A Southend councillor has revealed that he is stepping down at May’s elections to fight a cancer battle.

Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for arts, culture, heritage and leisure, has revealed he is suffering from bowel cancer and is facing surgery.

Tony Cox, leader of the council announced Mr Jarvis’s illness at full council on Thursday.

He said: “I’ve also spoken to my dear friend and ward colleague councillor Jarvis today and he wanted it to be known to everybody and I think it’s a good thing in terms of what he’s asked me to share.

“Councillor Jarvis, as some may know or may wonder why he hasn’t been around recently, is suffering with bowel cancer. He wanted it to be known because he didn’t want anyone to think he was having a dereliction of his duties.”

Mr Cox added: “Even with his issues he’s still been diligently working behind the scenes even down to signing off the public responses I had to read out for him tonight.

"It’s sad and I just wanted to have a little sombre thought. Derek is a good friend an outstanding ward colleague, an excellent mayor and I’m sure this whole chamber will wish him well for his imminent operation and we wish him a speedy recovery.

“I’m sure he will fight this dreadful disease and will be back here next year if we agree to nominate him as an alderman of this city.”