ANDY Smith, a senior and highly-respected Thurrock councillor has died.
He was 64.
Mr Smith, Labour leader of the council between 2000 and 2004, was cabinet member for Regeneration, Highways and Transportation and Labour ward councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford.
He won re-election to the seat in May, having first been elected as a councillor in 1997.
In a statement to council colleagues, the authority's chief executive Graham Farrant said: "At this difficult time we should all reflect on our memories of Andy who has made a major contribution to the work of the council – and the borough as a whole - over more than two decades.
"He has made a particularly strong contribution to the regeneration and growth of Thurrock and I have valued his enthusiasm over this period, having first met him as Leader in 2000.
"Our thoughts and prayers will be with his family at this time."
Mr Smith, of Nutberry Avenue, Grays, also served as a councillor in Tilbury, before transferring to serve in West Thurrock.
Rob Gledhill, leader of the Conservative group in Thurrock paid tribute to Mr Smith. He said: "We are sorry to hear of the passing of Councillor Andy Smith and would pass on our condolences to his family.
"Cllr Smith had served the residents of Thurrock for over two decades and will no doubt be missed by many. His years of experience and dedication to politics and the community in Thurrock will not be soon forgotten."
Please leave your tributes to Andy Smith by commenting below.