Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins ‘enormously missed’

Tributes have been paid to Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Co

Tributes have been paid to Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Council

Tributes have been paid to Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins, who has died at the age of 62.

Cllr Perkins was diagnosed with cancer last year.

She was admitted to Lister Hospital with an infection on Tuesday and sadly died on Saturday evening.

She served as a councillor for Welwyn from 1995, and held a number of Cabinet positions since 2002, including the portfolios for planning, environment, governance, public health, and housing and communities.

She became Deputy Leader in 2017 and was appointed leader in May this year.

Cllr Perkins has been described as an immensely dedicated and committed councillor, and the driving force behind some of the council’s most significant projects, including the Affordable Housing Programme and Local Plan.

She was passionate about housing and delivering high quality homes for local people and a committed advocate for preventing and ending homelessness.

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She campaigned relentlessly against domestic abuse and served as vice chair of the local Domestic Abuse Forum since 2011.

In addition to her extensive council duties, she was recently appointed vice chair of the East of England Local Government Association.

Her background was in the city, where she worked as an executive assistant for HSBC in Canary Wharf.

Cllr Perkins is survived by husband David.

Paying tribute to her, council chief executive, Rob Bridge, said. “Mandy was never too busy for a chat and would always make time to talk to officers, who she respected and valued greatly.

“She was a people person and that shone through in everything she did, but especially important was her drive to improve residents’ quality of life.

“Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to David and all of Mandy’s family and friends.”

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, deputy leader of the council, said: “We are all completely devastated by the loss of a councillor who combined such a wealth of local government knowledge with a deep compassion and commitment to her communities.

“Mandy was vivacious and funny and a joy to be around. She leaves behind an incredible legacy and we will ensure that lives on through her important work.

“I can only hope we make her as proud as she made us.”

Council flags are flying at half-mast and a book of condolence is available in reception at the council offices in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield.

Conservative councillor Nick Pace, who represents Hollybush ward, said: “When I first became a councillor in Hollybush in 2010, she took me under her wing and acted as a mentor to me as a new councillor.

“She continued to be a support throughout and as well as being a dedicated councillor, cabinet member and leader she was a friend, with a lovely sense of humour.

“She will be sorely missed.”

Alex Rogers, an agent for Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives, said: “Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives are devastated by the loss of Conservative Council leader and long-standing Councillor Mandy Perkins.

“Her decades of dedicated public service have transformed her Welwyn ward and Welwyn Hatfield as a borough.

“Mandy brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to the council and the shock of her loss is very difficult for everyone who knew and worked with her to come to terms with.

“Taken so soon after assuming office as borough council leader, Mandy brought a host of new ideas to our area; transforming the local authority into an open and accessible forum for local residents.

“More importantly though Mandy will be remembered for her humour, kindness and commitment to helping those around her.

“She will be sorely missed by us and the whole of the Welwyn Hatfield community.”

Welwyn Hatfield Council deputy leader Tony Kingsbury tweeted: “Mandy was a colleague and friend for many years, who always demonstrated the highest levels of integrity in all her dealings.

“She served this community for more than 20 years as a borough councillor, as well as supporting other local groups and charities.

“I will miss her so much.”

Former borough councillor Darren Bennett, who used to represent Panshanger ward, said: “I knew Mandy for 20 years.

“She was a very good colleague and friend.

“She would do anything for anyone.

“I always remember when I was in hospital seven to eight years ago, she actually came down to the Royal Free to pick me up and take me home.

“At the beginning of last month, I picked Mandy and David up from the airport at 3.30am and she just looked so well.

“She was so bubbly and that was the last time I saw her.

“She was a lovely genuine person.

“It knocked me for six when I heard the news.

“It’s just so sad.”

Labour leader Kieran Thorpe said: “Mandy has been on the council for longer than most can remember.

“She was one of the most dedicated councillors I have met, who dealt with a phenomenal level of workload with passion.

“In her time as leader of the council, Mandy showed a determination to do things differently, and in her own way.

“I genuinely liked and respected her both as a person, and an opponent.

“We were all shocked to hear this news, she will be sorely missed.

“Our thoughts and sympathy go out to her family and friends at this very sad time.”

Lib Dem leader Malcolm Cowan said: “Mandy was a very warm person with a generous personality, who cared deeply about other people.

“She worked immensely hard and was very knowledgeable, particularly in the field of planning.

“She had started to bring a welcome more co-operative ethos to the council in the few months since she became leader, a role I know she was proud to take.

“It is immensely sad for her that her period in office was so short, and she will be enormously missed on all sides.”

Welwyn Hatfield Women’s Refuge & Support Services manager Dee Golder said: “Mandy became the council nominated representative on the Women’s Refuge Board of Trustees at about the same time as I became the Refuge Manager in 1997.

“This isn’t a formal tribute from the Refuge organisation but from me as an individual.

“I am so sad to learn of her death.

“She was tireless in her support of the work of specialist domestic violence services and of the Refuge in particular.

“In the 21 years that I’ve known her, she has given me both professional and personal support - always clear thinking, always coming from a place of compassion and understanding, always making good sense.

“She will be very much missed.”

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps tweeted: “Compassionate, inclusive and ultimately incredibly brave too.

“For sheer dedication to public service, no-one outshone Councillor Mandy Perkins.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband David.

“Welwyn Hatfield has lost a great community champion, and we are all devastated.”

•If you would like to pay tribute to Mandy, please email nina.morgan@whtimes.co.uk