TOUCHING tributes have been paid to Southend Labour councillor Julian Ware-Lane  who has died.

Mr Ware-Lane represented Milton ward in the heart of Southend. He passed away yesterday.

A number of groups and parties have taken to social media to pay tribute to Mr Ware-Lane, who also served as a parliamentary candidate in Castle Point and Rochford and Southend East. 

Southend Labour said on Twitter: "It is with great sorrow that we must announce that Julian Ware-Lane, Labour councillor for Milton ward and two-time parliamentary candidate for Southend West, passed away yesterday.

"Rest in peace, comrade.

"Julian was a passionate and dedicated citizen of Southend. A socialist, a democrat, and a champion of too many causes to state, there are few who could match his tireless striving to make the town the best it could be.

"His efforts in service of his constituents in Milton ward are acknowledged and saluted by all, whether they agreed with his politics or not, and his shoes will not easily be filled.

"All of us at Southend Labour will miss Julian greatly, and we will move forward in his memory, to make Southend the better place for everyone that he wanted it to be and knew that it could be."

The Save Southend NHS campaign group has also paid tribute to the Labour councillor.

A spokesman posted on Facebook: "Southend lost a great Councillor and NHS champion yesterday. Rest in peace Julian Ware-Lane and sending love and thoughts to his family. Gone but not forgotten."

Fellow Labour councillors have also taken to social media to pay tribute to Mr Ware-Lane.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal said he's deeply saddened at the news of Julian Ware-Lane's passing yesterday.

He posted on Facebook: "As well as being a mainstay of Southend local politics, and of the local Labour Party, Julian was a large part of the reason that I'm a Southend councillor myself. When I first moved to the town, it was a text from him that brought me out on my first campaigning session in Southend in Kursaal ward, actually.

"Over the years that followed, he was an invaluable mentor. I can confidently say that I would not be a councillor today if not for him.

"Though we did not always agree, and indeed of late we hadn't been as close as we once were, he was always a staunch champion for his constituents, a committed democrat, and a credit to Southend. I already miss arguing with him over whatever political issue came up. There will be a void in this town without him.

"My every sympathy to his family, and I hope wherever he is now he is at peace."