Should a riverside town give priority to teaching its children to swim?
LA Fitness was a popular gym with 2,000 members. It had a swimming pool where 365 children were learning to swim. It was listed as a community asset – an apt description. But in 2015 it was sold to a property company to build another nursing home. The gym was promptly closed. A petition signed by 1,500 people was ignored.
The planning application was rejected by Henley Town Council and so went to the Planning Committee of SODC. At the planning meeting a Conservative Henley Town Councillor, who also sat on the SODC planning committee, spoke strongly against the planning application. But at the vote he ABSTAINED. The vote was consequently TIED. The Conservative chairman of the committee used his CASTING VOTE to approve the plans and consequently the demolition of the Gym and swimming pool.
A riverside town should give priority to teaching its children to swim. But they were seriously let down by the Conservatives.
But this was not the end of the matter. Michelle Thomas, a member of the Gym at that time, singlehandedly, wrote and submitted a request to “Call the application in” – to the Secretary of State. She asked the Conservatives, who controlled the Town Council at that time, to support the request. They ignored her, and without support from HTC, the request was lost.
Henley’s children need to be prioritised. Whilst the gym and swimming pool have been lost, HRG, in its leadership of the Town Council, have focused on providing sports and recreational facilities at the Town’s open spaces, including the provision of outdoor gyms and supporting the development and installation of an Olympic standard skate park.
And Michelle continues her fight. She has applied to have the footpath through the site to be added to designated maps. This will continue the footpath from the station to Mill Lane. That appeal has to be determined in the next six months.