Tributes Paid to Councillor Peter Watts

Ledbury Reporter: Coun Watts was a strong supporter of the Sainsbury's application for a superstore in Ledbury. Coun Watts was a strong supporter of the Sainsbury's application for a superstore in Ledbury.

WARM tributes have been paid to the Herefordshire Councillor for Ledbury, Peter Watts, who died on Monday following a brave, four year battle with bone cancer.

Coun Watts was also a long-standing member of Ledbury Town Council, until he stood down in August 2013, because of ill health.

And he remained a county councillor until the very end, even taking constituents' phone calls from his sick bed, two days before his death.

Fellow Herefordshire Councillor for Ledbury, Liz Harvey, spoke this week of his bravery and dedication.

She said: "He's been hugely brave and very upbeat, and he took a keen interest in planning decisions for the town, right up to the end."

Coun Harvey said she would remember him as someone "lively and energetic".

As late as last week Coun Watts, who was 66, was also taking calls from The Ledbury Reporter, and encouraging the contact.

Fellow Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury, Phill Bettington said: "News of his death is a shock to the system. He was a dear friend and colleague and member of the Conservative Party. He will be greatly missed."

Town clerk, Karen Mitchell said: "Peter was such a dedicated councillor and worked right up to the end, and our thoughts go out to his family. It's such a loss and I shall miss him greatly.

"His dedication throughout the years and his service to the people of the town is to be applauded. He was in terrible pain a lot of the time, but just carried on."

Coun Watts, who lived on the Deer Park estate, first entered local politics as a town councillor in June 2000, and for many years he was chairman of the town's planning and economic development committee.

He became a Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury in 2003.

He played a key role in encouraging Universal Beverages Limited to move onto the former Robertson's Jam Factory site in 2008, helping to save scores of jobs among the former jam factory workers.

Coun Watts was also a strong voice in favour of Sainsbury's bringing a superstore to Ledbury, and he spoke in favour of the planning application at the crunch meeting in Herefordshire, in February 2012.

On that occasion his view did not prevail and the planning application was rejected.

In more recent times, he was instrumental in pushing for Ledbury swimming pool to undergo a £2m refurbishment.

His wife, Rhona said: "He believed in supporting what local people want, and he believed that if you live in a community, you should put something back."

For all his years of service, even before he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right hip, in March 2010, Coun Watts was not a well man.

He battled with diabetes and a heart problem, and he suffered from a spinal injury which resulted from both 12 years as a paratrooper, with the rank of Corporal/Acting Sergeant, and 12 years as a Herefordshire fireman.

His youngest daughter Emma, herself a county councillor in Wiltshire, said: "He was very good at showing a front, and very stoic."

He had been in St Michael's Hospice in recent weeks, but opted to die at home, among his family.

His family have nothing but praise for the care given to him by both the Hospice and the district nurses, who visited each day.

At the time of going to press, details of Coun Watts funeral were still being finalised.

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