A HENLEY town councillor has accused colleagues of “political point-scoring” after they delayed a decision to
A HENLEY town councillor has accused colleagues of “political point-scoring” after they delayed a decision to allow the town’s rugby club to sub-let a unit to a business.
Physiolistic, a physiotherapy clinic currently based in premises off Greys Road, is hoping to move to Dry Leas in Marlow Road after receiving an eviction notice from the landowner who wants to redevelop the site for housing.
The rugby club, which rents its ground from the town council, is happy to sub-let and South Oxfordshire District Council has given planning permission for a purpose-built unit on the site for the clinic.
But at a meeting of the town council’s finance strategy and management committee on Tuesday some members said it was unclear whether the club was allowed to sub-let under the terms of its lease.
Town clerk Janet Wheeler confirmed that the council had previously interpreted the lease as forbidding sub-letting but this had later proven incorrect.
The committee opted to seek legal advice and then convene a special full council meeting on Tuesday to make a decision.
Councillor Ian Reissmann, of the opposition Henley Residents’ Group, who proposed the delay, said: “The principle is fine but the devil is in the detail. We need to ensure both sides are protected legally.”
He told Mike Trethewey, chairman of the rugby club, and Clint Botha, of Physiolistic, who were both present, that he hoped they understood his concern.
His proposal was seconded by Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who said she had understood sub-letting was not allowed.
But Councillor Dylan Thomas, a member of the ruling Conservative group and party colleague of Cllr Hillier, said it was unfair to make Physiolistic wait while its livelihood was at stake.
He said: “We are threatening a small local business and I think we just need to get a grip on ourselves.
“This behaviour is ridiculous — Cllr Reissmann enjoys playing politics with people’s lives and businesses.”
In letter to this week’s Henley Standard, he accused Cllr Hillier of siding with Cllr Reissmann because she was not invited to the opening of the rugby club’s new clubhouse on September 10 and having a “childish grudge”.
The £475,000 redevelopment was partly funded by a £100,000 grant and a loan of the same amount from the town council, plus a £100,000 grant from South Oxfordshire District Council but only four people were invited to attend on the two councils’ behalf.
The four were town councillor Helen Chandler-Wilde, town, district and county councillor David Nimmo Smith, district council chairman Paul Harrison and town council accountant Liz Jones.
Cllrs Reissmann and Hillier both expressed concern at the invitations during Tuesday’s meeting but chairman Will Hamilton declined to allow further discussion, although he noted their comments.
Cllr Hillier denied her support for Cllr Reissmann was connected.
She said: “I’m not interested in a free meal but that clubhouse wouldn’t be there without council support and it would have been nice if the doors were open for everyone to have a look.
“However, I’m very supportive of the proposal and want to see the rugby club and Physiolistic thrive, as I’m sure does Councillor Reissmann.
“It’s reasonable to want to check the leases as we have a duty to ensure public money is spent properly.”