Tributes paid to highly respected Bedford Labour councillor who has died, aged 75

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Tributes have been pouring in for a well-respected former Labour local councillor who sadly passed away last month after a brave fight against cancer. Chris Black, a staunch Labour man and lifetime member died aged 75 on July 26. Mr Black was a Bedford Borough Councillor from 1971 to 1974 and 1995 to 2009, and was leader of the Bedford Borough Labour Group between 2006-07. At news of his death many friends and ex-colleagues honoured him.

Councillor Sue Oliver, Labour Group Leader, Bedford Borough Council said: “Chris was a highly respected and well liked councillor and member of the Labour Party. In many ways, my own political career has shadowed Chris’s – first as ward Councillor in Kempston then Cauldwell, as Executive member and as Labour Group Leader. In each case I have found a legacy of the greatest respect amongst people who knew him.

“Even after he retired from the council in 2009, Chris maintained his links with the party. He was generous with time, money and sound advice.

“Chris endured his illness with quiet fortitude and he died the day after his 75th birthday. He will be sadly missed.”

Cllr Carl Meader, Deputy Leader of the Bedford Borough Labour Group and Deputy Mayor of Kempston added: “Chris was passionate about what he believed in and always fought for the vulnerable in society and worked hard to improve housing within the borough. He was not only respected by members within the Labour Group but also by all councillors and officers within the council. A great loss to us all.”

Councillor Colleen Atkins, colleague and friend for nearly 30 years explained: “Chris was a man of respect and integrity. He listened to others’ points of view and spoke passionately about what he believed in. When Chris spoke, the whole room would listen, such was the respect that everyone had for him. He was dedicated to Labour and for social justice. However, the Labour Party and his family only had him for 6 days a week. On the seventh day he sailed! He loved it.

“It was extremely pleasing that Chris received the Labour Party’s National Merit Award in recognition of his long years of service to the party. He had been a member for 50 years and during that time had held nearly every office in the local party. He was highly respected by his colleagues and will be remembered for his determination to fight for social justice plus his fairness and valuable advice. But most of all, the way he fought his illness without complaining yet with great determination and bravery was a true reflection of Chris’ character.”

Cllr Randolph Charles, Ward Councillor for Cauldwell Ward, Speaker of Bedford Borough Council noted: “Chris Black was an esteemed colleague and a long standing member of the Labour Party. Over the years he held many offices including leader of the labour Group and was well thought of and very well respected. When Chris came to Cauldwell as a candidate, and he was duly elected and his experience and commitment was valuable along with sound advice.

“He was a straight talking individual but he was fair and prepared to listen to a different point of view even if he still disagreed. In 2004 we initiated a successful campaign to make Elstow Road safer after the death of a young man in the area. Later we conducted a consultation exercise to address the parking issues in streets around Bedford Hospital. It is sad to lose a colleague and my sympathies to his wife Judith and family.”

Councillor Shan Hunt said: “Delightful, generous with time, courteous, a good friend and a faithful Party Colleague.”

Cllr Mohammed Masud, Queens Park Bedford Ward said: “Chris was highly respected and a great man who was dedicated to helping others. It is a sad loss and he will be dearly missed.”

Patrick Hall, former MP and Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate concluded: “Chris could always be relied upon to back Labour through thick and thin. His support was strong and consistent but he also thought for himself.”