News

HRG Survey September and October 2017

Understanding residents’ views on expenditure priorities

At the beginning of September, Henley Residents Group surveyed[1] Henley residents for their view on priorities for grant funding by Henley Town Council. Over 120 residents[2] responded.
As Councillors Ian Reissmann and Jane Smewing said in their introduction to the survey “funding decisions made by Oxfordshire County Council (and other bodies) have meant some services for Henley Residents paid for by the County face being cut back” and they asked for views on how the Town Council how they should pay for the costs of these extra grants, if the Town Council decided to cover any deficiencies.

Whilst 26% said they were not prepared to pay any increase on the current precept on Band D households paid to the Town Council (£87 per household each year – £1.67 per week), the overall response indicated a willingness to pay a weighted average increase[3] of £6.27 per household (12p per week). Women were willing to pay slightly more than men and the younger[4] slightly less.

Also the survey asked for views on what should be the top two and the bottom two priorities[5] for funding from the Town Council over the next two years.

Overwhelmingly, the top two priorities were seen to be “care for disadvantaged local children and young people” (with nearly 55% in favour) and “provision for those local residents with mental health issues (all ages including dementia)” (with nearly 53% in favour). However, women were more favourable towards these two priorities than men, some of whom were inclined to support educational, museum and sports activities (with the younger generation also being more inclined to support sporting activities).

The bottom two priorities were also overwhelmingly seen to be grants for “arts activities” and for “sports activities”. These priorities were of a similar ranking for male and female respondents and for younger and older respondents, although the younger respondents were less inclined to be unfavourable to them than the older respondents, and saw “support for local buses” as featuring as one of the “bottom two priorities” along with “arts and sports activities”.

Respondents were able to make their own comments if they wished. These included “Henley is in desperate need of facilities”; “Unless they are helped, disadvantaged people will continue to be disadvantaged”; “Provision for mental health appears to be limited but much needed”; “Our youth are our future”; “Parking and rubbish collection” ; “Less spending on flowers, more spending on people”; “Make sure our young people stay around Henley”; and “Money allocated to improve pavements and roads on Gainsborough – Henley should not forget its communities include those on lower incomes”. There was also one respondent that asked “Who is Oxford County Council” which highlights that Henley’s funding comes from, three councils – the County, South Oxfordshire and Henley Town, with differing responsibilities for each.

Councillors Reissmann and Smewing commented that “We wanted to hear residents’ views about their priorities for grant making – there has been inadequate consultation with residents in the past. Their views are all the more important given the cuts in grants being made by the County which affect some organisations in Henley. The Town Council needs to consider whether it could fund some of the organisations suffering these cuts, and if it were to do so, how it could fund these grants. The survey is a helpful tool for us in making these decisions”.

Issued by David Feary on behalf of Henley Residents’ GroupContact 07813 400803
24th October 2017

 

Notes for editors:

  1. The survey was undertaken online https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdv_MoMVZuDF1lBA30FrCKqWklm_SNPzQ4CoTavg39JK44dNQ/viewform and was communicated by social media including emails. Responses were split roughly 50% each for men and women.
  2. 123 residents responded by 23rd October, out of an electorate of 8,742 (1. 4%).By comparison, Yougov’s national survey by on 21st August 2017, enquiring who the British electorate thought would make the best Prime Minister, was based on 1,664 respondents (out of a national electorate of around 46 million (0.004%). A previous survey by HRG in March/April 2017 received around 60 responses.
  3. The response options per annum were “No increase at all”, “£1”, “£2-10” and “£11-20”.
  4. Age options were “18-30”, “31-45”, “46-59” and “more than 60”. “Younger” is classified as “18-45”and “older” “46 and above”.
  5. The alternatives for priorities were “Grants to local sporting activities”, “Provision for local elderly residents’ social activities”, “Grants for local educational, library or museum services”, “Care for disadvantaged local children and young people”, “Support for local bus services”, “Grants to local arts activities” and “Provision for those local residents with mental health issues (all ages including dementia)”

Summary Press release – 24th October 2017

Henley residents willing to provide an extra £6 per annum for grants

In September and October Henley residents were surveyed for their view on priorities for grant funding by Henley Town Council. Over 120 residents responded.

Sponsors of the survey, Henley Residents Group Councillors Ian Reissmann and Jane Smewing introduced the survey, saying “funding decisions made by Oxfordshire County Council (and other bodies) have meant some services for Henley Residents paid for by the County face being cut back”. They asked for views on how the Town Council how they should pay for the costs of these extra grants, if the Town Council decided to cover any deficiencies.

The overall response indicated a willingness to pay a weighted average increase[1] of £6.27 per household (12p per week), against the current precept on Band D households paid to the Town Council (£87 per household each year – £1.67 per week).

Respondents’ views on what should be the priorities[2] for funding from the Town Council over the next two years showed that overwhelmingly, the top two priorities were seen to be “care for disadvantaged local children and young people” and “provision for those local residents with mental health issues (all ages including dementia)”. The bottom two priorities were grants for “arts activities” and for “sports activities”. There were slightly differing views based on the gender and age of the respondents.

Respondents were able to make their own comments if they wished. These included “Henley is in desperate need of facilities”; “Unless they are helped, disadvantaged people will continue to be disadvantaged”; and “Provision for mental health appears to be limited but much needed”.

Councillors Reissmann and Smewing commented “We wanted to hear residents’ views about their priorities for grant making – there has been inadequate consultation with residents in the past. Their views are all the more important given the cuts in grants being made by the County which affect some organisations in Henley. The Town Council needs to consider whether it could fund some of the organisations suffering these cuts, and if it were to do so, how it could fund these grants. The survey is a helpful tool for us in making these decisions”.

Issued by David Feary on behalf of Henley Residents’ Group – contact 07813 400803
30th October 2017

 

Listening & Doing! Newsletter – Autumn 2017

Girl at Henley Skate Park

In May HRG gained control of Henley Town Council with far reaching plans to help improve Henley – reflecting what we had heard from residents. This newsletter describes the actions with which HRG has been involved since the turn of the year, and those still “work in progress”.

Our achievements so far in 2017

Improving Henley’s….By….
Amenities• reopening Henley‘s Children’s Centre as the Family Centre at D2 following closure due to OCC budget cuts.

• bringing Street Angels to Henley - now funded and seeking volunteers

• setting up a task force which has successfully cleared business waste and litter from the streets

• achieving another Green Flag award for the Meadows

• creating a wonderful Bee theme to get the town buzzing

• providing shaded areas in the toddler park. to enable all small children (especially babies) to sit in the shade with parents.
Recreation activities• opening the new skate park after a six year long battle - now SO popular!

• holding the first ever open-air Civic Service

• holding the Mayor’s Party in the Park

• celebrating Borama Comes to Henley

• successfully returning the Henley May Fayre to the town square
Infrastructure• mapping every road pot hole, and overgrown vegetation – with improvement actions agreed with the County including resurfacing Harpsden Road

Our work in progress for the next 12 months

Improving Henley’s…By…
Amenities• providing adult gym equipment for Makins, refurbishment of the Makins and Freemans playgrounds, and new signage for Mill Meadows
Recreation activities• completely transforming the Christmas Festival to make it a more enjoyable event for local residents
Infrastructure• overcoming withdrawal of County funding for local buses and improving the service

• improving air quality – plans for improved walking and cycling routes, greening Henley, and vehicle pollution
Youth engagement• monthly Mayor’s meetings with student leadership

And our future challenges

The County Council has cut funding for many local organisations that previously received grants from the County. Wherever financially feasible the Town Council will endeavour to provide support to those organisations that are affected.  If you would like to share your views on which organisations are your priorities for funding, please visit our Town Council Priorities Survey.

A big thank you!

We recognise we can only achieve these actions with the support of all the Town Council staff and all the Councillors – in conjunction with the residents and organisations that live or operate in Henley. So thank you for your help – and keep telling us what you think should change for the better in Henley.

Be a supporter

If you would like to support HRG in its activities, please contact support@hrg.org.uk  for details of the various ways in which you can do so.

“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.