A DEDICATED councillor who died after a cancer battle is to be commemorated with a memorial bench.

Brian Ayling has put forward a motion for the £1,600 cost of the bench for Paul Van Looy, to be covered by Southend Council.

Mr Van Looy, who represented St Luke’s ward as an independent councillor, died in March.

Colleagues believe the bench, which is to be placed in Eastern Avenue, would be a fitting tribute to all the work Mr Van Looy did for the community.

Mr Ayling also revealed it was a dying wish of the councillor.

He said: “St Luke’s ward was Paul’s home and most of the residents knew him.

“Canvassing with Paul was always a pleasure and he did work hard for the residents. His family miss him and the bench will enable many to remember the man who spoke his own mind but did care about people and Southend.”

The motion said: “Paul Van Looy requested a memorial bench to be located in a specific area south of the Waitrose roundabout on Easter Avenue. The site has been surveyed by Highways and agreed. The cost for a bench in one of our parks is around £850 but on highways it is around £1,650.

“St Luke’s ward community association, for which Paul created two charity shops and assisted Ferndale Church in maintaining the community café agreed to fund the bench for Paul but this motion requests Southend Council waive the charge for a councillor who did so much for residents.”

The motion is supported by councillors Tony Cox and Carole Mulroney.

The Rev Dr Stephen Dray, former minister of Ferndale Baptist Church, said: “Paul van Looy threw body and soul into the ward he represented. Even when he was dying, he actively pursued new projects to further community harmony and well-being.

“I deeply appreciated the partnership that we had in developing the St Luke’s Ward Community Association and the energetic way he went about ensuring that the Cafe@theSquare and the two charity shops came into being and flourished.

“He was always accessible, ongoingly popular and there can be no more appropriate tribute to him than a seat within the community in which he was born and which he loved.”

Mr Van Looy’s son, Jack, 23, said: “I heard about this and am very happy about it. It is very nice of councillors to do this. It would be right around the corner from his ward and it would be very nice to have a memorial of him so close by. He did so much for the community.”

Businessman Mr Van Looy owned Grumpy’s Diner in Southchurch Road.