WARM tributes have been paid to Craven councillor John Roberts who died unexpectedly at the weekend.

Cllr Roberts, 70, who lived in Kettlewell, represented Upper Wharfedale on Craven District Council and was also it's appointee on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

A widower with three grown up children, he was proud of his Welsh heritage, was a passionate supporter of the Welsh rugby team, and of Wharfedale Rugby Club.

He spent 20 years in the Royal Navy, before buying the post office in Kettlewell and later, the Spar shop in Grassington.

Skipton MP Julian Smith, described him as a dedicated councillor and an 'incredible human being'.

“I am so sad to hear of the death of John Roberts. He was the most exceptional public servant serving the remote communities of Upper Wharfedale with complete dedication and commitment. He was also an incredible human being who I enjoyed working with and he will be missed hugely. I send my condolences to his family and friends.”

Council leader, Cllr Richard Foster, added: “I am shocked and deeply saddened by the death of John. He was not just a fellow councillor but also a close friend who I have known for most of my life. I have had tributes pouring in from councillors and members of staff at the council saying how they will miss this true gent and thoroughly nice man."

Cllr Roberts was voted onto the council in 2008, was chairman of the Select Committee an was due to retire next year.

“He chaired the Select Committee with firmness but fairness and was never frightened to challenge decisions made here or elsewhere that he felt would impact badly on the residents of Craven," said Cllr Foster.

"The closure of the police cells in Skipton and their move to Harrogate was currently on the agenda and John was determined to make sure that this would not impact on local policing."

“He was a loyal supporter of Wharfedale Rugby Club and I think every member will miss him starting his speeches with the score from the weekend, with ‘Good news’ or ‘Bad news’ depending on how they had done."

Authority chairman Peter Charlesworth, chairman of the national park authority, described him as “a lovely man and a gentleman'.

"It was with huge shock and sadness that I received the news of his death. He was a much valued member and made an immense contribution to our work not least on the planning committee.

“I know of no-one who had a bad word to say about him, and the experience he brought to us was invaluable.

“I know I speak for everyone in the National Park Authority – members and staff – when I say that he will be greatly missed and his memory will be cherished.

“Our thoughts and sympathy go out to his family and friends, of whom there are many.”

L Further tributes and details of the funeral arrangements will appear next week.