Tributes have been paid to a “widely known and well liked” Bradford Councillor who died this morning.

Conservative Councillor Mike Ellis, who represented the Bingley Rural ward had been fighting cancer. As well as being active in his ward, Cllr Ellis also sat on planning panels, scrutiny committees, and as a council representative on outside bodies looking at key issues such as transport and flooding.

He was also the whip of the Conservative opposition. The party’s leader on the Council said that his main priority was “always his family, who he always spoke of with affection and pride.”

Cllr Ellis, who lived in Oxenhope, was born in 1943. He was first elected in 1991 and served as a Councillor in the Worth Valley Ward until 1995.

He was then re-elected as Cllr for Bingley Rural in 2006 until now.

A statement from the Conservatives on Bradford Council said: “Sadly this morning Cllr Mike Ellis, Chief Whip of the Conservative Group and Councillor for Bingley Rural, passed away following a brave battle with cancer.”

Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Leader of the Conservative Group added: “Councillor Mike Ellis was a widely known and well liked man, held in high regard by those who knew him. “His ability to turn his hand to anything and quickly develop expertise in complex issues meant that he met and helped many people, which he devoted a massive amount of his time to and clearly enjoyed.

“It was natural that Mike would end up serving the people of Bradford District as a Councillor, where he could use his vast knowledge base to help as many people as possible and he served on so many Council Committees and Outside Bodies that to list them takes several pages.

“He will be a huge loss to the Conservative Group and the Council.  He has always been a support to all across the Council and could always resolve an issue.  As a Group we are all devastated by his loss.

“However, despite Mike’s passion for helping others, his main priority was always his family, who he always spoke of with affection and pride. “There was nothing he enjoyed more than a big family holiday, with his wife, children and grandchildren all there and the thoughts of my Conservative Group colleagues and I are with them at this sad time.”

Bradford Lord Mayor, Cllr Doreen Lee said: “Mike was a true gentleman. His humour and common sense approach both to life and politics will be truly missed in the political world.

“Bingley Rural and the Conservative party have lost a good man. l am very proud to say he was my political adversary and my friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.”

Bradford Council Chief Executive Kersten England said: “Mike Ellis was a very decent man, liked and respected by officers and politicians of all parties. “He was always energetic, pragmatic and positive and took the responsibilities of his role as an elected member and chief whip very seriously. I will miss him hugely.”

Bradford Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “I’m really sorry to hear of the passing of Cllr Mike Ellis.  He was well liked and respected by councillors of all parties and cared about making a difference to the whole of Bradford district and indeed to West Yorkshire.

“We are all going to miss him.  His family can be very proud of the significant contribution he made.”

The former leader of the Conservatives on Bradford Council Simon Cooke, who was also a Bingley Rural Councillor, said Cllr Ellis was “a fine councillor – not just Bradford but the whole of Yorkshire owes him a debt for his campaigning on floods and flood relief.”

“I knew him really, really well,” said his colleague, Cllr Naveed Riaz (Cons, Bingley Rural). “He’d been ill for some time but he was such a strong person.

“He was a colleague of mine for five years and I knew him two or three years before that. He mentored me, supported me and was always there for me. I’d like to offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to his family.

“He is going to be truly missed by his family and friends and residents of the Bingley Rural ward.

“He was one of the longest serving councillors we’ve had and he will be a big loss for the residents of Bingley Rural ward and the Conservatives.

“He was highly respected because he always played a fair game. He had no hidden agenda and was truly honest with his opinion and advice. “He was really passionate about what he did. He knew everything and had a particular expertise in flood defences.”

“He was a reassuring presence,” said fellow ward colleague, Cllr Paul Sullivan (Cons, Bingley Rural).

“He knew everything and everyone. “He was a great personal help to me when I became a councillor a year-and-a-half ago. “He will be a great loss to the ward, and not just the Conservatives but the council as a whole.

“His influence spread beyond Bradford.”

Long-time colleague Cllr Dale Smith (Cons, Wharfedale), who is also chairman of the Shipley Conservative Association, said: “I’ve known Mike since he was elected to Bradford Council. “He will sorely missed by the Conservative group and indeed the council. His wise and sagely advice will leave a large gap in both knowledge and commitment on a number of issues.

“We got to know each other well over the years and we supported each other on various occasions. “He was concerned about people and was a family man who was pleasant to be around.”

Cllr Ellis’ death comes just weeks after another Bradford Councillor, Abid Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central) died of Covid 19.