TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading councillor who has died following an illness.

Tendring Council cabinet member John Hughes represented the St James ward in Clacton from 1997 to 2003.

He was then Alton Park ward councillor from 2007 to 2011, and represented the St James ward for a second time from 2015 up until his death.

He died over the weekend following an illness, aged 73.

Mr Hughes, who represented the Coastal Independents after defecting from Ukip following a split in the party, was a portfolio holder for the benefits and revenues on three occasions and corporate services portfolio holder from 2016 onwards.

He was also a long-serving council-appointed trustee for the John Gilders and Maskell Almshouses Charity.

Outside of the council, Mr Hughes spent a number of years as a governor at Alton Park Junior School in Clacton, and for much of that time held the position of vice-chairman.

Council leader Neil Stock, said he was deeply saddened to hear of Mr Hughes’ death.

“John was a great man and a hugely respected councillor and cabinet member, who made a valuable contribution to the departments he was responsible for,” said Mr Stock.

“He had a wealth of experience and that would always be reflected in his contribution to the work of the council.”

Fellow ward councillor Chris Griffiths also paid a heartfelt tribute to Mr Hughes.

He said: “I had the privilege to know and work with John over the years, both while he was in the Conservative Party and later when he was an independent, and he will be sadly missed.

“He was always happy to help anyone if he could, always very friendly, and his presence brightened up our community”.

Mr Griffiths added: “My thoughts are with his wife and family at this sad time.”

Former Alton Park Junior School governor Dave Bolton also praised Mr Hughes.

“We were very good friends, despite being on the opposite sides of the political spectrum,” said Mr Bolton.

“We got on extremely well and also worked together to bring in some new vehicles with Tendring Community Transport in the mid 1990s.

“He will be missed greatly by everyone at the school and at Tendring Community Transport.”

Funeral details are still to be announced.