Thank you David Becket: the pleasure was ours…

It is with great sadness that news arrives of the passing for a long-standing former councillor. Staffordshire activist David Becket, has died at his home in Betley, Newcastle under Lyme; it was multiple medical problems, but not including the virus.

David was well known for outstanding hard work in the old Halmerend ward that he represented and also for very significant work he did as Liberal Democrat on the Newcastle Borough Council. He was on many committees (he loved and hated them) and for 5 years was on the cabinet 2006-2011. Elected in 2002, David was elected Mayor of the Borough of Newcastle for 2012/13 with his wife Dr Anne Becket as mayoress.

David’s passion, well he was passionate about many things, was the environment and recycling.  He was very proud of his role in taking the recycling service at Newcastle from a failing service to winning three national awards. To his credit – and it was a sign of the man – he decided to step back from having a Cabinet role at this time.  “Always leave when you are winning”, he would boom at anyone willing to listen. He stood down from the Council in 2015 and was made an Honorary Alderman of the Borough – “its fluff” he said, “but its nice fluff” and he was deeply proud of the elevation.

He regarded the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election in 2017 as a bit of a come-back for him and it was an election he thoroughly enjoyed and was particular pleased if he heard stories of our campaign upsetting the Labour Party. “That” he would say “is our role as a party – besides governance and representing residents.”

Prior to 2000 David was active in Berkshire politics, as a County Councillor from 1993 to 1998 and a West Berkshire Unitary Councillor from 1997 to 2000. He was Chairman of Highways and Transportation for West Berkshire from 1994 to 2000, covering the period of the construction of the Newbury By-Pass and the pedestrianisation of Newbury Town Centre. Under David’s leadership West Berkshire was one of the councils to follow a lead set by Suffolk and introduce a rural speed management policy. He served as a lead member in Education Committees and Sub Committees. In addition, an active party member at all levels, David was a key member of David Rendel MP’s campaign team and he always held up his friend the late David Rendel as the model of what a public servant could and should be.

He was a good man with a loving family and had many friends, having lived a very active life for over 80 years. David was a wise bird with a cheeky glint in his eye and had over many years mastered a sense of professional grumpiness combined with an enthusiasm for new ideas and getting things done. He will be sorely and keenly missed as an activist and as someone who got things done.

If you met David and were accosted with his views, often over an ale, you certainly didn’t forget the encounter – I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of his views for nearly 30 years.  Thank you my friend, the pleasure, as he and I always joked, was all mine.

* Ed Fordham is a party member and activist in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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8 Comments

  • I share Ed’s sadness about David, but I am also thankful for David’s life. As a fellow activist and councillor in Newcastle under Lyme, I can confirm the huge contribution David made in his local community, across the Borough and to the local party. Although Ed is right to refer to the Mayoral role as fluffy, David was more than a figurehead, impartially but very strongly directing meetings and being a helpful friend to many people and organisations in the Borough.
    He was thoroughly Liberal and although he was passionate for community work and politics, he was also a good family man, enjoyed cooking and was a friend to so many inside and outside the party.
    As well as the Environment, David was strongly concerned about Economic policy for the less well off, Internationalism and opposed to financial waste, bureaucracy and conservatism in their various forms locally, nationally and within the party. He loved arguing policy but was increasingly concerned about the national party because he felt we were not presenting concise authentically Liberal messages as well as policy on these big issues.
    While on cabinet he met and won the respect of frontline workers and similarly put into practice his belief that public servants should have their feet on the ground by meeting the people affected before airing his views to the council. He was honest, had good standards of behaviour and was a challenge to senior officers. At meetings he would often open his voice with the words “I am not happy” , which made officers perk up and listen. They respected him for the way this led to some good achievements.
    He will be sorely missed.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Apr '20 - 2:51pm

    A fine piece about a genuine loss, to this site as well as wider.

    He as a senior , veteran, member of the party, commentator on here, was staunch, always.

    Condolences to his loved ones.

  • Barry Lofty 19th Apr '20 - 3:41pm

    I only new David through his comments on this site but benefiting from his earlier work with West Berks Council. Many condolences to his family.

  • Janet Curran 20th Apr '20 - 8:31pm

    As his eldest daughter I would like to express thanks on behalf of my mother, sister and I for the condolences offered on my father’s passing. As a family we are extremely proud of everything he achieved as a councillor and of the contribution he made to the communities that he served. It is of great comfort to my mother especially at this time to hear all the lovely words that are being said about him.

  • Just to thank Janet for her words and everyone else who has fond memories of our friend – please pass on our collective condolences to your family and in particular your mother. Ed x

  • How nice it is to hear from my old friends Chris Marriage, Paul Walters and Tony Vickers from West Berkshire. I too knew David, alas only briefly, from my short stint on West Berkshire Unitary. He was hard working and inspirational and had the strength of chatacter to see that policy was implemented, on occasions against the active obstruction of lazy officers.

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