A WELL-known and 'committed' Labour councillor in Oxford has died aged 57.
Van Coulter represented Barton and Sandhills on Oxford City Council.
His next of kin have been informed about his death.
In a statement today, the city council said the news had come as a 'complete shock'.
Council leader Bob Price said: “He will be very widely missed by all of us on the city council, as well as many colleagues with whom he has worked as the national chair of the Association of Public Service Excellence and a district council representative on the South East England Councils.
“He was a passionate advocate for social justice and equalities, and chaired a very successful scrutiny enquiry into the social and economic inequalities across Oxford that delivered a set of practical recommendations for tackling the causes.
"He had established a national reputation as an expert on climate change and how to tackle it and spoke regularly at international meetings on the subject.
“Van was a hard-working and committed ward councillor for Barton and Sandhills and was closely involved in the planning of the new Barton estate.
"His kindness and courtesy were legendary. His death is a real blow to the city.”
Mr Coulter, who lived in Boundary Brook Road, had served as a city councillor since being elected in May 2010.
He had been chairman of the east area planning committee since last June and chairman of the Association for Public Service Excellence since last September.
His fellow Barton councillor Mike Rowley said he was 'shocked and upset' by the news.
He said: "Van dedicated his life to helping people who were less fortunate than others. He came from an underprivileged background himself which informed his politics.
"He was always calm and analytical, but underneath it all there was a burning determination for progressive social change, to help those most in need and to collectively help society.
"He was a very committed and imaginative man and I shall miss him."
Alongside his council duties, Mr Coulter was also a governing executive member of Ruskin College, Oxford, where he earned a first class degree in politics and economics in 2010.
Mr Rowley said his colleague had been a 'great supporter of adult education and second chances'.
He added: "Van knew what a second chance had done for him."
Mr Coulter's colleague and friend Glynis Phillips, county councillor for Sandhills and Risinghurst, said he was 'an inveterate campaigner with a strong belief in social justice.'
She added: "We worked together in Barton to improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
"He gave me a lot of support in solving residents' problems and I shall miss his querky sense of humour.
"It's a great loss to the Labour movement and this community."
Speaking on behalf of the city council Liberal Democrats group, councillor Andrew Gant said: "Van was an excellent councillor and a much-valued colleague, liked and admired across the council.
"He was always courteous to us as the opposition and had a fund of knowledge.
"We have all witnessed in council his passion for social change. His contribution has been enormous, and he will be very much missed."
And Green group leader Craig Simmons said: "We were all shocked and saddened to learn of Van's sudden passing.
"He commanded great respect across the political spectrum. He was hard-working and diligent.
"Everything was well-researched and his prodigious memory meant that the relevant facts and figures were always at his fingertips.
"Van served his ward, and the city, with energy, dedication and commitment. We will all miss him dearly."
Mr Coulter worked as a political economist, specialising in labour market economics and sustainable development.
The father-of-one had been advisor at the Euro-Asia Economic Forum since March 2016.
Contributed by Perran Moon
Contributed by Mick & Jackie Beesley
Contributed by David Hawkins