Friday, 18 August 2017

Ex-Mayor to stand against old party

A FORMER Henley Mayor is to stand against his old party in the Oxfordshire County Council elections in May.

A FORMER Henley Mayor is to stand against his old party in the Oxfordshire County Council elections in May.

Ken Arlett is running for the UK Independence Party against Henley Residents’ Group, which he served for more than 12 years, as well as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

He will be standing in the new single ward for Henley following the decision to scrap the town’s two wards to help reduce the size of the county council.

Mr Arlett, of Elizabeth Road, Henley, said: “Like numerous other people, I am absolutely fed up with the way the country is being run. It affects everyone but comes down to all the different councils. We are all suffering because of the politics of today.

“The biggest problem is that there are too many people standing as councillors and all they are interested in is the political group they stand for. They do very little for their town and for their country.”

He said that he would be drawing upon his experiences as a town and district councillor, adding: “I did talk to a lot of people and I always tried to sort out people’s problems, which I do not think happens with politicians.

“When you get into a debate on a certain issue, I think I have certain skills to persuade other councillors to support a particular view. I think I have shown that in the past.

“The good thing about UKIP is that, although it is probably a semi-political group, you can still have an independent view rather than go with the political groups where you have a whip.

“UKIP seem to think that they can get quite a few seats, which is great. In previous few years they have not had much of a presence but the rate they are moving at means that obviously people want a change.”

The HRG candidate is Deputy Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, a former assistant headteacher at Gillotts School, who was elected to the town council in April 2011.

He said: “HRG feels that we should have a presence to give an independent voice for Henley that is not linked to national party politics.

“The county council is to do with schools, potholes, young people, getting Townlands built and providing leisure facilities in the town. These are local issues that should not be clouded by a national agenda. I will deal with them irrespective of the national party scene.

“I am a local independent and an independent voice for Henley and my aim is to keep Henley special.”

The Conservative candidate is David Nimmo Smith, who is also a former Mayor and has been a county councillor since 2005 and a town councillor since 1983. He has also served as a South Oxfordshire district councillor.

His party has had a ruling majority on the county council for 12 years.

Councillor Nimmo Smith said: “I believe that, among the known candidates, I offer a wealth of experience across the three layers of local government in Oxfordshire.

“I have supported and worked in partnership with a wide range of Henley’s schools and community groups, with a proven track record over many years.

“Henley is recognised internationally yet retains the feel of a compact and friendly market town, appreciated by our visitors and loved by our residents. I couldn’t ask for more.

“That is why I am standing for re-election as county councillor, to ensure that Henley has a strong and effective voice at county level in the decisions that affect our lives.”

The Lib-Dem candidate is Asbjorg Dunker, a lecturer and style consultant, who lives on Greys Hill.

She has more than 12 years of political experience, including being a prospective parliamentary candidate in Denmark. She stood for election to the town council and district council in May 2011 but was unsuccessful.

The two existing seats are both held by Conservatives — Cllr Nimmo Smith in the Henley North and Chilterns ward and Dr Peter Skolar in the Henley South Ward.

Councillor Skolar will now stand for the Benson and Cholsey ward.

He has been a county councillor since 2004 when he won a by-election.

Cllr Skolar, who lives in Shiplake, said: “Benson and Cholsey is basically another rural area with a major town in it. It is only 15 minutes from Henley and it can take me longer than that to get to Nettlebed.

“The thing I do love which is most important for me is that the area still involves a lot of the river.”

Meanwhile, Henley town councillor David Clenshaw has resigned from Henley Residents’ Group.

He blamed “internal political differences” but wouldn’t elaborate.

Councillor Clenshaw, who is now an independent, said he would see out his term on the council but was unlikely to stand for re-election.

Councillor Ian Reissmann, of Henley Residents’ Group, said: “David has been a member of HRG for as long as we have had members so obviously it is sad to see him go.

“I think it is a shame and I hope he reconsiders his decision. Despite the differences he has with some people, he can still be part of an organisation he has helped for many years.”

* The Local Government Boundary Commission for England recommended this week that the number of South Oxfordshire district councillors is cut from 48 to 36 and that Henley has only three in one ward instead of the current four in two wards.

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