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Tributes paid to former Newham MP Nigel Spearing

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:14 16 January 2017

Nigel Spearing (second from the left) with fellow MPs outside Downing Street in 1996       Picture: Adam Butler/PA.

Nigel Spearing (second from the left) with fellow MPs outside Downing Street in 1996 Picture: Adam Butler/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A former Newham South MP has died after fighting an illness in hospital.

Nigel Spearing, who was taken into hospital a few days before his passing, lost his long-term fight against Alzheimer’s on Sunday.

The 86-year-old was an MP in the borough from 1974 until the abolition of the constituency in 1997, and was well-known for cycling to meetings and his passion for helping constituents.

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales said: “Nigel was a conscientious MP who for 23 years served the constituents of Newham South very well on the issues that affected our borough.

“We acknowledge his dedication and commitment to making life better for local people.

“On behalf of Newham Council and residents I offer sincere condolences at this sad time to Nigel’s widow Wendy, his family and friends.”

Both of the borough’s current MPs have also paid tribute.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown said: “Nigel Spearing was elected as the MP for Newham South during turbulent times, both for the country and for Newham, when the docks were closing and the community was uncertain about the future, as generational employment came to an end.

“I shall always remember Nigel cycling around Newham South in his cycle clips, and his boundless energy and passion.

“He cared enormously about the people he represented. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, added: “I was very sad to hear from Nigel’s widow, Wendy, of his death - sadness that will be shared by many.

“I knew Nigel well, both as one of the borough’s MPs when I was council leader, and as a kind and supportive colleague when I was first elected to Parliament in 1994.

“He was vigorous, energetic and utterly devoted to his work. The sight of him in his mid-sixties haring home from Newham along the A13 on his bicycle - always trailing a heavy kitbag - was unforgettable.

“Nigel always opposed EU membership, continuing to campaign after leaving Parliament, and working with old colleagues like Peter Shore. He was a master of parliamentary procedure.

“I remember when John Major resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party - but not as Prime Minister - only Nigel was able to come up with the device to bring the proceedings of the House of Commons to a halt.

“Many in Newham will always remember Nigel with great fondness.”

Former editor of the Recorder, Colin Grainger, also paid tribute, saying: “He was very well known for riding his bike over the borough. He was a really nice guy and always very approachable.

“He always had the interest of locals in his heart and did a lot for the community for many years.”

Jane Collisson, former Acton CLP member, said: “It was very sad to hear of Nigel’s death - He was the MP for Acton in the 1970s, when I worked in local Labour Party’s office, and knew first hand how dedicated and conscientious he was, particularly in regard to taking up constituents’ problems.

“Always pleasant and courteous, he was greatly respected for his integrity.”

His funeral will be for his family only on Tuesday, but there will be a memorial service organised for him in the near future.

Did you know Nigel? Email jacob.ranson@archant.co.uk to leave a tribute.

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