Leaders and officers from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have expressed shock and sadness at the sudden death of Sandwell Leader, Councillor Darren Cooper.
Councillor Cooper was Vice Chairman of the WMCA and, as a registered mental health nurse, was also the lead politician for the Mental Health Commission.
He was part of the negotiating team for the region’s proposed devolution deal with government and key to the agreement being the biggest in the country to date.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, Chairman of the Shadow WMCA board, said:
“I am so very sorry to hear of Darren’s sudden death. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and friends and to the people of Sandwell who have lost a tremendous Leader and advocate for their borough.
“It was an honour to have someone of Darren’s calibre working alongside me as Vice Chair of the WMCA. He was a terrific man to have in the region’s corner and, although we were from different political parties, someone I knew I could trust and respect. As a tribute to Darren, it’s important that we continue to put any political differences to one side and make sure that the Combined Authority works for the greater good of the region and the people Darren was so committed to serving.
“All the Leaders in the WMCA have lost first and foremost a friend but also a colleague, a champion for the West Midlands and one of life’s great characters.”
Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of the WMCA, said:
“This is such a terrible shock and desperately sad news for Councillor Cooper’s family, friends and colleagues. Councillor Cooper was a force of nature, who had a great sense of purpose and spirit. His enthusiasm for the WMCA was infectious and it was a pleasure to work with him. We will miss him.”