In tribute to Cllr Darren Cooper

By Jan Britton | 06 April 2016
  • Jan Britton

The sudden death of Sandwell Council leader Cllr Darren Cooper, aged just 52, came as a tragic shock to all who knew him.

Darren was well-liked, not only here in Sandwell but right across the Black Country, West Midlands and throughout local government.

Like many employees, I feel I have lost a friend as well as a great boss and leader. Our thoughts are with Darren’s wife and family, and all who knew him.

The many condolence messages I have read over the past week – from former prime ministers and party and regional leaders to ward constituents, friends and colleagues – show just how well respected he was by people from all walks of life.

There are comments about Darren’s commitment, drive and long public service in the name of Sandwell and his ward, Soho & Victoria – but there are also comments about his sense of humour and his love for West Bromwich Albion. I recognise all of these things.

Born and raised in Smethwick, Darren was first elected to the council in 1991 and led the authority from 2009. He also had a long career as a mental health nurse.

Darren had the ability to build and lead a strong team. The cabinet and management board that lead Sandwell Council are as strong and unified as any I have ever known in my career. The plan we have been following for the last five years had Darren Cooper at the centre but it is also a plan we all shared in making and implementing.

Darren was also instrumental in the setting up of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – in building support for greater collaborative working across the region and pushing for devolved powers to the West Midlands.

He never forgot his roots and fought hard for the people of Sandwell at a local, regional and national level. His energy and strong sense of purpose were infectious. He will be sorely missed.

As a council, we will pull together and continue to carry forward the shared vision and plans we have in place. This will be the best memorial of all to our leader and friend, Darren Cooper.

Jan Britton is chief executive at Sandwell Council

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