TRIBUTES have been paid to former city council leader Colin Anderson who has died, aged 64.
The former fireman and civil servant served the council for 35 years, becoming Sunderland’s youngest ever alderman in 1972.
He then worked as a councillor in the East End for first the Central and then Millfield wards, with only a two-year break until his retirement in 2007.
He passed away yesterday.
Mr Anderson became deputy leader in 1995 and succeeded former leader Bryn Sidaway in the top job when Mr Sidaway lost his seat in 1999. Mr Anderson led the authority for three years.
As well as his role as a councillor, he held a number of other posts, including vice-chairman of the council’s personnel committee, chairman of the Tyne and Wear Learning Partnership, chairman of governors at Thornhill School, Nexus board member and even safety marshall for the East End carnival.
A larger-than-life figure, he was not afraid to speak his mind and famously attracted controversy when he compared the city’s council tax rise to the cost of a pasty.
After standing down from the council, he was one of five founder members of community interest company Riverside Consulting, which helps community organisations with fund-raising, development, business planning and project management.
Former Echo council reporter – and current Hendon ward member – Coun Barbara McClennan was one of his closest friends and a fellow founder of Riverside.
“He was a lovely man, with a heart of gold. We set the community interest company up so we could continue to use his formidable brain and his formidable thinking,” she said.
“He still had a lot to offer – it is just incredibly sad.”
Colleagues from across the political spectrum paid tribute today.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “Colin Anderson did an enormous amount for Sunderland and its people.
“He will be sadly missed. He was not just a brilliant politician, but also a very dear friend.”
Sunderland Central Constituency Labour Party chairman Coun David Allan said he had known Colin Anderson since they were at school together.
“Colin was older than me, but we went to the technical college in the 60s,” he said.
“Sunderland and the Labour Party have lost a mountain of a man in every respect.
“He served Sunderland and particularly his beloved East End and its people, all his life.
“He was a member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years and continued to serve his community and the party after his retirement.”
Current council leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
“A lot of people will remember Colin Anderson’s dedication and commitment, and the many years of public service in which he worked tirelessly for the people he represented.”
Conservative group leader Coun Tony Morrisey said Colin Anderson was “an East End boy who stayed true to his roots”.
“He was genial and personable and he always did his best for the people of Sunderland.”