Bedford’s elected mayor Frank Branston has died, aged 70.
Mr Branston was the first directly-elected mayor when he took office in 2002 and was re-elected for a second term in 2007.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the four political groups on Bedford Borough Council paid tribute.
Councillors Nicky Attenborough, Jim Brandon, Dave Hodgson and Sue Oliver said: “We have worked closely with Frank since he was elected in 2002 and saw first hand his commitment to getting the best for Bedford.
“His determination to improve the town saw him bring together councillors from all parties to join in this vision and his work will continue through them.
“Frank will be greatly missed by everyone at the Borough Council for this vision, for his leadership and support and the historic impact he has had on the whole Borough.
“Our thoughts are with his wife Marlies and daughters Naomi and Antonia at this time.”
A council news release said Mr Branston had been instrumental in major improvements across the borough including regeneration in the town centre, Pride in Bedford and recycling developments, new festivals and new markets and more recently the creation of the unitary council.