Councillors from across the political spectrum paid tribute to Jeremy Birch at an East Sussex County Council meeting today (Tuesday, May 12).
Members commended his dedication and leadership.
Speaking at County Hall, long-term friend and county Labour group leader Trevor Webb said: “Jeremy made a huge impact in his 20 years as a county councillor.
“That’s borne out in the huge numbers of people wanting to pay tribute.
“He was a dedicated community leader.
“I am proud to have called him my colleague and proud to have called him my friend.”
Cllr Birch died on Wednesday,May 6, following what was believed to be a severe stroke.
Cllr Birch was the longest serving Labour councillor at the county council, having been elected in a by-election in 1995.
Over the years he represented the people of Wishing Tree & Silverhill, Baird & Ore and Old Hastings & Tressell.
Cllr Godfrey Daniel (Lab) praised Jeremy’s gift of oratory and said: “Jeremy was a true leader – especially for Hastings – and he never hesitated to use his many skills and boundless energy to help individuals and communities alike.
“He will never be forgotten. It has been an honour to know Jeremy and work with him.”
Leader of East Sussex County Council Keith Glazier said: “I will personally miss him, our group will miss him and East Sussex will miss him.
“He will be a hard act to follow.”
Cllr David Tutt (Lib Dem) said: “Jeremy was the voice of Hastings in this chamber.
“He stood up for the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged in our society. Hastings has lost a true champion.”
Cllr Philip Howson (UKIP) said: “When Jeremy spoke – you listened.
“Labour has lost a brilliant politician. He’ll be sadly missed.”
Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe (independent) said: “He always spoke from the heart.
“I greatly admired that. The council has lost a tremendous councillor and, for his family, a wonderful person.”
Cllr Stephen Shing (Independent Democrats) said: “All politicians can stand up and make speeches.
“When Jeremy spoke he always added to a debate.
“He was incredibly knowledgeable and he will be sorely missed.”
Further tributes have also continued to be paid to Cllr Birch across the town.
One such tribute was created on the beach where Cllr Birch’s name was spelled out in pebbles with the message: “RIP Jeremy”.