Redcar Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Abbott has died

Really sad news from the North East today. Chris Abbott, long-term Liberal Democrat Councillor from Redcar, has died suddenly.

The photo of him here is taken from his Twitter profile. 

From Gazette Live:

A prominent figure in local Liberal Democrat politics for more than 40 years, he represented Newcomen ward, in Redcar , where he lived.

The 66-year-old lifelong Leeds fan and electrician was also chairman of Yorkshire Ridings Society.

Paying tribute, Josh Mason, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Liberal Democrat group, said: “Chris was a bastion of local democracy and a lifelong liberal, whose knowledge, passion and dedicated community work, have been an inspiration to us all.

“Redcar and Cleveland Council will be a lesser place without his principled values, commitment and tireless efforts for local people.

On behalf of Redcar Liberal Democrats, I offer sincere condolences to Chris’ family and to all who knew him, as we mourn together, the loss of a dear friend

Chris was one of the stalwarts of the early online Lib Dem Conferencing system, Cix and his blog was a brilliant mix of local news and commentary.

I know that many of you will be sad to hear this news. Please feel free to share memories of Chris in the comments.

All of us at LDV send condolences to Chris’s friends and family.

Ian Swales, the former Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar, wrote this on his Facebook page and it is reproduced here with his permission:

Pat and I are very sad that our friend and Lib Dem colleague Chris Abbott has died suddenly.

He was a truly outstanding Liberal Democrat being a personal inspiration to us and many others. His work for the party and in the community will never be forgotten.

This is the obituary sent to the local press:

He served as an elected Councillor since the 1970’s and was the current Deputy Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland. He has been a tower of strength working tirelessly for the Local Party and the residents of Newcomen ward.

Every local election success in the constituency was a result of his pioneering example in the 1985 Cleveland County Council election win. He showed us the way. He used his experience to support newly elected Councillors and was Ian Swales’s agent during his 2005 and successful 2010 General Election campaigns.

Raised in Harrogate Chris started as a town Councillor in Whitby in the 1970’s and stood in Hartlepool in the 1979 General Election. Since then he has been a Borough and County Councillor in Redcar and supported so many others into office acting as agent for many years. Along with Stan Wilson he kept the Local Party going through some dark times in the 1980’s and he stood for Parliament in Redcar in 1992. From 2003 to 2007 he was a Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration during the Lib Dem Conservative coalition and also spent many years serving on the Cleveland Police Authority. His experience and devotion to residents led to Ian Swales appointing him as a caseworker in his office when he was first elected as a Member of Parliament.

He has done the party’s leaflet printing for many years and, along with his dear late wife Glynis, was always amongst the first to turn up to action days and by-election campaigns. His work and influence also extended into other parts of the North East and he served on the national Conference Committee.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Very sad news indeed. I never met Chris in person but as a one-time fellow ‘cixen’ I got to value his contributions highly. Flicking through that day’s posts, his were definitely ones you would always tend to stop and read. I didn’t always agree with him but his contributions were always intelligent, fair, pleasant and clear.
    It’s great that the party has so many new members, but sad to see the older ones go. Condolences to his family – and his local party.

  • Chris was a good man, a dependable friend and colleague, and a stalwart of the party in Redcar and the North East for many years – although he was always a Yorkshireman, being chair of the Yorkshire Ridings Society and a leading light in many Yorkshire Day celebrations. He was a key figure in the Redcar councillor group and was instrumental in getting Ian Swales elected in 2010 as his agent and constituency assistant. In addition he did much for the party in neighbouring areas (he was part of a highly effective “hit squad” who helped win numerous by elections). He will be deeply missed by many people in his community and his party as well as his family – his wife served alongside him in Newcomen ward but sadly died a few years ago and Chris missed her deeply. He was also a devoted grandfather and he and his grandson would attend Leeds United games without fail. We’ll miss you Chris – having also lost Stan Wilson and Maelor Williams in the last year or two, we will work to continue the fine example and service you gave locally.

  • Tony Dawson 9th Jan '17 - 9:51am

    Such sad news which makes us all feel mortal. I remember Chris from when Phil Hanmer and I led the Northern Region by-election hit-squad more years ago than I care to remember. Chris was a dynamic powerhouse who contributed much to the amazing resurgence of Liberal fortunes in that part of North Yorkshire.

  • suzanne fletcher 9th Jan '17 - 10:48pm

    I’ve known Chris for over 30 years and so very sad. Life threw a lot at him and politics was not kind to him either at times, but he steadfastly stood by his Liberalism, and I am proud to have been his friend.
    Lots of things I and others disagreed with him on, but didn’t lose the friendship.
    As already mentioned we were part of a hit squad going around the NE striking terror into Labour, and winning seats for Liberals. In the dark days of the Alliance formation when we were minus in the opinion polls and a depressed mess, Chris, along with Stan was making headlines in the local paper with pics of a pile of dog poo, or some potholes. You can’t measure the impact that had on keeping up spirits and some of us on board in very dark times.
    Although it went back to Labour I am so glad that he was able to be part of the administration when Labour lost power.
    And so very glad he was a crucial part of the team to get Ian Swales elected as MP. A pride and a joy that rippled out to a lot of us.
    Ever thankful to Chris, no doubt his ward will miss him badly, and his family devastated. I hope they will find some comfort in knowing how much Chris was loved and how his memory lives on.

  • Very very sad news I too remember the young Chris From over 30 yrs ago. Just confirms there is so much more to life than Liberal politics sadly Chris went too soon and missed much.

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