Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Farewell for village-born councillor after 12 years

A WOMAN who has served Sonning Common on Oxfordshire County Council for 12 years has stepped down.

A WOMAN who has served Sonning Common on Oxfordshire County Council for 12 years has stepped down.

Carol Viney says she has enjoyed her time as a Conservative councillor but believed the time was right to move on.

Mrs Viney, who failed to be selected as a candidate for last week’s county council elections, will now continue her charity work.

She said: “It’s been a pleasure and all the people I’ve worked with have been really nice. I like solving problems, which is what the people you represent want you to do, but I’m not much for debating in council chambers or the arguments.

“I’m not sorry to be leaving because I’m happy to be doing something more positive. I always liked the idea of helping local charities.”

Mrs Viney, who lives in Stoke Row, was born in Sonning Common and joined the parish council in 1991. She was chairwoman from 1996 to 1999.

She was first elected to the county council in 2001 and was re-elected three times.

As a parish councillor, she was instrumental in the building of affordable homes in Farm Close specifically for local people in perpetuity.

Mrs Viney, a retired statistician, who has three grown-up children with her husband Mike, said: “If you don’t have homes that people can afford in the village like that then how can people who want to stay with their parents or work locally achieve that?

“Local people should be able to stay in the village in which they were brought up. The houses in Farm Close were for people who had parents in the village or had worked there for a certain amount of time.”

She said she was most proud of her work on the committee of Club SC, the youth club based at Chiltern Edge School.

It was run by the county council but after funding was withdrawn it became independent, which she believes has helped it grow.

Mrs Viney said: “It used to be more for the people who were running it than the young people but Club SC is doing brilliant now because it belongs to the community.

“Before people always thought it was for problem children so they wouldn’t send their kids there.

“I worked hard with members of the committee and the parish council to make sure the club had the funds to get it up and running.”

Mrs Viney, who also chaired the Lafarge Liaison Group and was on the Thames Valley Police Authority for six years, said she wouldn’t miss having to deal with recurring issues such as potholes.

She said: “One thing I’ve learned is you can’t solve every problem, however hard you try. You’ve got to be pragmatic about some things.

“I will miss my colleagues. Most county councillors are very committed and don’t go into it for personal agendas or money. They want to try to do something for their community.”

Mrs Viney opposed the boundary changes imposed by the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of county councillors from 74 to 63. The changes mean the Sonning Common division no longer incorporates Kidmore End and now includes Peppard, Bix and Assendon, Highmoor, Rotherfield Greys, Binfield Heath, Eye and Dunsden, Harpsden and Shiplake.

Mrs Viney said: “Sonning Common is a huge village in this area and it’s got everything in it, such as the health centre, dentist, hardware store and schools.

“For areas like Kidmore End, Peppard and Gallowstree Common, it is their centre but in Shiplake they look to Henley. They should be marrying parishes that should be grouped together.”

In November, Mrs Viney lost out to David Bartholomew, from Shiplake, in a vote to be the Conservative candidate for the new Sonning Common division and Mr Bartholomew was elected at last week’s elections.

Mrs Viney, who has been a member of the Conservatives for 35 years, said at the time she was disappointed but now feels it was a blessing in disguise.

“It’s a weight off my shoulders now,” she said. “It’s quite nice to have a change because 12 years is a long time.”

She now plans to help the charity action group at Phyllis Court Club in Henley with fund-raising. Mrs Viney said: “I’m probably better at doing things than talking about them. I like being active and involved.”

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