Former council leader and mayor Nick Daubney, who was ‘passionate advocate for all things West Norfolk’, dies aged 72
Tributes have been paid to a former mayor and borough council leader who was a “passionate advocate for all things West Norfolk” who has died.
Nick Daubney, who was first elected to West Norfolk Council in 1999, died yesterday aged 72 – with colleagues saying he will be remembered for his campaign against an incinerator in the area.
Lorraine Gore, chief executive of the council, said: "It was with great sadness that we learned that former alderman, mayor, county, borough and parish councillor, and leader of the borough council, Nick Daubney passed away on May 29.
“Our deepest condolences and sympathies are with his wife Cheryl and his family at this time."
During his 20 years serving on the council, Mr Daubney became deputy leader in 2003 and then leader in 2007.
A borough council spokeswoman said: “This accolade was in recognition of his many years of public service, his achievements and leadership, and of the encouragement and support he so selflessly gave to others.”
She added: “Nick was a passionate place-shaper with a strong vision.
“He helped secure the area’s economic prosperity, attracting millions of pounds of investment, increasing town-centre footfall and leading campaigns to support economic growth.
“He drove the development of a former brownfield site bringing housing, jobs, a new school, community facilities and an Innovation Centre to the area as well as securing Enterprise Zone Status to encourage new business.”
Mr Daubney also spearheaded campaigns to tackle issues in the town centre, having set up a programme of events to encourage people to support local retailers and eateries.
“He was instrumental in securing improvements to the town’s built environment and heritage buildings,” the spokeswoman said.
“Most notably, his vision for the area included engaging with the local community on a successful cross-party, cross-organisation campaign against the building of a waste incineration facility.
“He called for a local poll which saw an unprecedented 60% turn out and a 90% vote against the proposal.”
Mr Daubney was also a board member of King’s Lynn’s Festival Too, which is one of Europe’s largest free music festivals, attracting more than 10,000 people over the course of the event.
Under his direction and leadership, Lynn became the first English town to be a member of the New Hanse – a network of some 187 towns and cities across Northern Europe.
“He was the English Commissioner for the New Hanse and was instrumental in expanding England’s membership by encouraging and supporting Hull and Boston’s membership,” the borough council spokeswoman said.
“He was a co-founder of the new Business Hanse - established to encourage trade links.
“He was both an advocate and an ambassador for the area, promoting the opportunities for trade, tourism, and cultural exchange both here and abroad, in his own time and often at his own expense.
“His actions demonstrated his unprecedented drive, determination, and unswerving commitment to the community he served.”
After stepping down from local politics, Mr Daubney became a Town Guide to continue to share his knowledge of the town and to pass on his passion for the area.
Ms Gore added: "In my previous role as the council’s chief financial officer I worked closely with Nick when he was leader of the council and I remember him as a strong and passionate advocate for all things West Norfolk.
“Most recently Nick joined the King’s Lynn Town Deal Board as the Norfolk County Council representative and continued to champion the regeneration of Lynn.
“I know he will be missed, but warmly remembered by many of his fellow councillors, members of staff and the wider community."
The new leader of the council, Cllr Terry Parish, who is also leader of the Independent partnership, said Mr Daubney left a “lasting legacy” in the borough.
“We send our condolences to Nick’s wife and family at this very sad time,” he said.
“I didn’t personally work with Nick, but I know many staff members and councillors did, and he is always talked of with respect and will be much missed.
“He left a lasting legacy in this borough and will be remembered for his unwavering support for local business and his campaign against the incinerator."
Lord Bellingham of Congham, who as Sir Henry Bellingham was North West Norfolk MP for more than 30 years, said: “It is with deep, deep sadness and sorrow to hear of Nick Daubney's sad death.
"He really was a remarkable figure, former leader of the council and pillar of the political community.
“He did a huge amount for Lynn. He was instrumental in securing the investment of Palm Paper into Lynn.
“He always stood up for Lynn businesses and the community where he achieved a great deal."
And former prime minister and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said: “I am sorry to hear the sad news that Nick Daubney has died.
“Nick served West Norfolk over decades as county and borough councillor, leader and mayor.
“He was instrumental in our campaign to Make it Marham. My deepest sympathies are with his wife Cheryl and his family.”
Cllr Stuart Dark, leader of West Norfolk’s Conservative Group, said Mr Daubney “served West Norfolk loyally and effectively for many years”, many of which were as the council leader and mayor.
“During this time he earned the rightful esteem of his councillor peers, officers and external partners due to his hard-work, fairness, consistency and good humour,” Mr Dark added.
“At this sad time of his passing, all in the Conservative group and local Conservative Association consider ourselves privileged to have known him as a friend, colleague and leader and all our thoughts and prayers are with Cheryl, Nick’s family and those who knew him."
Meanwhile, Cllr Charles Joyce, leader of the Labour Group: "Nick and I were like soldiers.
“We would often fight like tigers inside the council chamber, but outside, never a cross word.
“There were times we were brothers fighting the common foe.
“It was easy for me to oppose an incinerator in South Lynn. But for Nick it meant taking a stand against friends and colleagues.
“The fact there is no incinerator marked Nick as a leader with courage. Something for which we all remain grateful."
West Norfolk mayor, Cllr Margaret Wilkinson, said: "I was very saddened to hear of Nick's passing. He was a long-serving councillor to the borough of Lynn and West Norfolk.
“My heart felt thoughts at this time are with Cheryl and her family. I was one of the very fortunate councillors to have served with both Nick and his father."
Cllr Brian Long, former leader and deputy leader, said: "Nick was my political mentor and I was proud to be his deputy.
“West Norfolk will be a better place because of what he achieved. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered."
Cllr Alistair Beales, who is current cabinet member for business and former deputy leader of the council, described Mr Daubney as a “man of extraordinary integrity and ability”.
“He was driven by his twin passions of home and family life, and service to the people of West Norfolk,” Mr Beales said.
“He achieved so much in his business life and his work with Festival Too, the Hanseatic League, Norfolk County Council and most significantly as leader of the borough council.
“It was a joy and an honour to work alongside him for so many years at the Borough, and a privilege to count him as the dearest of friends.”
Ray Harding, former chief executive of the council, said: "I worked closely with Nick over many years during his time as deputy leader, leader and mayor.
“He had a deep and unwavering determination to deliver the best possible outcome for the people of Lynn and West Norfolk in every decision he was called upon to make.
“His commitment to promote the development of the West Norfolk economy has left a lasting and positive legacy.
“Nick was a key figure in securing the town's biggest inward investment in Palm Paper, his backing for the University Centre at the College of West Anglia was critical to the promotion of degree level education in the town and his support for the borough's business community was legendary.
“Nick was above all one of the good guys and will be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him."