Tributes paid to respected East Devon District Councillor

PUBLISHED: 12:50 29 January 2015 | UPDATED: 08:26 02 February 2015

East Devon District Councillor Derek Button, who died last month after a lengthy fight with cancer.

East Devon District Councillor Derek Button, who died last month after a lengthy fight with cancer.

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Tributes have been paid to one of East Devon District Council's most respected councillors

Derek Button, who represented the Broadclyst ward from May 1984 and was elected to Devon County Council in 2005, died recently after a lengthy fight against cancer.

Cllr Button was noted for his strong views about new communities east of Exeter, but was credited with devising the name for Devon’s new town Cranbrook.

In a tribute, EDDC leader Paul Diviani said Mr Button lived a ‘remarkable life’ and he and his colleagues will ‘mourn the loss of a good man’.

Mr Diviani added: “His talents and humanity were considerable and we can only admire the dedication and effort he put into fulfilling his councillor duties, particularly in view of his recent illness.

“Derek was always a solid debater, who seldom deviated from his principles, and he will be greatly missed by all his colleagues.

“When I joined the Council in 1999, he was already a leading figure, but despite us technically being in opposition to each other, he helped me to understand the way a council works.

“We worked together in many areas, but it was in the field of planning that we enjoyed a closer relationship – especially on our then local plan and the development of Cranbrook.

“He vehemently opposed the new town, but then subsequently devised the name for it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sue during this difficult time.”

Mr Button served on EDDC from May 1984, representing the Broadclyst ward, which now neighbours Cranbrook.

An active member of the Liberal Democrat party – which he joined in 1972 – he was elected to Devon County Council in 2005.

Planning was an issue about which Derek felt passionately and was one of his chief objectives in getting elected in 1984, as he wanted to ensure that a local voice was heard in the planning process.

Through the years he earned a great deal of respect for his views on a range of topics, including education, housing and traffic problems.

Mr Button was also responsible for a number of successful campaigns, including one against a local quarry and another against a haulage business in Broadclyst.

He was a founder member of Devon Opposed to New Towns, which campaigned against new communities east of Exeter and Plymouth.

Derek and Sue moved to Broadclyst in 1987 where he enjoyed playing cricket, gardening, beekeeping, family history research and reading.

He was instrumental in getting Sports Council funding for the village’s sports pavilion and bowling green.

Mark Williams, EDDC’s chief executive, said: “It’s really, really sad. I’ve been with the council since August 2000, and Derek has always been on the council.

“From the point of view of being a Chief Executive, it doesn’t matter what political colour the councillor is, there are some that you learn to respect, and Derek was one of those that I learnt to respect.

“He was very articulate and very passionate.

“I know he argued against Cranbrook, which was fine because he genuinely believed it, but he was a very good councillor and a good bloke.

“Ultimately, he devised the town’s name. That was an interesting process.”

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