GLOWING tributes have been paid to a former Spen councillor and Kirklees Mayor who "put people before politics".

Cllr Margaret Bates, who was the first female Conservative Mayor of Kirklees and served on Kirklees Council until standing down due to ill health last year, died on Friday in hospital aged 69.

She was first elected to the Council in 1987 and was the area's Mayor for the year 2002 to 2003.

During her long and illustrious political career, Mrs Bates served as a councillor in the Spen, Birstall and Birkenshaw wards and latterly the Liversedge and Gomersal ward, where she served for 13 years from 2000.

In recognition of her work in the community, she was elected Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 2003.

She took over the role from the area's first Asian Mayor, cllr Mohan Sokal when it was time for her to step up to the role.

During her year in the post, cllr Bates supported the Dewsbury, Batley and Spenborough Centre for the Deaf and the Huddersfield Society for the Deaf, causes that had long been close to her heart.

Mrs Bates also worked as an assistant to Batley and Spen Conservative MP Elizabeth Peacock.

Cllr David Hall (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal), deputy leader of the Conservative Party in Kirklees, led the tributes to his friend after working with her for many years and said her popularity crossed all political boundaries in the area.

He said: "She put people before politics.

"She was very well respected by local people for the work she did for them. Margaret was an extremely down to earth person.

"She will be very greatly missed. Even after she retired from the council she was always there to give advice to me.

"Margaret was a mine of local knowledge.

"She always had time to talk to everybody. She was a people's person.

"She was great to work with and was great fun. She even did the washing up after a meeting when she was Mayor of Kirklees.

"She was a character. She treated everyone the same. She would talk to someone in an old people's home the same as she would to Prince Charles.

"Margaret did a lot of work with the Dewsbury and Batley Society for the Blind. She was very hard-working. She will be sadly missed across the parties and the whole of the Spen Valley."