HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a “committed” and “talented” County Durham councillor who died suddenly last week – with his political colleagues and rivals describing him as “someone who worked for the benefit of the area in every way”.

Conservative Councillor Mark Idwal-Roberts, who represented the West Auckland ward for Durham County Council, was only elected to the position in May 2021, but according to those that have worked alongside him – he “made a significant impact in everything he put his hand to”.

Since rising the political ranks in the middle of last year, Mr Idwal-Roberts’ main aim was to work for the benefit of the area he covered, but also lived, with a focus on supporting small businesses and affordable housing.

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Following his death, Rob Yorke, who also represented the West Auckland division alongside Cllr Idwal-Roberts, said that despite the political divide between the two of them – he “never lost focus of the goal to represent West Auckland”.

This was highlighted by his political rival, who met with Mark weekly to run through how they could both work together for the benefit of the area they both love.

Paying tribute to Cllr Idwal Roberts, Cllr Yorke said: “From the first email I sent to Mark, I knew what sort of person he was.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Idwal-Roberts has served West Auckland since he was elected in May 2021.Cllr Idwal-Roberts has served West Auckland since he was elected in May 2021.

"I mentioned that after he was elected, we had to figure out how we could work together, despite our political differences. He didn’t question, he just asked how he could help.

“From there, we met every Friday, sat down, had a coffee and moved forward with making West Auckland a better place. He might not have been a councillor for long, but he did everything with heart and did a sterling job at looking after those that were the most vulnerable.”

During the pandemic, Cllr Idwal-Robert and Cllr Yorke linked up to deliver welfare calls to West Auckland residents that were on the ‘vulnerable’ list; something that wasn’t an easy task, with a lot of people classified as ‘in need’.

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However, Cllr Yorke has looked back at that time in the pandemic with “admiration” for his political peer – calling him a “gentleman” and a “lovely guy”.

He added: “Aside from the politics, he was a down to earth, lovely man and always treated me with respect.

“We helped more people than he will ever know – we pooled our resources together and helped charities and community groups during a tough time for everyone.

The Northern Echo: Labour councillor, Rob Yorke, who served West Auckland alongside Cllr Idwal-Roberts has paid tribute to him. Labour councillor, Rob Yorke, who served West Auckland alongside Cllr Idwal-Roberts has paid tribute to him.

“My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Tributes to the Conservative councillor have also come from MP for Bishop Auckland, Dehenna Davison, who highlighted the “legacy” that Cllr Idwal-Roberts had made on his political patch.

She said: “I am incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Mark Idwal-Roberts.

“I first met Mark on the night of my selection as the candidate for Bishop Auckland in 2018, and had the pleasure of campaigning and working alongside him both at my election and his.

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“Working together, it was clear to see his passion and dedication to ensure a better future and more opportunities across the constituency of Bishop Auckland and his ward of West Auckland.

“Mark was dedicated to helping his community and fighting for local people, and he worked tirelessly for the people of West Auckland. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lizzie and all those who knew him. He will be hugely missed, and his legacy in the community will always be remembered.”

Mark’s political colleagues from the Bishop Auckland Conservative Association have also remembered the “passionate,” “rooted” and “committed” councillor they had within their ranks.

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Philip Leach, chair of the Association paid tribute to the councillor by saying: “Mark was a great man, he was dedicated on the core values of Conservative members; he was passionate about businesses and housing for those that couldn’t afford it, you could see that from meeting him.

“We’re saddened by his sudden passing and we will use his legacy to always deliver the best for the residents of West Auckland and Bishop Auckland.”

As a sign of respect, Durham County Council is planning to fly the flag at County Hall at half-mast and have committed to helping his family “at this difficult and challenging time”.

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