Sunday, 22 October 2017

Councillor’s opposition to skate park backfires

POOR Will Hamilton. The Henley councillor was on the end of some teasing over his opposition to a new skate park — and then rebuked for his response to it.

POOR Will Hamilton. The Henley councillor was on the end of some teasing over his opposition to a new skate park — and then rebuked for his response to it.

His troubles started the day before the town council was due to discuss whether to budget £75,000 towards the new facility in Makins recreation ground, not far from his home in Greys Road.

A member of the Henley Skate Park Initiative wrote on Twitter: “Councillor, we’re expecting you to vote ‘no’ tomorrow on the skate park. Shame you don’t support Henley’s young people.”

He followed this with: “Cllr Hamilton, you can’t buy a house across the road from the park and not expect Henley residents to play there.”

Councillor Hamilton complained to Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak by email.

He wrote: “This is the type of derogatory email/tweet I get from your arrogant skate park group. Hardly surprising that I will not support their plans at Makins within a residential area.”

He said he had moved to Greys Road 17 years ago before the existing skate park was built and added: “Why should £5 of everyone’s council tax be spent on replacing the current park for such a miserable few?”

The Mayor responded: “I do not think it is good for a councillor to describe the young people of Henley and the skateboard group as a ‘miserable few’. I would have expected a councillor to be more measured in their language, especially when describing young people and residents of Henley.”

The council voted in favour of putting the money in the budget with 11 votes in favour and two abstentions, one by Cllr Hamilton.

Another town councillor to be on the receiving end is former mayor Jeni Wood. She insisted that a planning application to build 110 homes at Thames Farm, near Shiplake, be determined (called in) by South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee.

This was despite the council’s own planning officers and Shiplake and Harpsden parish councils all recommending that it be refused, meaning the committee didn’t even have to discuss it.

Councillor Wood, who represents Henley South on the district council, is married to Barry, a former councillor and mayor and now the vocal chairman of housing pressure group UNITED! — as Councillor Robert Simister was quick to point out.

UNITED! has called for the Thames Farm site to be considered as part of the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and, suggested Cllr Simister, who represents Shiplake, Cllr Wood’s motive was “questionable”.

“My flabber has never been so gasted that this was called in by Cllr Wood,” he told the committee meeting. “I think it is outrageous.

“I will certainly be reminding Cllr Wood of all the tonnes of Co2 being burned by the good people in this room getting here the next time she raises a green issue in planning.” Ouch!

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