A long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor has died.

Councillor Chrissie Hitchcock, who served as Mayor of Kingston from 1997-98 and from 2010-11, died last night.

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Liz Green said: "She had served her residents of Grove ward for 25 years, she was one in a million with a wicked sense of humour.

"Her wisdom and unfailing support for Liberal Democrat values and colleagues make her impossible to replace. 

"On a personal level, Chrissie gave me unwavering support when I took over as leader of the group, she kept me on track, listened to my worries, gave me advice and was always there as a colleague and friend.

"I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to know and work with her."

Councillor Chrissie Hitchcock during her second term as borough mayor in 2010 

Council leader Kevin Davis said: "Very sad to hear this. A real Kingstonian who I liked and admired."

Conservative councillor Ian George said: "Shocked to hear that Kingston councillor Chrissie Hitchcock passed away. Was at a meeting with her on Thursday. A big loss to the council."

Coun Hitchcock, second left, opens Kingston's revamped Ancient Market Place in June 2014

Deputy Lib Dem leader Coun Rachel Reid said: "I was elected in 2004 in Grove ward with Chrissie. I've worked on the council with her for 11 years.

"She was fantastic. She was always there when you needed her.

"She absolutely loved Kingston, she was a Kingston person through and through and she would always do the right thing for anyone who lived in her ward, or in the borough.

"She loved planning. That's the commitment to Kingston. Even though she wasn't that well she never gave up. She was a fighter to the end.

"She was inspirational. She was one of the first women councillors in our group. We always got on very well. She will be terribly missed."

MP James Berry said: "Just a few weeks ago, Cllr Hitchcock generously congratulated me on my success, adding with good humour, 'And that's coming from a Lib Dem!'. [She] was a very long serving and highly regarded councillor."