Coventry City councillor and Deputy Leader, Phil Townshend, has died aged 57.
City born-and-bred Townshend had held the position of ward councillor for Lower Stoke since first being elected in 1999 and was responsible for equalities, neighbourhoods, policing and democratic issues through his role as Council Deputy Leader.
The former senior partner at Townshends LLP was also a school governor and Director of the Warwickshire Law Society Limited – enjoying reading and gardening in his precious spare time.
Leading the tributes, Council Leader Coun Ann Lucas, described the news of his death as tragic not only for his family but for people across the city who ‘were proud to call Phil their friend.’
She added: “I have lost one of my closest friends as well as a great deputy and loyal political colleague.
“Phil’s love for the city he was born and raised in shone through everything he did and every word he said.
“He was so proud of Coventry and so ambitious for its future.He worked tirelessly for the city and its people and was always ready to do whatever it took to make our city a better place to live.
“He raised our profile on the national and international stage through his work on equalities, policing, peace and reconciliation and talked passionately and brilliantly about Coventry’s diverse communities and the importance of tolerance.
“I could not have had a better deputy supporting me – always there whenever I needed him, always there to comfort me in bad times and cheer me on in good times.
“The Council and Coventry are poorer places today without him and all our thoughts are with his daughter Kirstie – who he was so proud of – and his family.”
Chief executive of the Council, Martin Reeves echoed Coun Lucas’ sentiments – also describing Coun Townshend as ‘passionate about the city he loved so much.’
“He worked tirelessly for the causes that were important to him and was a great champion for equalities in Coventry – he was so proud of the city’s diversity, its many communities and its international reputation for peace and reconciliation,” Mr Reeves said.
“He was wonderful company at any social occasion – witty, kind and generous – and he used these skills for the benefit of his city; charming international business leaders, ambassadors and politicians into doing more for Coventry.
“He spent far too many hours at the Council House working behind the scenes to get things done, but always gave his time gladly.
“Politics in Coventry was his life.
“Council staff, his colleagues on the Council, community leaders, partner colleagues in health and the police will miss him, his commitment and his dedication enormously.
“Coventry has lost one of its greatest champions.”
The civic flag outside the Council House is at half mast and a book of condolence will be available at the Council House for anyone who would like to pay their respects to Coun Townshend.