Walsall Council's Labour group leader Tim Oliver dies, aged 56
The Labour group leader on Walsall Council has died today aged 56 following a battle against cancer.
Tributes have been paid to Councillor Tim Oliver with colleagues and friends calling him a 'man of the people'.
Walsall's Labour group announced that Councillor Oliver passed away at his home this morning 'after a long and painful battle with cancer'.
He had been councillor for Birchills and Leamore ward for 18 years and had also been director of Palfrey Community Association.
He had been unable to attend Thursday's local election count where Labour gained two further seats on Walsall Council and are moving to form a minority administration.
His colleague and close friend, Councillor Sean Coughlan, this afternoon said Councillor Oliver died doing what he had done all his adult life – 'working on behalf of ordinary people and totally committed to the causes that had shaped his life'.
"Our condolences at this time go to Tim's loved ones," Councillor Coughlan said in a statement.
"My friend was a socialist, conviction politician and community activist.
"Up to his last days he never stopped striving for the causes he held dear.
"Even though he was seriously ill, he still shaped the Labour Party's manifesto for the May elections and continued working to safeguard Palfrey Community Association's future.
"He believed that politics was not about oneself but about others.
"He thought that securing the best deal for ordinary people was a duty not a choice.
"He was committed to safeguarding the vulnerable and making sure that those less well off didn't get left behind or forgotten.
"As for the wealthy his attitude was 'Well, they have always looked after themselves'.
"Tim didn't want people to know how seriously ill he was.
"He felt he had too much to do and it would have got in the way. He even hoped to attend this week's local election count but that proved impossible.
"He was principled to the point of inviting criticism from those who didn't really know or understand him.
"He could have stopped working and saved his strength but as he so often said when he was being urged to take the easy political path, 'But that isn't me,' which just goes to show that, really, there are very few like Tim Oliver."
Mayor of Walsall Councillor Mohammad Nazir added: "This is a big loss for Walsall. Tim was a great leader and a great man who had a lot of respect from across the community.
"He really worked hard with all sections of the community and he was a true man of the people."
- Walsall Labour Party statement
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