‘Gentleman’ Lancaster councillor dies after battle with cancer

Councillor Richard Newman-Thompson.
Councillor Richard Newman-Thompson.
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A hard-working public servant who a colleague said could have been “a future leader of Lancaster City Council” has died.

Richard Newman-Thompson passed away on Monday after a brave battle with cancer.

Councillor Newman-Thompson, 53, who represented John O’Gaunt ward in Lancaster, was the cabinet member for finance.

His colleague Darren Clifford called him “a skilled politician, dynamic and great company”.

“You won’t hear a bad word said about him,” said Coun Clifford.

“He was a fantastic friend and a gentleman to everybody who knew him.

“He had been fighting cancer for a few years yet still managed to get the Lancaster City Council budget sorted out and as recently as two Thursdays ago, attended a seven-hour budget meeting at County Hall, which shows how he pulled every sinew to make sure he served people.

“He would have been a future leader of Lancaster City Council for sure.

“Everybody is just devastated.”

Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Richard wasn’t just a fellow ward councillor he was a close friend.

“I’d known him and his wife Rose since they first came to Lancaster about 25 years ago.

“Rose died just two years ago and now we’ve lost Richard.

“He was an intelligent and very kind and I totally relied on him.

“When I first became leader he would ring me every weekend to see if I was OK because it can be quite a daunting task. If I was unsure about anything I used to ask him. I can’t imagine life without him at the end of a phone.

“He was one of the very few people who nobody had a bad word to say about. He was liked and respected as a friend and colleague and so was Rose. They both died far too soon.”

Coun Newman-Thompson married his wife Rose in 1995. They had met in Southampton before moving to our district in 1992. Richard then did an MA degree in contemporary theatre practice at Lancaster University.

Rose, who was also a politician who served on Lancaster City Council, passed away in 2014 months after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Coun Newman-Thompson was a Labour councillor and also served on Lancashire County Council for Lancaster East.

He was first elected to Lancaster City Council in 1995 until he lost his seat in the 2003 election. He was then re-elected in 2011 and 2015 in John O’Gaunt ward.

In his spare time away from politics, Richard was a passionate rugby fan who regularly watched the Vale of Lune team.