Tributes paid as Wellingborough loses its longest serving councillor of nearly 50 years

Cllr John Bailey
Cllr John Bailey

Tributes have been paid following the death of Wellingborough Council’s longest serving councillor.

Cllr John Bailey MBE who has served on the council for almost half a century died suddenly on Monday following a short battle with cancer.

Following his death, a spokesman for Wellingborough Council said: “It is with deep regret, shock and great sadness that we announce the sudden death of Cllr John Bailey MBE on Monday, July 11, following a short battle with cancer.

“Our sincere condolences go to his wife Barbara and the family at this very sad time.

“Cllr Bailey was very well respected within the council and the community.

“He will be sorely missed and his passing will leave a huge sense of loss to all who knew him.”

After graduating from Selwyn College Cambridge, where he captained the University Challenge Team, he joined Shell-Mex and BP in London as an economist-statistician.

He then joined IBM and trained as a programmer, later joining British Timken where he remained for 20 years, progressing to senior analyst and database administrator.

He joined Reed Book Services in 1988, finishing his career with Pink Roccade in 2002.

He was elected councillor to the Urban District Council in 1967 and to the new Borough Council of Wellingborough in 1973, serving as a member for the Finedon Ward, and giving nearly 50 years of continuous service.

He served as the borough’s mayor in 1976-77 and 2004-05.

He was leader of the council from 2005-2011 and was chairman of the housing committee for 27 years.

Throughout his time on the council, he served on many committees including five years as chairman of the resources committee and was at the time of his death chairman of the council’s audit committee.

He was also lead advisor for heritage.

In 2013, he was made Honorary Freeman of the Borough and in this year’s New Year’s Honours List was awarded an MBE, for his unstinting service and contribution to the community, attending Buckingham Palace in May to receive the award.

He was elected to Northamptonshire County Council in 1970, standing down in May 2013 after 43 years continuous service, having been chairman in his final year and was then elected as Honorary Alderman of the County.

He was elected to Finedon Parish Council in 1983 on which he has served continuously.

To the current day he was the archivist of Finedon Parish Church and has written and published three books on Finedon, reflecting his passionate interest in Finedon’s community, history and heritage.

He has been president of the Northamptonshire Film Archive, a trustee of Finedon Parochial Charities and a past chairman of governors of Wellingborough Grammar and High Schools.

He was instrumental in saving the Wellingborough Tithe Barn, Finedon Hall, Mackworth Green and the Tudor Gate in Finedon from demolition.

A letter of condolence has been sent to Barbara by the mayor, Cllr Malcolm Waters, on behalf of councillors and officers.

The council’s flag is to be flown at half-mast until sunset on the day of the funeral, which is to be held at St Mary The Virgin Church in Church Hill, Finedon at 11am on Monday, July 25.

Council leader Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “We are extremely saddened at the council.

“We are a small close knit team and John was like a father figure so his passing touches us all.

“John’s loving wife Barbara was always by his side, supporting him at council functions and from the public gallery where she and I often used to smile at each other after John contributed to debate in his own unique style, with his vast knowledge and experience, and often with a witty punchline.

“We need to support Barbara and the family at this very difficult time.”