TRIBUTES have been paid to a veteran councillor involved in helping her community for more than 50 years.

Maureen Taylor, MBE, served as a Labour councillor to the people of her home town of Billingham, near Stockton for decades.

She was also a magistrate and founder of Billingham International Folklore Festival.

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Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, led the tributes to the mother and widow who was thought to be in her late 80s or early 90s.

Mr Cunningham said: “Maureen may have been small in stature but was a giant fighting for the people she represented as a Labour councillor on different local authorities over several decades. “The Labour Party was central to Maureen’s life since she was a young woman and she worked harder than anyone I knew for communities across Teesside.

“She also served our area at regional and national level and made a tremendous contribution at all levels to among other things the Arts and the work she did locally in that particular area has left a lasting legacy.”

Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Borough Council, grew up in Billingham and said he had known Maureen Taylor, once chairwoman of the now defunct Billingham Urban District Council, for many years.

Her sons and husband were leading lights in Billingham Rugby Club for many years and Maureen had been chairwoman of old Cleveland County Council Community Development Committee. She was very committed to the arts. She was widowed two years ago and had been ill in recent months.

Coun Cook said: “She came into politics in the 1950s, a time when politics was a man’s world, and she showed great fortitude to succeed. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the people she served.”

Bob Gibson, former leader of Stockton council, who once defeated her to become leader of Stockton Labour Group and therefore leader of the council, said: “She was fiery. She would argue with anybody and was completely fearless. I very much enjoyed knowing her.”

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