TRIBUTES are continuing to be paid following the death of a leading Lake District politician.
Liberal Democrat Coun Jo Stephenson suffered serious injuries when he fell 30ft out of a window at his Windermere home on July 4.
A statement released by Cumbria County Council Saturday morning confirmed Coun Stephenson, who was the deputy leader of the authority, died in Royal Preston Hospital of a suspected stroke on Friday night.
The statement said Coun Stephenson, a father-of-two, had been making good progress and his diagnosis was looking optimistic.
Yesterday afternoon Deputy PM Nick Clegg tweeted: "Very sad to hear of the death of Jo Stephenson, a much loved and dedicated councillor and a great servant of his community."
Coun Stewart Young, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “We are all enormously shocked by this very sad news.
"I worked very closely with Jo since the 2013 elections and found him to be a very decent and honourable man. He will be thoroughly missed by his many friends and colleagues in Cumbria.”
Fellow Liberal Democrat Cabinet member Coun Clare Feeney-Johnson said:
“Jo was a personal friend as well as a political colleague and this is one of the saddest days I have known.
"Jo was an inspiration for many of us and gave up so much of his time and resources in order to try and make Windermere and Cumbria a better place. All of our thoughts are with Hillary and his family at this very distressing time.”
South Lakes Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron added his own touching tributes.
“Jo was a wonderful councillor, colleague and friend," he said.
"He got involved in local politics, giving up a career in law because he wanted to make a difference to the community he loved.
"He was committed, passionate and determined. My thoughts and prayers are with Hilary and his children at this awfully tragic time. We will miss him terribly.”
Diane Wood, Chief Executive, Cumbria County Council, said Coun Stephenson 'will be sorely missed by all of his colleagues'.
"This is a complete bolt from the blue as he appeared to be recovering so well," she said. Very, very sad day for Cumbria. My thoughts are with his family and close friends."
Coun Peter Thornton, leader of South Lakeland District Council added: "Jo was a much loved Ward Councillor and he was Chairman of our District Council just last year. He was a good Chair, efficient, firm, possessing good humour and supportive to me as Leader. We will all miss him and our Council group send our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to Hilary and the family."
Coun James Airey, leader of the County Council's Conservative Group, said he was a 'gentle, quiet and thoroughly decent family man.'
"I am shocked and stunned to hear this very sad news," he said "He cared deeply and worked very hard for his local community in Windermere and for residents right across Cumbria in his role as Deputy Leader. My thoughts are with Hillary and his family."
Lawrence Conway, chief executive of South Lakelnd District Councl, said: "Coun Stephenson worked tirelessly for his community, and he is a great loss to them and the Council. We shall all miss him”.
At the time of the incident the Westmorland Liberal Democrats said Coun Stephenson had fallen out of a window while checking some work he had had done and slipped.
As well as deputy leader of the county council, Coun Stephenson led the Liberal Democrat group on the authority, represented Windermere on South Lakeland District Council and was the county council’s finance portfolio holder.
A tributes page is being set up at www.cumbria.gov.uk and anyone wishing to make a tribute can contact firstname.lastname@example.org