TRIBUTES have poured in to praise a long-serving councillor who died after a short illness on Saturday.

Labour politician Des Moffatt served as a borough councillor from the early 1980s for areas including Rodbourne Cheney.

The 78-year-old's admirable work ethic and considerable intellect inspired respect in many of his political colleagues.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for north Swindon Kate Linnegar said: “He had a really mischievous sense of humour and was quietly passionate about what he believed in.

"He worked 60-hour weeks before he became ill because he was very dedicated to being part of the community, going out on the streets and trying to make people's lives better.

"Des was in politics for so long that everyone respected him and all the knowledge he had.

"When I first joined the Labour Party, he was massively supportive and I'm extremely grateful because I wouldn't be where I am now without that help."

Her south Swindon equivalent Sarah Church said: “Des made a lot of time for those of us coming into politics. He gave good advice and will be much missed.”

Mannington and Western councillor Kevin Small said: "I served with him from 1989 to 2012 and I was his first ward organiser when he first got elected.

"He was the driving force behind much of our work and made us a formidable political team.

"We were old-fashioned in our approach, always putting residents first and politics second. He had a tremendous energy, he was a great friend and colleague who really believed in the Labour Party and looking out for ordinary working people."

"The Labour Party will be a sadder and less active place without him. It's a great loss to the community, his friends and family."

Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard said: “The council has lost one of its longest serving and most committed and hard-working councillors.

“His knowledge of finance and housing was impressive and his ward residents will miss his responsiveness. Our council will miss his contributions. Rest in peace.”

Conservative parliamentary candidate for south Swindon Robert Buckland said: “Very sad to hear about the death of long-serving councillor Des Moffatt.

“Although our politics differed, I had deep respect for him and his commitment to public service. My condolences to his family.”

North Swindon’s candidate Justin Tomlinson said: “He always took his civic duties seriously and was one of the most widely-respected borough councillors after years of diligent service for his local community.”

BBC Wiltshire’s politics reporter Dan O’Brien described Mr Moffatt’s death as “a real loss to Swindon politics”.

He added: “In my experience, Coun Moffatt was widely respected and very effective at holding Swindon Council (and news outlets!) to account.

“He was also one of the best orators in the council chamber.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt Coun Des Moffatt passed away.

“He served as a borough councillor since the early 1980s. We pay tribute to his years of dedicated public service and send our condolences to his family & friends.”

Des Moffatt was the founding chairman of Central Swindon North Parish Council.

In a statement, acting parish chairman John Ballman and clerk Andy Reeves said: “It is without doubt Des’s dedication, duty and his unwavering passion to local need that has enabled our parish council to deliver so many services in such a short space of time.”

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Mr Moffatt worked in the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate for over 40 years and lived in Ferndale Road for more than 50 years.

He was the chair of housing and health and a leading member of the Labour group in the Thamesdown era of Swindon.

Retired councillor Derique Montaut was the leader of the Labour group while Mr Moffat was involved in it.

He said: “I was very sad to hear of his passing. Des was a working class hero and the people of Swindon owe him a lot.

“I can’t speak highly enough of his commitment to serving Swindon, he was a very valuable member of the party.

“He was a great supporter and offered a lot of advice to me, I looked up to him because he was so uncompromising.

“He had a great understanding of finance and a lot of his suggestions were later found to be right.

“I knew he was quite ill and sent flowers to his family last week. I would like to pass on my condolences to them. He will be sadly missed.

“Des was well-respected both by Labour and by our opposition.”

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for education Coun Russell Holland said: “Des Moffat was a genuine conviction politician. He said and fought for what he believed in and he was passionate about what he believed in.

“He was extremely knowledgeable about anything to do with the detail of housing and finance matters.

“Whenever he spoke he did so with knowledge, honesty and passion. He was also very fair.

“When he disagreed with me, he told me quite clearly and when he thought I had done something right he told me equally clearly. We worked together on helping people with social inclusion and also in respect of a planning matter.

“He was a political gentleman and he loved Swindon. His decades of experience were a great asset to the council.

“He was respected across the council and he will be missed. He is one of those characters that means the council won’t quite be the same without him.”

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