Tributes have been paid to a much-respected former Mayor of Kirklees who has died aged 69.

Councillors were told on Friday night that Margaret Bates, a long-standing former councillor, had passed away.

Mrs Bates stepped down from Kirklees Council last year due to ill health.

She had served the Conservative Party since first being elected in 1987.

Clr Robert Light, Conservative leader on Kirklees Council, led the tributes to Mrs Bates describing her as a “true friend.”

He said: “We only heard late on Friday night and it is still a shock.

“We were elected to the council on the same day and she became a very close friend to me.

“Margaret was an amazing woman, really down to earth and she was particularly passionate about ensuring that residents’ views were heard and their concerns were at the forefront of what the council did.

“I will remember Margaret as a great person who was ready to help anyone and wanted to make things better for everyone.

“She was a very close friend and she will be missed.”

Long-standing councillor Margaret Bates served the Conservatives from 1987
Long-standing councillor Margaret Bates served the Conservatives from 1987
 

Clr David Hall, the party’s deputy leader , described Mrs Bates as an “inspiration, great mate and teacher and a friend to everyone.”

Mrs Bates served as Mayor of Kirklees between 2002 and 2003 and was the first female Conservative to become mayor, describing it as a “significant moment” at the time.

During her mayoral year she 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 played a key part in the Cabinet when the Conservative ruled the authority and had responsibility for health and adult services.

The mother-of-one was first elected to serve as a councillor for the Spen ward in 1987 and had held seats in Spen, Birstall and Birkenshaw and latterly the Liversedge and Gomersal ward.

In recognition of her service, she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 2003.

When she stepped down last year she said it has been a hard decision to make but said that after a quarter of a century of public service the time had come.

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

There were more tributes on Twitter.  Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney wrote: “So sad to hear of the loss of former Clr Margaret Bates. It was a privilege to know her. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends.”

Another former Tory mayor, Clr Martyn Bolt , tweeted: “RIP Margaret Bates, friend and mentor. Thoughts, prayers and sympathy with her family.”

Mirfield Conservative town councillor James Taylor added: “A true stalwart of Kirklees and the Tories. Never afraid to speak her mind.”

Opposition councillors also paid tribute. Former Labour council leader Mehboob Khan said he was “extremely saddened” by Mrs Bates’ death and added that she was a “good friend and fantastic ward councillor.”