Death announced of former councillor Peter Tunley - a one time director at Fenland Council- who fought valiantly to save Estover playing fields

Peter Tunley

Peter Tunley - Credit: Archant

Peter Tunley, a former director of Fenland Council – who later became a prominent Conservative councillor before falling out with his party - has died aged 70.

Mr Tunley died peacefully at his home in March after an illness.

He moved to March in 1987 to take up an appointment with Fenland Council but 13 years later was offered, and took, early retirement. His role as director of operational services had included environmental issues and he was also in charge of Wisbech Port.

He later became a town and district councillor and also took a job with the Residential Property Tribunal Service, a public body within the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Having previously resigned from the Conservative Party he stood, unsuccessfully, as an independent candidate for Fenland Council last May. His disenchantment with his former colleagues within the Conservative group had evidenced itself over one abiding local issue, the future of Estover.

He described it as “unbelievable” that a year after Fenland District Council had voted to remove any new housing from North East March – part of the Local Plan- a loophole allowed proposals to be aired to back track on that decision.

He said an email from the council’s head of planning confirming the changes to housing proposals for Estover went against “everything councillors stood for, and every principle I hold dear”.

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In May of 2013 council leader Alan Melton paved the way for the vote which saw all 450 homes proposed for North East March pulled from the core strategy, now the local plan.

“Never in a month of Sundays did we suspect then that a year later we would be told the council could still build there,” Mr Tunley said a year later. “It’s a slap in the face for the whole town, and an affront”.

Many however will remember Mr Tunley for that other great Estover campaign – the bid to secure the playing fields from the county council and to build a new sporting facility there.

Behind the scenes he worked tirelessly with those colleagues – of all political persuasions and of none- to secure a lease from the county council that would be workable and viable.

In January of last year he, along with a contingent of March councillors, was at Shire Hall, Cambridge, for the historic debate and vote that secure Estover playing fields for the people of March.

Mr Tunley is survived by his wife Isobel and three sons, Robin, Michael and Iain. The funeral service will be at St Peter’s Church March on Tuesday November 1 at 12.30pm followed by private cremation.

Family flowers only have been requested: if desired donations in his memory for Hospice at Home - Thorpe Hall may be made at the service or sent to Turner & Son Independent Funeral Directors, City Road, March, Cambs, PE15 9LS.

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