Tributes to former Cumbrian council leader

Image caption, Mr Toft stepped down in 2004

Tributes have been paid following the death of a former Cumbrian council leader who guided the county through the foot and mouth crisis.

Rex Toft, who died last Friday aged 76, led Cumbria County Council from June 2001 until September 2004 and had been a councillor for nearly 20 years.

He stepped down as leader in 2004 to spend more time with his family.

Council colleagues paid tribute to Mr Toft, saying he was a role model who had been respected across the council.

When Mr Toft became leader in 2001, Cumbria was in the grip of the foot and mouth crisis.

'Calm dignity'

He created rural action zones to drive regeneration and recovery and helped win funding from the government and the North West Regional Development Agency.

Council leader Councillor Eddie Martin said: "He was a great role model and he brought a calm dignity to all the problems and challenges he faced.

"Rex was a first and foremost a gentleman. Respected by all his political colleagues from all parties, he gained our admiration for the commitment he showed to helping his local community and Cumbria as a whole.

"I will miss Rex and my thoughts are with his family."

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