A COUNCILLOR who founded Blackburn’s Nightsafe refuge for homeless young people has died aged 82.

Politicians from across the political spectrum paid tribute to Edna Arnold who passed away suddenly at home last week.

The Liverpool-born former nurse came to Blackburn with her husband Keith in 1960 and became Conservative councillor for West Rural ward, later Livesey with Pleasington, where she lived in 1973.

She served until 1998 and was Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen borough in 1994/95.

In 1989, having spotted homeless young people on the evening streets, she founded the Nightsafe charity of which she became life president.

She also founded the Action Factory community arts project and the Dial-A-Ride service for disabled residents.

Mrs Arnold was also a governor of many schools and the first female chair of Blackburn Transport.

Blackburn Labour MP Kate Hollern said: “Edna gave many years devoted service to the Blackburn community, and her commitment was acknowledged across the political spectrum.

“I had the privilege of working closely with her and considered her a personal friend. Her loss will be greatly felt.

Cllr Colin Rigby, a former Conservative leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Edna was a very dedicated and hard-working councillor. She had friends right across the political spectrum and everyone she deal with her spoke very highly of her.”

As well as her husband of 60 years Keith she leaves two sons – Julian and Mark – and four grandchildren.

Mrs Arnold had a lifelong love of animals.

Julian, chairman of Blackburn Conservative Association, said: “Mum helped many young people throughout the area- and they continue to contact me, very humbling but comforting.

“She was total one off . She was a wonderful wife,mother, grandmother who I loved with all my heart. She died at home with my father which is what she would have wanted.”

Sir Bill Taylor, the former Labour leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Edna always put people, especially young ones, first.

“Although short in physical stature, Edna is both a giant and a heroine - never taking no for an answer, from anybody.”

Cllr Maureen Bateson, borough children’s boss, said: “Edna gave a great deal to young people – especially vulnerable young people. I counted her a good friend.”