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Sandy served Kent with "love and passion"

Sandy in 2005. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Sandy in 2005. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Lord Bruce-Lockhart of the Weald - known thoughout Kent as Sandy - died on Thursday morning after a long battle with cancer.

Sandy, who was 66, was leader of Kent County Council from 1997 until 2005, and was the most powerful Conservative politician in office in the country during that time.

His former colleagues at KCC have paid tribute to a man who devoted much of his life to improving and promoting life in Kent.

Cllr Paul Carter (Con), who replaced Sandy as leader of KCC, said: "Sandy Bruce-Lockhart will be enormously missed both locally in Kent and more broadly in the country. Sandy was the leading architect of the transformation and improvement in local government in recent years enhancing both the reputation and relationship of local government with national government and Westminster, and more widely with the electorate. Sandy was the charismatic Conservative leader of Kent County Council from 1997 until he retired as leader in 2005.

"Sandy soon restored Kent County Council back to the top of the premier league in local government, delivering a hard earned reputation nationally for achieving excellence for Kent County Council.

"Driven by a love and passion for the people and the county of Kent, he proved that beneath his urbane charm and courtesy lay his conviction and determination to deliver what he believed was right. His knighthood and subsequent peerage were just rewards for the significant contribution he made through local government and the Conservative Party nationally.

"Sandy took his skills and reputation for transformation and improvement to become chairman of the national Local Government Association and then chairman of English Heritage - a job that suited his instinctive love of history and the environment.

"In essence, put simply, in all he did he was a force for good and we will all miss his wise advice and friendship very much.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Tess and the family at this sad time."

When Sir Sandy announced his decision to step down as KCC leader in September 2005, he said: "Kent is a unique and wonderful county, full of special places and special people. Local government is never easy - but I have served Kent to the best of my ability.

"It has been the very greatest privilege and honour to be able to serve this council and my county."

Ann Widdecombe (Con), MP for Maidstone and the Weald said: "Sandy will be a massive loss, not only to his family, but to the Conservative party and to the government in general.

"His has been an immensely distinguished career, but I'm especially grateful for all the personal support that I've had from him over the last 20 years."

Cllr Chris Garland (Con), the leader of Maidstone council, said: "It's a sad loss to the Conservative party, but also to the public as a whole because of the way he served on Kent County Council. He knew what he wanted and he did it."

Labour group leader Cllr Mike Eddy said he was saddened by the news.

He said: "Sandy and I may have disagreed on politics but he was a skilled politician with the interests of Kent at heart. It was a privilege to have crossed political swords with him.

"On a personal level he was invariably courteous, was prepared to listen - even if he didn't agree with you - and would always take on board good ideas, even when they came from his political opponents. I am sure everyone who knew him will be saddened by his death."

Edwin Boorman, President of the Kent Messenger Group, said: "Sandy Bruce-Lockhart was one of the best leaders that Kent County Council has ever had. His political awareness and his grip on what was happening was always superb. He handled each and every situation with great tact and diplomacy. He will be sadly missed."

Sandy was a former chairman of the Local Government Association. Current chairman Sir Simon Milton said: “Local government will be a poorer place now that Sandy has passed away.

"National and local politicians from across the political spectrum will miss Sandy’s zest for life, his courage and his determination to fight for what he believed was right for people.

“His strong social conscience, wonderful sense of humour, and a passionate commitment to public service offered a template for all politicians from whichever party to aspire to.

“As chairman of the Local Government Association, Sandy’s dedication to help councils make people’s lives better and his inspiring passion led us and the sector to reach ever greater heights.

“Sandy will be sorely missed by all those who have had the pleasure to work with him or the privilege to call him their friend.

"Our thoughts are with his wife Tess and the family at this sad time.”

KMG's political editor Paul Francis said:"I’m very sad myself to hear the news.

"Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart has been unwell for quite some time but nevertheless it is very sad news indeed.

"In local government circles he was an absolutely towering figure and that applied not just in Kent but right outside the county.

"He had the ear of Ministers in government when it came to championing Kent’s causes and was widely respected across the political divide.

"He was someone who was absolutely resolute and fairly uncompromising in standing up for Kent and I think that was one of his chief assets and one of his main characteristics was his determination to make sure that Kent’s voice was heard loud and clear with those that mattered and he did that in a way which sometimes ruffled feathers.

"But he was always heartfelt and passionate about Kent and his determination to ensure that Kent’s voice was heard.

"I think what he did for Kent was put the county on the map in a way which it hadn’t been for quite some time."

Kent Messenger Group chairman Geraldine Allinson said: "It is difficult to put into words what a loss Sandy is to all of us in Kent.

"He was clearly passionate about Kent and worked tirelessly for the people of Kent, we all have so much to thank him for. He was a very special person and had a wonderful ability to make time for people; to make them feel special, he always seemed willing to listen and give advice even though he must have been so busy himself.

"Tessa and Sandy always appeared to me to be a great team; my heart goes out to her and the family for their loss – the depth of which I know we just cannot comprehend."

The Lord-Lieutenant for Kent, Allan Willett, said: "All of us in the Lieutenancy of Kent, and indeed in the county as a whole, are deeply saddened at the news of the death of Lord Bruce-Lockhart. He was a close personal friend and also a wonderful colleague during our work together for the communities of Kent.

"Many of us in the Lieutenancy knew him well and have admired his achievements and personal qualities. He was a man of high integrity who was totally dedicated to the well being of the County and its future.

"It was fitting that the Lieutenancy recently had the opportunity to present him with the Spirit of Kent Award, which could not have been more appropriate and richly deserved.

"He will be greatly missed throughout many groups who found it so rewarding to work with him and we send our deepest sympathy to his family."

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