One of Allerdale council’s most prominent former chief executives, Tony Perry, has died aged 83.

Mr Perry, of Bassenthwaite, gained notoriety over the Keswick Bridge timeshare fiasco and was the man behind the council’s present day headquarters in Workington, which became widely known as “Perry’s Palace.”

Mr Perry was born in Wolverhampton in 1927 and moved to Cumbria with his family in the mid-1960s.

They settled in Stainburn, Workington, in 1965 before moving to the town’s Richmond Close.

Mr Perry and his wife Audrey moved to Bassenthwaite in the late 1980s.

He started his council career as a treasurer for councils in Loughborough and Ashton-in-Makerfield and then joined Workington Borough Council in 1964 as its treasurer before working his way up to become chief executive.

He was also treasurer at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Workington until he retired in 2008 and he served on the committee of the bureau for over 40 years.

Elsa Campbell, his daughter, said he was an active man who gave a lot back to the community and was part of many clubs in the area.

Mrs Campbell, 48, of Flimby, added: “He was a brilliant dad and excellent granddad. His granddaughter Terri was born the year that he was dismissed from the council and she became the apple of his eye and helped to keep him going.”

He served as the chairman of Workington Reds football club for three seasons from 1976 to 1979 and also served as a director from 1971.

Mr Perry also volunteered at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake in 2002 and gave advice when the theatre was being developed.

He was also a member of Workington Rotary Club, helped at St Michael’s Day Centre in Workington and enjoyed stamp collecting as a hobby.

He died at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle on Monday, March 14. He had been living at Millfield Retirement Home in Keswick for three years.

He is survived by his children Richard, Lyn, Martin and Elsa and grandchildren Terri, Rory, Frances and Jean. His wife Audrey died from cancer in 2002.

Joan Ellis, of Cockermouth School, worked closely with Mr Perry during the initial development of the Theatre by the Lake.

She said: “Tony was very supportive and recognised the positive economic impact this would have on Keswick and the area.”

He was sacked from Allerdale council for alleged gross misconduct in 1991 over the Keswick Bridge timeshare scheme but he cleared his name in 2003.

He was accused of paying out £54,000 to a contractor for the failed scheme, which was expected to bring tourists to the town and produce profits for investors.

He was a key figure in setting up the Allerdale Development Limited Company in the mid-1980s, which was created to get around borrowing restrictions.

Allerdale council acted as guarantor when the arms-length company borrowed £6 million from Credit Suisse Bank to finance the scheme, which included the town’s leisure pool.

The ambitious scheme went bust after failing to sell as well as expected.

An eight-month internal investigation followed and various reports were drawn up.

Mr Perry was sacked for alleged gross misconduct in December 1991.

It was claimed that he did not keep councillors properly informed of all of the negotiations with developers.

This was followed by 12 years of litigation and Allerdale council launched a multi-million pound claim for damages against Mr Perry.

The case was dropped by Allerdale council in 2002, because it claimed it would cost taxpayers too much money, but it continued to pursue a claim for £54,000.

The dispute ran up a £1.5 million legal bill.

Mr Perry appeared at Carlisle County Court in 2003 and a judge cleared him, saying there was considerable evidence to refute the council’s assertion that there was no authority for the payment.

Mr Perry said at the time that the tag of gross misconduct had left him unable to get another job.

An industrial tribunal ruled in his favour in 2004 and he was given £15,940–£5,940 in lost earnings and compensation of £10,000, the maximum allowed by law at the time he was sacked.

The tribunal castigated the council for failing to act like a reasonable employer when it investigated the timeshare scheme.

His wife Audrey died of cancer in 2002 and Mr Perry said during the tribunal in 2004 that the stress of his sacking had an enormous strain on his family and badly affected the health of his wife, contributing to her death.

He added: “The decision to sack me definitely affected her health. The only pity is that my wife is not with us any longer to share the joy of this win.”

Mrs Campbell said: “He was a true fighter. He fought for more than 10 years to clear his name after being dismissed.

“A lesser man would have crumbled. He fought for what was right and he did eventually clear his name.

“It did have a great effect on him and people only remember him for all the wrong reasons and forget what a good man he was and all the good he did for the community.

“He lost a lot of friends over the years because of what happened and the fact that he cleared his name seems to have gone unrecorded. He was a brilliant man.”

Tim Heslop, leader of Allerdale council, said last night: “We are sorry to hear the news of Mr Perry’s death and we would like to express our sympathy to his family at this sad time.”

Mr Perry’s funeral service and burial took place yesterday at St John’s Church, Bassenthwaite.