Tributes to Sutton’s Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Colin Hall

We’ve heard the sad news that Cllr Colin Hall, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of Sutton Borough Council, died last week after a short illness. He was only 53.

Tributes have been paid to him on the Sutton Liberal Democrat website. Go below the cut to read a beautifully crafted and heartfelt obituary by his old friend Ed Fordham.

Council leader Ruth Dombey said:

Colin was a wonderful colleague and a good friend. He was passionate about the borough and dedicated to his work as a councillor.

His particular interest was the environment and how to make Sutton a more sustainable place to live. He was highly respected across London for his knowledge and experience and tributes are flowing in from people who admired his work.

He was kind and generous and always ready to help and guide others.  Colin’s wife and three children are overwhelmed by depth and warmth of the huge number of tributes they have received.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Tom Brake MP said:

It was very clear that he was totally committed to Sutton and he had a particular commitment and interest in environmental issues. His passing will be a great loss to Sutton and my thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.

The local Conservative leader, Cllr Graham Witham paid a generous tribute:

Colin brought honesty, wit, charm and above all, a gentle courtesy to local politics which cross the party divide.  He will remain a role model to all of us who knew him.  In a time when manners are often at a premium he was unfailingly polite and in his specialist field he had a breadth of knowledge which one could only envy.

I have permission from Ed Fordham to reproduce the obituary he wrote on his Facebook page about his friend:

Cllr Colin Hall – time to buy a decent bottle of red wine – by Ed Fordham

The sun is shining and I’m at my desk clearing Easter emails and yet the sky has just got a little more dull, a bit more boring and a hole has appeared in the world of liberal democracy and global environmental concern.  Cllr Colin Hall, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the London Borough of Sutton has died after a short illness.

Colin was a force of nature in the world of local politics: he was usually in a hurry, invariably too busy, often irritated at inaction, wanting more to happen quicker and all with a smile, a cheery demeanour and an inability to hold a grudge for long.

 I first go to know him well him when I worked in the Leader’s Office at the London Borough of Sutton.  Colin stood out.  He didn’t come into the Town Hall unless he needed to, and when he did he was in a  bit of a hurry – he was always trying to juggle too many things.  He usually had a list of things that were worrying him or was wanting to pick a fight with someone whom he had decided was not working hard enough to improve the lives of Sutton residents. But his motives and his ambitions were always genuine and sincere.

At the peak of any discussion his solution was either to declare that he had won (a look of satisfaction at a job done) or a look of resignation that he had lost. His next gambit was in reserve – an invitation to have a drink (usually a red wine) when he would start the conversation again – and you would then agree he was right after all.

Over the years, I have worked with councillors from many groups up and down the country.  Colin was the councillor who explained to me in real, simple and specific ways the notion that a local council could have a real immediate and actual impact on the global environment.  For Colin it was urgent and had to happen.

I will never forget the day he rushed me round Wallington for 3 hours explaining what had happened to improve things over the years and what needed to happen next.  He also had a clear vision and set of ideas about how, once the changes had been made, we needed to plan to improve on those improvements.

Whether it was housing, road repairs, waste disposal, tree maintenance, road and vehicle management, schools, youth clubs, libraries, allotments, political leadership, parking and more – Colin wanted it ALL to be better.  Better value for money, more efficient and transparent and on the side of the residents.  Crucially for Colin it had to be environmentally sustainable.

He probably never knew it, but it was his passion and vision that later led us (the Lib Dem Group at the Local Government Association) to commission David Boyle to write the Power Actually (2007)and Greening Actually (2009) series – handbooks that detailed what could be done up and down the country by local councils.  Indeed it was over one of the many bottles of wine (when Colin explained why I was wrong about something) that planted the idea that we should recognise Council Groups by writing and publishing their story (not just giving out awards).  This was something that we went on to do in recognising the decades of Liberal Democrat achievement in the London Borough of Sutton, amongst others.

Colin was no softie – he understood that change could be abrupt and painful, that good teams need to be able to get rid of people and have space to involve new ideas, new people, and better ideas.  But I’m sitting at my desk reflecting on the harsh cruelty of losing someone from whom more people should have learnt and who had so much to offer.  Colin – thank you and farewell –  I’m off to buy a decent bottle of red wine and will remember you as I share that with friends.

Cllr Hall was born in 1961 and lived in Wallington. He was first elected to the council as a Liberal Democrat for Wallington South ward in 1998. He was re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.  He died on 30th March 2015.

We send our love and sympathy to Colin’s friends and family.

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  • Chris Rennard 7th Apr '15 - 7:10pm

    Very sad. I got to know him in the run up to the 1997 General Election campaign when we first won Carshalton & Wallington. He was a very dedicated, decent bloke. My condolences to his friends and family.

  • By all accounts, an excellent man and a fine Liberal.

    Condolences to the family and my best to the team in Sutton.

  • R.I.P Colin. Really really sad to hear this news. worked with him in his role as Deputy Chair London Council’s Transport and Environment Committee. He worked hard and really championed the cause of fairness. Beyond that he was intelligent, kind and supportive. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  • Liberal Neil 8th Apr '15 - 11:22am

    Very sorry to hear this. I’ve known Colin since we were organisers in the ’97 campaign and worked with him often since.

    I was delighted to have a good catch up with him just a few months ago at a Sutton Group Awayday I was helping with.

    He was a genuinely decent bloke and, as Ed’s piece describes, completely dedicated to helping others in his community and the wider world.

    My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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