THE Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen is resting at home after being taken ill.

Sheila Williams, who represents Beardwood with Lammack, has been out of action for around three weeks while she recovers from a spell in hospital.

Councillors from across the political spectrum have sent their best wishes to the long-serving Tory councillor, who is being replaced in her official duties by her deputy.

Council leader Mike Lee said: “We are in the same ward, and when I first came on the council she was the one who helped me more than anyone.

“I spoke to her on Tuesday and I hope she’s back as soon as she’s fit.”

The council and her Conservative colleagues declined to reveal details of her illness, and her husband, former councillor John Williams, could not be contacted.

In recent weeks deputy mayor Karimeh Foster has stepped in to cover the mayoral engagements.

The Lib Dem said: “If the mayor’s not there, I have to step up.

"She’s doing well, and getting better. Hopefully she will be back soon.”

Labour group leader Kate Hollern joined the tributes, adding: “She’s a lovely lady, and I really wish her a speedy recovery.”

The council’s chief executive Graham Burgess confirmed: “Unfortunately the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen is unwell at the moment but her deputy has kindly stepped in to cover her appointments.

“We wish her all the best and hope to see her out and about on her civic duties very soon.”

The mayor’s casting vote could be crucial at next week’s showdown council meeting, where the Labour group is hoping to regain control of the council.