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Former West Norfolk Council leader Ian Stockwell dies, aged 85

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Ex-colleagues and current senior figures have paid tribute to a former leader of West Norfolk Council, who has died aged 85.

Ian Stockwell led the authority for a decade between 1985 and 1995, during a political career which spanned more than 20 years.

He was later appointed as an Honorary Alderman and served a number of charities and community groups, as well as working as a teacher at what is now the King Edward VII Academy (KES) in Lynn.

St Nicholas Church Flower Festival - Ian Stockwell chairman of the events committee.. (54236671)
St Nicholas Church Flower Festival - Ian Stockwell chairman of the events committee.. (54236671)

Born in Penrith, Mr Stockwell first came to Norfolk in 1960 to take up a teaching post at the Wymondham College.

He was appointed as head of geography at KES in 1968 and remained there until his retirement in 1990.

First elected to the council in 1973, for the Dersingham ward, Mr Stockwell was also a key figure in major projects including the electrification of West Norfolk’s rail link and the refurbishment of Lynn’s Corn Exchange.

He served as the council’s deputy leader for six years, before taking over the top job in 1985.

Alan Pask, who was the council’s chief executive for much of Mr Stockwell’s time as leader, said: “It was a privilege to work with Ian when he was Leader of the Council.

“His determination ensured many key projects and improvements were achieved during his tenure.

“He enabled the Chief Officers Team to work effectively with the committee chairmen on many issues and projects to improve the lives of the people of the borough.”

After stepping down from the council at the 1995 elections, Mr Stockwell was appointed as an Honorary Alderman.

He also served as secretary of Lynn’s Mencap group, which he and his late wife Margaret were involved with for more than 20 years, and chaired the Dersingham Community Centre’s management committee, the Forward Day Care Centre and the All Aboard organisation which aimed to improve access to transport for the disabled.

His other roles included membership of the management board and companion of Park House, as well as other community support roles.

The borough council’s current leader, Stuart Dark, said: “We were saddened to learn that Honorary Alderman Ian Stockwell had passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

“While neither the Chief Executive nor I had the opportunity to work with Ian Stockwell, he was, by all accounts, an excellent leader and the driving force behind many local initiatives.

“Having spoken to some of the staff and members who did work with him, it is clear that he was well regarded, well respected and described as a ‘true gent’.

“I am sure he will be remembered with much fondness and appreciation for his contribution to the community, not only during his teaching career, but also during his time as a councillor and an alderman.”

Labour group leader Charles Joyce said: “Ian Stockwell was a Tory in the oldest sense of the word. He was one of the most progressive leaders of the Borough Council since its inception.

“He took over a council that had been ravaged by scandals and brought it into the light. The introduction of an advisory committee for people with disabilities was revolutionary in its time.

“It was under Ian's leadership that much of the work had been done to renovate the Corn Exchange.

“It was while Ian was leader that work began to tackle much troubled areas of Lynn. with innovative measures. Without Ian playing such a crucial role the electrification of the railway line may not have happened for years and perhaps decades, if at all.”

Mr Stockwell’s funeral will take place at St Nicholas Church, Dersingham on Thursday, February 3, at 11.15am.

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