TRIBUTES have been paid to ex-Mayor of Wirral and Labour member for Bebington Cllr Walter Smith who has passed away.

Cllr Smith, who was 83, had been involved in local politics for more than 40 years first as a member of Birkenhead County Borough Council from 1971 until local government re-organisation.

In 1979 he was elected councillor for the then Egerton Ward.

Except for a break in 2005/2006 due to boundary changes, he has been in service as an elected member on Wirral Council ever since.

Cllr Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council, said: "Walter Smith embodied the ideals of a public servant, giving selflessly of his time and commitment to his ward and to Wirral.

"It is fair to say that wherever he went, people knew him, either as a friend or a trusted and experienced colleague.

"He will be greatly missed.

"We would like to send our sincere condolences to his family and anyone who knew him." 

Born in Liverpool in 1934, he moved to Wallasey during World War II where he attended Gorsedale School.

At 15 he started work as a trainee photographer, changing jobs at 16 to learn tailoring, which became his trade throughout his life.

After 12 years he became a director of the company where he worked, later founding Craft Tailoring Co-operative in Liverpool in 1982.

He served his National Service from 1952 to 1954 with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

During his National Service he served in Egypt with the 16th Parachute Brigade, the only National Serviceman to do so.

He was also a member of the Territorial Army from 1954 to 1957, serving with 12/13 Battalion the Parachute Regiment.

Cllr Smith had served on education and leisure committees on Wirral Council, and was the Labour Party spokesperson on the General Purposes Sub-Committee.

A past chair of Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party, he was also Chair of Governors of Rock Ferry High School and director of the Liverpool Playhouse.

In his spare time, he was a distance runner and member of Birkenhead Running Club and Wirral and Northern Veterans Athletic Clubs.

He was a qualified national squash referee and supported Liverpool Football Club. He also enjoyed reading, chess and gardening.

Cllr Smith is survived by his three children, Andrew, Lawrence and Vanessa and grandchildren.

His wife Elizabeth (Betty) died earlier this year. The couple had been married since 1957.