Tributes paid to 'driven and determined' former Shropshire councillor
One of Shropshire's best known Liberal Democrat politicians has died.
John Stevens from St Martins near Oswestry, stood for parliament in North Shropshire twice, in 1992 against John Biffen and then Owen Paterson in 1997.
He was also the deputy leader of Shropshire Council, a member of the council between 1993-1997 and 2001-2005.
Tributes have been paid to Mr Stevens, who passed away suddenly at his home over the weekend. He had had a heart problem in recent years.
Shropshire Councillor for Wem, Chris Mellings, said: “John joined the Liberal Party in the 1960s and was an enthusiastic supporter of the merger of the two Alliance Parties. He had stood for Parliament elsewhere in the 1970s before being selected to fight the north Shropshire constituency at the 1992 General Election.
“I worked alongside John in the 1990s as his press officer in that election, his agent in the 1997 election and then as his deputy group leader on Shropshire Council from 1994 to 1997.
“No one understood the finances of the county council better than John – other than the county treasurer of course. He knew that the way to influence what happened at the council depended on who controlled the purse strings.
"He was also a very effective deputy leader of the council and powerful advocate within both the council and the administration for the Liberal Democrat perspective. He was no fool and would be at his best when challenging officers and carving out what he thought was the best strategy and direction for the administration at a time of financial difficulties resulting from central Government’s failure to adequately finance counties such as Shropshire.
"He was very driven and determined to great effect and developed a very effective working partnership with the Labour leader of the council to get things done."
A member of St Martins Parish Council Mr Stevens was very active in the community, a trustee of St Martins Centre and editor of the St Martins Village Life Magazine. John was a strategic partnership manager for the Citizens Advice between 1999 and 2012 and also a representative on the Shropshire Association of Local Councils local area committee.
Chair of North Shropshire Liberal Democrats, David Walker, said: “John was heavily involved in the community and will be greatly missed by everybody.
“As a Liberal, he has been a huge asset to the local party and his clinical insight was widely appreciated.
“Since 2017 John helped me rejuvenate North Shropshire Lib Dems as vice-chair and our membership development officer. John oversaw rapid membership growth of 250 per cent during this time and played a key role in the last general election organising supporters, helping us to grow our vote share more than any other party."