TRIBUTES have been paid to long-serving Dewsbury East councillor Paul Kane after he was found dead at home, just hours after submitting his resignation to Kirklees Council colleagues.
Mr Kane was discovered at his home in Bywell Close on Tuesday evening by his son and emergency services attended. A report will be submitted to the coroner.
Local politicians from across the spectrum paid tribute to Mr Kane, 62, who had served in the ward since being elected in 1995 and was Mayor of Kirklees in 2015/16.
Dewsbury politician Paula Sherriff led the tributes, saying: “Together with the whole of Dewsbury Labour Party, I am shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Coun Paul Kane.
“Paul was a stalwart of the Labour Party and gave much of his life to his role as a councillor. I know that he was very proud to represent his home town and was wholeheartedly dedicated to the role. On a personal note, I will miss Paul immensely. He was a trusted friend and colleague who was always there to give help and advice whenever I needed it, even when it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear!
“My thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this incredibly difficult time. May he rest in peace.” On social media, Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor said: “I am devastated to learn of the death of my Labour colleague, Coun Paul Kane. This has come as a terrible shock to all of us in the Labour family.”
Fellow Dewsbury East councillor Cathy Scott said: “I have known Paul for over 35 years, not just as a colleague but also as a friend. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him, knew how dedicated and proud of the responsibility he took to represent the people of Dewsbury East and Kirklees, not only as a councillor but also as the mayor.
“He was a man who enjoyed making a difference to people’s lives. I will miss his warm personality and his friendship.
“One of the things I will share is Paul was a very proud man and every year was honoured to attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony, which will be even more poignant this weekend.”
Mirfield Conservative councillor Martyn Bolt told The Press: “My thoughts and prayers go out to Paul’s family at this terrible time. Paul was as large a character as he was a physical presence and has been a constant at Kirklees Council in the 21 years of my service.
“His solid political and social beliefs didn’t stop him being a friend to members in other parties, often going out of his way to help.
“Paul was one of the first people I met when I was elected in 1998, greeting me with a firm handshake and the cheery words, ‘Hi, I’m Paul Kane, you’ve just cost me a fiver’. It turned out that prior to my first election Paul had a bet with my colleague Colin Fretwell that Labour would retain the Mirfield seat.
“He was a familiar figure at Kirklees meetings and a strong presence in planning meetings, where he would challenge developers, officers, the public and other councillors, and woe betide anyone who overstepped the mark when he was chairing.”
Coun Bolt added: “His strength of feeling in debates, passion for Dewsbury and its residents were clear for all to see – we were opponents but never enemies. Rest in peace my friend.”
Heavy Woollen Independent councillor Aleks Lukic joined Mr Kane representing Dewsbury East when he ousted long-serving Labour man Eric Firth in May.
He said: “I had not known Paul personally for very long but he helped me in my first few months as a councillor, just as he had helped countless people across Dewsbury in his decades of service.”
Coun Lukic said he was calling for Coun Kane’s seat to be left empty until his term was due to end in May (see separate story).
He added: “Council leader Shabir Pandor has said that we need to have a period of reflection. We cannot properly reflect if the election notice is being published, and I hope he will help to secure a respectful delay.
“All I want to do and all I believe anybody wants to do is think about Paul and his family at this time.”
Mr Kane’s work for Dewsbury was also echoed by members of the business community. Helen Wilson, a director of George Brooke Funeral Services, said: “It was with great sadness and shock that we received the call asking for us to attend the home of Coun Kane.
“Coun Kane had been a great support to our family both personally and professionally. One of his last involvements was to try and move the lengthy closure of Dewsbury Moor Crematorium forward. He always had time to listen to any problem (and there have been many) with regard to Bereavement Services within Kirklees.
“He was very much a man of the people, a polite man who managed to put people at their ease. I thoroughly enjoyed coming across him, he always had time for a word. Dewsbury will be much the poorer for not having him here to defend our town and its people.”
A book of condolence has been opened at Dewsbury Town Hall for members of the public to express their sympathies.