AN ALDERMAN, former Hartlepool Mayor and long-serving councillor has died following a short illness.

Ray Waller, who served as a councillor for 44 years, died aged 75 in Hartlepool Hospice on Saturday (April 5) from cancer.

He was born in West Hartlepool in 1939 and was first elected as a councillor to the South Ward at the age of 23. He went on to serve Hartlepool Council until his retirement in 2007 and was also a prominent county councillor, serving as Chairman of Cleveland County Council in 1987/88.

The straight-talking Labour councillor was chair of governors at Hartlepool College of Further Education for 26 years from 1981 to 2007 and was also a former governor of Rossmere Primary School and Brierton Comprehensive School.

He was the first chairman of Cleveland Fire Authority in 1996.

Hartlepool Mayor Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “Ray was a true public servant for over 40 years and dedicated his life to local government. He was well known both locally and nationally.

“His vision for Hartlepool made a lasting legacy. Ray was a well-respected politician and a true community councillor who will be missed. Even in retirement Ray took an active role in the council and continued to be a true supporter of our town.”

Mr Waller will receive a civic funeral which will take place at All Saints Church, Stranton, Hartlepool, on Friday, April 11 at 11am.