Council leader Paul Diviani celebrates the life of a much loved East Devon public servant
After a long and brave fight with cancer, one of East Devon District Council’s most respected councillors, Derek Button has died.
Friends and colleagues on all sides will miss his strength of character and drive to get the best for the people of East Devon.
Born in Dagenham, but a Devon resident with his wife Sue since 1970, Councillor Button served on East Devon District Council from May 1984, representing the Broadclyst ward. He was an active member of the Liberal Democrats party, which he joined in 1972 and was elected to Devon County Council in 2005.
Planning was an issue about which Derek felt passionately and was one of his chief objectives in getting elected in 1984, as he wanted to ensure that a local voice was heard in the planning process.
Over the years he earned a great deal of respect for his views on a range of topics including education, housing and traffic problems.
Councillor Button was responsible for a number of successful campaigns, including one against a local quarry and another against a haulage business in Broadclyst. He was a founder member of Devon Opposed to New Towns (DON’T), which campaigned against new communities east of Exeter and Plymouth.
Derek and Sue moved to Broadclyst in 1987 where he enjoyed playing cricket, gardening, beekeeping, family history research and reading. He was instrumental in getting Sports Council funding for the village’s sports pavilion and bowling green.
We will all mourn the loss of this good man, while celebrating his remarkable life. His talents and humanity were considerable and we can only admire the dedication and effort he put into fulfilling his councillor duties, particularly in view of his recent illness.
Derek was always a solid debater, who seldom deviated from his principles, and he will be greatly missed by all his colleagues. When I joined the Council in 1999, he was already a leading figure, but despite us technically being in opposition to each other, he helped me to understand the way a council works.
We worked together in many areas, but it was in the field of planning that we enjoyed a closer relationship – especially on our then local plan and the development of Cranbrook. He vehemently opposed the new town, but then subsequently devised the name for it.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue during this difficult time.