Tributes have been paid following the death of the chair of Durham County Council's this morning. (Monday 27 February)

Cllr Beaty Bainbridge had served as a councillor since 2008, most recently representing the Chester-le-Street East division, and was elected as chair of the authority in May last year. 

A former pupil of Chester-le-Street Secondary Modern School, Cllr Bainbridge had worked as a shop assistant and health and safety officer.

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The Northern Echo: Councillor Beaty Bainbridge Councillor Beaty Bainbridge (Image: Contributor)

She also owned her own business, Homespun Wool and Baby Clothes and served as a school governor.

A keen seamstress, she also enjoyed cooking, gardening and spending time with her family.

Cllr Joan Nicholson, vice chair of Durham County Council, said: “We are deeply saddened at the loss of Beaty and would like to share our sincerest condolences with her family, friends, and loved ones.

“Beaty was incredibly kind and caring and showed great dedication to her role as a councillor, serving her community for 15 years.

"As chair, she loved having the opportunity to meet residents from across the county and get to know them.

“I’m sure her loss will be felt greatly across the area, but we will always remember her for her warmth, generosity and devotion to County Durham.”

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Cllr Bainbridge is survived by her husband Allan, her son and daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

As a mark of respect, flags at County Hall and council offices across the county are now flying at half-mast.

A book of condolence is available for people to sign in the Durham Room at County Hall.

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The Northern Echo: North Durham MP Kevan Jones North Durham MP Kevan Jones (Image: Contributor)

North Durham MP Kevan Jones said: "I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear that the chair of Durham County Council, Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, has passed away. 

"She was widely respected locally, and always stood up for the Chester le Street community with common sense and good humour. 

"My thoughts are with Alan and her family at this very difficult time.”