I was sad to note yesterday the news that Conservative Councillor, former Walsall Council Leader and Mayor, Tom Ansell had passed away.
Our political views, I think it’s fair to say, were at polar opposites, but I respected Councillor Ansell’s tenacity, hard work and selfless service for his community.
This sad event marks the passing of yet another member of the old guard of Walsall political life, and that makes it all the more tragic.
My condolences to Tom Ansell’s family, friends and colleagues.
Death of former Mayor Councillor Tom Ansell
Former Mayor and long serving Walsall Councillor Tom Ansell passed away this weekend following a short period of ill health.
Councillor Ansell, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday and Ruby wedding anniversary, started his political career as an Independent councillor in Blakenall but has latterly served as a Conservative councillor in the Aldridge Central and South ward.
He served as Walsall Council leader for many years and was made Mayor in 2008, raising almost £20,000 for his chosen charities Golden Wishes and Walsall Hospice.
Since 2009 he had been portfolio holder for transport and the environment on Walsall Council’s Cabinet.
Councillor Ansell passed away at Walsall Manor Hospital this afternoon (Saturday 1 June 2013).
Friends and colleagues today paid tribute to his “dedication and commitment.”
Councillor Mike Bird, Walsall Council Coalition Leader added: “Our sympathies go out to Tom’s family at this difficult time.
“We join them in mourning the loss of someone whose contribution to our borough will never be forgotten.”
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council Coalition, said: “There’s a good many councillors, myself included, who have learned a lot from Tom over the years.
“He never forgot that local people elected him and trusted him to fight their corner and he worked so hard to do his best by them.
“Tom Ansell was a great servant for the people of Aldridge and Walsall.”
Councillor Garry Perry said he had known Councillor Ansell since the age of 13.
“He should be remembered for steering Walsall Council through one of its most difficult periods and that is his legacy,” Councillor Perry said.
“He was tremendously supportive and, like Councillor Bird, believed in giving younger councillors like myself and Adrian Andrew a chance to develop and gain experience.
“He appointed me to his first cabinet and as well as learning a lot from him we became very good friends.
“He was also very helpful to me during my term as Mayor.
“He was a real man of the people and his death is a loss not just to the people of Walsall but to the borough as a whole.”
Councillor Gary Clarke added: “Tom never forgot his roots, which were firmly in local manufacturing as he worked in the Wagon car parts firm in Brownhills.
“He used to go to work at 6am every morning then as soon as his shift finished he got on with his council business – he was such a dedicated man.
“He will be greatly missed and I can’t believe we were only celebrating his 70th birthday recently. It’s a terrible shame.”
During Councillor Ansell’s Mayoral year he had the honour of hosting a civic reception for paralympic swimming start who was a double Gold medal winner in Beijing and hosting the 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) who paraded through Walsall town centre for the first time in ten years.
Councillor Ansell leaves a widow Rose and two sons. He was also a grandfather.