Piers McCausland
My favourite photo of Piers, and not because he's walking away from me!

After the tragic death of the Mayor of Wandsworth, Brian Prichard, it’s time to choose a new Mayor. And I’m delighted that Piers McCausland will be taking on the responsibility of first citizen tonight.

Piers and I were both elected to the council in 1998 and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me saying that he is one of the council’s bigger characters.

He has a dry sense of humour and (I hope he won’t be upset by me saying) a slight eccentricity that hides a sharp intellect. All qualities that will go towards making him a fine Mayor for the borough.

I wish him luck for the forthcoming year.

Brian Prichard, in Mayoral chain, when he opened the Northcote Road street party last year

I’ve already written about Brian Prichard, the Mayor of Wandsworth, who died this month, but as last night saw the last pre-election council meeting dedicated mainly to tributes to him and today is his funeral service I thought it worth a few more moments of reflection.

At a time when political emotions are heightened and, unfortunately, some are seen at their worst it’s worth remembering that the overwhelming majority of people involved in elected politics are in it for the right reasons, to serve their community. That community might be a ward, constituency or the entire country, but they hope to do some good – the disagreements come over the method or precise priorities.

Brian epitomised that. His dignity, respect and intellect were applied to the benefit of the community for over 40 years. And in total his family dedicated over 150 years of service to the people of Wandsworth, virtually all of which during a time when being a councillor was unpaid and almost certainly cost you money in lost time and earning.

Election or not, I think the political and administrative parts of Wandsworth will come to a bit of a standstill for Brian’s funeral service this afternoon. And it’s only fitting for a man who gave so much to Wandsworth and provided a shining example of all that can be good in politics.

Brian Prichard, in Mayoral chain, when he opened the Northcote Road street party last year

I was incredibly saddened to hear the news that Brian Prichard, the current Mayor of Wandsworth, died last night.

Brian had been a councillor in Wandsworth for over 40 years. Although he started off in the Labour Party, he realised that he was in the wrong party in the 70s and left, resigning his seat to join the Conservatives. He returned to the council at a subsequent election. He continued as a councillor ever since, and was retiring at next month’s election, so when he became Mayor of Wandsworth for 2009/10, I couldn’t think of a more fitting way for him to end his council career than as the borough’s first citizen.

I obviously knew him for the last twelve years when we were both on the council together, and although we were very dissimilar characters I think we got along well.

Part of that was his desire to correct some of my flaws. As a teetotal professor of medicine my smoking and drinking were abhorrent to him. Indeed, the small card I’ve featured in this post were scattered around the tables at the event held to commemorate his forty years on Wandsworth – a health warning he felt we should all heed, since he didn’t want us ending up with alcohol related conditions as a result of a celebration in his honour.

He scored a small success with me, as I gave up smoking in 2003. Although even then he couldn’t help but warn me that the method I was using, nicotine patches, still had their dangers since the nicotine affected blood and increased the risk of certain conditions (how and what I don’t remember, and if I’m honest didn’t understand at the time).

Brian and I were on several committees together during my first few years as a councillor, so I saw very early on the quick wit, deep intelligence and occasional sense of mischief he brought to the council. They were something that remained with him throughout and I always looked forward to meetings we attended together – even if he would never go for a drink afterwards!

I obviously only knew him as a councillor so can only begin to imagine the hole his passing will leave in all the other areas of his life, he was a truly inspirational councillor and man. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.