COUNCILLORS have expressed their shock at the sudden death of a “dedicated” community stalwart.

Ian White served as a leader of Seaford Town Council and represented residents from the town on Lewes District Council.

He died suddenly on Thursday this week and is survived by his wife Janet.

The news has sparked shock among his Conservative Party colleagues, who said Mr White was a passionate Tory and a “gentle giant”.

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield led tributes to Mr White, who was also a former Metropolitan Police officer and the former chairman of the Seaford Conservatives.

She said: “Ian was a big part of Seaford and did so much for the local community from raising money for local charities to serving on the council.

“His sudden death has left us all shocked and my thoughts and prayers are with Jan and his family.”

Mr White, of Hurdis Road in Seaford, served in public life and worked on Lewes District Council’s Licensing Committee and Licensing sub-Committee.

Seaford councillor, Julian Peterson said: “Ian was a passionate Conservative who had served West Ward as a town and district councillor. He was respected by his council colleagues and could be a formidable speaker. He had a great sense of humour.”

Fellow West Ward member, Liz Boorman, said: “Ian was a dedicated councillor serving both the town and district over a number of years.

“He was passionate about the town and was a well respected member of the community. Ian was a friend and Conservative colleague who will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.”

Seaford County, District and Town councillor Phil Boorman said: “He was a gentle giant. Ian was the most genuine and generous person that anyone could ever meet, he had an absolute heart of gold.

“I’m totally shocked that he’s gone. RIP and fly high, Ian – you were a great friend and colleague.”

Meanwhile there were also tributes from political rivals including the new leader of Lewes District Council James MacCleary.

He said: “Huge shock to hear this news. Can’t say Ian and I saw eye to eye politically, but I knew him for over ten years as a fellow councillor.

“He was unafraid to speak his mind and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

The district council flag was flown at half-mast on its headquarters, Southover House in Lewes in Mr White’s memory.