FORMER Barnsley Mayor and current councillor Len Picken has died following a long illness.

Len represented the St Helen’s ward and has been a councillor since 1993, he served as Mayor in 2007 and was a mineworker for more than 40 years, in pits such as Wharncliffe Woodmoor 4 and 5, North Gawber and Ferrymoor/Riddings.

Barnsley Council leader Steve Houghton, said: “Len was one of Barnsley’s most respected, well liked and well known councillors; totally dedicated to the people of Athersley and the borough.

“Not only a hard working and well respected politician, he was a very nice man and a friend to councillors of all parties.”

He leaves two daughters as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. His death was marked by a minute’s silence at this morning’s special council meeting, with tributes paid by the mayor and leaders of all parties.