Tributes paid following death of local councillor

Pete Callis. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001137-59).
Pete Callis. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001137-59).

Peter Callis, one of Harborough District Council’s most individual and longest-serving councillors has died. He was 76.

News of his death shocked his fellow councillors and his constituents, and tributes came from all sides.

Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Harborough District Council and long-time friend, said: “Pete was a true community councillor”.

Conservative council leader Blake Pain said: “Pete was unique and unafraid to advocate for his constituents.”

Cllr Callis, who lived in Market Harborough and worked as a carpet fitter, leaves a wife Celia and two sons.

His memorial service will be held next Wednesday, October 14, at St Dionysius church in Market Harborough, at 2pm.

Liberal Democrat Mr Callis , who had been in ill health for some time, died at home on Friday.

He had represented the Logan ward in Market Harborough since 1991. He had previously been a councillor between 1979 and 1983.

He was a former chairman of Harborough District Council, and a former county councillor. He had been on the county council for 16 years.

His friend Cllr Knowles said: “Pete was quick to speak out on behalf of the residents, never slow to offer help to those who are less fortunate and in need of help.

“For well over 20 years 
Pete served the community as a county councillor and district councillor.

“He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this time.’’

Cllr Pain added: “Pete was the people’s person, and often took the people’s view, whatever issue he was asked to look at.

“He contributed a great deal to the council and the town.”

Most recently Mr Callis spoke out strongly against large-scale new housing 
developments in the Market Harborough area, particularly the almost 1,500 houses approved for land north of the town, between Airfield Farm and Lubenham Hill.

But his “people’s champion” tag and his individual approach can be summed up by one incident in London in 2008 which resulted in him being stopped and searched by the police.

Mr Callis, then 69, said he was driven to protest after some MPs called for huge inflation-busting pay increases as part of a review into their controversial allowances 

So he decided to go for what he called “a leisurely stroll” in front of Parliament.

At the time he was also wearing a large sandwich board with slogans such as ‘MPs sleaze artists’.

Using the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act which makes it illegal to demonstrate outside Parliament without first gaining police permission, police stopped Mr Callis and took him into their office inside Parliament.

He was eventually freed with no action taken.

“I just had a good day out at Westminster” he smilingly told the Mail later.