Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Deputy PM Nick Clegg's tribute to late Lib Dem councillor

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has led the tributes to a leading politician who has died after suffering a suspected massive stroke.

Jo Stephenson photo
Jo Stephenson

Jo Stephenson, Cumbria County Council deputy leader and leader of the Liberal Democrat group, passed away weeks after falling 30ft out of a window at his Lake District home.

He was being cared for at the Royal Preston Hospital, where he was said earlier last week to have been making a good recovery from his injuries. But the father-of-two passed away on Friday night after suffering the suspected stroke.

Friends and political colleagues have been shocked and saddened by his sudden death, paying tribute to the Lib Dem as a tireless community campaigner.

Mr Clegg said: “I am very sad to hear of the death of Jo Stephenson, a much-loved and dedicated councillor and a great servant of his community.

“He is a real loss to the Lib Dem family and will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this awful time.”

Mr Stephenson, who was 59, had been county councillor for Windermere since 2009 and the authority’s deputy leader since last year, serving as number two to Labour’s Stewart Young in its ruling coalition.

Carlisle councillor Mr Young 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.”

Clare Feeney-Johnson, a friend of Mr Stephenson and a fellow Lib Dem cabinet member, was also devastated by his death.

“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 [his wife] Hillary and his family at this very distressing time,” she said.

As well as being on the county council, Mr Stephenson, who had previously worked as a solicitor and teacher, and ran a B&B in Windermere, was a former leader of South Lakeland Council, of which he remained a member.

At the time of his fall it was reported that it happened while he was carrying out DIY work on his home.

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for the South Lakes, said: “Jo was a wonderful councillor, colleague and friend. He got involved in local politics, giving up a career in law because he wanted to make a difference to the community he loved.”

County council chief executive Diane Wood said Mr Stephenson would be sorely missed, adding: “This is a complete bolt from the blue because he appeared to be recovering so well.”

James Airey, leader of the authority’s opposition Conservative group, described Mr Stephenson as a “a gentle, quiet and thoroughly decent family man”.

A tributes page to Mr Stephenson is being set up at To pay tribute email


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