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Sudden death of Maidstone councillor

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Maidstone Borough Council is mourning the loss of Cllr Alistair Black (Con) who passed away suddenly on Monday night at Maidstone Hospital following a short illness.

Cllr Black, who lived in Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, joined the council in 2011, representing Fant ward, and was re-elected in May this year.

Cllr Black, a Scot, was born in Glasgow and brought up in Ayrshire. He did his National Service in the RAF and then served in the British Transport Police in Scotland before moving to central Africa to become the personnel director for a large paper-making company. He later ran his own management consultancy business for 25 years in central and southern Africa.

Alistair Black (left) being congratulated by the other candidates when he was re-elected to Fant Ward in May this year.
Alistair Black (left) being congratulated by the other candidates when he was re-elected to Fant Ward in May this year.

He moved to Maidstone six years ago.

The council is flying its flag over the Town Hall at half-mast as a mark of respect until after his funeral, which is yet to be arranged. Members also observed a minute’s silence at the full council meeting last night, where councillors from all parties paid tribute.

Cllr Annabelle Blackmore (Con) said: “The thing about Alistair was that he was extremely candid. If there was a problem, you knew about it.
“For example, he would phone me up and say ‘I would like to speak with you my girl.’ He would sound just like my father and I knew I was in trouble.

“His jokes were a little bit non-pc, but that was a tonic to my ears.

“He was stoic. He fought pain with the sort stoicism that would make us proud.

“He was one of the stalwarts.”

Cllr Fran Wilson (Lib Dem) said: “Alistair was a true friend to many of us. His honesty and integrity shone through in everything he did.

“He is going to be a hard act to follow. He did want to be involved in everything and he cared deeply about the people he represented.”

Cllr Fay Gooch said: “This really has been a shock. He was so friendly and always happy to have a chat. It didn’t matter who you were.

“He was always very supportive, certainly to me. He was a very dear colleague. He was straight. He was honest. He was open.

“I have some very dear memories of him. Some of his habits were very endearing. He would always stand up when ladies walked into the room.”

Cllr Dave Sargent (Ukip) said: “Alistair he had a tremendous knowledge, especially about history. He was willing to give me a few hints on being a councillor and the things that we have to do. My loss is not having enough time to know him better. It’s a cliche, but he will be missed.”

Cllr Paul Harper (Lab) said: “I first came across Alistair when he was up against me at Fant elections. I am sure we will all remember his endearing traits.

“He was really hard working for the Fant community. He was very popular, a lot of people knew him.

“When I was elected last year, he offered to help get me up to speed with any issues. I think he was a great, old fashioned gentleman.”

Cllr Black, who was 79, and a member of St Luke’s Church, leaves his widow Sue, a daughter Fiona in Australia, and a son Douglas in South Africa.

His death will mean there has to be a by-election in due course. In the meantime, Cllr Stephen Paine (Con) and Cllr Paul Harper (Lab) are the other councillors for Fant Ward.

Cllr Black’s Conservative ward work will be handled by Cllr Paine.

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