A respected former mayor and police officer has died.

Tributes have been paid to Anthony Belford, better known as Tony, a Canvey Island Town Councillor, and former Castle Point Mayor who died aged 76 on Monday after a battle with pneumonia.

Mr Belford served 30 years in the police force and worked his way up to chief inspector in 1993.

In this role he was sub divisional commander and qualified for silver commander for major incidents and firearm operations. In 1998 he began working for the police in a civilian capacity as an intelligence officer.

Mr Belford first stood as a candidate for Castle Point Council in 1998. He remained a councillor until 2010 and during this time held a number of high grade positions such as committee chairman and a member of the cabinet.

The highlight of his 12-year political career was being nominated as the Mayor of Castle Point for 2006/2007. He attended a Royal Garden Party during this time and shook hands with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Long-standing councillor, Ray Howard, paid respects to a friend he worked alongside for many years.

He said: “Tony was an amazing officer, and a fantastic councillor after that, and truly put so much time throughout his life into Canvey.

“He was a public servant of the highest order and Canvey has lost a very special man.

“In his time as an officer, and as a councillor, he has had a very positive effect throughout the community. “Whenever he spoke, it was with common sense and passion, and that should be admired.”

Mr Belford left home at 11 years old to go to naval boarding school, Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, Suffolk which was for sons of serving officers in the Royal Navy. He stayed there until he was 16 and then went straight into the Royal Navy.

During his time in the Navy he served in Iceland, Northern Ireland, the Mediterranean, the West Indies on hurricane patrols, and in South America.

Mr Belford met his wife, Margaret, on an outing from Gidea Park Methodist Church before heading off on HMS Whirlwind for ten months. When he returned he got engaged and then went to sea for a further nine months. He married on March 21 1965 and later bought himself out of the Royal Navy.

In 1967 his first son Andrew was born, who is now married and living in Australia. Mr Belford joined the Essex Police the same year. After training, his first posting was to Canvey as a Constable.

In 1969 his second son Stephen was born, who is now married to living on Canvey. Mr Belford was extremely proud of his two grandsons, Lewis born in 1998 and Evan born in 2001.

His funeral will be held at 11am on February 2, at St Nicholas Church, Canvey, followed by the committal at Bowers Gifford Crematorium at 12.40pm. A wake will be at Canvey Conservative Club from 2pm.