News

“I’ll work my socks off” – Stefan Gawrysiak

Henley Residents Group (HRG) has announced that Stefan Gawrysiak, District and Town Councillor for Henley-on-Thames will be the HRG candidate for the county election on May 4th.

Stefan, a former Mayor of Henley and Assistant Head Teacher of Gillotts School, said that this election was “the most important election for the last 10 years.” Residents of Henley have felt for a long time that Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is remote, unresponsive, and inept at dealing with Henley’s problems. Over the past 8 years we have had nothing from OCC.

  • No action on pedestrian crossings
  • No action on air quality
  • Mo action on HGV through traffic
  • Funding removed from local buses
  • Funding removed from children centres
  • Pot holes, pot holes, pot holes AND potholes that have to fixed twice.
  • Henley schools this year face cuts of £60,000 in their budgets.
  • NO beds in Townlands Hospital and poor levels of social care

During the past 4 years Henley’s County Councillor has received £100,000 in allowances – that is £25,000 per year. OCC allowances were increased by 25% cynically 1 year after the election; these increases were not in the Conservative manifesto.

Has Henley received value for money? NO. Do we want 4 more years of doing nothing? NO.

Real Devolved Local Power and Decision Making.

This election is the most important for 10 years because in the next two years Oxfordshire could become a single authority with the abolition of District Councils. The danger is that OCC will become even more remote. If OCC becomes responsible for every facet of local government then it will be a disaster for the town. OCC must devolve powers down to Henley as a parish council. Give Henley the money to fund the town buses, give Henley the money to fund our children’s centre, give Henley the money and we will fix ALL the pot holes in the town.

We need real devolved local power and decision-making. Therefore it is crucial that we have an INDEPENDENT VOICE speaking solely for Henley and not one that will vote with the party whips. At County and District our local Conservative Councillors have never voted against their party line, not once.

I have lived and worked in Henley for 30 years and I am deeply committed to this community. I taught at Gillotts School for over 30 years and retired as Assistant Head Teacher. Gillotts is a fantastic local school with dedicated teachers and inspiring leadership, we must secure new 21st century buildings for them.

I believe in working my socks off for Henley. I am President of Henley Bridge Rotary Club; a Governor of Badgemore School; help organise the Henley Half Marathon; on the Committee for the wonderful Henley Show; and I am responsible for the Horticultural section at this brilliant Henley event. With Maggie Atkinson I started Music on the Meadows MOTM for the young people of Henley to showcase their talents; it is also an excellent free community event for Henley which has now run 3 times.

During my time as Mayor we refurbished our wonderful toddler playground and the Mill Meadows toilets.  We deep cleaned the town centre streets and removed evening business waste. As a SODC district councillor I have helped to secure £400,000 grants for Henley. Skatepark, Rugby Club, Cricket Club, HAODS and the YMCA. I believe in working hard for the community of Henley on Thames.

As Henley’s HRG County Councillor I am Independent of “National Parties and Politics.” I will not be influenced by national party stances; I will speak and work as the INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR HENLEY. Henley is a fantastic place to work and live. At County level I am fed up with nothing being done for Henley. I have a proven track record of getting things done. I say it, I mean it and I will do it.

This is what Think Local Vote Local means.

HRG survey – what matters to you?

Henley Residents Group want to hear your views on Henley’s most important issues.

Management of Henley is split between Oxford County Council (OCC), South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), and Henley Town Council.

On 4th May 2017 there are elections taking place for Oxford County Council (OCC). We want to represent what’s important to the people of Henley in these elections.

Please help us to represent you by completing the questions in this survey. It won’t take you more than a few minutes.

Thank you

Click here to take survey

Councillor Martin Akehurst resigns

Councillor Martin Akehurst (Con) has resigned from Henley Town Council due to advice from his consultant and doctor.

Martin joined the Henley Residents Group party in 2009 and was elected as Town Councillor in 2010. In November 2014 half way through his year as mayor, he resigned from HRG and declared that he had always been a Conservative. In the May 2015 elections Martin was elected both Henley Town Councillor and District Councillor for Sonning Common.

There will now be a mid term election for the two Henley Town Council seats, the date is yet to be confirmed but it is thought that it will take place on the same day as the County Council elections on 4 May 2017.

Councillor Dylan Thomas resigns

Councillor Dylan Thomas (Con) has resigned as a member of Henley Town Council. Dylan who has been a Town Councillor for almost two years has accepted a new job in the public sector in Whitehall. It is important that he is seen to be politically impartial so he has therefore decided to vacate his seat on the Town Council.

A mid term election may now take place and the official vacancy has been advertised on the Henley Town Council website.

County council elections on Thursday 4 May

On Thursday 4 May 2017, all 63 seats on the county council will be up for re-election. Polling stations in the 61 divisions across the county will open at 7am for voting and close at 10pm.

Exactly who will be standing for election in each division will be known after the close of nominations at 4pm on Tuesday 4 April. The Statements of Persons Nominated will be published no later than 4pm on Wednesday 5 April.

In the 2013 election the Henley seat was won on a minority vote by David Nimmo-Smith (Con) with 912 votes, closely followed by Stefan Gawrysiak (HRG) on 789 votes with the UKIP candidate gaining 775 votes.

John Howell under fire

JOHN HOWELL seems to have had enough of the criticism coming his way recently.

The Henley MP has come under fire for the perceived failure of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan to dictate planning policy.

He even disagreed with his fellow Henley Conservatives who messaged him on Twitter, saying: “South Oxfordshire District Council have told us in writing that our plan is out of date due to them not having a five-year land supply.”

Mr Howell replied: “I am telling you I discussed this with the minister and neighbourhood plans are not worthless. They still carry the same weight.”

No appeal for loss of LA Fitness

THE decision to allow the site of the former LA Fitness gym in Henley to be turned into an 80-bed care home will not be scrutinised by the Government.

Planning minister Gavin Barwell has refused a request by opponents for it to be “called in” and examined by a planning inspector.

The Keep Henley Active pressure group, which believes the site in Newtown Road should remain a leisure facility, said South Oxfordshire District Council should not have awarded planning permission last month as the land wasn’t earmarked for housing in the Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan.

They said the closure of the gym and swimming pool had put heavy pressure on Henley leisure centre, which now has the town’s only pool.

Neighbouring residents argued that the plans by Essex developer Henthames would cause congestion on Mill Lane, where the main entrance will be.

But Mr Barwell said the call-in procedure could only be used “very selectively” and he was satisfied that the LA Fitness decision should have been taken locally.

He said the Government “remained committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues”.

It is the second time this year that the Department for Communities and Local Government has declined to call in a planning decision involving a development in Henley.

Townlands Steering Group – Townlands Services Consultation

The TSG meeting on June 9th considered the answers given to the questions that the TSG had notified to the Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG) in advance. The TSG also considered the answers given by the CCG to the members of the public who asked an extensive set of detailed and searching questions.

It is obvious that the CCG proposals are strongly opposed by a large majority of the community. The TSG expect the consultation will show this clearly.

The CCG will report on the consultation to the Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) of Oxfordshire County Council on July 2nd. The TSG is planning to make its own submission to HOSC.

HOSC has two levels of responsibility with respect to the Townlands

  • ensuring that the consultation has been correctly and properly carried out (section f of its terms of reference)
  • ensuring that the inhabitants of Oxon receive hospital and community health care services; and social care services (sections a, b, e, g of its terms of reference)

The TSG believes the CCG consultation is flawed and has failed for the following reasons

  • insufficient information on the way the model will work
  • insufficient information on the transition from the old model to the new by Nov 1st
  • absence of information on what will happen to staff between Nov 1st and the opening of the RACU in the Nursing Home
  • lack of any information on the monitoring and scrutiny post implementation (e.g. by identifying the process and Key Performance Indicators)
  • refusal of the CCG to provide the detailed current bed usage figures or their modelling data
  • unanswered questions on the modelling figures expressed at the TSG meeting on 9 June (e.g. from TSG member Geoff Probert)
  • the questionnaire made it very difficult for the community to express clearly our views on the proposals
  • lack of any information on costings
  • the emergence of significant changes to the proposals in the course of the consultation, including

—   the RACU is to open only 3 days per week

—   the fact that EMUs were used to provide reassurance of successful examples of operation of the new model which are quite different from RACUs (e.g. being associated with community beds at Witney and Abingdon)

—   The new model is expected not to require additional community health resources (e.g. district nurses). Peter Magrane said this on 9th June. No evidence has been provided to support this

—   The new model is expected not to require additional adult social care resources. John Jackson said this on 9th June. No evidence has been provided to support this

The TSG is very disappointed that the CCG have failed to provide supporting documentation for their proposals which would allow the community to provide a fully informed response to the consultation. The lack of support from the GPs for the proposals underlines this failure.

The TSG will urge HOSC and other stakeholders to act to ensure that the CCG reverts to the service model as specified in the original Business Case approved by the PCT and SHA in 2012, planning permission for which was also granted in 2012.

The TSG will continue to engage with the CCG on a new plan based on the new model of ambulatory care, as it is clear than this is supported in principle by many Gps and other clinicians, and has operated successfully as part of an integrated system of Health and Social Care in other parts of this country and around the world.

Cllr Ian Reissmann

Leader Townlands Steering Group

and other TSG Subgroup members

Cllr David Nimmo-Smith

Dr Peter Ashby

Dr Barry Wood

Dr Fiona Galton-Fenzi

Cllr Stefan Gawrysiak

Cllr Julian Brookes

16th June 2015

Conservative Cllrs Push Through Neighbourhood Plan

Now to be Submitted Without Transport Strategy.

Conservative Cllrs voted through the latest draft of the Neighbourhood Plan on Tuesday 23rd June which means the plan will be submitted to South Oxon District Council without a Transport Strategy. This overturned the resolution from a Special Full Council held on 8th June which voted to delay the plan until the Town Council’s Transport Study is completed in July.

The Transport Study was commissioned by Henley Town Council earlier this year when it became clear that the Plan would be incomplete without full consideration of the requirements for infrastructure, especially transport, being included in the Plan.

The original Public Opinion Day held in 2012 identified traffic as the most important issue facing Henley.

Conservative Cllrs proposed that the current plan be submitted with minor amendments. HRG cllrs opposed this making clear the need to include a Transport Strategy as originally decided on June 9th.

Cllr David Nimmo-Smith accused HRG cllrs of dragging out debate saying “The proposers are opponents of the Neighbourhood Plan and are simply trying to delay things”. This was refuted by Cllr Ian Reissmann “I support the submission of a good Neighbourhood Plan. It’s vital we get the Plan right so it does not fail at inspection or referendum. I am trying to save the Neighbourhood Plan.”

HRG cllrs proposed the following amendments to the Plan:

  1. Delay submission pending transport study and inclusion in the plan
  1. Add affordable housing definition and tighten wording on 40% affordable figure so that developers cannot duck the 40% affordable commitment.
  1. 20% of the affordable housing should be reserved for people with a local connection in line with SODC housing strategy 13.3
  1. Add Heritage/History Vision and objectives.Ensure that a top level priority for the plan is to protect Henley’s Heritage and History.

5.  Policy SCI3: Renewal and enhancement of community facilities, which only applies to renewal of existing facilities. Amendment was to add that new facilities can be created using CIL and Section 106 money through the Neighbourhood Plan.

6. Community benefits: add

– Ensure public access and communal spaces on new developments.

– To protect and enhance wildlife on new developments

  1. Consideration of Market Place Mews. There is no consideration of the development of the major site in the Town Centre for which planning permission was granted in 2007 for 14 residences and 8 commercial properties.

8. All new housing to meet the 2016 government level 6 target  for carbon emissions.

  1. Reserve Site for Highlands Farm as there is a question mark over whether this is deliverable due to the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
  1. Fairmile

– add the conservation area to the site map

– indicate that 75% of Site A is in the Conservation Area

– strengthen commitment to protecting Conservation Area

  1. Youth Centre loss of housing allocation due to sale to Care provider.
  1. Include more pedestrian crossings at Gravel Hill, Northfield End, Kings Road, Swiss Farm.
  1. Improve numbering and structuring of the document, including a change to renumber the two chapter 6’s
  1. Add monitoring section
  1. Enhance delivery section

HRG Cllrs expressed their dismay when Conservative Cllrs forced through a procedural motion to prevent any more amendments being proposed, and voting on the substantive proposal without any discussion. “We agree with Cllr Thomas that this debate is a shambles. We should not be rewriting the document here. We should take the document back and make the necessary changes and bring it back to Full Council when it is ready.” said Cllr Gavrysiak.

Many amendments which could not be put had been supported by members of the public during public participation. Passionate speeches were made on the inclusion of the Transport Strategy, the sell off of Gillott’s School playing fields, and the Fairmile Conservation Area. The only individual to speak in favour of submitting the plan in its current form was a representative of a developer.

The Neighbourhood Plan final document has not been looked at by the Overview group of the Neighbourhood Plan nor has it been looked at by the Neighbourhood Plan Governance Committee. This had been the first chance for Henley Town Council to consider the Plan which has so far cost £150k.

The NPGC and Full Council have ratified on 3 or more occasions that the Transport strategy was to be built into the NP.

The Plan will now go through a final consultation for 6 weeks, following by independent examination, before finally going to referendum.