THE former LibDem leader on the now defunct Taunton Deane Borough Council has paid tribute to group member Cllr Alan Wedderkopp.

Tributes have poured in for Cllr Wedderkopp, who died aged 89 last Friday (July 16).

Cllr Jefferson Horsley has added his thoughts on a highly-respected county and district councillor.

Cllr Horsley said: "Alan was the most unusual and unique councillor I ever worked with in my 40 years of public life in Taunton. There are a lot who deserve that accolade including John Meikle the late leader of the old TDBC for some 25 years

"His early life and upbringing in Newcastle has already been circulated by his family with their well chosen words on what he meant to them and how he was wonderfully supportive whilst attentive at all times to their needs, expectations and the love that he exuded for all of them.

"What was unique about him was that he never compromised. Even John Meikle had to bend from time to time to bring his backbenchers into line but that never was Alan’s style.

"During his years on both the County and TDBC, Alan only sought to speak “truth unto power” however uncomfortable it was to himself and his colleagues and opponents. It explains why he was both equally lovable and also so much more a complex character than anyone else I have come across in local government circles.

"He represented Comeytrowe and Trull which all will admit are in the more affluent area of Taunton Deane. In his 20 years never once did he shy from pretending to be anything different. He would search out all the residents and respect their backgrounds, whether farmers or the retired gentry or the professional workers who make up the population. So much so that he never failed to give them anything other than what he believed was the likelihood of whatever they were seeking. He’d argue and almost turned his own electorate into the Geordie working class lad he was brought up as! His passion ruled his heart as much as he fought for the environment, the Comeytrowe stream and flood prevention etc.

"In my brief return as leader of the opposition from 2007 to 2010, Alan was always ensuring that I got his advice whether I wanted it or not. No whip for him. I was just accountable as anyone else and this meant that he was such a wonderful supporter for me in my own moments of doubt. He never failed to put me right when I stepped out of line. He was the truest friend I ever had in my council career. A true Liberal in every sense."

SWT chairman Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey, said: “Alan’s contribution to public life has been immeasurable.

"He was respected by all for his wisdom, his depth of knowledge and his dedication to local democracy.

“Alan was universally liked by members and staff at SWT, who he always had time for.

"His passing is a huge loss to us all and to the communities that he loved to serve.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

READ MORE: Taunton mourns 'wonderful' Cllr Alan Wedderkopp.

Somerset County Council will fly its flag at half mast and tributes will be paid at tomorrow's (Wednesday) full council meeting.

At the county council, Cllr Wedderkopp served as opposition spokesman for customers and communities, with a particular interest in children and families, climate change as well as in county highways and the Somerset Rivers Authority.

At TDBC he served for a period as deputy leader and portfolio holder for community leadership.

Leader of Somerset County Council Cllr David Fothergill said: “Alan Wedderkopp’s long service to the community, both as a County and District Councillor, was remarkable. He will be much missed, and I would like to extend my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

Cllr Jane Lock, Opposition Group Leader, said: “Alan was a true democrat, a great team member and passionate about the area he represented, he lived life to the full and we will miss him.”

Cllr Leigh Redman said on behalf of the Labour Group: “Alan was a great help to me during my time as a county councillor, always willing to offer support, his depth of knowledge around rain fall and its impact on water course was extensive, I will miss him greatly, his death will be a big loss to the community, he was admired cross party and it was a pleasure to know him, rest in peace."