A former Hartlepool mayor has paid tribute to respected campaigner Keith Fisher.
Councillor Paul Beck has praised Mr Fisher's dedication to serving the people of the Hart ward in his role as an Independent councillor, a position he held for two years.
Mr Fisher sadly died on Tuesday night at the University Hospital of James Cook. as a result of complications following open heart surgery last Friday.
The dad-of-one, 76, had been instrumental in the Save Our Hospital Group as its chairman, which campaigned to keep emergency services open at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Coun Beck said: "It is with immense sadness that that I have learnt of the passing of former Hart ward councillor Keith Fisher.
"Keith was elected to the Hart ward along with myself in May 2012.
"I have great respect for the work he led to save our hospital.
"I will never forget his great work with myself on curing flooding issues in Hart Village, on anti social behaviour on our Hart ward and the work he did on our committees in the Civic.
"Keith was well respected not just as ward councillor but also as a magistrate for 20 years here in Hartlepool.
"Keith and me were never bosom buddies but I have the greatest respect for what he stood for and achieved in his life.
"My condolences to Mike and his family at this sad time. Reunited with his lovely wife Elaine."
A passionate campaigner, Keith told the Mail back in 2011 that he would "never stop fighting for our hospital.”
He leaves behind his son Mike Fisher, 45, granddaughter Rachael, 20, and daughter-in-law Melanie Fisher, who are from Hartlepool.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Keith was a larger-than-life character who cared passionately about Hartlepool and its people – not least as a tireless campaigner against the downgrading of services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
“That commitment was also clear in his contribution to the council – particularly as Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, in which role he led an inquiry into the provision of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Hartlepool.
“In that same role, his experience as a magistrate stood him in good stead as he fought against the closure of the Community Safety Office in York Road and against Hartlepool youth cases being heard outside the town.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Mr Fisher was a dedicated magistrate in Hartlepool for 20 years, retiring at the compulsory age of 70.
He was the chair of the bench of magistrates training and a magistrate representative for Cleveland Police Authority.
He was the president of the Hartlepool Labour Party, spending 10 years with the party before leaving to become an Independent ward councillor for Hart.
He was elected in the May 2012 elections and served in that capacity until the May 2014 elections, when he was defeated.
He was Chair of the Council’s Audit & Governance Committee 2013-14, a member of the Council’s Planning Committee 2012-13 and 2013-14, a member of the Council’s Regeneration Services Committee 2013-14.
He was on the Adult Services Committee 2013-14 and a member of the Council’s North & Coastal Neighbourhood Forum 2012-13 and 2013-14.