COUNCILLORS have expressed their shock at the death of Worcestershire County Council's interim chief executive Steve Stewart.

Mr Stewart passed away overnight on Wednesday, aged 64.

Before joining the council in May of last year, Mr Stewart had a career lasting more than 40 years in local government.

He was the chief executive at three different councils - York, Northumberland and Worcestershire.

Cllr Adrian Hardman, deputy leader of the Worcestershire County Council, said: "This is very sad news.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.

"Steve made a big contribution to this council during his time with us and for that we are really grateful.

"He will be sadly missed by everyone."

Worcestershire County Council chairman Anne Hingley added: "I am deeply shocked by this news.

"I have been extremely grateful to Steve for his excellent service to Worcestershire - and in particular his input with Children's Services.

"My thoughts & prayers are with his family at this sad time."

Mr Stewart's death has come as a complete shock to the councillors he worked closely with.

Cllr Andy Roberts, cabinet member for children and families, worked closely with Mr Stewart on improving troubled children's services.

He said: "This was a complete shock and of course a human tragedy.

"Mr Stewart was very able vastly experienced and very keen still to move things forward at Worcester and elsewhere. He played a big part I the work we’ve been doing to improve children’s services, and had very good connections to the Department for Education.

"He will be missed both professionally and personally."

Cllr Ken Pollock, member for economy and infrastructure, sat on the selection panel that gave Mr Steward the job as interim chief executive after Clare Marchant left County Hall for a job at UCAS.

He said: "I knew he was the right man for the job. He has made a great contribution in the time that he has been here.

"He had a very impressive CV and had run Northumberland County Council for many years and made it into a unitary authority.

"His death, aged 64, was completely out of the blue and is a great shock. It’s very sad."

The new permanent chief executive at County Hall, Paul Robinson is due to take up his post on March 19