TRIBUTES have been paid to Basildon’s most famous taxi driver, Ralph Morgan, who died last week.
Ralph, 74, was well-known as a spokesman for the Basildon Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, making regular appearances in local newspapers, on local radio stations and even appearing on BBC News.
His wife Angie confirmed he had passed away in hospital after a short illness on Saturday, July 15.
She said: “We all love him and we are going to miss him desperately. He was part of our lives and a lot of other people’s lives. He was my husband and my kids’ father, as well as his other kids, and they love him so much and they are going to miss him.”
Ralph had been with Angie for 36 years, married for 21. They had two daughters together. Ralph had another daughter and a son by his first wife. He is also survived by three grandchildren.
He had recently successfully campaigned to retain access to the ’Trafford Bowl’ – the circular car park outside Basildon train station – for taxi drivers, after it was auctioned off to a property management company.
He was also investigating what happened to money collected from the Bowl over several years by the South Essex Parking Partnership, which it turned out had been operating the site as a pay and display car park without the permission of the landowner.
Basildon mayor David Harrison tweeted his condolences, calling Ralph ’a good man’.
Stephen Metcalfe, Tory MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, also paid tribute.
He told the YA: “I was shocked and saddened when I heard Ralph had passed away.
“We had worked together over the years on important issues affecting the taxi trade in Basildon and on other issues like the parking arrangements at the Trafford Bowl. Only last week we were undertaking some enquiries for him about the car park and where all the money had gone.
“We always worked well together and he always approached things very sensibly with regard to what could or could not be done. He will be a figure who is sadly missed. He was the face of the taxi trade in Basildon.”
Independent councillor Kerry Smith, who backed Ralph’s campaign to retain the taxi rank at the Bowl, said: “The cab trade has lost its best advocate. Ralph always thought about taxi users as well as the drivers and the borough is going to be at a real loss without him.”
Ralph’s daughter Chelsie paid tribute to her father underneath a YA report on his death, published on the BasildonExposed Facebook page.
She wrote: “RIP Daddy. So touching to know you touched to many hearts and made such a difference to so many people in the community. Truly humbling and we couldn’t be more grateful for everyone’s comments.”