MICK Bates, the former Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire, has died, the party has announced.

Mr Bates was elected as the Liberal Democrat member for Montgomeryshire constituency in the inaugural Welsh Assembly elections in 1999 and continued to serve as its member until 2011. The party said in a statement that he had been battling cancer before his death. He was 74.

Before becoming the Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire he had worked as a teacher, as a farmer and as a county councillor.

His daughter Ruth also published a tribute to her father on Facebook, saying: "Today we said goodbye to our Mick. We were all by his bedside with Bob Dylan playing in the background - just how he’d want it.

"Mick - I thank you for being the best dad and grandfather I could have asked to have. You were a ‘one off’. Your love for life, energy and commitment to your community and your family made us feel very proud of you."

Mr Bates campaigned for rural communities, and was among the politicians to call for action to tackle climate change some time before such calls became widespread, advocating for action to save the environment years before it entered the political mainstream, the Liberal Democrats said.

County Times: Mick Bates with Star Wars characters at the Welshpool Winter Festival in 2006.Mick Bates with Star Wars characters at the Welshpool Winter Festival in 2006.

As a county councillor, he started a community regeneration scheme as chairman of the Llanfair Town Forum, which obtained Market Towns Initiative status.

He also produced and presented the Radio Maldwyn farming programme and organised a scheme for students to visit farms alongside helping to found Montgomeryshire Rural Enterprises in 1997.

While a Member of the Welsh Assembly, Mick campaigned for extra money for rural schools helping establish a small schools fund and fought for better infrastructure in mid Wales having worked towards the construction of the Newtown Bypass.

Mick also designed the concept of Farming Connect, a free business advisory service to help farmers throughout Wales.

During his time as an Assembly Member, he also helped found the cross-party National Assembly Sustainable Energy Group (NASEG) which sought to promote the development of a sustainable energy industry in Wales.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and current Senedd Member Jane Dodds paid tribute to Mick stating: “Mick was one of the most welcoming and kindest people I knew.

County Times: Newtown High School Celebration of Achievement in 2000Newtown High School Celebration of Achievement in 2000

“When I first arrived in Welshpool nearly ten years ago, he was so generous with his time with me.

“His knowledge of the issues affecting his beloved Montgomeryshire was endless. He was one of a kind – there will never be another Mick Bates.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Buddug, his children Ruth and Daniel, his five wonderful grandchildren alongside with the rest of his family and friends.”

Mr Bates was a Liberal Democrat for almost all of his political career, but departed in 2010, and, having been Montgomeryshire's inaugural AM in 1999, he did not seek reelection in 2011.