Tributes have flooded in for an “incredible” councillor and “fountain of knowledge” who has stepped down due to ill health.

Jilly Stevens unexpectedly won the Brunswick and Adelaide seat as a Labour and Co-operative candidate last May, ousting then Green council leader Councillor Phélim MacCafferty.

The 75-year-old was lead on customer service and secretary to the Labour Group. For the first six months of her tenure, she was communications lead.

She authored the manifesto on which the council plan is now based.

A by-election for the ward will take place on July 4 alongside the general election.

The Argus: Jilly Stevens winning the Brunswick and Adelaide wardJilly Stevens winning the Brunswick and Adelaide ward (Image: The Argus)

Cllr Stevens said: “I am very sad to stand down from a job I have loved doing for the past year, but my ill health means I cannot do as much as I feel is necessary. It has been a real pleasure to get to know so many residents from the ward where I live and to help them where I was able. They deserve a councillor who can give them 100 per cent, which I can no longer do.

“I am resigning now so that the by-election can coincide with the general election, when residents will already be going to the polls, rather than incurring the costs of a separate by-election.

“It has been an honour to serve as part of a strong city council Labour team with such a clear vision for the city. I will miss my colleagues and our remarkable cabinet led by Councillor Bella Sankey. I know they will continue to fulfil our promise to make Brighton and Hove a better place to live and work.”

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Cllr Stevens will be moving out of the ward but will continue living in Hove and hopes to carry on with voluntary work when she is able.

Leader of the council Bella Sankey said: “Jilly is a matriarch of the national Labour movement and has been an integral part of the Labour group for the last year. She’s an inspiration to me and I can’t thank her enough for the outstanding work she has done for our city. The residents of Brunswick and Adelaide will know, just as much as we do, how dedicated Councillor Stevens has been.”

“We’re all deeply sad Jilly is standing down, but we respect that she must put her health first. As a lifelong Labour and Co-operative Party member, we know she won’t be too far.”

Brighton and Hove Labour said: “As a Labour Group, we’ll miss seeing her every week but thank her so very much for everything.”

Councillor David McGregor said: “I’m personally very sad to see Jilly stand down. She’s an incredible friend and fountain of knowledge for me and our entire group.

“But you’ve never seen a busier diary, so I’m glad she’s taking the time to properly get better.”

Councillor Tristram Burden said: “Jilly has been such a gift to our first year in administration - she's advanced work on improving customer service and mapping what we need to do.

“I'll really miss working closely with her and advancing it even further.”