Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper dies

Councillor Darren Cooper (Picture: Sandwell MBC)

Sandwell Council has announced that leader Darren Cooper has died.

Councillor Cooper, who had led the local authority for nearly six-and-a-half years, passed away suddenly last night (Saturday).

In a statement Deputy Leader, Councillor Steve Eling, said: "This is of course a terrible shock to everyone who knew Darren. He was hugely liked and respected by both his colleagues at the council and the constituents who he was dedicated to serving.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife and family and we ask on their behalf that their privacy be respected at this extremely sad and difficult time."

Councillor Cooper had represented the Soho and Victoria ward in Smethwick since May 1991 and became Leader of Sandwell Council in December 2009.

In accordance with council procedures, Councillor Eling will now assume the role of Leader.

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was among those who paid tribute.

He said: "Like many I am shocked at the sudden death of Councillor Darren Cooper. He had an outstanding record of public service which was recognised across the country and his work for the people of Sandwell will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family."

Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and MP for West Bromwich East, said: “There will be many members of the Labour Party who will wish to pay their tributes to Darren as a civic and political leader. 

“I would like to remember the funny and humorous friend who loved [West Bromwich] Albion and bank holiday fishing. We shall all miss Darren, a true son of Sandwell.  My thoughts, prayers and love are with Karen and Darren's family.” 

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Twitter: "Devastating news about Darren Cooper. He was one of a kind: in touch, charismatic, innovative, deeply loyal and a truly lovely man."

Adrian Bailey, MP for West Bromwich West, also paid his tributes. He said: “I am shocked and deeply saddened by this news. I have known Darren for over 25 years, as a friend, council colleague and latterly, Council leader.

"He had a passion for public service and demonstrated great skill as a politician. He has navigated Sandwell Council through a very difficult period, managing enforced economies but ensuring that they were fairly implemented and commanded public support. Labour's strength on Sandwell Council is a reflection of his qualities as leader. I am sure he would have gone on to serve in even higher positions.

“He will be greatly missed as a warm, caring individual who could have achieved even more for the Black Country community he loved.  

“My heartfelt condolences go to his family at what must be an incredibly difficult time for them.”

Councillor Cooper's counterpart at Dudley Council, leader Pete Lowe, said: "So, so sad to hear the news that my friend, Comrade and Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper has passed away suddenly.

"Darren has been a fantastic advocate not just of the Black Country but of Local Government for many years. He will be truly missed.

"My love and thoughts are with his family during this terrible time."

Former Conservative leader of Dudley Council, Les Jones, said: "I'm absolutely shocked to hear this news. Darren and I had many run-ins about our opposing political views, but I always believed he was sincere in his desire to do the best he could for the area he represented and the whole of the West Midlands. I'd like to think we worked together well in many arenas of public service.

"I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this tragic time."


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