Sad death of Ann Shaw OBE, former Leader of the Council
18th May 2017
Tributes are being paid to Ann Shaw OBE, who sadly passed away on 17 May 2017. Before she stepped down in 2016, she was the longest serving council leader in the country. She dedicated most of her life to help and make a difference in her community and was recognized nationally as long as 20 years ago by receiving an OBE for her work.
First elected in 1971 to Rickmansworth Urban District Council, before Three Rivers District Council was formed, Ann was originally inspired to stand for election when told she had no chance of being elected. She subsequently served as Leader of the Council for 30 years.
Her impact can be found across Three Rivers, with many residents collectively and individually benefitting from her actions. Her biggest achievements were protecting the environment and striving to secure the best and most appropriate Local Plan and consequent development for Three Rivers and its residents.
For the cause of young people, she set up the Youth Council, developed a network of playgrounds throughout the district and leisure facilities within and, in partnership, outside the district, and quietly acted as an advocate on behalf of numerous pupils and parents appealing on secondary school places.
For the environment, she ensured the recycling rates in Three Rivers were amongst the national best for 20 years and locally led the campaign to save the Withey Beds, recognized by a Green Apple award (followed by several others). She introduced the right of individual citizens to speak on `their` issues at Council and Planning Committee meetings and in her Ward galvanized some of her residents to create a superb community facility that combines leisure, medical, community health and mother and toddler support in an area lacking in transport links.
For older people, she publicly presided over the Three Rivers Pensioners’ Forum and single-handedly ran for many years a charitable cause called `Beat the Killer Cold` that annually provides money to impoverished people suffering from fuel poverty.
Steven Halls, Chief Executive of Three Rivers District Council said “Councillor Shaw and I worked well together as Leader and Chief Executive for 13 years, agreeing, arguing, occasionally gossiping yet always with a mutual respect. One of her compliments was “I like people I can argue with!” Whether leading partnership delegations to Government on national issues, or cooking cakes for the Pensioners’ Forum, she has given her heart and soul to this district, and to keep up this level of energy over such a long time is astounding. I, and many others, shall miss her kindness, inexhaustible local knowledge and political wisdom”
Cllr Sara Bedford, Leader of the Council, paid tribute to her predecessor, who she described as “a liberal to her heart and her core. She was both very caring and feisty – she fought for what she believed in. She cared very much about her community and the people in it and had a particular affinity with people who were in some way disadvantaged, who didn’t have the same start in life, money or position and with children and young people.”
She added that Cllr Shaw would be especially remembered for ensuring the council's strong commitment to the environment, and for the “Beat the Killer Cold” scheme, which gave financial assistance to poorer residents to help them pay winter fuel bills.
Conservative Group Leader, Alex Hayward said "Ann was a very hard working and respected Councillor and Leader. Dedicated to the community of Three Rivers and respected by all sides of the Chamber. We will all miss her, our thoughts are with her family at this sad time."
Labour Group Leader, Stephen Cox said "We were deeply saddened to learn of Ann’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are naturally with her family at this very difficult time. Ann’s passion for public service was indisputable. Her energy, verve and determination to do her best as a councillor for local residents shone out like a beacon over many decades. She was indomitable and also led the council with distinction. She was widely respected by all across the political spectrum"