TRIBUTES have been paid to “formidable” former Maldon councillor Rodney Bass.

The former Essex County Council chairman died on Tuesday.

Mr Bass had spent 50 years as an elected representative before retiring in 2017. He held many roles, including chairman of Maldon District Council and County Hall highways boss.

Tiptree MP Priti Patel said Mr Bass was a “local legend”.

She said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Rodney’s wife Margaret and his entire family at this time.

“Rodney was a local legend who combined a successful career in finance with half a century of committed and devoted service to local government.

“Communities across this part of Essex have benefited enormously from the tireless work and campaigning he undertook on their behalf.

“I worked closely with Rodney over many years on local issues and matters affecting the whole county, and he always put the interests of our residents first.”

Mr Bass was awarded an OBE for his service to local government.

Ms Patel said: “His determination to get things done and make a difference was inspirational and his work on improving the local highways network, developing plans for the county’s strategic roads and his support for local good causes will be remembered for many years to come.

“It has been a great privilege to know Rodney and I will always be grateful for the support and advice he has given me.

“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

County council chairman John Jowers said Mr Bass was a “remarkable politician, public speaker, and above all, a champion for his community and Essex”.

“He was a larger than life character in every sense and fiercely committed to his role,” he said.

“He will be greatly missed and our sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”

County council leader David Finch said: “Rodney was a unique character and as a politician was a formidable presence, always determined to prevail, always certain of his position, his views on policy and how things should be run.

“Much like Margaret Thatcher, one of his political heroes, he was not for turning.

“I am sure the thoughts of all county councillors who knew and worked with Rodney will be with his family at this time.”