A FORMER Labour councillor and mayor has passed away through illness.

Andy Durr, a prevalent figure in Brighton and Hove, was also a board member of the West Pier Trust.

Originating from London, he arrived in Brighton in the mid-1960s.

Mr Durr, understood to be aged 70, was known for his work in adult education and from the late 1960s was a lecturer at Brighton Polytechnic and then at the University of Brighton in the arts faculty.

He was successful in a 1975 by-election and became a Labour councillor under Brighton Borough Council, retiring in May 1979, but ran again in the early 1990s.

A staunch trade unionist, he was president of the Brighton and Hove Trades Council in the early 1980s.

Mr Durr helped bring about the Brighton Fishing Museum, which opened in May 1994.

His lasting legacy to the masses, though, is regarded as the general regeneration of Brighton seafront between its two piers, which began in October 1993 and saw £1 million of investment.

A keen historian, Mr Durr wrote books on the Labour movement and Brighton and in May 2000 he became the fourth mayor of Brighton and Hove.

In 2002 he retired from politics but continued to visit the fishing museum and could be seen down there in his blue overalls.

Fred Gray, 64, of Hove, who used to work at the University of Sussex, got to know Mr Durr through their work together in adult education.

Now a board member of the West Pier Trust, Mr Gray saw the beginnings of the fishing museum and remembers the seafront before its investment.

He said: “It really was down at heel and quite grim.

“Andy had the wonderful knack of bringing together public and private enterprises.

“He did a huge amount to preserve the heritage of the fishing industry in Brighton.

“Although he was Labour, he had a lot of Conservative friends as well.”

Glynn Jones, a former chief executive of Brighton Borough Council and current chairman of the West Pier Trust said Mr Durr was a “real character and someone who loved Brighton”.

He said: “He often played down his own intellectual ability.

“He was a little anarchic and very straight talking.”

Mr Jones said Mr Durr was serious in his work as a councillor but was also “great fun”.

After a complex of illnesses, Mr Durr passed away on Sunday, December 7, at home.

His funeral will be held at on December 19.