WARM tributes were paid today to former Lord Mayor and Honorary Alderman of York Ken Cooper, who has died following a long illness.

York Labour MP Hugh Bayley said: "Ken was a great friend and an inspiration to people who knew him, and a father figure of York Labour Party.

"He was a war hero, who survived and helped many others to survive in Japanese prisoner of war camps."

Mr Bayley added: "Ken went on to lead the Labour group on York City Council, to become Lord Mayor of York, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

"Ken and his wife, Dorothy, or Dolly to her friends, were inseparable, a truly wonderful partnership who worked together in the Labour Party and in public service."

City of York Council leader Coun Rod Hills said he was "a man of courage and deep principle", adding: "I will never forget his courage, facing imprisonment by the Japanese, the loss of his son, and the way he faced his death."

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Steve Galloway said: "He was a Labour gentleman of the old order, a traditionalist who aspired to and achieved the highest offices both in the City of York and at North Yorkshire level."

Conservative leader Coun John Galvin said "I'm very saddened. He has served the city loyally and well for many years."

Mr Cooper's funeral will be on Tuesday, July 25, at 2pm at St Thomas Parish Church, York. He leaves his widow.

PICTURE: Ken Cooper