Touching tributes were paid to the late Bernard Pidcock at the first full council meeting since the death of the popular Labour councillor earlier this month.
Wednesday’s (February 20) meeting of Northumberland County Council opened with a minute’s silence for Coun Pidcock, who represented the Holywell ward, as well as Peter Hutchinson CBE, a former Conservative leader who served on the county council from 1973 to 1993.
This was followed by tributes to Coun Pidcock, whose daughter Laura is the MP for North-West Durham, from Conservative council leader Peter Jackson and Labour colleague, Coun Susan Dungworth.
“Bernard Pidcock was my political and personal friend,” Coun Dungworth said. “He and I were the class of 1995, we got elected together onto Blyth Valley Council, we’ve won elections and lost elections together, and this is actually the first time I’ve stood as a councillor in a chamber without Bernard at my side.
“I think it’s fair to say that there’s not a person in this room that Bernard hasn’t driven to distraction at some time or other, however, he was the epitome of what a good councillor should be; he was passionate, committed, hard-working, he was as happy on the streets of his ward or other people’s wards as he was in this council chamber.
“He was an unabashed socialist, as everyone will know, but what’s important is he lived every minute of his life as one, it wasn’t something he just wore as a badge. Bernard was socialism and he did so with a ready smile and a mischievous sense of humour that we’ve all been the butt of.
“I think we are all the poorer for not having him with us.”
Coun Jackson said: “Today is a very sad day. There is an empty chair over there and I think we all feel it very strongly indeed.
“There’s no doubt that Bernard was a very dedicated councillor, he was a great champion of his community and his passion and character came through in everything he did.
“Even though we didn’t agree on everything, or possibly anything, he had that ability to transcend all of the political groups and to one extent or another, I think that each one of the 67 of us actually had him as a friend of ours and would always have a word with him every time we saw him in the corridor.
“I know his loss is felt deeply by all of the staff, because they all had a great respect for his passion and drive as well.
“On behalf of the whole council, I can say that we will all miss him terribly and there is an emptiness in this chamber today.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service