Tributes are being paid to former Ebbsfleet Garden City board member and Gravesham Council leader John Cubuitt, who has died after an illness.

Paul Spooner, Interim Chief Executive of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, said: “John was very passionate about Ebbsfleet Garden City, always coming up with ideas from his years of experience in public life as to how we could drive the development forward.

“Not only was he a pleasure to have on our board but he was a genuinely nice man who will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”

David Turner, who took over as leader of the council, told the Gravesend Reporter:  “I was very saddened to return and hear the news of John’s passing. I say saddened, yet there was an element of pleasure to find my email inbox flooded with warm comments from the many people he had met.

“I knew John for many years, first through our mutual love of rugby football. He was a life-long member of Gravesend RFC, joining aged 16 and playing in the 1st XV for 35 years.

“I was a referee and recall he was more gentle with me than he was with oppositions, he went on to become an honorary life member and served as treasurer, then from 2014, its chairman.

“Throughout his period as leader I was his deputy and when he was forced to step down because of his growing frailty I took over the leadership role. He had a vision for Gravesham; to develop its commercial base and make it a safe place to live and work. I will strive to take that forward: It will be a part of John’s legacy.

“But above all I will remember him as a large man in all respects; a powerful rugby player and a significant servant of the community, with tenacity when seeking to deliver quality – but always sensitive to the feelings of those he worked with: Always forgiving and always displaying a warm and endearing personality.”