COUNTY Hall is in mourning following the sudden death of the councillor in charge of adult social care services in Somerset.

Cllr Dean Ruddle, who represented Somerton on Somerset Council, died on Friday night (January 5).

Council leader Cllr Bill Revans took to social media to describe Cllr Ruddle as "Mr Somerton" and "a champion of his community".

Cllr Ruddle, who lived in Somerton, was elected to the new council in May 2022 and assumed the role of portfolio holder for adult social care a year later.

He previously represented Somerton on Somerset County Council from 2013, initially as a Conservative before becoming an independent and more recently joining the LibDems.

He also represented the Wessex ward on South Somerset District Council between 2015 and 2023, chairing its area north planning committee, and served on Somerton Town Council, including a period as chairman.

Cllr Revans said: “I am absolutely devastated by the news that we have lost Dean Ruddle, the council’s lead member for adult social care.

“A colleague and a mate. Truly a champion of his community. Rest in Peace Dean – Mr Somerton.”

Cllr Sean Dromgoole, chairman of Langport Town Council, said: “Shocking and very sad news. A Somerset champion and fiercely loyal to all things Somerton.

“A tenacious and spirited colleague with whom it was a joy to work. You always knew where you stood with Dean.

“My thoughts go out to family and colleagues. We have all lost one of our best.”

John Osman, a former county council leader, said: “Dean was a good man, whom I had the honour to serve with.

“He is a huge loss to his family, Somerton and Somerset.”

Cllr Connor Payne said: “My thoughts are with Dean’s family in dealing with their sudden loss, as well as his friends and colleagues.

“I always had enjoyable passing chats with Dean at full council meetings and he has never been short of giving a friendly smile.

“He will be missed by all and it has been a pleasure to know him. Rest in peace, Dean.”

Cllr Oliver Patrick said: “Dean had recently expanded his domestic solar array and was so pleased with it. He used to phone me up every other day just to see who was generating more power – he always had more than me.

“Dean was really excited about getting an electric vehicle. I’m not sure it arrived before he passed away but I hope they’ve got EVs wherever he is now.”

A by-election will be held in Somerton in due course.