Adur community mourns passing of 'committed and compassionate' veteran councillor

Councillors from across the political spectrum have paid tribute to 'committed and compassionate' Adur councillor Les Alden, who has sadly passed away.

The 76-year-old Labour councillor represented Eastbrook Ward in Southwick and Fishersgate from May 2016, having served as a councillor in London for 23 years.

The flag at the Shoreham Centre is being flown at half mast as a mark of respect to the veteran politician and colleagues and political adversaries alike have shared their sadness at the news.

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The leader of Adur District Council's Labour group, Lee Cowen, said he was distraught at the passing of his friend and mentor.

Les Alden sadly passed away aged 76

"Firstly, I'd like to extend my best wishes to Pat and the family," he said.

"Les was someone who passionately believed in Labour Party values, like no-one I've ever met before. Socialism was in his core and he dedicated his life to public service. On a personal level he was my mentor and someone who believed in me. I will miss him greatly. Rest in peace my friend."

In a statement, the Labour Party described Les as a 'solid comrade and mentor' and said it was no exaggeration to suggest he had been chiefly responsible for the campaigning that won eight seats on the council.

Les served as the leader of the Adur Labour group before stepping down late last year.

He had previously sat on Southwark Council from 1971 until 1994, holding the positions of chair of social services, chief whip and deputy leader. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 for his services to the Southwark community.

Away from politics, Les worked as a chemist for South Eastern Gas, before moving into management services and on to London Council's computer department.

The Conservative leader of Adur District Council, Neil Parkin, said it was an extremely sad day for the district.

He said: "While we did not always agree politically, there's no doubt that Les was a committed and compassionate councillor who worked hard to represent the views of his residents. He was a worthy adversary and I will miss his mischievous smile which he often displayed in the council chamber.

"I want to pay tribute to him and send condolences on behalf of the whole council to his family at this time."

Council chairman George Barton described Les as a 'caring and passionate individual' who he knew extremely well in a personal and professional capacity. He said he was committed to supporting people, particularly when it came to housing, and sent condolences to his family.

The deputy leader of the Adur Labour group, Debs Stainforth, said Les' passing was an enormous loss and praised his passion for social justice and wicked sense of humour. She said Les had taught all of his fellow councillors 'so much' and had a profound impact on the community during his four years on the south coast.

Labour councillor Catherine Arnold said: "My sincere best wishes and love go to Pat Alden and Les's family and friends. Les has offered clear guidance and expertise to the Adur Labour Party since I've known him. He helped me gain my councillor confidence. I will miss my dear friend deeply."