TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Castle Point Mayor and county councillor, Tony Wright, who died on Tuesday.

Mr Wright, 79, had been a Labour Party member since his Air Force days.

He was leader of the four-strong Labour Group on Benfleet Council from 1970 until Benfleet and Canvey District Councils combined to form Castle Point Council in 1973/74.

After Labour lost heavily in 1976, Mr Wright returned to help form the Labour administration in the landslide victory in 1995, when Labour won 34 of the 39 seats.

Mr Wright served as chairman of housing and in 1997, won a seat on Essex County Council for Basildon, rising to chairman of the fire and safety committee.

As Mayor, he started the twinning arrangement with Ireland’s Roscommon during a council visit to Boyle in 1997.

He lost his Castle Point seat along with all but two Labour councillors in the defeat of 2003 but was proud of the landmark achievements during his tenure.

He served the maximum six year term as a governor of Southend Hospital and served in governor positions on the ambulance trust, the South Essex Community and Mental Health Trust (SEPT) and was a founder Governor of the newly formed Essex Partnership University Trust.

He was also active in the mental health charity Trust Links.

Joe Cooke, Labour’s press officer, 2017 Parliamentary candidate and fellow founder member of Castle Point Council said: “Tony was a very close personal friend as well as a political and NHS mentor.

“His lifelong dedication to public service, motivated by his belief in Labour’s principles, earned the respect and appreciation of many across the political spectrum.

“Tony’s leadership, oratory and writing skills and his wonderful friendship are irreplaceable.”