Death of Ed James at Glen Innes in March

Vale Ed James, community activistVale Ed James, community activist

Many people in the district will be saddened to learn of the death of community activist Edward James at Glen Innes on March 31 this year.

Mr James was involved in a long-running battle against Gosford Council relating to his father’s commercial properties in Umina. Having an excellent working knowledge of civil engineering, he exposed serious neglect of infrastructure at Piles Creek where a tragic accident occurred. He was much appreciated for his activism in saving Woy Woy hospital rehabilitation services.

After selling his properties in Umina, Mr James embarked on an epic road trip around Australia on a Kawasaki 1400, his daring exploits in the saddle astounding all he met. Visiting Glen Innes on a whim, he found his dream property, an old house he called the “Dolls House” because it was so small. He bought it and set about restoring it, replacing all the floorboards and planting fruit trees. He continued his interest in politics, supporting local candidates enthusiastically and writing hundreds of letters to newspaper editors. Many will feel the loss of this man of conviction and action.

Email, 26 Aug 2018 Louise Roy, Port Kembla

Ed’s legacy lives on

A true patriot, community activist and fighter of corruption, Edward James has passed away. Ed used to live on the main street of Umina, for many years publishing his latest causes on his front fence and taking on community causes which he wrote regularly about in the Peninsula News.

Ed James, community campaigner  proudly displays his headlines.

Ed James, community campaigner proudly displays his headlines.

While some may rejoice in the news of his passing as they saw him as a “pest”, many will lament the loss of a man with a giant heart, with a passion for his community. He was there their lone voice in a system that they saw as riddled with systemic corruption of the process and laws. Ed will be remembered as the Coast’s “most annoying man”. He was a regular attendee at the old Gosford and Wyong Council meetings with his whiteboard.

His fight for what he saw as right and just led him on many a crusade against local councils and State Government as he tried to “shake the base”, rightly understanding the power lay with people who elected them. Mr James’ story of community activism and citizen journalism started in Gosford City when he saw the tactics and actions applied by local government representatives in relation to developments bordering the West St property he resided in and their interactions with his father. Along the way, he uncovered many infrastructure faults that endangered public safety and called into question the decisions and spending of ratepayers funds by elected representatives.

Alerting residents to the cost shifting of electricity and water services, he fought for safe and accessible footpaths for sight impaired and wheelchairs on the Peninsula and across the city, the retention of Woy Woy Hospital and rehabilitation services to Peninsula residents, and the establishment of the Woy Woy Rehabilitation centre – just to name a few projects. Once I met Ed on Brisbane Water Dr clearing a blocked drain during a storm. When I stopped to asked him why he responded: “Because the bloody council won’t” and the road would flood.

Another time I saw him campaigning about illegal use of political advertisements on public footpaths. That was Ed, always ready to lend a hand and fight for what was right and help out the battler. Ed was an honest man who loved a beer and a chat and was always happy to talk to anyone who would listen about how we need to “keep the bastards honest”. While he may be gone, there are many legacies he has left behind on the Peninsula and in Gosford that many would not know are attributable to Edward James.

SOURCE: Obituary, 3 Sep 2018 Mark Ellis, Woy Woy

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