Labour leads tributes to Lib Dem stalwart and former Bishop's Stortford mayor Mike Wood
Liberal Democrat stalwart and tireless servant of Bishop's Stortford, Cllr Mike Wood, has passed away.
The death of the former mayor yesterday (Friday, October 25) was announced on the East Herts Political Discussion Facebook page by Labour's Sue Rayner Jacobs.
She said: "Extending sympathy to Lib Dem colleagues on the death of Mike Wood this afternoon. A sad loss to the political landscape of Stortford."
The news prompted tributes on social media from his fellow town councillor, Labour's Jill Sortwell and newly-elected Liberal Democrat East Herts Cllr Chris Wilson.
He said: "He was a very inspiring, charismatic and knowledgeable man and there is no way I would be in the council now without his example. I heard his name cited so many times in the doorsteps and always with great affection and respect."
Cllr Wood was thrilled to be re-elected to his beloved All Saints ward in May this year, at the age of 74.
He told the Indie then: "I'm extremely happy to be back and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the team. I'm especially elated to get the highest vote of anybody in Stortford – that's one for the record books!"
Sadly his term in office was affected from the start by his ill health and after several stints in hospital, he was expected to ask for a six-month leave of absence.
However, at the end of last month, he attended the full council meeting and contributed with his usual good humour and banter, remaining a friendly thorn in the side to the Conservative administration.
A veteran of local politics, he was president of the Hertsford and Stortford constituency Lib Dems, Herts county councillor between 1985 and 1989, a district councillor from 1991 to 2015 and previously a town councillor from 1987 to 2015. He served as mayor from 1991 to 1992.
His return signalled a renaissance in his party's fortunes in May. The previously solid Tory town council became 11 Conservatives, five Lib Dems and one Labour member, while after a clean sweep of all 50 East Herts Council seats in 2015, the Tories now have 40, the Lib Dems six and Labour and the Green Party two each.
Before he retired and moved to the Kings Cottages almshouses in South Road, Cllr Wood worked in the travel industry and spent time in Nigeria, Greece and South East Asia.
In addition to his passion for politics, he was an ardent advocate for the arts, working for the Snap Theatre Company and serving as a long-time trustee of the Rhodes Arts Complex, where he was a familiar face as a volunteer usher.
His service to Bishop's Stortford also included stints as a school governor and he was both a former chairman of Age Concern and a founder director of the town's YMCA at Northgate End.
Shortly before his death, he contacted the Indie for help with another of his great interests. He wanted to revive the link between the town council and the town twinning association which ended in 2011.
For the past half-century, Bishop's Stortford has been twinned with Villiers-sur-Marne in France and Friedberg in Germany. More recently Entrocamento in Portugal joined in the partnership.