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Frank Branston - a tribute

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Frank Branston was a unique and larger than life character who will be remembered as a great servant to the people of Bedford.

As the town’s first elected mayor he was a passionate advocate for the area, often locking horns with central government to ensure a better deal for its residents.

Fiercely proud to represent the town, Frank was always an influential local figure – unsurprising given his ownership of several local newspapers with a circulation of apparently more than 400,000.

Frank Branston

Frank played a key role in setting up NLGN’s Mayoral Forum and was always a welcome guest at our events, where his sense of humour and occasional grumbling about central government incompetence would keep us entertained.

He was a man who wouldn’t mince his words – I witnessed him challenge both Tony Blair and Boris Johnson on points of policy – but he always acted with good humour and grace.

He always displayed an astute eye for creating attractive political messages and it was no surprise that he won two terms as mayor, the second time by a larger majority.

Frank’s last major act as Mayor was to oversee the creation of a new unitary Bedford Borough Council, a process that involved careful negotiation and sensitivity.

The fact that he managed to achieve this major managerial transition says much about his ability to win hearts and minds through his sheer force of personality.

As an independent Mayor he transcended the political divide and showed great leadership in working with politicians of all persuasions.

For his trailblazing in local government and unmistakable character he will be sadly missed.

Tribute byChris Leslie, director of the New Local Government Network

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