Preston mourns 'principled, caring and warm-hearted' councillor who served city for almost 40 years

Tributes are flooding in for one of Preston's longest-serving councillors who has died aged 71.

By Brian Ellis
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 11:03 am

Coun John Browne served the city as a Labour member for almost 40 years.

The former mental health nurse was first elected to the old Preston Borough Council in May 1983 and had retained his seat ever since.

Coun Browne was the current chair of the city's licensing committee and vice-chair of the taxi and miscellaneous committee.

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Coun John Browne had served the council for 39 years.

He lived in Ribbleton, in the Brookfield Ward he had represented with passion for decades.

Council leader Coun Matthew Brown described him as "a principled, caring and warm-hearted soul."

He tweeted that the whole of Preston Labour was in mourning for a man who was "never afraid to speak out for what he believed and always thinking of others before himself.

"We will never see his like again. "

And Preston MP Sir Mark Hendrick said Coun Browne was "a lifelong Labour stalwart and one of the longest serving councillors ever in Preston.

"He lived most of his life in the Brookfield ward he represented for so many years."

Preston's cabinet member for community wealth building, Coun Freddie Bailey, said: "Yesterday we lost a friend, a colleague, a fellow councillor, a gentleman, a true socialist.

"Preston won't be the same without John Browne."

Preston Labour Party announced it was suspending campaigning for the May elections as a mark of respect.

A spokesperson said: "We are deeply saddened at the passing of our longest-sitting Councillor John Browne.

"Campaigning has been suspended and we are in mourning. Our thoughts are with John’s close friends and family at this time. RIP our friend and comrade."

Retired Labour city councillor John Swindells tweeted: "Preston and its council will be poorer for your passing.

"It has been privilege to be in your company and to be able to call you a comrade and friend - a much valued critical friend when I was the cabinet member in charge licensing, a subject you had a vast pool of knowledge of."

Another former council colleague, Jack Davenport, now living in Australia, said: "John was a great campaigner and wonderful man.

"It was a privilege to serve with him in the council and no doubt he will be missed by many."

Preston's Deputy Mayor and Lib-Dem Councillor Neil Darby added: "When I was first elected, one of the first people to congratulate me was John Browne.

"After I first spoke in council, John made a point of coming to talk to me afterwards. John was consistently the nicest person in the room and the most eloquent.

"He fiercely stood up for what he believed was right and he would listen to all sides of a debate before reaching his conclusion.

"Preston and the city council are much poorer for his loss."

Fellow Lib-Dem Councillor Mark Jewell tweeted that Coun Browne had been "hugely respected across the political spectrum."

He said he was “an excellent councillor who stood up for what he believed and for the people he represented. Preston has lost a wonderful man and advocate."