CONSERVATIVE stalwart and former county council finance chief Charles Shouler has died, aged 79.

The former cabinet member for finance, who represented Bicester for more than 20 years, had battled cancer for several years.

He stepped down from the county council last year due to ill health.

He was made an Honorary Alderman last year.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “There will be very many employees, ex-employees, councillors and former councillors who will be very upset to hear this news. Charles was a highly regarded elder statesman at Oxfordshire County Council.

“He was real gentleman, a practical man, a clear thinker and real character.

“He was respected by political allies and opponents alike and was meticulously fair.

“It speaks volumes that so many people spoke with such great fondness about Charles when he retired as a councillor at the last election.

“Never can anybody have more deserved the position of Honorary Alderman.

“Charles had a rich, distinctive, authoritative Oxfordshire voice. He commanded a room when required. However he also had a real sense of fun and a mischievous laugh.

“He was a master of the workings of local government finance and a critic of its complexities.

“Oxfordshire County Council would not have been the same place without Charles Shouler and he will always be remembered with immense fondness.”

Mr Shouler, a retired farmer, was born and brought up in Chesterton and farmed there for many years. Most recently he lived in Bicester.

He was also a former leader of Cherwell District Council.