TRIBUTES have been paid to a long-serving and outspoken Leigh Town Council chairman.

Jean Rowswell had been unwell for some time and died in Southend Hospital on January 16.

She had served on the town council from 1999 to 2011, and led the council as chairman from 2004/05.

Mrs Rowswell, who represented Highlands ward for the Conservatives, was also chairman of the allotments committee in her final year before retiring from the council.

Mike Dolby, a former council colleague, said: “She was a very good councillor. She kept people in order, which is needed sometimes on a council.

“She was always devoted to the community.”

Caroline Parker, council chairman, said: “She was a larger than life character.

“You always knew where you stood with her and she was the life and soul of a committee meeting.

“She was always honest and gave her opinion. She told you what you needed to hear, rather than what you wanted to hear.

“Those who knew her were very sad when she retired because of ill health, but she was always very committed.

“The last time I saw her was in a supermarket just after I had been elected to the council and she said I would do a good job.

“She will be sadly missed by us and the people of Leigh.”

Mrs Rowswell’s funeral is being held at Southend Crematorium on Monday, February 10, at 3.20pm.

The family have requested people who attend the funeral wear bright clothes and do not take flowers.