The leader of Barrow Council, Ann Thomson, has died, the Labour Party has announced.

Cllr Thomson, who took on the leadership of the council in 2019, died following a period of illness, a party spokesman said.

Her death has been described as a 'terrible shock'.

Friend, fellow councillor and Barrow Labour Party executive member Anne Burns paid tribute.

She said: “Ann spent the best part of her adult life caring for people, battling for the feminist cause and organising for the Labour movement.

“She was also a real character whose trademark chuckle would lighten many a political discussion.

“Ann's health had not been good for some weeks, but we believed she was on the mend and news of her death came as a terrible shock.

“We have lost a real trooper and a deeply knowledgeable Labour Party member and councillor who spent decades helping families in Barrow and across the surrounding districts.

“Our thoughts are with her husband Ken and the other members of her family at this very sad time.”

Cllr Thomson represented the Hindpool ward on Barrow Council and was elected onto the newly formed Westmorland and Furness Council last year.

A spokesman for the Barrow and Furness Labour party said the branch was devastated by the news Cllr Thomson had passed away, describing her as a  'very important figure in the local Labour Party' who 'devoted her life to supporting the community in our area'.