A LEEDS planning meeting took an emotional turn as councillors said goodbye to a long-serving colleague who is stepping down after 34 years.
Coun Neil Taggart, chair of the City Plans Panel, will not stand for re-election on May 22.
His departure follows a long battle with cancer, which saw him out of the public eye for much of the last year and a half.
At his last session chairing the plans panel, Coun Taggart, who represents the Bramley and Stanningley ward for Labour, heard heartfelt tributes from colleagues from across all parties.
Among them was Coun Peter Gruen, who said his colleague was a “font of knowledge, of past stories and of statistics”. Phil Crabtree, the council’s chief planning officer, thanked Coun Taggart for his mixture of “patience and great authority” and his ability to bring colleagues across the political divide to consensus.
Thanking colleagues, Coun Taggart said that after a difficult year, he is determined to beat the illness - and may return to local government life once he has received the all-clear.
“I love Leeds, and I have loved being a member of Leeds City Council,” he said. Writing later on his social media page, he said he was “almost overcome by the very nice things said about me” by colleagues.
Coun Taggart, regarded as an expert voice in local planning matters, is a former chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority and has also been involved with West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
> The City Plans Panel also praised the work of Martin Hamilton, Lib Dem councillor for Headingley, who is also stepping down. Colleagues said that among his many key achievements was championing the Trinity Leeds scheme and helping see it through to fruition.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a councillor and have always regarded this as the best role on the council in terms of seeing the practical results of the decisions that we make,” he said.
But he added: “I am looking forward to having some more free time.”