Community leaders have paid touching tributes to a "friendly and helpful" councillor.

Paul Van Looy, Non-Aligned councillor, at Southend Council for St Luke’s ward has passed away.

He ran Grumpy’s Diner in Southchurch Road, Southend and last summer he quit the coalition running Southend Council, claiming the leadership was not willing to “get rid” of “dead wood” council officers.

His fellow councillors have rushed to pay kind tributes to the community representative.

Laurie Burton, Labour Councillor for Blenheim Park Ward said: “RIP Cllr Paul Van Looy.

“I served with Paul for 20 months and he was always really friendly and helpful to me as a new councillor.

“He was a gentleman who always put residents first and will be sorely missed.

“My thoughts are with his family at this time. Rest in peace.”

Ann Jones, Westborough ward, Labour councillor said: “Sad to hear of the passing of my fellow administration councillor Paul Van Looy.

"Paul and I had an unconventional route into politics in Southend. To say he was the catalyst for significant change, is an understatement...he toppled the leader of the council!

"Being a not so close second to his magnanimous victory, he graciously included me in the champagne celebration in the carpark at Garons .. where he imparted to my dad 'I'm glad I won, but your daughter scared the hell out of me.' 

"My dad responded with 'I know exactly what you mean!' Thanks dad!

"The last 10 years have been epic and it's been an honour. 

"My condolences to Paul's family. He adored them."

Mr Van Looy used to own a fish and chip shop in Clifftown Road, in a former Chinese takeaway.

He had also opened and sold nine chip shops in the past, and also owned Dingles sandwich bar, in Queen Street.