Howard Jones, the former leader of Kingston Conservatives who won back a Tory majority on the council after more than 20 years, has died.

Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis, who replaced Coun Jones as Tory leader after May's local election victory, broke the news on Facebook this morning.

Coun Davis wrote: “I am afraid I have to convey to you the very sad news that Cllr Howard Jones passed away early this morning.

“HJ was an incredible friend to us all. A brave man and someone I will personally miss a great deal.

"God bless him and may he rest in peace and rise in glory."

Coun Jones, who represented St James ward, had been having treatment for cancer over the past year.

Due to his illness, he did not attend May's local election count, where his party won outright control of Kingston Council for the first time in 20 years. 

But he made a surprise early morning appearance at the King's Centre in Chessington, where he hugged party members and celebrated an historic victory. 

He told the Surrey Comet that day: "We are so pleased to win for the people of Kingston, for the future of Kingston and young people's aspirations." 

Fellow Conservative Councillor David Cunningham said today: “I am saddened to hear about this, I really am.

"He will be sorely missed. He was such a nice, nice man. He was genuine and he really cared about this borough.

“A lot of credit goes to him for the work he did over the years to win back the council. He was so hard working. He will be missed.”

Coun Jones, 71, a former Scotland Yard detective, was first elected in 2002, and became leader of the Conservative group in 2006.

In the last election he topped the poll in his ward for the third time gathering 1,250 votes. 

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted: "Enormously sad that Howard Jones, former Cons leader in Kingston, died this morning. A principled man who will be very greatly missed."

James Berry, prospective parliamentary candidiate for Kingston and Surbiton, said: "Howard Jones was a great man. After a career as a senior police officer, Howard continued to serve the public as first rate councillor and Conservative group Leader.

"Howard’s crowning achievement was leading the Conservatives to victory in Kingston in May. It is terribly sad that he will not be able to see all of his hard fought plans come to fruition. I will miss Howard very much."

In an official statement released today Coun Davis said: “Howard was a dear friend and a confidant. Over the past few months I visited him regularly and he always had friendly advice and guidance.

“ HJ was leader of the group for eight years after I left the council in 2006 and during that time he steered the Conservative group through the tricky waters of opposition.

“The Conservative victory in May of this year is as much down to Howard as it is to anyone else and it is sad for us that he has not been able to take a central role in creating a new Kingston.

“I will miss him sorely for his laugh, his strength and his companionship. I am very proud to have been able to call Howard my friend.”

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Liz Green said: "Howard was a really nice bloke. We had political differences but we never had any difficulty talking through things. I feel for his family. 

"He was passionate about Kingston and he worked hard without a doubt. He will be missed not only by his own group, but the whole council chamber."

Liberal Democrat councillor Yogan Yoganathan said: “It’s a very sad loss. He was a hard worker and a good leader.

“He tried to bring people together.

“I send my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.”



Coun Jones who had lived in the borough for more than 40 years, leaves behind his wife, four children and grandchildren.