TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Weymouth and Portland’s most well-known and popular councillors who has died after a long illness.

Doug Hollings, known as ‘Mr Wyke Regis’, is a former mayor whose passion for local history, community and environment issues made him a respected figure.

Although ill health forced him to take a back seat on the political stage during the past year, he continued his role as a councillor with dignity, friends said.

Mr Hollings, 70, who was married to Diane with two children and grandchildren, stepped down as a member of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council a few days before he died peacefully at his Westhill Road home yesterday.

Chairman of the council’s management committee and leader of the ruling Conservative group Mike Goodman said: “Doug had been seriously ill for some time and knew he wasn’t going to get better.

“He showed incredible courage during the last few months.

“He maintained a sense of humour and a sense of responsibility as an elected member and did everything he could to ensure his council business was in order.”

Coun Goodman said he would miss his friend and ‘mentor’ whom he said had ‘immense’ experience and knowledge.

He paid tribute to the anti-litter campaign run in association with the Dorset Echo during his mayoral year in 2003.

And the commitment Mr Hollings showed for environmental issues helped the borough achieve some of the best recycling rates in the country.

Mr Hollings worked for the Ministry of Defence for more than 30 years, finishing as a weapons systems’ project manager.

Back problems forced him to take early retirement but he became very active in public life.

He held the roles of chairman and president of the South Dorset Conservative Association and was a founder member, and later chairman, of the Wyke Regis Protection Society.

He was first elected to the borough council in 1992 and again in 2000.

From July 2004 until 2009 he was a member of the management committee, holding the environment and sustainability brief.

Local historian Maureen Attwooll said Mr Hollings’s contribution to local history was ‘considerable’ while his knowledge and interest in the local area, especially Wyke, was ‘greatly valued’.

Mr Hollings published histories of Wyke Regis, Ferrybridge and the Whitehead torpedo works, as well as a mayoral history of the borough.

He also contributed articles to the Wyke Register.

Chairman of the Wyke Regis Protection Society Richard Price, who also served with Mr Hollings on the council, said: “This is a sad day for Wyke Regis.”

A by-election could be held in Wyke if electors call for one – otherwise the seat will remain vacant until the May 2010 elections.