CHELMSFORD’S longest serving councillor has died at the age of 82.

Delmas Ashford, who was first elected to represent Broomfield and The Walthams in 1973, passed away following heart surgery on Friday.

Flags at the Civic Centre in Chelmford will be flown at half mast on the day of his funeral, with council leader Roy Whitehead saying Mr Ashford’s death was a “sad loss” to the city.

Mr Whitehead said: “Delmas was a hard-working and diligent councillor and served the residents of Broomfield well for an amazing length of time that will be heard to beat.

“All Members of the Council will miss him and mourn his passing and we send our condolences to his wife Joyce and his family.”

Fellow ward councillor Sandra Pontin said despite being a councillor alongside him for a fairly short period of time, Mr Ashford came across as someone who really cared for his constituents.

“He was very well respected,” she said.

“I have only been a councillor for about 18 months, but from my time working with Delmas in the ward, I knew him to be a very professional person who was always working for the people living in the ward.”

Mr Ashford was an Independent councillor from his first election up to 1999, when he joined the Conservative group.

However, at the last local elections, Mr Ashford stood once again as an Independent candidate.

In 2007 he was awarded the freedom of the borough.

A spokeswoman for the council confirmed a date for the by-election to fill Mr Ashford’s seat has yet to be confirmed.