Tributes paid to long-serving East Sussex county councillor

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One the longest-serving county councillors in East Sussex has passed away in office.

Cllr Rupert Simmons, Conservative county councillor for Heathfield and Mayfield and East Sussex County Council’s lead member for economy, has died at the age 70.

His death, on Monday (April 17), was announced at a meeting of the council’s cabinet the following day, where council leader Keith Glazier led members in holding a minute’s silence.

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A long-serving county councillor, Cllr Simmons was said to have had a wide and varied career before going into local politics.

Rupert SimmonsRupert Simmons
Rupert Simmons

He started out as a chartered surveyor in Surrey before deciding to travel Europe and further afield. During this time he worked in advertising in Oslo, Sweden, before going on to form a music business in Vienna, Austria. He later recreated this business in the USA.

It was in America that Cllr Simmons had his first brush with politics, working on the campaign team of Walter F. Mondale, who served as vice-president in the administration of Jimmy Carter.

After returning to the UK, he worked at both London Weekend Television and the Observer newspaper.

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He moved to Waldron in East Sussex in 1990 and (after a few years) became involved in local politics there. He was elected to Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council in 1997, joining Wealden District Council shortly afterwards in 1999.

He was first elected to the county council in 2001 and had remained in office ever since. After time, as both council chairman and cabinet member for education, he became cabinet member for economy in 2013; a role he had held continuously since then.

In his own division, Cllr Simmons chaired the Heathfield Partnership Trust for 20 years and was well known and well-respected among residents.

Outside politics, Cllr Simmons’ interest were varied. He was an avid Liverpool FC fan and an enthusiastic follower of American Football. He had a love of jazz music and an extensive record collection.

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Council Leader Cllr Keith Glazier said: “Rupert was a respected member of this council, who brought a wealth of experience and worked tirelessly to represent his community, as well as the interests of businesses across the county in his role as lead member."