FORMER Mayor of Dudley and Halesowen Conservative stalwart John Woodall has passed away.

The former Halesowen South councillor, who stood down in May, held various roles and offices over seven decades in public life including civil engineer, council officer, magistrate and school governor.

Halesowen South councillor David Vickers led the tributes to his friend and colleague.

He said: "I first met John in the 1970s when I was a CID officer and he was a magistrate, though he could be very stern I quickly realised he was a very fair and warm man.

"He was a great councillor as he knew everything about the council as he was a council officer before becoming a councillor.

"At the last council meeting it was said he began working at the council 63 years ago which is a remarkable amount of time."

He added: "He had a wicked dry sense of humour when dealing with ward colleagues or council officers and was wonderful to work with, I learnt a lot from him and his wealth of experience will be missed greatly."

Mr Woodhall had two spells serving as a councillor on Dudley Council, he represented Belle Vale between 1987 and 1995 and Halesowen South from 1998 until May this year.

He started work at the council as a road engineer in the 1950s and eventually became cabinet member for transportation in 2004.

He became Dudley borough's first citizen in 2006 and enjoyed his role as mayor. However, he fractured his hip during that year and subsequently contracted MRSA in hospital.

At the end of his stint as mayor he said: "I enjoyed a fantastic year as the borough's first citizen. It has been a wonderful experience and I would not have missed it for the world."

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris praised Mr Woodall's contribution to public life.

He said: “Those of us who were fortunate enough to know John and to work with him will know how big a hole his passing leaves.

“He was a Halesowen man through and through, and even declining health couldn't stop him working hard for the community he loved through to the very end.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Audrey and their family as we remember the tremendous contribution John made to local life.”

Conservative Pedmore Cllr Mike Wood, who was Mr Woodall's election agent when he last stood for election in 2010, added: “I will always remember the kindness and patience that John showed when he was chairman of Halesowen and Stourbridge Conservatives and I was first getting involved in local community politics.

“From the time I first met him right up until his final days, he was always there willing to offer advice, support and the benefit of his incredible experience.”

Labour Halesowen North Cllr Hilary Bills also paid tribute to the Conservative stalwart.

She said: “John Woodall was my ward councillor and I always found him to be knowledgeable and friendly. "For the past two years I’ve been on Dudley Council with him and we worked together on the Licensing and Safety Committee."

She added: "There I also discovered his great sense of fun and wit. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Mr Woodall was a member of the Stourbridge and Halesowen Bench serving as a Justice of the Peace from 1978 until 2003.

He was also a governor at Olive Hill Primary School and was a prominent member of Halesowen Parish Church. He also was a member of the Freemasons Mark Lodge for over 50 years.

He and his wife Audrey celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2005 and they had two daughters and three granddaughters.

Mr Woodhall, aged 80, had been ill for several months before his passing this week.