Tributes to the former council leader who brought first-class cricket to Durham

Tributes have been paid to the former council chief who brought first-class cricket to the North East.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 6:37 pm
Updated Friday, 11th March 2016, 6:41 pm

Former Durham County Council leader Don Robson CBE has died at the age of 82.

He will always be remembered as the man whose drive and determination helped win first-class status for Durham County Cricket Club.

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But current council chief Simon Henig said there were many areas in which his leadership helped the region.

Coun Henig said: “Don was a hugely respected figure across County Durham and the North East.

“Under Don’s leadership, the council prioritised economic development and growth and he helped the county attract hundreds of millions in grant funding and a series of major investment projects.

“He was instrumental in securing increased funding in the east and west of the county as well as the establishment of major European funding programmes, which resulted in schemes such as the Durham Dales Centre, NET Park, Seaham Grange Industrial Estate and Bracken Hill Business Park.

“Don also played a major part in regeneration schemes, including the East Durham Enterprise Zone, the relocation of the Seaham Harbour Dock Company and significant highways projects to improve links between the east of the county and the A1(M). But it was harnessing the power of sport which was Don’s most significant legacy and his work to secure first class status for Durham County Cricket Club was hugely important.

Don also saw the county through two local government reviews during the 1990s and also oversaw the introduction of a Cabinet to make executive decisions for the council.

“On behalf of everyone at Durham County Council I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Don’s family and thank him for everything he did for County Durham.”

Mr Robson was Honorary Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham and was on Durham County Council from 1965-1974, becoming its youngest ever chairman in 1973-74.

He served on the new Tyne and Wear authority after local government reorganisation in 1974, before returning to the county council in 1981, becoming leader in 1989.

Mr Robson received a CBE for services to local government in 1997 and received an honorary doctorate of law from Sunderland University in 2002 in recognition of his work in local government and in steering Durham County Cricket Club to first class status. A talented centre-forward, he also played in the Football League for both Doncaster Rovers and Gateshead.