TRIBUTES have been paid to a highly respected councillor who always “spoke from the heart”, following his death aged 67.

Councillor Peter Cox represented his home ward of Beckfield on Middlesbrough Council for a decade as an independent.

He was first elected in 2007, re-elected in 2011 and then again in 2015 for the enlarged Park End and Beckfield ward.

His friends and colleagues within the Middlesbrough Independent Councillors Association (MICA) today paid tribute.

A statement on behalf of Cllrs Michael Saunders, Brian Hubbard and Dennis McCabe read: “His background was focused on working for the community he loved, and this was expressed by all the voluntary work he carried out at the former Netherfields Community Centre.

“As a Councillor he vehemently opposed the closure of the Centre, and was the only Councillor in the past decade to successfully challenge the decision and get it reviewed (sadly the decision to close remained the same).

“Peter enjoyed a decade on the Planning Committee, again fighting for what he believed was best for Middlesbrough. The last campaign he took up was to challenge the decision to remove the businesses and community groups from the Southlands Centre, and even though extremely ill, it wasn’t going to deter him having his say.

“Anyone who new Peter would say he spoke from the heart and no one can say they were left in any doubt on the clarity of his message-Peter wasn’t afraid to say what he truly felt.

“He will be a huge loss to Park End and Beckfield, to his colleagues and especially to the person he adored the most, his wife Agnes.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd added: “Peter was a hard-working councillor who was always courteous and good-natured. He was well liked by colleagues, officers and political opponents alike.”