The 66-year-old councillor, who had been leader since July 2000 and previously deputy leader from May 1991, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for a number of weeks.
A Labour councillor, he was elected to serve Brunswick ward on Blackpool BC in May 1987. He had previously served as a councillor in the Oldham area for five years in the early 1970s.
He moved to Blackpool with his wife, Hilda, in 1979 and the couple had two sons and a daughter.
Cllr Bancroft was a railway worker throughout his working life and continued to take a keen interest in transport issues even after he retired.
British Rail nominated him for the British Empire Medal (BEM) for Services to the Community and he was awarded this in the new year's honour's list of 1992.
He was involved in politics in the Labour and trade union movement all his life but always found time to support Manchester United and for his hobbies of reading, political history and writing short stories.
Also, he served the community as a justice of the peace since 1985.
He was deputy leader of the Labour group on Blackpool Council since 1989, was a past branch chairman of the former National Union of Railwaymen and served as an officer for the TUC for more than 10 years, twice as president.
From 1991-1998 he was chairman of Blackpool Council's former planning and development committee and vice-chairman of the former policy and resources committee, playing a key role in Blackpool's transition to a unitary authority in April 1998 - the biggest organisational change in the town's history.
After 1998 the planning and development committee became the regeneration and development committee, which cllr Bancroft continued to chair until he became an executive member under the new political management system in July 1999. At the time of his death he was chairman of Blackpool BC?s executive committee and chairman of the social services committee.
Also, he represented the council on the following outside bodies:
* Fylde Coast Initiative
* Lancashire Local Government Consultative Committee
* North West Regional Assembly
* Blackpool Operating Company
* The Local Government Association
* Local Government Association Special Interests Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA)
* Local Government Information Unit
* North West and North Wales Sea Fisheries Committee
* UNISIG (Unitary Authorities Special Interests Group)
* Asociation of Greater Manchester Authorities