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Tributes have been paid to the first female leader of Barnet Council who died last week following a year-long battle with cancer.

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Cllr Lynne Hillan, 63, began her career as a business woman and was the founder and managing director of a successful marketing company.

But she also kept her eye on politics attending local meetings at Barnet Council whenever she could.

Through her 14 years as ward councillor for Brunswick Park, Cllr Hillan was also in charge of cabinet portfolios for leisure and youth, children and education, policy and performance, adult social services and resources.

She was particularly active in her work for young people in the borough.

Ever the dedicated politician, she worked on until the very end, as she made a last phone call of thanks to long-time colleague and fellow Conservative Cllr Andreas Tambourides, the night before she died last Thursday (April 5).

The two councillors were sworn in as members of Brunswick Park ward on the same day in 1998 and remained firm friends.

Cllr Tambourides described Cllr Hillan as a “brilliant woman” and said: “Some people are born to be led and some people are born leaders. She was a born leader.”

It was her tremendous experience and dedication that propelled Cllr Hillan into the role of leader of Barnet Council in December 2009 and she made history as the first female to hold the position.

She attracted headlines with her One Barnet programme - dubbed the “easyCouncil” model - a controversial policy that invited harsh criticism from the opposition but also established her as a formidable voice in local politics.

But her time as leader of the council was tragically short lived as she was diagnosed with terminal cancer forcing her to step down in May 2011, although she remained a serving councillor until her death.

Fellow politicians remember her sharp mind right until the end, as she continued to take a keen interest in council decisions and her opinion was valued by authorities across London.

Leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: “Lynne fought her illness bravely and remained alert until the last moment.

“Her commitment to her colleagues, the council and people of Barnet will long be remembered.”

Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Allison Moore said: “She was a strong woman in what is still a male dominated political world and I will always remember her for that and her commitment to Barnet.”

Cllr Hillan is survived by her mother and 21-year-old son.

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