TRIBUTES have poured in for veteran former Brierley Hill councillor Rachel Harris who has died.

Rachel Harris served as a Labour councillor for 25 years before being made an Alderwoman in recognition for her service to the borough, following her decision to retire from political life in May.

She represented Brierley Hill for 16 years, having previously served as councillor for the wards of Belle Vale and Hasbury, and Kingswinford South.

Rachel also served as chair of the Dudley Primary Care Trust, a peer member for the Local Government Authority and was a founding member of the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

She has also stood as a Parliamentary candidate twice - first in Solihull in 1997 and later in Dudley South in 2010.

She passed away at the weekend following a short illness.

Politicians from across the political divide have paid tribute to Rachel for her unstinting public service in the Dudley borough.

Councillor Qadar Zada, Labour Group leader at Dudley Council, said: "There is much to say about Rachel’s many achievements over the years she served as a councillor, but I was particularly proud to have campaigned for her as Parliamentary Candidate in Dudley South in 2010.

"She was a community campaigner and public servant and retained her interest in issues affecting Dudley people after her retirement from the council and throughout her illness. It was for this dedication, beyond the call of duty, that I recommended that she be made an alderman.

"Everyone in the group will miss her and we are sad to have lost a friend. Our condolences go to husband Phil and her family."

The Mayor of Dudley, councillor David Stanley said: "Rachel served her community, the local authority and The Dudley Primary Care Trust with commitment and integrity over many years.

"She will be sadly missed by all who knew her, especially by the people of Brierley Hill who she represented so passionately for so many years.

"I worked closely with her through The Badley Memoral Trust, where she was a trustee, and it was an honor to have had the pleasure to work with her on this and other local authority matters.”

Mike Wood, who has represented Dudley South in Parliament since 2015, also paid tribute to Rachel, who contested the seat against Chris Kelly in 2010.

He said: “I was extremely saddened to hear of Rachel’s passing and I’d like to extend my heartfelt condolences to her family.

“Though we were on opposing sides of many debates and disagreed on various issues, I will always remember Rachel for her warmth, friendliness and her kindness to my wife when she has laid Remembrance wreathes at St Michael’s Church.

“She was a hard-working local Councillor and parliamentary candidate who cared deeply about her residents and local community.

“She will be greatly missed.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, added: "Our thoughts are with Rachel’s family and friends at this very sad time.

"Today we are grieving the loss of a colleague who brought great energy and passion to Dudley Council and I would like to personally pay tribute to Rachel and everything she gave to this borough."