Business Leaders from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (BCLEP) have expressed their shock and sadness at the sudden death of their fellow Board member and Sandwell Leader, Councillor Darren Cooper.
Councillor Cooper was a key player in establishing the BCLEP and had been a board member since its inception, believing that a public and private sector partnership was the key to prosperity for not only Sandwell but the Black Country as a whole.
He had recently been part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) negotiating team for the region’s proposed devolution deal with government and key to the agreement being the biggest in the country to date.
Stewart Towe, Chairman of the BCLEP board, said:
"I am deeply sorry to hear of Darren’s sudden death. My condolences go out to his family at this incredibly difficult time.”
"As not only Chairman of the BCLEP but a Sandwell based businessman, it was an honour to have someone of Darren’s calibre working alongside me and the rest of the Board. He understood the needs of business and was very influential in ensuring those needs were translated to a political audience.”
"While his heart was very much in Sandwell, he understood the importance of unity for a greater goal and had been a dedicated supporter of working at a Black Country level for many years prior to the LEP’s establishment.”
"His recent dedication to the WMCA will serve as testament to the political legacy he left behind and it is our responsibility as business leaders to ensure his vision is achieved.”
Ninder Johal, BCLEP Board member said:
"This is such a terrible shock about a man I considered to be a friend. Darren provided a brilliant insight into business and was one of those rare creatures who understood opinions from both the left and right. Not only will this be a huge loss to Sandwell but also to the entire West Midlands political scene.”