Death of John Peck: the people's champion

RECORD-breaking, ground-breaking former Bulwell councillor John Peck, widely regarded as a champion of the people, died on Sunday at the age of 81.

He had suffered for some time from angina and Parkinson's disease and was due to move into a nursing home.

During a long and eventful political career, Mr Peck stood in no fewer than 49 local and Parliamentary elections and the 'Guinness Book Of Records' accepted that this number was unequalled.

Mr Peck, of Highbury Walk, was elected as a Communist member of Nottingham City Council in 1987, representing Bulwell East.

From November 1988 until May 1991, he was in the unique position of holding the balance of power on the council, which then had an equal number of Labour and Conservative members.

He was re-elected to the city council, this time as a Green member, in 1991 and again in 1995 before standing down two years later.

Born in Caistor, Lincolnshire, Mr Peck moved to Scunthorpe in 1929. In 1941, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot in the USA. He flew a Wellington aircraft to India and was there a year.

In 1944/45, he took part in 36 bombing operations over Europe, flying Lancasters. He became a flying officer and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, Mr Peck worked for the United Steel Company as iron controller and was active in trade union and other spheres.

He moved to Nottingham in 1948 to work full-time for the Communist Party. He stood as a candidate in ten Parliamentary conctests, more than any other British Communist, and all were in Nottingham North.

Mr Peck was active on Bulwell Tenants Association, including long periods as secretary and then president.

From 1974 to 1981, he alternated bi-annually as vice-president and president of Nottingham Trades Council, and he later served as full-time national election agent and acting national organiser of the Communist Party.

Mr Peck made a key contribution to a Bulwell Flood Prevention Committee after the River Leen overflowed in 1960.

He also became involved in several campaigns, such as saving Highbury Hospital from closure and retaining the footbridge between Coventry Road and the new Highbury Estate.

He was a kind of 'unofficial' councillor, taking up issues Bulwell people raised with him, for many years before he was actually elected.

His German-born wife, Margret, died in 2001 only two months before Mr Peck's long-awaited autobiography, 'Persistence –The Story Of A British Communist', was published.

Mr Peck leaves a son, Joe, a daughter, Jenny and four grandchildren. The funeral will take place at Bramcote Crematorium next Thursday at 12.20 pm, to be followed by a 'get-together' at the Horse Shoe Inn pub, Bulwell at 1.15 pm.