Lancashire County Council’s late chair remembered at meeting he was due to be leading
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Members gathered at County Hall on Thursday afternoon for what would have been Keith Iddon’s second time leading the proceedings in a role which he took up only five weeks before his sudden death last month.
His passing meant that the meeting at which he was installed in May was the only one he would chair - at the start of what should have been a year-long term in office for the Conservative politician.
However, his colleagues remembered a man who had already made his mark in the other main duty of the apolitical post - being the county's most senior representative - for which his love of Lancashire and his cross-party popularity made him perfectly placed.
Vice-chair Tim Ashton reflected the mood of shock and sadness that still pervades the authority in the wake of County Cllr’s Iddon’s passing.
“During that short time [as chairman], Keith had already made the role his own, undertaking several engagements across the county, representing Lancashire and the county council with his quiet wit, charm and sense of humour.
“Keith showed a genuine interest in - and quickly developed a rapport with - all those he came into contact with. Keith was liked and respected across the chamber - he believed that whatever your political views, you would find common ground just by talking and listening.
“He recognised that we’re all here trying to do our best for the people of Lancashire - and that a bit of tolerance, good humour and common sense go a long way,” County Cllr Ashton said.
Conservative county council leader Phillippa Williamson said that the Tory party across Lancashire was “still trying to process what’s happened”.
“When we all think of Keith, we remember…a really good man, a good friend, a really supportive colleague. Keith was a man of great passions, who was brilliant company - a man who was genuinely interested in people.
“He was also a very proud Lancastrian - and if ever a man was born to be chairman of this council, it was Keith,” County Cllr Williamson added.
Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali said he had always thought of Keith Iddon as “the Lovejoy of Lancashire” - a reference to the fictional TV antiques dealer who was renowned for his charm.
“He was friendly with everybody, got on with everybody - and he will be missed. A true Lancastrian who lived life to the full.”
Liberal Democrat group leader David Howarth described the late Chorley Rural West representative - who was well-known for his love of pigeons - as a “very affable man” who had already shown what an “excellent” chair he was going to be.
Meanwhile, fellow Tory Matthew Salter recalled a man who “always wanted to help” - especially during the four years in which was the cabinet member for highways and transport from 2017.
Green Party group leader Gina Dowding said that Keith Iddon’s passing was made all the more tragic by the timing, coming so soon after he had achieved “the honour” of becoming chairman - a duty he had been hugely looking forward to discharging.
Throughout the tributes a theme emerged of a politician to whom colleagues naturally gravitated - whatever their own political persuasion.
That gift was probably best summed up by Labour’s Matthew Tomlinson who said that when members attending a council function learned that they would be sitting on Keith’s table, “that was always good news”.
“I think that's a measure of what good company he was. Keith was one of the world’s nice guys,” he added.