Leading councillor dies suddenly
ONE of the best-known characters on the political scene in Ipswich has died suddenly.Whitehouse councillor George King was first elected to Civic Centre in 1980 as a Labour member for the ward - and for the last four years has represented the area as a member of the growing Liberal Democrat group.
ONE of the best-known characters on the political scene in Ipswich has died suddenly.
Whitehouse councillor George King, 68, was first elected to Civic Centre in 1980 as a Labour member for the ward - and for the last four years has represented the area as a member of the growing Liberal Democrat group.
Mr King died on Friday. He had suffered from heart problems for several years but his death came as a shock to his family and friends because recently he had been feeling much better.
Until May he was deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the borough, and remained chairman of the council's crucial human resources committee until his death.
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Mr King, who lived in Newark Close at the time of his death but had lived in Bramford Road for many years, was a retired lorry driver and was very well known in the Whitehouse ward.
He leaves a widow, Diane, and two daughters and a son.
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He had a very large personal vote - and it was that which saw him returned as the area's first Liberal Democrat councillor in 2003.
Ipswich mayor Henry Davies said: “I have known George for many years, and crossed swords with him on several occasions.
“But he was also a very fair man and a very good councillor - he will be sorely missed in Whitehouse and my sympathies go out to his family.”
Tributes came in from across the political spectrum.
Andrew Cann, chairman of the town's Liberal Democrat group and like Mr King a former Labour member said: "Ipswich Liberal Democrats are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of George King.
“Our thoughts are with George's wife, Diane and the family at this difficult time.
“George was a well respected and popular Councillor with a long record of dedicated public service in Ipswich, latterly as a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Whitehouse Ward.
“His popularity was rooted in his 'pavement politics' style and readiness to champion causes he felt to be right. He brought to his campaigning, persuasive, and where necessary, combative skills learned over years as a seasoned and principled local politician.”
Mr Cann added: “George will be missed greatly by his political colleagues but also the people of Whitehouse whom he has represented so well and for so long."
Council leader Liz Harsant said: “George was a very good councillor who always put the needs of his voters and the town before party politics.
“He always fought very hard for the rights of the staff at Civic Centre - and they thought the world of him. This is very sad news, it really is the end of an era for Ipswich.”
And Mr King's former Labour group leader, Peter Gardiner, was also sad to hear the news.
He said: “At the end of his time in the Labour group there was a bit of a falling out, but he was always a very good councillor representing the interests of Whitehouse.
“It is very sad to hear this news. I knew he had not been well, but I thought he was getting better and so this has come as a great shock. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”