Published: 14:07, 18 June 2021
| Updated: 08:42, 19 June 2021
Tributes have been paid following the death of a former mayor of Medway.
Steve Iles passed away yesterday aged 65, having served on the council since 2015.
The Strood North representative was married to fellow councillor Josie Iles – the current portfolio holder for children's services.
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “Steve was an incredibly hardworking and diligent councillor.
"He was proud to serve as mayor and deputy mayor and will be greatly missed by all of his colleagues and, of course, by the residents he represented.
"I would like to express my condolences to his wife Josie, and their friends and family.”
In November 2019, Cllr Iles stepped down from his role as deputy mayor and was expelled from the Conservatives after "completely unacceptable" social media posts.
The radio station LBC published details of UK councillors who'd posted content deemed to be Islamophobic online.
A post of his showed a picture of a bacon sandwich with the words "I am proud to be English" implying Muslims – who do not eat pork – were somehow less English.
Speaking at the time, he said: "I regret any offence that was caused and none was meant whatsoever."
Despite his expulsion, he remained a councillor as an Independent Conservative.
Medway's chief chief executive Neil Davies has also paid tribute.
He said: “Steve was a dedicated local councillor who was extremely proud to represent Strood North.
"He was a former mayor and deputy mayor and he thoroughly enjoyed meeting residents and raising money for his chosen charity, the Medway branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife and their family and friends at this difficult time.”
He served as mayor in 2018/19 and deputy mayor in 2015/16 and in 2019 before the controversy.
He also served as mayor’s consort during his wife's term as mayor in 2013/14.
“Steve was an incredibly hardworking and diligent councillor."
Cllr Iles had a keen interest in employment matters and health and adult social care overview and scrutiny, serving on both committees.
Further details about the by-election for Strood North will be released when finalised.