East Dunbartonshire Provost Alan Brown who died suddenly on Saturday, November 13

Councillors pay tribute to East Dunbartonshire Provost at special meeting

In a special meeting of East Dunbartonshire Council, members paid respects to civic leader Provost Alan Brown who died last Saturday, November 13.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 10:47 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 10:57 am

Provost Brown, who was a Conservative councillor serving Bishopbriggs South, died suddenly at the age of 57. He is survived by wife Catherine and sons Alasdair and Andrew.

The online meeting was chaired by depute provost Gary Pews (Liberal Democrat, Bishopbriggs North and Campsie) who led a minute’s silence before inviting tributes.

First to speak was Councillor Billy Hendry (Conservative, Bishopbriggs North and Campsie), who had known the provost since his teens as both worked at the same taxi firm. The Brown family have asked Councillor Hendry to speak at the funeral, which he described as a “real privilege”.

Councillor Hendry said that the future Provost Brown had always shown a keen interest in politics and later, after council meetings, the two would often meet in the local Asda as Alan regularly visited the store for its 7pm bargains.

During these encounters the two men would discuss the issues of the day, and the keen interest and knowledge shown by the future provost inspired Councillor Hendry to invite him to run for election in the ward of Cadder and Langbrae, which he would win – by just 40 votes – and serve as a councillor from 1999 to 2007.

Councillor Hendry said: ” I remember we were up until three o’clock in the morning writing leaflets in his marital bedroom. We managed to put together a leaflet and there was one occasion Alan actually went out at night and delivered it, so that showed the dedication he had.”

Councillor Brown was the convenor of what would become the Place, Neighbourhood and Corporate Assets committee and as a taxi driver also made it a daily habit to call the roads department to report issues such as potholes.

In the 2007 election, which saw the introduction of the single transferable vote system, the Conservative group knew they would not be able to win two seats in Bishopbriggs North, so Alan offered to instead stand in Bishopbriggs South where his campaign for re-election was unsuccessful. However he retained his keen interest and desire to be involved in local government,

“He was never bitter about it, but I think he really wanted to come back” said Councillor Hendry.

He was a candidate again in 2012, but this time as an independent running in Bishiobriggs North where he was narrowly defeated, but despite this he remained close with Councillor Hendry.

Come 2017 and he returned to the Conservative fold, comfortably securing election in Bishopbriggs South and being appointed Provost that same year.

“He was an excellent provost,” added Councillor Hendry, who described him as “absolutely dedicated” and chairing meetings with an even hand, showing no favouritism.

The challenges of the coronavirus pandemic left the Provost “champing at the bit” to get out and perform his civic duties as he had always loved representing the authority to visitors and meeting its residents.

Fellow councillors shared their own thoughts on the Provost, many expressing their shock at the news of the death of a friend and colleague who was devoted to his duties as civic head of the council.

Conservative group leader Andrew Polson (Bearsden South) said that the provost could always be counted on for his knowledge and experience which was invaluable to him as joint council leader.

Councillor Polson said that despite the political groupings East Dunbartonshire had always had a “family feel” and this was reflected in tributes which had been paid by councillors of all parties.

All speakers expressed their support for the Provost’s family, who as Councillor Polson said “he loved dearly, he was so proud of and devoted to”.

Joint leader Vaughan Moody (Liberal Democrat, Bearsden South) said that he and the provost had “shared an affinity” since being elected on the same day 22 years ago.

During a recap of their political careers, Councillor Moody highlighted the provost’s dedication and enthusiasm for representing the council and all its constituents from all walks of life.

“He wanted to put East Dunbartonshire on the map”, he said, later adding: “he successfully represented the people of East Dunbartonshire. He was a man of the people”.

SNP group leader Gordan Low, who serves the same Bishopbriggs South ward as the provost had, said this was the second time in his council career East Dunbartonshire’s provost has died in office, with Alex Hannah passing in 2009. He added that the news – imparted by the council’s chef executive on Saturday morning – had left all councillors absolutely shocked.

“Alan handled our robust debates with a control and calmness which must have been difficult to muster at times,” he added, and also highlighted the Provost’s willingness to work around political divisions to ensure the best service for the people of East Dunbartonshire, whether dealing with matters involving the whole council or issues affecting the ward they shared.

Councillor Low also spoke of the shock felt in the ward and across Bishopbriggs, with many people expressing their grief at the provost’s passing and sharing their own tributes.

This reaction has been shared across East Dunbartonshire and beyond with many tributes coming via email. The council also has an online book of condolence where those who knew him can share their thoughts. These will be collated and passed to his family.

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