Tributes have been paid to a former city councillor and passionate campaigner known as ‘Mr Perry Barr’, who died following a long illness.
Ron Whitehouse has been described as the epitome of a local councillor who tirelessly worked on behalf of residents to get potholes filled, parks improved and petitions collected during his eight years as ward councillor.
But ‘Big Ron’, as he was known, was also a controversial figure who defected from the Lib Dems to Labour after falling out with the then group leader John Hemming in 2001.
And his frontline political career ended in bitter disappointment in 2004 when, shortly after being made Lord Mayor elect, he lost his seat in the local election by just 38 votes and was never able to become Birmingham’s first citizen.
He was one of many Labour councillors to lose their seats in a voter backlash against the Iraq war.
In retirement he regularly wrote to the Post’s sister paper the Birmingham Mail and often lobbied former colleagues over various issues – most recently last year battling against plans to build on a former landfill site next to his home in Erdington.
Mr Whitehouse, who was 70, died at Good Hope Hospital after being ill for some time.
Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott), who worked on many campaigns with him, said he had lost a friend as well as political colleague who will be sadly missed.
He said: “Big Ron was a real firebrand who cared passionately for this area of Birmingham and even while ill and living in the Erdington area he constantly kept in touch with me trying to help former constituents. He was a mine of information and never lost his interest in the Perry Barr ward.”
He was elected to Perry Barr ward as a Liberal Democrat in 1996.
Lord Mayor of Birmingham Mike Leddy, who also represented Perry Barr at the time, said: “He was a great colleague and very, very hard worker for the residents. At one time he was Mr Perry Barr. And he never argued with me once, which is unusual because I can be difficult.”
He also served on the leisure, sport and culture and licensing committees.
But in 2001 he fell out with Lib Dem colleagues in spectacular fashion and a bitter feud ensued.
He accused then leader John Hemming of using the party’s resources to further his parliamentary ambitions and doing a deal behind members’ backs to support historian Carl Chinn as an independent in any elected mayoral contest.
Mr Hemming and colleagues accused Coun Whitehouse of being in ‘a sulk’ because he wanted to be the mayoral candidate.
He moved to Labour but lost his seat on the cusp of becoming Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
Mr Whitehouse leaves behind wife Sue and children Robert and Helene and five grandchildren.