Eric Mahmood Syddique 1936 - 2020
By Tony Clayton
We are sad to announce the death, at home in Eynsford, of Eric Syddique, the longest serving councillor for the village, and first leader of SDP - Liberal Alliance, and then Liberal Democrat, Group on Sevenoaks District Council.
According to the District Council's election records, Eric was voted onto Sevenoaks District Council when it was created in 1973. He was re-elected at five elections before retiring in 1995. Under Eric's leadership the group grew from four members to 11, before becoming the largest group on the council in 1995.
During his working life, Eric was chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society. He took a very keen interest in electoral campaigning, and wrote books on the subject. From 2001 to 2013 he was secretary of the Electoral Reform Society's Electoral Reform International Services Company, providing assistance in conducting elections worldwide. He was involved in introducing democratic elections to a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere, and had an international reputation.
Eric was also a longstanding member of the National Liberal Club in London, and a member of its General Committee for a number of years
Here in Kent Eric was a Justice of the Peace, and served his local community in many ways. Clive Stanyon, who served on Eynsford Parish Council for 24 years, seven of them as chairman, says that Eric habitually put the community's interest first, and was always at the forefront to help anyone with their problems.
Eric's father owned a garage and upmarket car dealership in Bexley. In his younger years Eric could often be seen driving a Rolls Royce round the village, which he told friends ran like a Swiss watch. When I came to Sevenoaks in 1984, Eric was still driving but had downgraded to a 1963 Rover P4, later abandoned on his drive, and which remained there until around 2017.
He was one of life's eccentrics. In 1968 he drove a 1936 Daimler convertible coupé into his garage, shut the doors, and they were never opened again until 2012. By that time the garage had disappeared under vegetation. This car was unusual in that it was one of the first to have an automatic pre-selector gear box.
Eric had lived in his bungalow for around 60 years, living alone when his parents died, surrounded by a mounting pile of books documents and newspapers. As his health degenerated in his 70s, he became incapable of caring for himself. An old friend came to the rescue in 2010, undertaking a complete bungalow renovation, putting the garden in order, and organising hospital treatment
In his last few years Eric was wheelchair bound and supported by a live-in carer.
Eric was alert to the end. He was a committed Liberal, and recent political events provided him with the material for heated discussion. His funeral takes place on 30th January at 1.00pm at Woking mosque. Friends are asked to arrive at midday. Burial will take place at 2.30pm at Brookwood cemetery