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Former Gravesham council leader Cllr John Cubitt dies after illness battle

Councillor John Cubitt, the former leader of Gravesham council, has died.

He passed away on Friday after battling illness for much of the past year, having served as a councillor since May 2007.

His poor health forced him to step down as leader of the council back in March, less than two years after taking on the job when the Conservatives secured a majority in the 2015 election.

Cllr Cubitt remained councillor for Meopham North until his death

Cllr Cubitt remained councillor for Meopham North until his death

Cllr David Turner stepped up from deputy leader to replace Cllr Cubitt, with Cllr Leslie Hills becoming the new second-in-command.

"John was extremely highly thought of, not just by the Conservatives but by both groups on the council," said Cllr Hills.

"He did a lot to deliver on his promises and in that sense he was not too political. He was anxious to produce results more than score political points.

"It's a shame that his period in office was overshadowed by reductions in local government grants. He was a qualified person in terms of finances, he was a mathematician, and his experience was very important."

Cllr John Cubitt, pictured shortly after 2015 election triumph

Cllr John Cubitt, pictured shortly after 2015 election triumph

Upon election victory in 2015, Cllr Cubitt made some bold appointments to his cabinet, including the decision to make Cllr Jordan Meade responsible for tourism and youth.

He was just 19 at the time, making him the youngest person ever to be elected to council, representing Singlewell ward.

"John was a champion for young people and it was he who inspired me and others to get into local government," said Cllr Meade.

"He truly loved the local party and working for the public, and his commitment to the people of Gravesham was second to none.

"John will be hugely missed by many, not only for his commitment to public life and the support and mentorship that he offered to young people like me, but for his immeasurable friendship and willingness to give young people a chance."

 Cllr John Cubitt (Con) outside Gravesham Civic Centre

Cllr John Cubitt (Con) outside Gravesham Civic Centre

Bryan Sweetland, Chairman of Gravesham Conservative Association and Kent County Councillor for Gravesham Rural, said Cllr Cubitt would be "a great loss to our town".
 
The pair spent much of Cllr Cubitt's time as leader working closely together in opposition to proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing and sat on KCC together for four years while Cllr Cubitt represented Gravesham East.
 
"It was a privilege to have known and worked alongside John for the last ten years and I have many fond memories of him," said Cllr Sweetland.
 
"He was very knowledgeable but more importantly, he was a good person and truly good people are very rare.
 
"Whenever John spoke at meetings, everyone listened and he will be a great loss to our town. We will all miss him and our thoughts are with Moira and the family".
 
(L-R) Kent County Council's Bryan Sweetland, Chair of Gravesham Rural Forum Kerry Smith and Gravesham council leader John Cubitt signed an open letter to government opposing the Lower Thames Crossing

(L-R) Kent County Council's Bryan Sweetland, Chair of Gravesham Rural Forum Kerry Smith and Gravesham council leader John Cubitt signed an open letter to government opposing the Lower Thames Crossing

 
Mayor of Gravesham Cllr Harold Craske, who became a borough councillor at the same time as Cllr Cubitt, also paid tribute.
 
He said: "John was a kind and compassionate colleague to work with and also a first-class member and leader. I will miss him greatly."

Cllr Cubitt did stay on as councillor for Meopham North and his death will trigger a by-election, with details to be announced in due course.

Away from politics, Cllr Cubitt was a former chairman of Gravesend Rugby Football Club and founding member and former president of the Gravesham and Meopham Rotary Club.

He is survived by his wife Moira and two children, and he also had several grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are to be confirmed soon.

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