New HRG Team elected to run Election Campaign

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The Henley Residents Group have elected new officers and Executive Committee members putting in place a team to run the election campaign in the run up to the council election in May 2015. The Hrg General Meeting took place in the Margaret Day room in the Barn on December 8th. (Picture).

HRG founder member Gill Dodds was elected the new leader. “I am delighted and honoured that HRG have elected me leader. HRG came into existence 25 years ago around my kitchen table. Many folk have come and gone since that time but always we have remained true to our belief that the best people to run Henley are its residents.”

Last year’s mayor Stefan Gawyrsiak steps up to HRG Chair with responsibility for leading the election campaign. “We strongly believe that Henley should be run by residents for residents without any influence from national party politics. We have done this very successfully for 24 years, and Henley residents obviously agree as we have been repeatedly won elections to run the Town Council in that time. Our job is to ensure we communicate our achievements, and promote HRG as the group with the vision, energy and record to keep Henley special for another 4 years.”

There are several new faces on the HRG Executive committee. Jane Smewing, who is a new face, but not a new name said “I have been a member for many years and am keen to take a bigger role in the group in future [ETC]”.

Newly elected leader Gill Dodds reminded members of the HRG History. “HRG came into existence in 1989 when residents were dismayed at the Conservative Council’s plan to demolish the old Regal cinema and replace it with a shopping mall, a multi-storey car park and a huge Waitrose. These proposals prompted strong feelings that they were inappropriate for a heritage town like Henley. This led to the birth of HRG. Two years later, in the 1991 elections, HRG swept to victory. All eight HRG candidates were elected. Following the election, a more modest scheme was built together with a new cinema which opened in 1996. Under the previous Conservative council, anything run down and uncared for was council owned. HRG set about putting that right. That was 25 years ago. Now new members, new ideas, new Henley residents are continuing to run the town in the interests of residents.“

Other new Executive Committee members are Colin Brathwaite, who is chair of the Henley Skatepark Initiative (HSI); Paula Isaacs, who is chair of the Gainsborough Residents Association; and Shima Healey.

“HRG cllrs have been wonderfully supportive in helping us get a new skatepark designed and then approved by South Oxon District Council who granted planning permission this year”. Said HSI chair Colin Braithwaite. “Although we did a lot of work ourselves, it is obvious you can get so much more done working with supportive and hardworking HRG cllrs who are running the Town Council.”

Paula Isaacs set up the Gainsborough Residents Association with another HRG member David Eggleton in 2012 and have been working with other residents to improve the area and also raise money for charities. “Although the GRA have achieved a lot, I’d like to work across Henley to improve the town for all residents. It’s obvious that having residents run Henley is a good thing, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”