Tributes paid to long-serving former mayor and council leader

Posted On 29 Sep 2022 at 11:36 am

Tributes have been paid to Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn who died yesterday at the age of 79 after a short illness.

Garry Peltzer Dunn

Councillor Peltzer Dunn was first elected more than 50 years ago, twice served as leader of Hove Borough Council and later as mayor of Brighton and Hove.

He was first elected in 1971 as a Conservative member of Hove Borough Council and spent two terms as leader in the 1980s. He previously represented the old Vallance ward but for the past 19 years he has represented Wish ward in Hove.

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He was proud of the role that he played in the town twinning of Hove with Draveil, a community in the Essonne department, in the suburbs of Paris.

Before Brighton and Hove merged, he was among those to make use of the popular phrase “Hove actually”. And although he was Hove through and through, he was actually born in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

In May 2008, more than 10 years after the two towns merged, Councillor Peltzer Dunn was elected mayor of the city of Brighton and Hove for a year, with his wife Chip serving as mayoress.

She said: “He came to Hove when he was about five and he lived in Hove all his life. I’ve known him since he was six and I was five because we lived next door.”

After school, at Hove College, he became a chartered surveyor and worked for a number of estate agents locally, including Priors, Calloways and Ivan Taylor, before going into business by himself.

That was when Garry Dunn took his wife’s maiden name Peltzer and became Garry Peltzer Dunn.

Mrs Peltzer Dunn said that he retained his courtesy and good humour to the end, as he said his last farewell to his wife of 56 years and their two daughters Kate and Beth.

She said: “He was quite extraordinary (saying) this is the big goodbye.”

His daughter Kate said: “He was making jokes right up to the end. He said: ‘Enough’s enough. All’s well that end well.’

“This time last week he was doing his council work. He was the most amazing person. He was such a hard-worker – and stoic.

“He was an old-fashioned gentleman and I feel very privileged to be his daughter.”

Garry Peltzer Dunn served as mayor with his wife Chip as mayoress

His colleague, Councillor Steve Bell, the Conservative group leader on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I’m devastated. He was a true gentleman and someone I took counsel from.

“I always used to describe him as my wise old owl. If I had a tricky problem, I would always turn to him for his advice.

“He was always very precise in his analysis and he often saw things that others didn’t. And if anything needed doing, he was often the first to ask if he could help.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth was elected to serve Wish ward alongside Councillor Peltzer Dunn in 2015.

Councillor Nemeth said: “I am truly devastated by the passing of my friend and mentor. Everybody viewed Garry as a true gentleman with impeccable manners and a wonderful sense of humour. Our community will certainly feel this loss.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth and Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn

Among his other roles, Councillor Peltzer Dunn served as a member of the East Sussex Fire Authority, a trustee of the homeless charity Sussex Emmaus and on the Brighton and Hove Estates Conservation Trust.

Colleagues remembered a sharp, questioning, punctilious character – sometimes pedantic – and almost always cheery, generous with his time, energy and insights.

Asked before the 2015 local elections whether he planned to run again, he said: “My dear boy, there are days when I can barely stand, let alone run.”

Councillor Anne Pissaridou spent four years as a Labour member for Wish ward, working closely with Councillor Peltzer Dunn despite being from different political parties.

She said that his generosity extended to taking on a complaint made about Councillor Pissaridou to the council’s “standards” team at one point.

Garry Peltzer Dunn in about 1975

Councillor Pissaridou said: “I met Garry during the 2011 election campaign for Wish ward and he was one of the first to congratulate me when I won – and the first to commiserate when I lost four years later.

“He was the most generous and kind fellow councillor, with an absolutely wicked sense of humour and I always valued his advice and guidance.

“In late December 2012 when my husband Steve died, he was the first to phone me and I will always remember his words.

“He said, you will receive a brown envelope from ‘Standards’. Do not open it. I will deal with it. And he did. That was the measure of the man.

“He was a kind man, of great integrity and good humour. I will miss him enormously as will the residents of Wish and the city. My sincere condolences to Chip and family.”

She added that he had recently taken to giving her a hug when they met in the town hall chamber or in the street.

It was not the first time that he showed kindness across party lines. He was ostracised for a while by some Tory colleagues after nominating Labour councillor Les Hamilton Snr for mayor in his Hove Council days.

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, the leader of the council, said: “Garry Peltzer Dunn was the leader of Hove Borough Council between 1987 and 1991, prior to the unification of Brighton and Hove in 1997, and mayor of Brighton and Hove in 2008-09.

“Among the many exceptional things he did in his mayoral year was confer Honorary Freeman of the city on Henry Allingham, Britain’s oldest man who was recognised for exceptional service during both World Wars.

“When I was first elected, his reputation as a former leader preceded him, but he always had a way of ensuring that the political never became the personal, a skill we would all do well to learn.

“With a twinkle in his eye, Garry always put the people he represented first – and was kind and supportive to councillors from all parties and none.

“Punctilious and to the letter to the last, Garry was renowned for his at-first obscure, detailed questions, whose punch soon became clear. He also had a penchant for telling you when you’d not even remotely answered the question.

“But he also was never shy of celebrating when the city – more accurately, Hove – won something. I know he did this with passion for the Kingsway to the Sea project which is one of the projects we’d both been working on before his untimely death.

“He held power to account with a form of grace and decency. I am confident he will be sorely missed by councillors from all parties.”

The Brighton and Hove Conservatives said: “Garry served as a councillor in Hove over an incredible timespan of 50 years, standing for the Conservatives in 15 consecutive local elections from 1971 to 2019.

“Highly respected and much loved by his colleagues, Garry was elected leader of the Conservative group on a number of occasions and also served as deputy leader many times.

“He was the leader of Hove Borough Council from 1987 to 1991, elected mayor of Brighton and Hove City Council in 2008 and most recently served on the East Sussex Fire Authority.

“Garry’s loss will be felt by the many people who came to know him right across the city. He was known as a true gentleman by all who came to know him.

“The thoughts of everyone are with Garry’s family at this time including his wife Chip.”

Labour councillor Les Hamilton, who first started serving on the council with Councillor Peltzer Dunn half a century ago, said: “Garry and I were members of the new Hove Borough Council that was created half a century ago and have served together for most of the time ever since.”

Former mayor Alan Robins, centre, hosted a reception to mark the 50 years since Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn, left, and Councillor Les Hamilton were first elected. They were joined by their wives, from left, Justine Hamilton, Val Cawley and Chip Peltzer Dunn

Councillor Hamilton said: “Garry was the leader of Hove Council for four years and mayor of Brighton and Hove. He also served for many years on the Hove-Draveil Twinning Association.

“He was a very good councillor and was always thoughtful and rational in his contributions. He argued on policies and was always courteous to all councillors.

“Having known Garry for so long, this sudden passing has come as a great shock. He will be greatly missed by all those who have served with him over the many years of his service to local government.”

Former Labour council leader Daniel Yates said: “Garry was an outstanding servant of Hove and the wider city for more than 50 years.

“His deep understanding of the processes of local government and his attention to detail was legendary.

“He was a true gentleman and didn’t let party political disagreement get in the way of being a thoroughly decent and hard-working local councillor and his ward residents, family and friends have lost someone truly remarkable.”

Brighton and Hove Labour councillors said: “The Labour group of councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council are deeply saddened by the news that long-serving Conservative councillor for Wish ward, Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn, has passed away after a short illness.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Garry’s friends and family and we offer our condolences to all who are feeling this sad loss.

“Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn served his ward and our city with distinction for many years, was a hard-working and genial representative and he will be greatly missed by all who encountered him.”

Labour co-leaders, Councillor Carmen Appich and Councillor John Allcock said: “We are shocked and saddened at the loss of Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn.

“Garry was a true gentleman, who was a shining example of being able to debate agreeably with colleagues from across the political spectrum.

“He treated councillors of all parties and none, officers and residents alike, with respect and courtesy, and he worked tirelessly for his local residents and in service of the city for half a century.

“We will miss his presence, his calmness, his humour and his good nature in the council chamber. Brighton and Hove has lost a dutiful public servant and a good man.”

Garry Peltzer Dunn died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, yesterday (Wednesday 28 September). He leaves a widow, Chip, two daughters, Kate and Beth, a son-in-law Tom and three grandchildren, Isobel, Alice and James.

  1. Sarah Booker-Lewis Reply

    I am so sad to hear of Garry’s death. It was always worth listening to the points he made at council meetings. We often had a chat whenever we attended the same meeting. He often had an amusing comment and a twinkle in his eye. My best wishes to his family and friends.

  2. Rob Arbery Reply

    Used to live in Wish Ward and when we had an issue Gary, (and Robert), got it resolved. Gary was brilliant. I think his recent stand in performance at ETS showed what a polite, reasonable and knowledgeable Councillor he was. Condolences to the family Gary really will be missed by many.

  3. saveHOVE Reply

    I could not be sadder.

    Remember the anti-elected Mayor campaign? I sat in his dining room in the early days of the campaign he supported to stop Lord Bassam and Simon Fanshaw’s Plans – seen as a Labour grab for autocratic power – especially to favour developers building very tall towerblocks.

    In his summer shorts, Garry helped man the newly formed saveHOVE Saturday table in George St summer 2005 as we informed the public about the proposed Karis/Frank Gehry King Alfred redevelopment scheme. It helped having him do it.

    His kind polite civility was legendary – at his best, he could muster devastating put-downs of deserving agenda/opposition targets in a council mtg.

    He is a major loss to Hove and the Council; and I could not be sadder for his family.

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I am greatly upset to read of Garry’s death.

    It was always more than a pleasure to speak with him. On and off the Council. He had a droll sense of humour, and a wonderful eye for minutiae, whether in language or figures when confronted by an agenda paper or Report.

    I first met him during the Bassam/Fanshawe power grab by means of a directly-elected mayor which he helped to fend off with diligence and humour.

    A good man in Hove (and the sign twinning us with Draveuil is presumably still in his garage after it to be removed with the merger with the other place).

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      I think I last saw him in the bar at the Little Theatre with one of his daughters. Which reminds me that when they were growing up he was happy to have Election posters for three or four Parties in the window. He must have been an admirable father. And,naturally, that Theatre evening we also talked of his part in the two battles to save Hove Library.

  5. Joey Clark Reply

    Remembering Garry Peltzer Dunn , what a decent man, always so kind to our lovely late Dad who ran Golf Galore in Boundary Road until he was 86. Our family are thinking of Garry’s family at this sad time and sending them our love.

  6. roy pennington Reply

    i knew Garry as a fellow councillor including when the great transition that blended Hove with Brighton : great bloke all the time = glad to hear he had an acute sense of humour and i am sure he would not mind sharing my only memory of him some years later round the corner from Brighton Town Hall in the casino (ex-Savoy/ABC) playing a one-arm bandit fruit machine…obviously waiting for the next interminable committee meeting…

  7. Jason Kitcat Reply

    Garry was always such a gentleman, kind and genuinely interested in you even while disagreeing. He was a great stickler for correctness in documents to the amusement of many but probably not the officers having to redraft. I have many memories of him just being so lovely in informal meetings at Kings House. There are two moments in particular when cross party meetings were totally blocked and he asked to be given a few minutes with one colleague or another. They would return and the impasse would be gone. He never would say how he had managed it. What a sad loss. RIP

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      A very good comment, Jason. I have just recalled the surreal Labour anti-quiche time. Garry alluded to this. And I still kick myself that I did not reply, “a quiche is just a quiche”. Garry understood the part that good humour plays in politics. I shall always miss Hi.

  8. Elaine Evans Reply

    It was a great shock to hear of Gary’s passing. What a lovely, pleasant man. A great loss to Brighton & Hove’s Conservative Party as well as the city as a whole. RIP.

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