Politicians from around Milton Keynes have paid tribute to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died on Monday.
Baroness Thatcher was leader of the country between 1979 and 1990, but her politics split opinion like no other.
In 1979, she opened the shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes and also went against the Conservative party line and chose to fight to save the Open University.
Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Andrew Geary, said: “She split opinion, and she might not have been liked, but she was certainly respected.
“She inherited a real dogs dinner, but managed to turn the country around into one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world.
“She broke the Trade Union’s power, and boldly took on the Falklands issue.
“There will be a time when everyone is grateful that Baroness Thatcher was Prime Minister of this country.”
Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, said: “Margaret Thatcher was stubborn, courageous, thoughtful and diligent. She did things because they were right, not popular and was a true conviction politician.
“We are in her debt and regardless of your political affiliation her death marks a great loss for British politics.”
And MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, added: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Lady Thatcher. It is hard to believe that the lady who was Prime Minister for much of my childhood is no longer with us. She will always be remembered as one of the greatest of Britons.
“She was a great friend of Milton Keynes, visiting on a number of occasions. She formally opened thecentre:mk shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 1979, returning to celebrate its 21st birthday. Her autobiography, The Downing Street Years, contains a photograph of her meeting the Milton Keynes residents who were among the first to buy their council house.
“I had the great honour and privilege of meeting her a number of times. She came to campaign with me when I first stood for Parliament in Milton Keynes and, shortly before I was elected in 2010 on my third attempt, I met her with fellow Parliamentary candidates and she instructed me to get on and finish the job! I was happy to oblige.
“Growing up in a very socialist part of Scotland, it might seem odd that she was an inspirational political figure for me. However, her core belief that to succeed in life you need to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, is one that has always chimed with me and will stay with me.
“She will be missed but her great legacy will endure. Rest in peace Lady Thatcher.”
Councillor Lee Barney said: “Now that Lady Thatcher has passed away, people will undoubtedly remember both her successes and failures.
“Indeed, I will not be surprised if they are vivacious in their assessment of her achievements.
“However, I for one, thank Lady Thatcher for the great strides she took in balancing out the gender divide through her great example and trade mark self determination.”
Councillor Paul Williams said: “Have just heard Margaret Thatcher has died. Though I disagree with her politics, have to admire her as Britain’s first female PM.”
Councillor Ric Brackenbury said: “My first news memory was Thatcher leaving Downing Street. Dad had to explain what was happening as this eight year old didn’t quite get it. RIP.”
Andrew Pakes, Labour & Co-operative Parliamentary Spokesman for Milton Keynes, said: “My first thoughts are with Margaret Thatcher’s family and friends. She was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister and a huge political figure on the world stage. Although I profoundly disagreed with many of the decisions she made, she was a big figure in British political life.”
Mr Pakes also praised Mrs Thatcher for her stance in protecting the Open University.
He added: “Despite Conservative plans to axe the Open University after they won the 1970 election, Margaret Thatcher stood up for it. Shadow Chancellor Iain MacLeod called the OU ‘blithering nonsense’ when it was first put forward by Harold Wilson.
“But, as Education Secretary following the 1970 election, Thatcher changed her party’s approach - so at least one u-turn despite famously later saying ‘the Lady is not for turning’.”
Deputy Mayor Brian White added: “In 1970 General Election, the Tories promised to abolish the OU. Thatcher to her credit kept it going - shows anyone can do one thing right.”
Deputy Labour leader Nigel Long though felt differently about Baroness Thatcher.
He said: “She was a strong leader, but she created huge division in society and left us with a culture of greed and selfishness and many of today’s problems.
“I think the world would have been a better place if she hadn’t have been our leader.
“I do recognise that she was a leader who broke new ground.”
Cec Tallack, deputy leader of the Lib Dems in Milton Keynes, added: “She was a politician of the time. I remember the 1980s as being not the best of times. In my opinion, life has got better since then.
“You cannot dispute that she was controversial, but I think today’s style of politics is much better. I think the changes she made needed to be done, but they could have been done in a better way.
“Everybody either loved her or hated her, and I fell into the latter of the two camps.”