Councillor?s death shocks community

THE unexpected death of Tweed Shire councillor Bernie Bell has shocked hundreds who knew him - and could lead to political shockwaves.

Cr Bell, who was serving his first term as a Tweed Shire councillor after being elected in March 2004, died on Sunday.

His death has the potential to change the local political landscape.

If the council is not sacked following the recent NSW government-appointed public inquiry, a by-election could either see the current pro-development majority re-endorsed or rebuked.

A change in the majority could see a new mayor chosen.

Cr Bell, a Tweed Heads resident, had been ill for some time but his death was unexpected. He had been attending most council meetings.

Tweed mayor Warren Polglase said he was saddened and shocked.

A former Victorian policeman, Cr Bell was a man of wide interests and talents.

He was a successful businessman in Victoria and the company he founded, Pacabar Pty Ltd, was involved in land development, as well as owning, operating and managing hotels.

Horses were a passion for Cr Bell, who owned and operated a successful horse stud in Victoria before moving to the Tweed.

He was prominent in horse racing and training, establishing international thoroughbred business Loch Haven Park, including associated agistment, breeding, training programs and facilities.

He developed the Thoroughbred Training Facility in country Victoria and was vice-chairman of the Australian Trainers Association, Cranbourne.

His achievements in this field extended to his involvement with three Melbourne Cup winners and two Singapore Cup winners.

He was also prominent in sports administration, particularly lawn bowls.

After moving to the Tweed, he became a director of the Tweed Heads Bowls Club in the early 1990s then chairman for four years until October last year.

Cr Bell was Tournament Committee Chairman for international Bowls Australia events and other prestigious tournaments.

Always strong on community involvement and service, Cr Bell was on the board of the Tweed Economic Development Corporation (TEDC), a director of Tweed and Coolangatta Tourism Inc (TACTIC), a member of the Tweed Sports Committee, council's representative on the Gold Coast Airports Corporation, a member ofcouncil's Remuneration Review Committee and independent chairman of the Tweed Marine Association.

Former Tweed Heads Bowls Club general manager Geoff Provest said Cr Bell was very community-minded and was a driving force behind the Clean Up Australia Day campaign on the Tweed as well as the Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal.

Cr Polglase said Cr Bell stood for a position on local government because he saw a need for community input into the growth of the Tweed.

"His many years of vast experience and knowledge were put to good use on council," he said. "He always had consideration for his fellow man and he will be sadly missed by council for his influence and common sense in delivering outcomes for everybody."

Cr Bell is survived by his wife Ruth, sons Peter of Terranora and Chris of Melbourne, and grandchildren.

A funeral service for Cr Bell will be held at St Joseph's Catholic Church, Tweed Heads at 1pm on Thursday.

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