Crawley councillors will observe a minute’s silence following the death of Bert Crane.
Bert, who was elected to the council for 58 consecutive years, died yesterday (Tuesday February 10) in East Surrey Hospital.
The crest outside the town hall, in The Boulevard, was flown at half mast today and a book of condolence will be opened within the next few days.
Bert, who stepped down in 2012, was thought to be one of the country’s longest continuous serving councillors.
Crawley Borough Council Leader Cllr Peter Lamb said: “Bert was one of a kind, his generation of councillors built Crawley into the place we call home today and as a representative he has set the bar high for those who follow.
“I know that his loss is felt across both sides of the council chamber today and to all those who knew him he will be sorely missed.
“My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
Cllr Duncan Crow, Leader of the opposition, added: “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Bert who is a part of the fabric of Crawley’s history.
“His contribution to Crawley has been both immense and unique over the last six decades and he rightly commanded respect on both sides of the political divide.”
Bert, 87, served West Green residents for the whole of his 58-year service.
He was elected to Horsham Rural District Council in 1954, before Crawley Urban District Council was set up two years later.
Born in London, Bert was only 16 when he went to sea with the Royal Navy and was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered towards the end of the Second World War.
He was discharged on health grounds when diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1948 and, in 1952, he arrived in Crawley in an ambulance, aged 21.
At the time Crawley was a Parish Council with a population of around 26,000 people.
He represented the community under 13 Prime Ministers, including Winston Churchill, and was one of few people to be awarded Freedom of the Borough in 1995 and made Honorary Alderman in 2012.
Crawley Mayor, Cllr Brenda Smith, said: “It’s a sad end of an era. Bert was one of the founding fathers of the new town and his passion for social housing saw many new homes built for the rapidly growing population of the time.
“I have many fond memories of working alongside Bert; his vast knowledge and experience has been invaluable to me, the council and Crawley as a whole.
“He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his wife, Valerie, their family and friends.”
A minute’s silence will also be observed at the next full council meeting.
Bert is pictured during his time in the Royal Navy.