Sudden death of dedicated former Lancashire leader

John West leader of Lancashire County Council
John West leader of Lancashire County Council
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Tributes have been paid to the former leader of Lancashire County Council who has died aged 77.

John West, who came to England from Dublin in 1961, dedicated much of his life to public service in his adopted home, having become a Labour councillor in May 1981.

His son Brendan, 38, said: “He was a very driven person; he wanted everything he did to be the best.

“He was dedicated to helping the community and never moved away from the Frenchwood area of Preston.”

As leader of Lancashire County Council between 1992 and 2001, he oversaw the introduction of the cabinet system and presided over the break-up of Lancashire when Blackburn and Blackpool became unitary authorities in 1998.

Away from the corridors of power, Mr West worked his way up to becoming a director of Preston Bus, and gained degrees in economics and history and medieval history.

He also took up a post with the Local Government Association, was a non-executive director of Preston and South Ribble Development Agency, helped set up and chair Lancashire Waste Services Limited, and was instrumental in the appointment of Pauline Clare as the UK’s first female chief constable, while vice-chairman of the county’s police authority.

In 2006, he stepped down from his final public role, that of non-executive director with the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Brendan said the great-grandfather of three was “a real family man”, who loved spending time with his grandchildren, visiting Dublin and being with friends.

He died suddenly after a kidney operation on April 27. His funeral will be held at Preston Crematorium at 2.30pm on Friday.