Paul Hockney, former Lord Mayor of Bradford

Paul Hockney
Paul Hockney
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Paul Hockney, who has died at 87, was Lord Mayor of Bradford in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year of 1977 and a significant force in the city’s Liberal group at a time when it held the balance of power on the council.

The eldest of four siblings – his brother, David Hockney, became an artist of some note – he spent his first years on Steadman Terrace in the back streets of Bradford. His parents Laura and Kenneth, settled eventually in Hutton Terrace in the Eccleshill district.

Paul gained a scholarship to Bradford Grammar, and qualified as an accountant in 1961, becoming a lecturer at Leeds Polytechnic, now Leeds Metropolitan University, in 1965. A decade later, he left to set up his own practice, Hockney and Yorke, with his fellow lecturer, David Yorke.

He recalled his lecturing days for Bradford College, then Bradford Technical College, where he had taught evening classes from 1963.

“In those days you had to study by correspondence course but when it was agreed that taught courses would be introduced, I was interested in starting to teach,” he said.

“My brother David had been a student at Bradford College of Art in the 1950s but he didn’t start getting recognition until the late 1960s. I mostly taught bookkeeping but I also did some Saturday morning classes for chartered accountants. I remember it was a good place to work.”

He was elected to Bradford Council in 1974, at his fourth attempt, and as the sole Liberal, in the Idle and Greengates ward. By the next election the Liberal group had grown to nine and Mr Hockney became its leader. He also served in the early days as an elected member of the newly-formed West Yorkshire County Council.

The timing of his year as Lord Mayor was perfect, and his sense of fun – he wore red, white and blue socks to official functions – set the tone for a summer that saw one Royal visit after another to the district.

“He was unlike any Lord Mayor before,” one of his children noted. “He took to the streets, wearing Jubilee socks, involving all parts of the multicultural and diverse city, in a year full of fun, community and fund-raising.”

His mayoral appeal was to build a youth centre in which inner-city children could spend time in the countryside. The result was the Nell Bank Centre at Ilkley, which, 41 years later, is still pursuing his original vision. More than 250,000 children have made use of its facilities.

His individual approach to the mayoralty was recognised nationally. Spectator magazine summed it up in 1977: “The Jubilee is an unordered festival, devised by no government or department, a combination of ceremony and frolic, nicely symbolised by the Lord Mayor of Bradford’s decision to wear Jubilee-patterned braces, socks and underwear beneath his robes throughout the year.”

The Queen awarded him a Silver Jubilee Medal for his services.

He continued to serve his constituency until 1986. Upon his retirement from the council, he was praised for his “commanding personality in the thick of the political dogfight”.

He received an honorary degree in 1981 from Bradford University for his services to the city. The former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, then the university’s chancellor, presented it.

Throughout his career, Mr Hockney had been active in the community. He was a member and past president of Idle and Greengates Rotary Club and an active member of Probus, the organisation for retired and semi-retired business people. He was a Methodist preacher for more than 50 years and remained active in church life, providing accountancy services free to many churches, organisations and individuals.

He was married to Jean for 62 years. The two had met at a youth club at Thackley in 1948.

In retirement, they moved from Bradford to a bungalow at Flamborough Head, one of his favourite spots. As they aged, they moved to Baildon to be closer to their family, and then to Ilkley.

He listed his hobbies as drawing and painting, as well as family holidays to the Yorkshire coast. He remained close to his siblings, and David – the better-known Hockney when it came to painting – drew him, seated and suited, swiping on the iPhone that was said seldom to leave his hand.

He and Jean had four children, Janine, Lisa, Simon and Nick, and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Christchurch, the Grove, Ilkley at 230pm on July 18.