Former mayor of March Councillor John West dies at his home

FORMER March Mayor Councillor John West died at his home early yesterday (Tuesday) evening.

Mr West, 66, was discovered by his wife, Carol, who had assumed he was sleeping after telling her he felt tired and unwell. A post mortmem was due to be held yesterday (Thursday) to determine the cause of death.

The town, district and county councillor had seen a doctor on Monday and was at a meeting of March Town Council that evening. He had recently suffered a severe bout of flu from which he was struggling to recover.

Mr West was born and brought up in the house in Station Road where he died and where he lived with Carol, his wife of 41 years.

Mrs West said her husband had been determined to go the town council meeting but had admitted he was not feeling well.

She said: “He was terribly hard working as a councillor and was so well-known in the town. He loved getting results for people when they came to him with a problem.

“He devoted a huge amount of time to his council work but never minded when it was going to benefit people.”

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Mr West served as mayor in 2009-10 and represented the town on a huge number of occasions.

The couple first met about 45 years ago at a dance in the town’s Griffin Hotel and Carol realised from the start he was a colourful character.

She said: “I was at the dance and he had refused to pay for a ticket. He ended up climbing in through a lavatory window. That was just typical of John.”

Five years after their first meeting the couple married and subsequently lived in Cambridge and London where Mr West pursued a highly successful career as a salesman.

When they returned to March Mr West decided he would follow his political interests and stood as a councillor.

Mrs West said: “March North was a very difficult ward to win and once he had won it he always worked very hard.”

• JOHN West was elected onto Fenland District council in 1999 serving as the Conservative member for March North Ward. He also represented March North on March Town Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

During his time as a Fenland District Councillor he served on a number of different committees. At the time of his death he was a member of both the Overview and Scrutiny Policy Panel and the Planning Committee.

• FENLAND District council leader Alan Melton said: “John will be very sadly missed both on the council and in Fenland as a whole. He was a first class ward member, who was tremendously active within his community.

“He was never afraid to speak his mind and stand up for everything he believed in. Our thoughts are with his wife Carol at this sad time.”

• SANDRA Claxton, chief executive of Fenland District Council, said: “Councillor West was an immensely dedicated local councillor who took his duties very seriously. I have heard him described as a roaring lion of a man and I think this sums up his personality.

“He had a big heart and a real feeling for Fenland and its people. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the people he represented and he was passionate in putting forward their views and championing their causes.”

• TOWN and district councillor Jan French said: “He was a very hard-working councillor and a personal friend. I will miss him greatly and my thoughts and those of my family are with Carol.”

• LEADER of Cambridgeshire County Council, Councillor Jill Tuck, added her tribute. She said: “All members of the county council are deeply saddened by the loss of John.

“He worked extraordinarily hard for the people he represented on the town, district and county councils and he will be missed by his councillor colleagues and his community. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

• CLIVE LEMMON, clerk to March Town Council, said: “He was a larger than life character and will be sadly missed. He was the kind of person that if there was a job to be done would always be one of the first to volunteer.”

• COUNCILLOR Ralph Butcher, Chairman of Fenland District Council, said: “It was a real shock to hear the news. I was with John very recently and he seemed absolutely fine.

“I first met him in 2003 and have always known him to be an excellent local councillor, arguing the case for the people in his ward.

“He was one of those characters who made sure you knew his point of view and was always reluctant to take no for an answer. My deepest sympathy goes to his wife Carol.”

• Leave your tributes to Cllr John West below.