We were very sad to hear of the sudden passing of Richard Boyd .
Richard played the epic, leading role in the Liberal revival in Rochford District in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He was first elected as a councillor for Trinity Ward in 1976, coming second in a year when there were two seats available. This was a considerable achievement at a time when the Liberals were doing poorly nationally.
Until then there had only been one Liberal on the District Council , the gentlemanly and caring Bernard Crick from Ashingdon. Richard soon became leader of the Liberal Group. He helped another Liberal, Derek Helson, get elected in Trinity Ward , and the Liberals were on their way.
Derek was the most studious councillor, poring over council documents to find much of the ammunition that Richard would then use with tremendous flair, either in the council chamber , or in the local press, or in Focus newsletters. They campaigned to cut down on what they thought was unnecessary spending, and to use the money instead on good causes such as bus passes for pensioners, or to cut the rates.
In 1981 Richard upset the applecart further, by unexpectedly winning a County Council seat, Rayleigh North. By 1984 he led a group of eight on the District Council , and the numbers gradually increased until the Tories lost control of the District. Richard also stood for parliament in 1983, coming second with a very creditable 32% of the vote.
He played a role in the reinstatement of Rawreth Parish Council, and in the creation of Rayleigh Town Council. On the County Council Richard eventually became group leader (we understand the flag is at half mast today at County Hall). He also achieved other positions, such as Chair of the Essex Police Authority in 1994:
Richard acted with flair and panache in the council chamber, and was capable of some withering ad libs. When a very inexperienced Chris Black got up to speak in a debate on storing nuclear waste in Essex , the Tory chairman said he had heard enough from the Liberals and told him to sit down. Richard immediately up stood up and said “Well done Chairman, there’s only one councillor here with a degree in physics and you’ve told him to shut up”. That attracted some publicity.
Even those who disagreed with him enjoyed his wit and ability. When he had poked holes in a Conservative argument he would dryly apologise for “clouding the issue with facts”. There was nearly always something to enjoy when he was in the chamber! For many of us entering politics he was an inspiration .
Rest in peace Richard, and our thoughts are with your family.
A great communicator, a great councillor and leader of the Liberal Democrats. All in all a great man who dedicated much of his life to public service. Under his watch the Lib Dems became a major force in Rayleigh, Rochford District and Essex. He also stood for parliament – but the electorate were not quite ready then for a Lib Dem MP (mores the pity). He did all this while running a local aviation business and raising a family! A true inspiration to us all. God bless you mate.
He was certainly an inspiration to me. My condolences to his friends and family.
Sad to hear this news. I remember canvassing in Trinity with Richard in 1993, when I first became a councillor. He worked extremely hard, and gave me lots of useful advice and encouragement. A sad loss, when the country is so desperately in need of real Liberals.
He gave an awful lot to the Liberals and to Rochford DC.
Left on Richard’s facebook page on the announcement of his death, from Sal Brinton, Baroness Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats:
‘My deepest sympathies to Maureen and all the family. Richard was a friend from the heady days of Lib Dem power in local gvt in the 90s (I was Chair of Education in Cambridgeshire and he was a key ally!). He continued to be a passionate advocate for disabled people. As my disabilities became more evident in recent years he and I renewed our friendship on a different campaigning front. He was an extra-ordinary man, and will be sorely missed. Sal xx’
Richard was also a very able Lay Member of the Employment Tribunal, only retiring earlier this year. I will remember him for his amazing waistcoats and his sense of humour. We were shocked today to hear of his death, he had so much to offer, what a loss!
Richard will be much missed by his fellow Lay Members and we all send our sincerest condolences to Maureen who we met at his leaving do. Please could someone pass this on to Maureen?
It was a very fine funeral yesterday, moving but uplifting. People cried – and laughed.