TRIBUTES have flooded in for a community stalwart and Labour city councillor who died unexpectedly aged 57.

Van Coulter, who represented Barton and Sandhills on Oxford City Council for almost seven years, died suddenly at home on Monday.

Police confirmed they were called to an unexplained death but said it was not being treated as suspicious.

Friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum yesterday described Mr Coulter as kind, hard-working and 'dedicated to helping people'.

City council leader Bob Price, of Labour, said the news had come as a 'complete shock'.

He said: "He will be very missed by all of us, as well as many colleagues with whom he has worked.

"Van was a passionate advocate for social justice and equalities. He 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.

His fellow Barton ward 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."

Barton Community Association trustee Rod Shepherd said Mr Coulter had been 'a big part of the community'.

He said: "He always put people and their wellbeing first and invested a huge amount in them."

And Sue Holden, another trustee, added: "We would like to say, on behalf of people in Barton, that we are very grateful for all the work he did and we are very sad to hear of his passing."

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: "He gave me a lot of support in solving residents' problems and I shall miss his quirky sense of humour.

"It's a great loss to the Labour movement and this community."

At the city council, Mr Coulter was on a number of committees had chaired its east area planning committee since last June.

He was also the national chairman of the Association for Public Service Excellence and a governing executive member of Ruskin College, Oxford, where he had 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."

Speaking on behalf of the city council Liberal Democrats group, councillor Andrew Gant said Mr Coulter had been 'liked and admired across the council'.

He added: "Van was an excellent councillor and a much-valued colleague.

"He was always courteous and had a fund of knowledge. His contribution has been enormous, and he will be very much missed."

And Green group leader Craig Simmons said: "Van 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.

"He served his ward, and the city, with energy, dedication and commitment. We will all miss him dearly."

Mr Coulter grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and moved to Oxford about 10 years ago, friends said.

He worked as a political economist, specialising in labour market economics and sustainable development.

The father-of-one had also been advisor at the Euro-Asia Economic Forum since March 2016.

Thames Valley Police said yesterday it was preparing a file on his death to pass to the coroner.