TRIBUTES have been paid to former Keighley MP Gary Waller, who has died aged 72.

Politicians from across the party divide have spoken fondly of the ex-Parliamentarian.

Mr Waller served as Keighley’s Conservative MP from 1983 until 1997, when he was ousted by Labour’s Ann Cryer.

He had been MP for the Brighouse and Spenborough constituency from 1979 until winning the Keighley seat.

Since 2011 he had been a district councillor in Epping Forest, representing the Lower Sheering ward.

This week Kris Hopkins, who was Keighley’s Tory MP until losing his seat at last month’s General Election, said: “News of Gary’s death is very sad indeed.

“He was a genuinely nice person who left a lasting impact on Keighley, with people often asking me how he was.

“Gary supported my first ever election campaign when I stood as a ward councillor in Worth Valley almost 20 years ago. I was also fortunate to spend time with him in London in recent years.

“He will be fondly remembered.”

Current Keighley MP John Grogan, who won the constituency for Labour last month, also paid tribute.

“Gary Waller was the first MP to represent both Keighley and Ilkley during his 14 years,” he said.

“Many people have talked about him to me in my own short time as an MP and above all they mention his approachability, dedication to his work and sense of humour.

“His love of politics continued to the end, as he was a senior councillor in Epping Forest.

“His contribution to Keighley and Ilkley will be remembered for many years to come.”

The district council flag in Epping, where Mr Waller lived, in Sheering, was lowered as a mark of respect following the announcement of Mr Waller’s death.

A spokesman for the council said members were “stunned” by the news.

Bingley Rural councillor Mike Ellis, who joined Bradford Council in 1991, said he developed an “excellent” working relationship with Mr Waller and held him in high regard.

“He was a people’s person and was what we call in Yorkshire a ‘good turner-upper’!” said Cllr


Ilkley councillor and former Lord Mayor of Bradford, Mike Gibbons, was the Conservatives’ Keighley & Ilkley constituency chairman for several years during Mr Waller’s tenure.

“He was an intelligent man and had many diverse interests,” he said.

“He loved history and enjoyed conversation, often over good food and wine.

“Gary was also passionate about his cars and was particularly fond of Jaguars – he had several, including at least one E-type.

“He was a good constituency MP and was always philosophical but never bitter about his political losses.

“I was very proud that he travelled up specially to attend my installation as Lord Mayor three years ago.

“He was a good friend and I shall miss him.”