TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular former Mayor of Dudley who has died after a short illness.

The death of former councillor Bill Cody, who was Mayor of the borough in 1996-7, has left political colleagues across Dudley in shock.

Chief executive of Dudley Council, Kevin O’Keefe, broke the news of Mr Cody’s passing in an email to councillors – saying: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that former Mayor and councillor Bill Cody passed away last week.”

Councillor Peter Lowe, leader of the Labour Group on Dudley Council, said: ‘’The news of councillor Bill Cody’s passing has come as a shock to us on the Labour benches as he was active in the party until fairly recently.”

Former councillor Cody, who was in his early 70s, represented Netherton and Woodside ward, from 1986 to 1998 and then Wordsley between 2002 and 2004.

Cllr Lowe added: “Bill was an excellent ward councillor, totally dedicated to improving the lives of his constituents. In the finest traditions of the Labour party, his dedication to public service was evident in his choice of employment too, which was as an ambulance worker.

‘’However, what will long stay in my memory about Bill Cody, was his time as Mayor, a role he relished and totally threw himself in to. I have never encountered a Mayor more energetic and enthusiastic than Bill and he was a credit to the council and the borough as its ambassador and first citizen.

“We know so many people will miss him and our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.”

Former councillor and ex-Mayor of Dudley, Steve Waltho, said news of his former colleague's death was "very sad" and he added: "We were a great team. He was a great, committed politician and a lovely man. I will never forget him. 

"The first day I walked into the council house when I was first elected in 1996 and he was Mayor he came straight across and shook my hand and put me at ease. I never forgot that - and we remained great friends ever since. I remember him as one of my real heroes."

In addition to his council endeavours, Mr Cody, who often jokingly told how he was related to the legendary Wild West star Buffalo Bill Cody, worked for West Midlands Ambulance Service for 37 years.

He was one of the longest-serving members of staff when he retired in March 2013 at the age of 60.

Mr Cody had been WMAS’s police liaison officer at the Trust’s headquarters on the Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill, since 2006. Before that he was in charge of community relations, having begun his career in the service in 1976 as an ambulanceman based at Dudley ambulance station.