Sad start for Crawley's new town hall as tributes paid to Pound Hill councillor - a 'thoroughly decent bloke'

There was a sad start to the first meeting held at Crawley’s new Town Hall when councillors bowed their heads to say farewell to one of their own.
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On a bitter, icy Wednesday night (December 14), councillors and a few members of the public headed into the nine-storey building and took their seats in the first-floor council chamber.

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Tory leader Duncan Crow described Mr Belben as ‘a thoroughly decent bloke’ who was ‘as honest as the day is long’, while Richard Burrett (Con, Pound Hill North & Forge Wood) called him ‘an extremely diligent and hard-working councillor’.

New Crawley Town HallNew Crawley Town Hall
New Crawley Town Hall

Mr Belben was a loyal Crawley Town fan.

There were gentle chuckles when his wife, Cllr Tina Belben, described seeing ‘another side’ of her husband when she joined him at a match where he became a little vocal over some refereeing decisions.

Mrs Belben (Con, Pound Hill North & Forge Wood) gave heartfelt thanks to the council’s IT team for passing her some of the recordings of online meetings held during the pandemic.

She said: “I will not ever forget his voice. Just hearing the man’s voice again gave me great comfort.”

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Alison Pendlington, who also represents Pound Hill South & Worth, was unable to attend the meeting but sent a statement.

She said: “It still doesn’t feel real that he’s not with us any more. He was a kind and generous soul who was much-loved by us all and by local residents.”

A tearful Brenda Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) described recently receiving a Christmas card from the Belbens – a gift she said she would treasure and keep in her Bible.

She added: “He was a really wonderful person – I’ve never met anyone like him.

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“He was so generous. Generous with his time, generous with everything. You just warmed to the man. He will certainly remain in my heart.”

Mr Belben was the fifth serving councillor to pass away since 2019, the others being Charles Peck (2019), Geraint Thomas (2019), Raj Sharma (2021) and Michael Pickett (2022).

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