Tributes have been paid to former Pudsey Labour councillor Mick Coulson, who has died at the age of 94.
Richard Lewis, who was also a Pudsey councillor until 2019, has paid tribute to the honorary alderman, who served Pudsey for 22 years:
“At a time when most people are looking forward to winding down in retirement, at the age of 67 Mick Coulson was gearing up for a new challenge: local Labour councillor for Pudsey. It was to be his life for the next 22 years – from 1996 to 2018.
“Mick was brought up in Old Farnley, at that time a rural part of West Leeds, one of eight children. He left school at 14 to work on the railways, eventually becoming a train driver.
“When Beeching shrank the rail network in the early 60s Mick moved on, becoming a quality controller at the Copper Works, a big industrial concern at the time. He’d also met and married Pauline, and raised a family. One of his other interests was football refereeing; he was often recognised in later years by Pudsey residents who’d had words with him on the pitch.
“Councils were going through big changes when Mick was first elected, becoming less centralised and more focused on localities, and Mick carved out a role for himself in improving council services for Pudsey and working with partner organisations like the Police to get them to work more effectively.
“As chair of the council’s Outer West Area Committee, with an office in Pudsey Town Hall and key council staff with him, services became more locally accountable. But the era of spending cuts under David Cameron destroyed much of the good work: Neighbourhood Policing, for example, was cut to ribbons, despite bringing down crime year after year.
“Mick was still able to use his position to work for the community. He was very much the ‘go to’ councillor for local businesses and organisations with new ideas or problems who’d know how to access funding or other support. He’d also just get on and graft where necessary. Even in his 80s he’d work a 12-hour shift on the day of the Christmas light switch on, having worked for months beforehand to bring it all together.
“He would also give a hand to Pudsey Carnival as MC. Both Tyersal Club and Swinnow Community Centre benefited from his involvement, while his efforts were vital in the relocation of the Gables surgery to its new site.
“Mick was like a dog with a bone with pet schemes and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Whether it was enlarging the car park at New Pudsey station or getting new fencing at Tyersal Park to keep out the horses which regularly caused mayhem, Mick got his way, no matter how many emails, phone calls and conversations it took him. (The e-mails – peppered with capitals and exclamation marks – left their readers in no doubt about what Mick wanted to happen).
“His campaign to get investment in the Town Hall to ensure its continuing use was particularly arduous, but eventually paid off when new hardwood windows were installed on two sides of the building.
“Away from purely local matters, Mick was a very conscientious member of Plans Panel (West) throughout his time as a councillor. One local developer made the mistake of building his own home in Pudsey higher than the planners had agreed. He hadn’t reckoned on the determination of Mick Coulson. At considerable expense and inconvenience to the developer, he ended up with a smaller house.
“He was also a member of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority and spent considerable time on a scheme for a regional IT system that was eventually abandoned.
“Like many of his generation who left school with only a basic schooling, he had a keen interest in education and was on a number of school governing bodies. Ensuring that there were sufficient primary school places locally was a priority for him and one of his last achievements was overseeing the expansion and modernisation of Park Spring school in Swinnow.
“Despite championing the cause of Pudsey, he never lived in the town. As a council tenant in a family house in Armley he could have asked for a transfer to a more suitable property in Pudsey, but felt such a move would just set the tongues of the ginnel gossips wagging and so stayed in Armley. Predictably, his Tory opponents criticised him for not being local enough.
“Even when he was no longer a councillor, Mick still kept his hand in by working as a volunteer for Armley in Bloom, even though he was in his nineties.”
Mick and wife Pauline were together for over 70 years, until she died aged 95 in October.
Tributes to Mick Coulson were also paid on social media by Pudsey Conservative councillors Simon Seary and Trish Smith.
R.I.P. Labour Councillor Mick Coulson (94)! Lovely Chap.
He often lent a hand with the local elections in Bramley and he outpaced me on a leaflet run round the Fairfield estate a couple of years back. I said to someone afterwards that he did well for a man in his 70s only to be told he was 90. A human dynamo he will be much missed.
So sad to hear of Mick’s passing …. Great guy … R.I.P
Sad to hear of Councillor Mick’s passing-I guess he is organizing things for the better upstairs now RIP
RIP Mick, will be missed deeply. He was such a vibrant soul, so friendly, thoughtful and genuinely interested in talking to everyone.