Flags at half mast in tribute to 44-year-old Wigan councillor
Town hall flags are being flown at half mast for a Wigan councillor who "was still helping people in hospital" while he waited for a heart transplant that came too late.
Hindley Green independent Paul Maiden passed away on Sunday evening (February 20) after a long battle with ill health.
Tributes have been paid by political colleagues and rivals and now the council itself has issued a statement.
It reads: "It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Councillor Paul Maiden.
"First elected in 2018, Councillor Maiden will be remembered as a hard-working representative for his ward of Hindley Green.
"The thoughts of everyone at Wigan Council are with his family and friends at this difficult time."
A music promoter by profession, Coun Maiden was one of the more vocal elected representatives on the local authority.
Among other issues, he campaigned for market traders' rights and the installation of a statue of Leigh-born punk legend Pete Shelley.
He was involved in a car accident some years ago had been waiting for a heart transplant since suffering a health scare last year.
But after spending months in hospital, the diabetic said that several toes and part of his foot had to be removed and a further amputation may be needed.
Colleagues, constituents and small businesses have paid tribute to Maiden.
Fellow independent councillor for Hindley Green Bob Brierley described Maiden as a "fun-loving guy" who valued his role as an elected representative.
He said: “He was a brilliant councillor. He always made his mark in the town hall.
“He was a very, very clever man. He was helping small businesses during the Covid crisis. And he fully supported the residents of Hindley Green.”
Coun Brierley said Maiden was in "excruciating" pain – but he hoped to recover and return to politics in time for the 2023 all-out elections at Wigan council.
Atherton councillor Stuart Gerrard, who leads the Independent Alliance – a political group which Maiden was a member of – was ‘deeply upset’ by the news of his death.
He said: “Paul was a tenacious councillor who put his constituents first and foremost and was never afraid to stand up for them and hold the council to account for them.
“On behalf of the Independent Alliance we send our thoughts and prayers to Paul’s family and friends, he will be sorely missed.”
Coun Maiden was credited for helping small businesses during the Covid crisis.
He was defiant in his defence of businesses which had been reprimanded by the authorities when hospitality reopened following the first Covid lockdown.
More recently, he supported traders fighting the council’s plans to redevelop the Galleries shopping centre, which includes the demolition of Wigan Market.
Speaking on behalf of some of the traders, Ron Westhead paid tribute to him.
He said: “Paul was an exceptional councillor who would help and support anyone who was in need of it and was not afraid to stand up and speak out.
“The people of Hindley and Wigan, who he represented for many years have lost a champion who will be sorely missed.
“A small example of Paul’s help was when in lockdown and cleaning products were in short supply he went to the local wholesaler and bought at his own expense toilet rolls and cleaning products for the old and infirm and needy people of his ward saying that ‘people with disabilities should not have to stand outside Tesco’s in a queue for toilet rolls’.
“Even when he was in hospital awaiting a very serious operation he was helping his fellow patients claim what benefits they were rightly entitled to.
“He worked tirelessly in helping independent traders in Wigan get a fair deal.”
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