North Herts Council's deputy leader Paul Clark has sadly passed away after contracting COVID-19.

The Hitchin Highbury representative - who also served on Herts County Council for Hitchin South died last night, council leader Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg has announced.

She paid tribute to Cllr Clark, who has served on the council on and off since 1995.

She said: "Today I have the painful and sad duty to announce the passing of Cllr Paul Clark.

"Paul was a loyal councillor, representing Hitchin Highbury at North Herts and Hitchin South at the Herts County Council.

"He sadly passed away last night from Covid-19. Words cannot do justice to what he meant to many of us.

"I’m proud to have counted him as not just a colleague and opponent, but a friend. I value the support and kindness he showed me throughout my political career, and miss him deeply.

"There’s a void that can’t be filled. On behalf of North Herts Council and the Labour group I express my heartfelt sympathy to Paul’s family and Liberal Democrat colleagues. We stand with you in your grief and are here to support you through this difficult time."

Robin Parker, leader of Stevenage Borough Council's Liberal Democrat group, said: "I was extremely saddened and shocked to get the news about Paul Clark this morning.

"I had known Paul for many years as an active party colleague in neighbouring North Hertfordshire and, since May 2021, as a county councillor colleague.

"He won his seat for HCC Hitchin South Division on HCC in May 2021, at the fifth attempt, after much hard work over decades. It is very sad that his term of office should be cut so short so soon.

"He was also a District Councillor on North Hertfordshire District Council for Hitchin Highbury and indeed since May 2021 he had been Deputy Leader of NHDC.

"Paul was always cheerful, enthusiastic, supportive and helpful. In his political work, he assisted many residents with problems and questions.

"Myself and Stevenage party colleagues and councillors send our deepest condolences to Paul's family, friends and other political colleagues."