AVDC leader who spearheaded Waterside Theatre dies

Cllr John Cartwright
Cllr John Cartwright

The former leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council who was in charge of projects including the Waterside Theatre and The Gateway council offices has died.

John Cartwright, 75, who stepped down from his post in 2013 after 13 years, was still a serving councillor on Aylesbury Vale District Council.

In May the Conservative stalwart was re-elected to serve his Grendon Underwood and Brill ward with 55% of the vote.

He also served on Bucks County Council from 1997 to 2013.

Mr Cartwright began his 30-year service at AVDC on 20 June 1985 when elected in a by-election for Grendon Underwood.

He became chairman of AVDC in 1994 and leader in 2001, whilst also spending sixteen years as a county councillor at Bucks County Council from 1997 to 2013.

CouncillorJohn Cartwright was at the forefront of plans for the Waterside Theatre

CouncillorJohn Cartwright was at the forefront of plans for the Waterside Theatre

During Mr Cartwright’s many years of service to AVDC and Bucks CC, he sat on numerous committees and sub-committees including cabinet, housing and health, development control and major projects and was Conservative group leader from 2001 until 2013.

Upon stepping down from his role as leader of the council in July 2013, Mr Cartwright spoke about his legacy: “There’re one or two buildings I had a hand in getting built.

“Starting up at the Waterside Theatre moving on to the conference centre then the district offices.

“Soon there will be Waitrose and Travelodge. I’ve done my bit, I think.”

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Waterside Theatre’s opening.

To mark Mr Cartwright’s contribution to the theatre’s construction, the VIP suite has been named after him as the Cartwright Room.

Current leader of AVDC, Councillor Neil Blake, said: ”John played a major part in the council’s progress during his time as leader and established a springboard from which it can propel itself to even greater achievements. He was a selfless man who always found time to pass on his experience to newer members from all sides of the political spectrum.

“John is quoted as saying that “he did his bit” but this was a gross understatement, typical of the man. His dedication and vision set an example to us all and AVDC will be a poorer place as a result of his passing”.

Chris Adams, UKIP leader at AVDC, said: “I heard yesterday and obviously this is a very sad moment.

“He was leader of the council, and at times like this you put politics aside.

“Of course we had our political differences, but this is a great time of sadness.

“The first time I met John Cartwright was when I became a councillor in 2011 and he was most helpful to me. His passing is sad for the communities of Grendon Underwood and Brill that he did a lot for.”

And AVDC Liberal Democrat Steven Lambert, said: “I had a lot of respect for John.

“I may not have agreed with him on things politically but it was obvious that he was very passionate about Aylesbury Vale and he always had the people of Aylesbury Vale at heart.

“Someone once said to me that if John could have drawn a line around Aylesbury Vale he would have, even when he was on the county council that was his main concern.

“I’m really sorry to hear of his passing and my heart goes out to Anne his wife. This is a sad day for Aylesbury.”

Bill Chapple OBE, chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council said John Cartwright’s contribution to local government would be remembered for many years to come.

He said: “John served as a most dedicated County Councillor from 1997 to 2013 when he stood down.

“He was devoted, hard-working, always spoke his mind, and you knew he spoke common sense.

“He will be sadly missed by all at County Hall.”

And Simon Maples deputy general manager of the Waterside Theatre also added his tibute.

He said: “We are extremely saddened to hear about the loss of councillor John Cartwright.

“It was his vision and foresight that led to the development of Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, which proudly celebrates five years of live entertainment and community events this week.

“On behalf of the staff and patrons who have visited and enjoyed the venue, we are honoured and fortunate to have benefited from councillor Cartwright’s commitment and dedication to introducing a state-of-the-art, landmark venue to the town.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

A funeral service open to all who wish to attend is being held on Thursday 15th October at 2pm in Ludgershall, Church of St. Mary, with refreshments after the service at the village hall. As a mark of respect, the flag at Aylesbury Vale District Council’s Gateway office, has been lowered to half mast until Thursday.

Mr Cartwright’s family have requested that all attending the service do not wear black.