Following the sad death of Hastings Borough Council’s leader Cllr Jeremy Birch, a flag bearing the Hastings coat of arms is being flown from Hastings town hall as a mark of respect. A book of condolence has also been opened, in the community contact centre in Hastings town hall. And one minutes silence will be held during the election count at Horntye Park tonight.
The deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, Cllr Peter Chowney, has paid tribute to Cllr Jeremy Birch: - “It was with enormous sadness that I learnt of the death of Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Council, yesterday afternoon. It was sudden and unexpected, and my thoughts are with his partner Louise and his family at this terrible time.
“Jeremy had been leader of Hastings Council for fifteen years - I'd been his deputy for just two years. His dedication to Hastings was unquestionable, having been born and bred here (something he occasionally reminded me of, me being a ‘DFL’ of just 18 years residency), and had devoted his life to the regeneration of our borough, and to making Hastings and St Leonards a better place. He was well known and respected not just in East Sussex, but throughout the region, and was instrumental in getting a big share of whatever regional and national resources were on offer, largely down to his persuasive intellect, absolute dedication, and unswerving devotion to the place he was born in.
“In public, he was an astonishing orator, and showed all the qualities a leader should. In private, he was witty and entertaining, with a succinct and precise sense of humour that I certainly appreciated. It's so hard to realise that I'm not going to experience that again: the witticisms, the incisive explanations, and yes, the arguments - but always constructive ones.
“But as well as the council leader, he was most importantly a personal friend and comrade. I can't believe he's gone, and it makes me so sad to be writing this. So, goodbye Jeremy - you were a worthy son of Hastings, a tireless fighter for what was right and good, and a true socialist. We'll never forget you.”
And the Mayor of Hastings, Cllr Bruce Dowling, added: - “I have known Jeremy as much as a friend as a fellow councillor, and am personally devastated at his passing. Like me he was Hastings born and bred, and proud of it. And he was passionate about this town.
“I know tributes have already been paid from members of all political parties; everyone recognised that what he did he did for the best of Hastings.
“He was larger than life in every respect, and our meetings, Hastings Borough Council, and Hastings the town, will not be the same. We have lost a real friend.”
Original Press Statement Issued by Hastings Borough Council
We were very sad indeed to learn of the death of the Leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Jeremy Birch earlier today. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family.
His partner, Louise has given the following statement 'It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden death of Jeremy Birch.'
'The family would like to express their thanks to the critical care unit at the conquest hospital. We want it to be noted that the staff at the Conquest have been committed, compassionate and professional. We do not think we could have had a better service anywhere else. '
Note to Editors:- No further statements will be made and we would very much appreciate if Council Members, Officers and members of his family are not contacted any more in relation to this story.