TRIBUTES have been paid to a long-serving Hampshire councillor who has died after battling cancer.

Cllr Bob Wappet, who was chairman of Fawley Parish Council and a member of New Forest District Council, died at Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington.

The veteran Conservative councillor ran a hardware store in Blackfield and was also well known for his work with the Royal British Legion.

His death comes just weeks after that of fellow district councillor Sophie Beeton, who succumbed to a brain tumour aged 46.

Fawley parish clerk Steve Postlethwaite said: "Cllr Wappet served the parish council for 15 years and was heavily involved in all aspects of council business.

"He became chairman in 2011, serving his parishioners passionately to the end.

"He was a unassuming man with a quiet but purposeful disposition. He will be sadly missed by all councillors and staff of the council."

Cllr Wappet also became a district councillor for Fawley, Blackfield and Langley in 2007.

He was a member of several committees, including the planning and development control, as well as serving the council on various outside bodies.

Fellow district councillor Alex McEvoy said: "Bob epitomised everything that was good and honourable in a local councillor.

"He was kind, hardworking and well-liked by all who met him. My sincere condolences to his wife Pauline and all his family."

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on the district council, added: "I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of Cllr Wappet.

"We always got on very well and worked closely together on the planning committee and appeals panels.

"He was always a joy to chat to, often sharing his life experiences. He was something of a community champion in his area and really cared for people.”

More tributes to Cllr Wappet will be paid at the annual parish meeting at the Jubilee Hall, Fawley, on April 25 at 7pm.

It will include the presentation of the Chairman's Cup, which will be given to a resident who has made an outstanding contribution to the parish.