Councillors this week paid tribute to the former leader of Three Rivers District Council who stepped down after 30 years at the helm.

Cllr Ann Shaw announced she was stepping down as leader on Monday.

She said she had been leader “long enough” and wanted to “concentrate on local concerns and issues”.

Cllr Shaw told the Watford Observer: “It has been very hard for me to give it up.

“It was my idea. No-one suggested it. I just thought 30 years was long enough. During the election, I had 70 new cases come in from all across the district. And they all need time, consideration and understanding.”

Cllr Sara Bedford, who also represents Abbots Langley at Hertfordshire County Council, took over as leader last night.

She said: “Whatever your political affiliation, you cannot fail to admire the real difference she has made through her actions.

“Look around this council and outside in the community, and you will see Ann’s involvement everywhere. I will give three examples of where her personal involvement has made a huge difference.

"Her commitment to the environment, witnessed by the award winning project which saved the Withey Beds.

“An open and accountable council.Three Rivers was almost the first in the country to allow the public to speak at all its public meetings.

“A caring council, with the Beat the Killer Cold scheme introduced by Ann, which has supported elderly and disabled residents.

“So Ann thank you for what you have done, and what you will continue to do for Three Rivers. We look forward to your energy and wise counsel continuing for the benefit of residents.”

Cllr Stephen Cox, leader of the Three Rivers Labour group, told Tuesday’s annual council: “I have to say Councillor Shaw’s record of service is nothing short of stupendous.

“Since the council has become a hung council, she has been a pleasure to deal with and I hope that sort of relationship carries on with Ann’s successor.

“Sometimes there is an art to knowing when to stand down. That is not always something that is that is replicated at the higher echelon of party politics.

“I can’t say anymore otherwise I might get shot.”

Cllr Ralph Sangster, leader of the Conservative group, said Cllr Shaw commanded respect having served as group leader for so long.

Cllr Shaw has been selected as the deputy leader of the council and will continue to serve as a councillor.