when the Trades Council moved into action. We didn’t always agree, but we listened to each other and shared ideas, worked alongside each other. He’ll be much missed. Solidarity and love to Sylvia and his wider family.
I am very sorry to hear of the death of Tony Carter. I first knew Tony in the 1970‘s through his role on Cambridge & District Trades Council. I got to know him better in the 1980‘s, when we were both delegates to the County Association of Trades Councils and he used to drive me to the meetings in Huntingdon. We collaborated in creating the Cambridge Centre for the Unemployed, following on from the 1981 People’s March for Jobs. This later became the Cambridge Benefits Advice Centre and then Advice for Life. Tony and Sylvia played a guiding role throughout these transformations as the Trades Council representatives on the Management Committee. I got to know them both more personally when I went to work full-time for Advice for Life and they used to invite me to their home to discuss developments there. You might not always agree with Tony, but his opinions were always worth listening to and he always acted in a very principled manner. My deepest sympathies and best wishes for the future to Sylvia.
In Solidarity – Jo Rust
King’s Lynn and District Trades Council mourn the loss of our brother and comrade Tony Carter. Tony and his wife Sylvia, have been a friend And supporter of our Trades Council for many years and their wisdom and experience has helped guide us on our way. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten and much of the work we do in the future will have Tony in our thoughts. On a personal note, I have always considered Tony and Sylvia my friends and I send love and condolences to Sylvia for her loss.
In solidarity Teresa Mackay – Ipswich & Dist TUC /Vice President LESE EC
I would like to add my thoughts and sincere commiserations regarding our late great comrade Tony Carter’s passing. I have known Tony for many years through the trade union movement and always regarded his as a friend as well as comrade. He was always very proud of the fact that he was an Ipswich Town supporter throughout his adult life and regularly came to see them when they played in Ipswich. This obviously went down well with me as I’ve lived in Ipswich for almost 50 years and the family are all committed Ipswich Town supporters. We would always have a chat after the LESE EC and would have lunch together with others in the restaurant after the meeting. He played such a positive role on the Committee and was not afraid to air his views. I shall remember him as a committed Socialist fighting for a better world for all. Sending my deepest condolences to Sylvia and family who can feel really proud of the fact that their beloved Tony definitely left his mark within the labour and trade union movement.
Hands Off Hinchingbrooke
I met Tony and Sylvia some time ago when Tony successfully resurrected The Huntingdon Trade Union Council of which I was Chair and later Secretary. Tony’s commitment and passion for fighting every injustice and never being afraid to speak out inspired not only myself but many others and is responsible for various campaigns that will continue to carry his legacy. This includes Hands Off Hinchingbrooke which was born from the HTUC . Hands Off Hinchingbrooke continues to fight for our local hospital and the NHS to this day.
Tony’s commitment to the Trade Union Movement was further acknowledged when he received the Silver badge award. I nominated him for this for which he was rightly awarded. I feel privileged to have met and campaigned with Tony. I learnt so much. He was always supportive, kind and knowledgeable.
My sincere thoughts and wishes are with Sylvia and family.
Tony Carter Very Fondly Remembered by Laurie Heselden, TUC
Tony Carter made being a trade unionist more than important, more than righteous – he made it joyful and fun.
I have no fixed idea when I first met Tony. It was certainly a long time ago. But as soon as you knew him, you liked him, you were mates, familiars, and if you saw the world the same way as him, you were quickly comrades and trusted friends. He was gentle, and generous, and very easy to like.
Tony was probably there when I first spoke at the SERTUC regional council nearly 30 years ago. It was my first time in Congress House. I had turned up at 9.30 to then be told that I was last on at 12.45, and as the minutes ticked by, I tried to get a grip on the dynamics at play.
Well, that day a row broke out between the Chair and a delegate. I didn’t realise at the time, but the roots of the row sat in the contentious merger of the East Anglian regional council with the South East regional council.
The Chair, whom I think was Andrew Jack, told the delegate who was speaking at the rostrum to “shut up and get off” and the delegate shot back “Don’t you tell me to shut up you old git”. The Chair ordered the Vice Chair, Martin Gould, to “throw that man out of the building”.
Anyway, it all got sorted out. The delegate had an accent suspiciously similar to Tony’s, but I am quite sure the delegate can’t have been Tony, as he was a much smarter operator and altogether a better mannered man. But I do strongly suspect that Tony was there, and I know he would have been chuckling. I doubt I am alone in believing that there was a bit of Tony that was a naughty school-boy who never quite grew up, and who liked mischief, pranks and silly jokes.
As a delegate from Cambridgeshire County Association of Trades Councils Tony was a stalwart of what was once the SERTUC regional council and is now the TUC LESE regional council. And from the regional council, he was elected very many times to the SERTUC, and more latterly, the TUC LESE, regional executive committee.
He seldom missed either a regional council or executive committee and he was a thoughtful contributor. He was a consistent and persistent advocate of the role of trades councils, and rightly so. Even if his presence was usually enough to remind speakers to say “….. and trades councils” Tony would probably follow up their contribution and say “… and trades councils”, just to make sure everyone got the point.
I also think a great strength that he had was to challenge others to ‘ask why not’ about big topics, to conceive that the improbable might actually be possible, to think that ‘it does not have to be like this’, and to dare to be bold.
I don’t know the exact circumstances of how it was agreed to build the longest covered cycle bridge in the world in Cambridge in the 1980s, but it is a fact it was Tony, as a County Councillor, who made this improbable possible. This included securing half the cost from the Department of Transport. Seemingly, Peter Bottomley, Minister of Roads and Traffic, couldn’t say no to Tony. So, the cycle bridge was built, and the Council named it after Tony, in recognition of his leadership.
If you listened carefully to what Tony said he frequently tried to lift our horizons, and to lift our conceptions of what is possible if we work hard, work collectively, stay true to our values and work with unity.
That didn’t mean that those in authority couldn’t have their chain tugged. At the TUC LESE executive committee Tony always sat as far away as possible from the President, at the other end of a very long table. And of course, Tony was either a little deaf or seemingly whispering to colleagues and not quite listening. So, there was regular ping pong of “say that again” from Tony and “I did not see you at the far end of the table” from the TUC LESE President – all done quite charmingly.
A related strength that Tony had was that he was invariably cheerful. As far as I am concerned, even if he had a minor gripe to pick with me, he was still pleased to see me and he was always in a good mood. He would often say to me ‘Arghh, just the person I wanted to see, I need a few words with you”. And he would take my arm, huddle in, or put an arm around me. This was the deployment of Tony’s political and networking skills. He made you welcome, he had captured your attention, and you were pleased to see him. Meanwhile, you knew that either, you were going to get a minor rebuke for forgetting to profile the role of trades councils in an activity, or more likely, you were about to be asked to undertake a small task of some kind. But that was always OK, because it was always an appropriate task, and the request was expressed in a friendly and polite way, and frankly, it was near impossible to say no.
I did hear Tony express disappointment from time to time, possibly tactically, but I never heard him be defeatist, be miserable, negative, or cynical.
On the contrary, Tony made being a trade unionist joyful and fun. That is an incredibly powerful approach and one that many of us can learn from when approaching new potential members. We need more joy, and less of the grim and earnest!
Tony was a doer. Lobbying the City Council about the living wage, campaigning about public sector pay, and for better rural transport links, anti-racism, solidarity with workers in struggle and supporting the NHS. He was ceaseless. And he enjoyed organising and staffing stalls in Cambridge, for Heart Unions week, for Britain Needs a Pay Rise, and for numerous other campaigns. And the summer fair in March in the Fens. I remember whomsoever the ‘local worthy’ was opening the fair in March being delighted that the TUC had joined them with a stall. And I remember Tony speaking to so many local people that day using his amiability, his humanity, and his optimism to make easy conversation and useful connections.
On the other end of the spectrum, I used to regularly bump into Tony at the Inflation Briefings at the Bank of England. His presence reminding the City types and company bosses that unions are still the ‘other side’ of industry’ and that behind the anti-septic economic projections are the real lives and livelihoods of workers and communities.
As is so often the case you learn things about a colleague when they pass that you wish you had known earlier, such as Tony was first a senior rep in the dairy industry for the TGWU 50 plus years ago. And I learned that Tony had dyslexia and had struggled at school, and his work in the union, whilst being selfless and of immense benefit to his colleagues, had been an environment for him to educate himself and to grow. And I learned that he and Sylvia had been involved in the establishment of an unemployed workers centre in Cambridge in 1979/80. All the boats rise together!
Tony and Sylvia were inseparable and a force of nature and of politics. Tony will be greatly missed by Sylvia, but I know that their family will be a great source of comfort to her. They are immensely proud of his political life, of his trade unionism, of his achievements and of his values.
And of course, Cambridge and District trades council will be a source of solace and solidarity for Sylvia too.
And I know Tony was immensely pleased and proud that his granddaughter became a NEU rep this year, quite literally part of his living legacy.
I think Tony would say, “thanks for the accolades and happy memories, but enough of mourning. Cheer up, always look on the bright side, get on with the work, supporting workers and aiding the community, and get on with the organising. There is a world to change. And a lot of what needs to be done, is best done at the local level. So, make sure you include the trades councils, front and centre. Or I will be having a quiet word in your ear.”
Laurie Heselden – Regional Policy and Campaigns Officer -TUC London, East and South East
Heart Unions Week Cambridge City Centre
Britain Needs A Payrise – Cambridge
Recruiting Young Members