EMOTIONAL tributes have continued to pour in to a popular councillor - described as a “fantastic ambassador” - who lost her battle with cancer at the weekend.
Independent councillor Cath Hill, who represented the Seaton Carew ward in Hartlepool, died at home just after midnight on Saturday, surrounded by her family.
Today, council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, praised the work done by Coun Hill since she first became a councillor 19 years ago.
The mum-of-one and grandmother-of-two had managed to beat the disease around eight years ago and went into remission, but she became ill again last summer.
The 76-year-old spent her final days with her family from Hartlepool, and others who had travelled from as far away as New York and Ireland to be by her side.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It is such sad news and a huge loss to the council that Cath Hill has passed away.
“Cath was a fantastic ambassador for the council and the residents she represented.
“Cath worked tirelessly as an elected member and did so with passion, enthusiasm and integrity.
“On a personal note Cath was a critical friend, but did so with much support in my role as leader of the council.
“She shall be an immense miss to the council and our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”
Coun Hill, a big Hartlepool United fan, was born in London and grew up in Ireland before making Hartlepool her home where she worked as a youth worker at the Bridge and Manor Youth Centres until she retired in the 1990s.
Coun Hill was first elected in 1995 to the Seaton ward as a Labour councillor for three years, she then had a year out, before being re-elected as an independent councillor in 1999 and had been a member ever since.
Meanwhile, the local authority has confirmed that no date has yet been set by Hartlepool Borough Council for when an election will be held in the Seaton ward.
Conservative group leader, Ray Martin-Wells, said he hopes there is not a by-election out of respect and said he hopes it would be scheduled as part of the elections in May.
He added: “I hope no party, or individual, would call for a by-election out of respect for Coun Hill’s memory so close to the ordinary elections.
“This would also save the council thousands of pounds on an election, which would only see the candidate in post a matter of weeks before the May elections.”