Durham County Council leader Cllr Simon Henig has paid tribute to former leader Cllr Don Robson CBE, who has sadly died aged 82.
Cllr Henig said Coun Robson was a hugely respected figure across the region.
“'Don was a hugely respected figure across County Durham and the North East," he said.
"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.”
Born on 5 February 1934 in Winlaton, Don Robson was Honorary Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.
He served on Durham County Council from 1965-1974 and became its youngest ever chairman in 1973-74.
Following local government reorganisation in 1974 he served on the new Tyne and Wear authority, before returning to the county council in 1981, where he represented the Leadgate and Medomsley electoral division until 2001.
He became council leader in 1989 and was the council’s longest serving leader in modern times.
He was awarded a CBE for services to local government in 1997 and received an honorary doctorate of laws from Sunderland University in 2002 in recognition of his work in local government and in steering Durham County Cricket Club to first class status.
The Don Robson Pavilion was opened by HM the Queen on 13 October, 1996. He also played in the Football League as a centre-forward with Doncaster Rovers and Gateshead.