John was Conservative Group Leader at Lambeth Council from 1998 to 2014, and deputy leader of the Council under the Liberal Democrat-Conservative joint administration between 2002 and 2006. He was also joint chair of the Education Committee between 1994 and 1998.
John served as a councillor for Thurlow Park ward for 24 years from May 1990 and was re-elected five times until he stood down at the local elections in 2014.
He also served as deputy chairman of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority, as governor of Oakfield and Elmcourt schools, and as a member of the Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital trust and the Kings College Hospital trust.
John worked as a journalist over more than four decades, for news outlets from Burnley and Cardiff to Abu Dhabi.
He was married to Clare Whelan OBE, who also served as a Conservative councillor and is a former Mayor of Lambeth.
Cllr Tim Briggs, who succeeded John as leader of the Conservative Group on Lambeth Council, said: “John Whelan was a committed public servant to the people of Lambeth. He was a councillor for 24 years and at one point Deputy Leader of Lambeth Council.
“He and his wife, Clare, were a team in Thurlow Park ward and helped countless people there in their difficulties with the Council. I did not have the good fortune to know him well, but I salute his achievements, his tireless work for the people of Lambeth, and his intense commitment to their wellbeing.”
A number of former colleagues – within the Conservative Party and from other parties – and members of the community, have paid tribute to Mr Whelan in recent days.
Former Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed, who is now Labour MP for Croydon North, said: “We fought each other hard but I respected him.”