THE leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has led the tributes to long-serving Helensburgh councillor and party colleague Ellen Morton.

Councillor Morton, who represented the Helensburgh and Lomond South ward, died on Saturday, October 3 aged 76.

Announcing her death, Cllr Morton’s family said on Monday that she had passed away after “an illness borne privately at home”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Ellen Morton was a lady that you crossed at your peril.

“She was quick and bright and she was kind, caring and such a hard worker.

“Her 21 years on the council were colourful because she had firm beliefs and was a fierce defender of her constituents.

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“She will be a tremendous loss to Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, the Liberal Democrats but most importantly her loving family.

“I personally will miss her guidance, humour and leadership. Thanks for everything Ellen.”

As well as being a long-serving councillor herself, Cllr Morton – who was first elected to Argyll and Bute Council in 1999 – was joined on the council in 2012 by her daughter Aileen, who stood down as leader last month.

Helensburgh resident and former Argyll and Bute provost Billy Petrie, who served alongside Councillor Morton on Argyll and Bute Council for 13 years, said he felt that with her skills, she should have gone into parliament.

Ellen is also survived by her husband Gordon and four grandchildren. Aileen became leader of the council five years later, a post she stood down from last month.

Serving Argyll and Bute councillors, from the Helensburgh and Lomond ward and beyond, have also paid tribute, along with other local politicians.

Conservative West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, who lives in Helensburgh and represented the Lomond North area as a councillor between 2012 and 2017, said: “This is absolutely tragic news and my thoughts are very much with Ellen’s family and friends at this time.

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“I worked with Ellen in the council for many years; she was not just a colleague and opposition politician, but a friend.

“As a Conservative group we have great respect for Ellen, she will be missed very much.

“She leaves substantial shoes to fill on Argyll and Bute Council.”

Helensburgh’s MSP Jackie Baillie said: “I was very sorry to hear that Cllr Morton has passed away.

“Ellen was well loved and respected throughout the local community.

“She was determined to get things done and made a significant contribution to public life. Helensburgh and Lomond has benefited greatly from her years of dedication and enthusiasm.
“My thoughts and condolences go to her family and loved ones at this sad time.”

Staff and board members at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, where she was a long serving board member, also paid tribute, with board convener James Stuart calling her a “truly remarkable woman” and chief executive Gordon Watson praising her “boundless energy and humour”.

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Mr Stuart said: “Ellen was a truly remarkable woman and the response from fellow board members on hearing the sad news of her passing echo that sentiment entirely.

“On a personal level, I feel privileged to have worked with her. I always enjoyed the way she made her points so vividly, knowing how to engage her audience; an art form that many of us can learn from.

“A committed public servant, Ellen gave so freely and clearly inspired those around her, including me. Her passing really is a huge loss. Our thoughts are with Ellen’s family, friends and many colleagues who will be mourning the loss of this very special woman.”

Mr Watson added: “I first worked with Ellen when she became a member of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Interim Committee in 1999 as part of the work to set up the new National Park Authority.

“I can assure you that her inimitable presence and spirit was on display on those days, even as a relatively new councillor. She was the first chair of planning I ever worked directly with as a head of planning. I learned a lot from her in terms of how to manage committee meetings and engage with members.

“It was an absolute privilege to work with Ellen both during those formative years of setting up the new National Park Authority and more recently as a valued National Park Authority member, and chair of our planning and access committee.

“Ellen brought boundless energy and humour to her roles and was a great source of advice and support to our work. She is a significant loss to public life in this special part of Scotland. We will miss her dearly.”

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