TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Newport councillor regarded as 'champion' of the area.

Family and work colleagues described Ed Townsend as completely dedicated to residents.

Mr Townsend had represented St Julian's ward as a Liberal Democrat since 2004, and was the deputy leader of the council from 2008 until 2012.
He died at home after a short illness, surrounded by his close family, on Wednesday. He was 64.

Educated in Wallasey and New York, Mr Townsend also studied at the University in Leicester before training as a journalist.

He later became director of communications for the Welsh Liberal Democrats before building the party’s campaigning team in Newport, where he settled with his family in 1991.

He spent four years as Newport’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, and was the Lib Dem candidate in Newport East at the 2005 and 2010 general elections.

As deputy leader of the council, he was said to have played a leading role in attracting Admiral Insurance to Newport City Centre, and was a driving force in getting the Friars Walk scheme off the ground.

His family said: "He was a man who always worked incredibly hard for others, and for us as a family. Family was hugely important to him and we were privileged to have these last months with him.

"We particularly want to thank the wonderful healthcare staff - the district nurses, St David's Foundation, our local GP, the carers from New Directions Care, and the staff at the Royal Gwent. He was well looked after at every stage and we couldn't be more grateful.

"Whilst many will remember him as the fiercely committed campaigner he was, we will remember him as a loving husband, father and grandfather who held on as long as he could to stay with us."

Jeff Evans, his agent for many elections, said: “St Julians and Newport has lost a champion.

"Over the past sixteen years we forged a lasting friendship and saw at first hand his dedication and hard work in getting the best for residents.

"When parts of his ward were flooded he made sure he was with local residents, and he often responded to late-night alarms from concerned people."

Dr Mike Hamilton, chair of Newport Liberal Democrats added: “Ed had a knack of seeing the big picture and was not afraid to say he agreed or disagreed with others when it mattered. He had little time for the pettiness that can be found in local government and was always focussed on trying to get things done.”

Former Newport mayor and opposition leader on the council, Matthew Evans, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter: "Shocked to hear about the death of Ed Townsend, as my Deputy Leader he put Newport before politics and will be sorely missed #RIP"

And Independent Councillor Chris Evans said: "He was one of the good guys and always had the best interests.”

Councillor Ray Truman, acting Leader of Newport City Council, said: "Ed was committed to, and worked tirelessly for, this city. A well-known and respected character, he played a very important role when representing his local constituents and during his time as deputy leader. He will be very much missed."

Mr Townsend is survived by his wife, Carmel, six children, two grandchildren, and four older brothers.

A humanist memorial service will be held in the near future.