TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular former councillor and father-of-three who was ‘always fighting’ for his community.

Ian Roberts, former county councillor for Chirk North and lead member for housing at Wrexham Council, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Saturday. He was 66.

His wife Hilary, whom he married in 1981, told the Leader she has received many calls and messages from friends, family and members of the community.

She explained Mr Roberts, who stood down as a councillor last year to spend more time with his four grandchildren, first joined Chirk Town Council in 1990.

Mrs Roberts said: “In 1995 he joined Wrexham when it was a unitary authority. He was with Wrexham Council until the last election.

“He served as mayor twice, two years running - in 2011 to 2012 and then 2012 to 2013.

“I think he must have enjoyed it to do it twice. He was a people person and he never turned any engagements down.

“We met lots of people and friends and the people of Wrexham were lovely.”

Mrs Roberts added her husband was also well known outside of Wrexham, having served five years as chairman of the former North Wales Police Authority until 2010.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: “Ian was a man of great integrity and a fine public servant.

“We served together on Wrexham County Borough Council for nine years and I know he represented his constituents as a county councillor and as a town councillor in Chirk with great distinction.

“Perhaps Ian’s finest hour came as the chair of the former North Wales Police Authority, when he led the successful campaign to oppose the proposed amalgamation of Welsh police forces which would have seen North Wales Police disappear and be swallowed up by an all-Wales force.

“Ian will be sadly missed and my thoughts are with his wife, Hilary, and his family at this difficult time.”

Wrexham Town Inspector Vic Powell of North Wales Police also paid tribute to Mr Roberts.

He said: “He was obviously a very dedicated public servant for many years and I worked with him in his role as chair of North Wales Police Authority and of course in his role as councillor.

“He was clearly very proud of his community, not only for Chirk but for all of North Wales. My thoughts and best wishes go out to his family at this time.”

Mr Roberts was a town councillor until 2014, having also served as chairman of Chirk Town Council twice.

In addition to his wife, he leaves behind his three children 35-year-old Craig, 33-year-old Alison and 31-year-old Gareth, as well as his four grandchildren Tomas, Dylan, Erin and Carys.

His daughter Alison Fenn said: “He was always fighting for Chirk and he would do anything for anyone.

“He supported everything we did and he always made time for us.

“I think he was always there for the community.”

Mrs Fenn’s husband Andrew added: “My life has changed because of Ian beyond recognition and I counted him as a friend as well as a father-in-law.

“Ian was a good man who was not afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it meant doing some good - someone I have learnt a lot from even in such a small amount of time.”

Mrs Roberts told the Leader her husband was a keen fisherman, snooker player, walker and gardener and that he very much enjoyed spending time with his family.

She added: “I’ve been shocked at all the responses - it is emotional but it is lovely. He was my soulmate.”

Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, said: “I was saddened to hear of the death of former Councillor Ian Roberts. He was a close colleague at Wrexham Council who also worked alongside me as deputy leader and lead member for housing and he was very loyal and be trusted implicitly.

"Our thoughts are with Hilary and the rest of his family at this very sad time. As a mark of respect we are flying the Guildhall flags at half mast.”

Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr Andy Williams, said: “It was with the greatest regret that I heard of the passing of former Cllr and Mayor Ian Roberts.

“Ian was a true community champion and served his constituents in Chirk for many years. Along with his wife Hilary he also served as Mayor of Wrexham for two years and I know he was particularly proud of this achievement. I would like to pass on deepest condolences from both myself and those of my fellow councillors.

“Whenever I had an issue within the council Ian was always someone I could turn to for help and his sense of humour meant we could share a joke or two.”