Cllr Steve Bell is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.
Mike Weatherley, the Conservative MP for Hove from 2010-2015 has sadly passed away before his time.
I had the honour to know Mike both politically, and also outside of politics, where our friendship began. He loved Hove and was so proud to represent the residents as their MP. He enjoyed his dream job in the City he loved – until illness made him stand down.
I will remember Mike as my best friend and he will leave a void in my life that I don’t think will be filled by anyone else. Since his passing I have been overwhelmed by the number of responses from people who had so much affection for Mike. I think his children never knew how well liked and respected he was until now as he kept his personal life separate from his political life.
Mike stood for the seat of Brighton Pavilion at the 2005 general election and then for Hove in 2010, where he won the seat for the Conservatives. I can remember after the count in 2010 he became emotional over his journey and how he never ever dreamed he would be representing Hove and Portslade as the member of Parliament. He recognised the importance of the moment when he reflected on that journey. He was a man who worked hard, played hard, and laughed hard. He had a passion for rock music and motor bikes. He made a big impact as the MP for Hove and Portslade in those five years before he had to stand down after one term due to his ill health.
Music was a big part of Mike’s life. He was a qualified accountant by trade in the music industry, working for the famous record producer, Pete Waterman. As an MP, Mike was very effective and put his specialist knowledge and skills to the good of the nation. He had expertise in intellectual property and in the end he became the first ever Intellectual Property advisor to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and made a lot of changes which are now law. He also championed changes to squatting legislation which still stand today.
Locally, Mike gave more prominence to Portslade and actually tried to get the Electoral Commission to change the name of the constituency from Hove to Hove and Portslade to reflect this. Residents are still benefitting from Mike’s local work and many credit him with getting West Hove Infant School opened in Connaught Road. He was also a great friend of the local media and local television – and Hove’s tourism and hospitality sector, which he promoted in Parliament. His charitable work will also live on – Mike helped raised £230,000 for charity by participating in a 100-mile charity bike ride.
Mike has been remembered by many – including our Brighton & Hove City Council Conservative Councillors and by the Prime Minister – as a dedicated parliamentarian and a fantastic servant to the people of Hove and Portslade.
Cllr Robert Nemeth, who was Mike’s Office Manager during his Parliamentary term, shared his memories:
“I helped Mike with his Maiden Speech that he was always proud of which mentioned numerous causes that were close to his heart. He loved being an MP and was ever so proud to show his elderly parents around the Palace of Westminster on one occasion.
“He famously wore an Iron Maiden T-shirt in the House of Commons to reflect his love of the genre. Alice Cooper once turned up for lunch.
“I felt that his greatest success was battling dark forces to get squatting in residential buildings criminalised. Getting legislation through Parliament as a back-bencher is no mean feat and this change helped tackle a crazy quirk in the law that was bringing misery to many. These battles took their toll though.
“He was a liberal in the real sense and embraced others’ interests and passions. People really warmed to him and he made people feel special in a quite magical way.”
Cllr Nick Lewry remembered how Mike reached out to him when he learned of his his wife’s cancer diagnosis:
“Mike told me to make some tea and they sat for about an hour together speaking about their illnesses. He spoke with passion about being an MP and his family and the support he got which was so important. He gave both me and my late wife Judy a real lift in spirits and new hope that day. May he Rest in Peace.”
Mike Weatherley 1957-2021 – a wonderful man who will be very much missed.