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Ken Purchase: Tributes paid after ex-Wolverhampton MP and 'city champion' dies aged 77

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Tributes have been paid to former Wolverhampton MP Ken Purchase, 'a true champion of the city' who has died, aged 77.

Mr Purchase was the Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East for 18 years until he retired in 2010, having previously served as a councillor in the city between 1970 and 1990.

He died on Sunday following a short illness.

Born and bred in the city, Mr Purchase was hugely respected among fellow politicians and his constituents. He is survived by his wife Brenda and their two daughters Samantha and Lisa.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Lisa said: "We are grateful for the medical care he received, in particular the district nurses who were fantastic and all the staff at Compton Hospice, who made a difficult time more bearable with their support and kindness.

"Ken will be missed by all of those who knew and loved him."

Emma Reynolds, who succeeded Mr Purchase in the Wolverhampton North East seat, said he was 'a true public servant' and 'a champion for the people of Wolverhampton'. He dedicated his life to fighting for a fairer and more equal society," she said.

"As an MP, he loved helping people and standing up for the disadvantaged. I was lucky enough to sit in on his surgeries and spend time with him in the constituency when I was a parliamentary candidate.

"He cared deeply about solving the problems his constituents brought to him.

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"Ken was a man of great conviction – loyal to the place he grew up and the people he represented.

"He was a brilliant debater and public speaker, with a powerful voice that he used to memorable effect in the House of Commons.

"The Labour movement will miss him and his loss will be felt most keenly by his family. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his wife Brenda and the family."

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, said: "Ken was a huge figure in Wolverhampton politics for many years.

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"He devoted his life to the people of Wolverhampton and was a true champion of the city. He was also committed to the cause of Labour, providing a tough, strong voice in Westminster.

"Ken was extremely kind to me when I first became an MP in the city some 11 years ago. I'll always be grateful to him and Brenda for that. All our thoughts are with his family."

Wolverhampton South West MP Rob Marris, said Mr Purchase had been 'a hugely influential public figure for nearly half a century'.

He added: "He achieved many great things and was rightly proud of Wolverhampton gaining city status, of the massive expansion of council housing when he was a councillor and of the relatively benign state of community relations in our diverse city, despite the alarmist warnings of some.

"I am deeply saddened by the premature death of one of my closest friends, a man that I greatly admired."

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said: "He was one of the true greats. A socialist with a powerful personality, he always gave me forthright and wise advice.

"I shall miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with Brenda and the family."

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton council's deputy leader, described Mr Purchase as 'a great friend, colleague and mentor'.

"It is extremely sad news," he said. "He was a great debater and always championed the cause of the underdog. Ken had very firm beliefs and would always stick to his principles.

"Over the years we were involved in many passionate debates together – and not always on the same side of the argument – but we always parted as friends." Labour Dudley North MP Ian Austin said: "I am very sorry to hear of death of my friend and colleague Ken Purchase, a great man who devoted his life to the service of others."

During his time in Parliament Mr Purchase served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to his great friend Robin Cook for six years.

He was a passionate socialist, with particular interests in education, housing and workers' rights.

Wolverhampton council's leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: "Ken was a long-standing politician who kept a watchful eye on the council even when in Parliament.

"His commitment to council housing and opposition to academies were important elements of his commitment to locally provided services that were locally controlled."

Mr Purchase decided to stand down as an MP in 2010 to focus on his other great passion, jazz music. He was a regular at The Trumpet pub in Bilston, where he regularly saw live bands perform.

Barmaid Lynne Jordan said: "He was a lovely man who really enjoyed coming here and seeing the bands play."

Mr Purchase attended the old Wolverhampton Polytechnic – now the University of Wolverhampton – as a mature student, having started out as an apprentice toolmaker.

He was a great advocate for Wolverhampton's successful bid to become a city in 2000.

During his two-decade stint on the council, he held a number of positions including deputy leader, health spokesman and finance chief.

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