South Ribble councillors pay tribute to veteran politician

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Members of South Ribble Borough Council stood in the authority's chamber in silent tribute to one of their number,  just 24 hours after his funeral.

Dave Watts passed away suddenly last month at the age of 71. He had represented the Bamber Bridge East ward for more than 20 years.

Cllr Dave Watts

Cllr Dave Watts

READ MORE >>> Shock after the passing of veteran South Ribble councillor

This week’s full council meeting began with fond memories of the veteran Labour politician, shared from across the political divide.

Labour opposition group leader, Paul Foster, led the tributes to the man who was “always Dave, never David”.

“Dave was quite a quiet man, he was never one for the limelight - but he worked tirelessly in his local community.

“Just two or three days before his passing, [a few of us] were with him at an area committee - and he was giving out good advice. So it came as a real shock when Dave passed so suddenly.

“Every meeting, he’d be the first here and half the time he’d be the last to leave as well.

“He’ll be hugely missed - he was a lovely man. Bamber Bridge is a better place because of Cllr Dave Watts,” Cllr Foster said.

Deputy leader of the Conservative authority, Caroline Moon, said that Cllr Watts was the first opposition member to welcome her when she was elected to the authority and remained “warm and supportive” thereafter.

And she recounted a story told to her by council leader, Margaret Smith, who was away for the meeting.

“Margaret recalls with fond affection that Cllr Watts was the only member of this chamber who could get away with referring to her as ‘Maggie’.

“He was a man of good humour and a dedicated, caring borough councillor who will be sorely missed,” Cllr Moon said.

Liberal Democrat Harold Hancock was another member who had been greeted by Cllr Watts on his arrival in the South Ribble chamber.

“I found him to be easy to talk to - he had a dry sense of humour and possessed a sound judgement when it came to decision-making.”

“He will be missed not only by members of this council, but people he served in hs ward,” Cllr Hancock said.

Following the tributes, members stood for two minutes’ silence.

Tribute was also paid to long-serving council worker, Kev Brown, who also passed away last week. Mr. Brown had worked at the authority since 2001, most recently as part of the shared services team with neighbouring Chorley Council.

A visibly upset Cllr Moon said: “Kev was known for his great sense of humour, warm personality and love of all things football.

“It’s fair to say that those of us who knew him and all who had the pleasure of working with him held him in great affection and with the utmost of respect.

“Kev, you really were one of life’s good guys,” she concluded.