Saturday, 21 July 2018

1-0 to Jeni in row over our ‘erudite’ residents

THERE was a somewhat unseemly row at last week’s meeting of the town council — with accusations of sexism flying

THERE was a somewhat unseemly row at last week’s meeting of the town council — with accusations of sexism flying about the chamber.

It was perhaps all the more surprising since it was between two members of the same political colour — the ruling Henley Residents’ Group, Ian Reissmann and Jeni Wood.

The pair — both former mayors — fell out over the wording of a leaflet explaining this year’s council tax rise to residents, despite it being agreed at a previous meeting.

Councillor Wood said the original leaflet “didn’t make sense” in parts, contained some grammatical errors and, as it was to be delivered to all households in Henley, needed to reflect the council better.

Councillor Reissmann replied that his colleague had been given four opportunities to change the wording and recalled that on one occasion when he asked her about it, she replied: “I’m cooking dinner”.

He said Cllr Wood didn’t get in touch until four days later, and added: “That must have been some meal.”

Cllr Reissmann then criticised her submission, saying it contained spelling errors, did not make sense and was factually inaccurate in places.

He also said that changing the font size to fit in all the words made the leaflet more difficult to read.

Cllr Wood called his comments “sexist” and said Cllr Reissmann had been reading the wrong version.

She then explained that she was out of the country when the leaflet was originally drafted and she found it difficult to find time to send her amendments across. One of her complaints was about mention of the installation of solar panels on council buildings as an achievement — which was printed in the same paragraph as a story about the Queen’s visit last year.

Cllr Wood said her version was easier to read, before adding: “We have some very erudite residents.”

Another former mayor, Ken Arlett, shouted from the public gallery: “It never used to be like this in my day — we used to thump each other!”

Conservative Councillor David Nimmo Smith said the exchange was “embarrassing” and that the pair should have sorted it out between themselves before the meeting.

Cllr Wood, who put her name to a five-member motion to reverse the original decision, won the day. Her revised version of the leaflet was approved by a majority vote.

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