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Council pays tribute to Freeman and former Lord Mayor David Stark

Tributes are being paid to Freeman of the City and former Lord Mayor of Plymouth David Stark following the sad news that he has passed away.

Freeman David Stark
Former Lord Mayor of Plymouth David Stark

The city flag is being flown at half-mast outside the Guildhall in tribute to Freeman Stark who served as a Conservative councillor on both the county and city councils over five decades.

Freeman Stark, who was a chartered accountant by profession, was first elected to represent Stoke Ward in 1959, becoming the youngest serving councillor.

In his first year he served on the Finance Committee and continued to be involved with local government finance throughout his public service.

When local government re-organisation took Plymouth into Devon County Council, he represented Stoke ward from 1973 to 1985 and Compton between 1989 to 1998 – always aiming to ensure that residents’ concerns and issues were heard and acted on.

In his role as chief Whip and later as Deputy Leader, he played an influential role in county affairs. He chaired the new County Council’s personnel committee, overseeing the setting up of an administration to serve the enlarged authority.

From 1983 he chaired the County Finance Committee and was responsible for a number of innovations in local government finance.

He was Chair of Plymouth University’s Audit Committee before becoming a university governor, helping to establish a strong higher education presence. Using his roles with the university and the Plymouth Area Business Council, he was a key member of the small team that set up Plymouth Science Park to translate research into marketable products.

He also oversaw the development of a capital fund to purchase of the Mount Edgcumbe estate for public use in 1971 and served as a school governor at Plymouth College.

When Plymouth became a unitary authority in 1998, taking back control over functions such as education, transport, libraries and social care, Councillor Stark continued his public service as a city councillor representing Compton.

Accompanied by his wife Jean, he served as Deputy Lord Mayor from 1999 to 2000 and Lord Mayor from 2003 to 2004.

When he retired in 2015 he was made a Freeman of the City, the highest civic honour.

Lord Mayor of Plymouth Councillor Mark Shayer said: “This is incredibly sad news and our thoughts are with David’s family at this time. Few have given such long and dedicated service to their city.”

Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of the Council, said: “We are all very saddened to hear of David’s passing. He was well-liked and respected by members across the political divide and made a huge contribution to the city during his service over five decades.”