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Tributes paid to veteran county councillor Keith Ferrin

Tributes have been paid to the former Conservative county councillor Keith Ferrin, who has died at the age of 70.

Mr Ferrin was a veteran of Kent politics, having been a county councillor in Swale for nearly four decades until he lost his seat to UKIP in 2013.

He was one of the county’s best known political figures and during his 37 years as a councillor and held a number of high-profile jobs at Kent County Council - including a lengthy stint in the cabinet and several years as deputy leader.

Keith Ferrin has died at the age of 70
Keith Ferrin has died at the age of 70

He also masterminded various election campaigns for the Conservative party in Kent.

He was often uncompromising and revelled in blunt talking - sometimes directed at his own party - but despite several attempts, never fulfilled his ambition to become leader of the council. His last attempt came in 2011, when he challenged Paul Carter for the top job.

Although he lost out to UKIP in 2013, he continued to involve himself in local issues. After a spell in Medway Maritime hospital, he called for it to be privatised - describing it as “lousy.”

He had hoped to return to politics and wanted to stand for his former county council seat of Swale West in 2017.

“There was a softer side to him which a lot of people did not see how caring he was." James Ferrin

His son James said he was dedicated to politics and loved being able to help others. Although he was dejected after losing his division of Swale West, he was determined to make a comeback despite poor spells of health.

“He did want to stand again and fight the next election. It was something he loved doing but it was never about him but about what he could do for other people. I had enormous respect for what he did,” he said.

He created a small piece of local government history when in 1997, he succeeded in becoming a councillor for the newly-created Medway unitary authority as well as KCC.

Outside politics, he was devoted to his wife Lynn, a GP, and two sons and particularly enjoyed spending time with his four grandchildren, Jessica, Ethan, Katie and Robbie.

“There was a softer side to him which a lot of people did not see how caring he was,” said James.

KCC leader Paul Carter paid tribute, saying: “Keith made a massive contribution to the running of KCC over many years, being the architect and instigator of many significant beneficial changes, particularly after the 1997 election when the Conservatives regained control of the authority, being the Deputy Leader under Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart’s leadership.”

UKIP councillor Mike Baldock, who defeated Mr Ferrin in 2013, said:

“Keith was always ready to challenge his own party when he thought they were wrong, as was evident when he challenged for the the leadership of KCC in 2011, and when he openly challenged his own local party over their plans for an A2-M2 link road though Bapchild. He was not the sort of man to sit idly by when he thought he could do something better, and was always ready for the next challenge.”

Mr Ferrin was brought up in Leicestershire but moved to Kent when his wife got a job as a GP. His career in local government earned him an MBE in 1988.

His funeral will be held at St Margaret’s Church in Rainham on Monday, May 9 at 2pm, which will be open to anyone who wishes to attend.

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