I didn't know Paul particularly well. A couple of conversations here and there, a hearty hello whenever we bumped into each other down the local Tesco. But I certainly knew of him - he was something of a fixture on the local political landscape. Elected twice to the local authority as a non-aligned representative, he did a stint as the deputy mayor during the time Stoke experimented with having a directly elected figurehead. In 2011 he was returned as one of two members of his ward alongside Labour's Mark Meredith who, funnily enough, was the mayor to his deputyship. Paul later joined the City Independent group in 2013. He was a regular in the local press, having both the knack of regularly getting Northwood-related stories into its pages and having letters printed about the local issues he cared about. He was also one of the few Stoke councillors whose face didn't break the photographer's camera.
Paul was also known in the chamber for his indefatigability. If the bit was between his teeth he never let go. He served as chair of Hanley One residents' association and was a leading light in the Friends of Central Forest Park. He never bowed to the prevailing winds either and would come out for whatever he felt was right. In the referendum to abolish the elected mayoralty, Paul was one of the few non-Labour independent voices active in the efforts to save it. Similarly, while most councillors fell over themselves to rule out a raise in the basic allowance from £11k to £12k Paul was virtually alone in saying our local elected representatives were worth it. He was also a leading voice in the campaign against the building of new council-owned offices in the city centre, was very vocal about the viability (and illiteracy) of the 'City Sentral' shopping centre project, and banged the drum for the extension of the existing Intu Potteries complex. He also, to be honest, had some daft ideas. I have a sneaking suspicion the Stoke-on-Trent package tour and Council-designed Staffordshire Hoard tea set that have appeared in the City Independents' election manifesto were his.
As well as being a tireless advocate for his ward and the city, Paul had previously penned two novels and was something of a musician. Many a time would I clamber into cars of his political opponents and find a Paul Breeze CD mixed in among the collection.
It is an awful shame that Paul has been taken away prematurely. Knowing the local Labour Party, I'm sure all members' thoughts will be with his family and friends. Paul's warmth and decency will be missed by everyone who came into contact with him.