Former district councillor Douglas James, one of the formative influences in the life of Epping Forest District Council, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday 8 May. He was 79 and his service in local government spanned more than half a century.
Already a senior figure at the former Chigwell Urban District Council prior to the 1974 local government re-organisation “ he was Chairman in 1971-2 – Douglas James became Leader of the controlling Conservative Group on the new Epping Forest District Council. He held that role, and the chairmanship of the Policy and Resources Committee, from 1974 to 1984 when he lost his seat in Loughton. In those days the District Council did not recognise the position of Leader of the Council although, as Leader of the controlling group with a very commanding overall majority, he fulfilled much of that role.
Cllr James` role in District Council affairs and his Leadership of the Conservative Group were characterised by detailed control of policy, an unerring memory, a complete mastery of procedure and a robust approach to party political discipline. He shared with his political colleagues a concern to limit increases in Rates and a desire to focus Council spending only on those programmes that were considered necessary.
After losing his Loughton seat, he moved out of the district and subsequently became the first mayor of the Town of Dunmow,(right) at his installation in 2000 by the then HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Braybrooke.
Douglas James worked as an industrial chemist with Tate and Lyle in East London. He held five degrees and had studied at Imperial College.
A colourful character, Cllr James was a kind person and brilliant academic with a passion for Bridge and a dry sense of humour.
His funeral takes place at Chelmsford Crematorium on Monday 16 May at 10.15am. No flowers are requested, but donations may be made to the Friends of Great Dunmow Clinic.
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