KEITH Mitchell has done a fantastic job as leader of county council and his departure will mark the end of a golden era in Oxfordshire politics.

During his decade of leadership the county was consistently rated as excellent by the Audit Commission.

Keith is an accountant and he has managed the county finances shrewdly.

He also put in a phenomenal amount of overtime into juggling and balancing the books.

He was undoubtedly a safe financial pair of hands, unlike many politicians and bankers.

He is neither extravagant nor wasteful and that is a rare attribute in this reckless age.

Sadly his own party has let him down with the stringent local Government budget cuts.

Keith should have a word with David Cameron and William Hague about the misguided policy of increasing foreign expenditure at the expense of local spending. Much foreign aid is ending up in corrupt departments. One African official has spent millions on a property portfolio in Mayfair with the foreign aid.

The local Government spending cuts have led to a furore over library closures. A moderate, blue-stockinged lady was incensed at her description as a radical left winger when she voiced concerns about library closures.

Keith, who I have always found to be polite, charming and courteous, is understandably stressed and has lost his diplomacy under pressure.

He certainly has a way with words and I will miss his hilarious comments and hope he continues to write to the Oxford Mail.

SUSAN THOMAS, Magdalen Road, Oxford