A FORMER councillor and union leader has died aged 81.

Tony Stockford represented Blackbird Leys on both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council for around a decade from the late 1980s.

He was a former firefighter who was the local brigade secretary in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) for nearly 20 years.

During this time he led Oxfordshire’s firefighters on a nine-week strike following a dispute over pay – the first in the FBU’s 59-year history.

It meant that between November 1977 and January 1978 the Army was called in to put out fires across Oxfordshire.

After retiring from the fire brigade he stood successfully as a Labour candidate to represent Blackbird Leys for both the county council and the city council.

While he was a councillor he was vice chairman of the Thames Valley Police Authority and the Labour representative on the public protection committee.

During his time on that committee he was involved in the fight against cuts to Oxfordshire’s fire brigade, and attempted to prevent the county council from closing fire stations and making any reductions in service.

He was also credited with improving relations between the police and the Blackbird Leys community.

He was born in Martock, Somerset on August 19, 1932 with the given first name of Atherton.

He moved to London with his family as a child but returned to Somerset on the outbreak of the Second World War to live with his aunt and uncle.

On leaving school he joined the Royal Navy before becoming a firefighter in 1957, joining London Fire Brigade.

In 1953 he married Wendy Pearman in Paddington after meeting her at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. She died in 2011.

He moved to Oxford in 1961 to join Oxford City Fire Brigade – which became Oxfordshire Fire Service in 1974 – where he served until he retired in 1987.

Mr Stockford died on January 24 and is survived by his two sons Barry and Steve as well as five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

His funeral will take place on Monday, February 3 at Oxford Crematorium at 10.30am.