Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mayor in fresh row with rival councillor

THE Mayor of Henley has made a formal complaint against his predecessor.

THE Mayor of Henley has made a formal complaint against his predecessor.

Martin Akehurst claims that Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak criticised him for not attending Henley Town Council meetings at a time when he was off due to a cancer scare.

Cllr Gawrysiak denies that his comments, made at a meeting of the council's neighbourhood planning governance committee, were meant as a criticism.

The row began during a discussion about the political balance of the committee, which supervises the preparation of the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

When it formed in 2013 it comprised Cllrs Gawrysiak and Akehurst as well as Dieter Hinke, David Nimmo Smith and Will Hamilton.

The first three were members of Henley Residents' Group, which was then the council's ruling party, while the other two are Conservatives.

Cllrs Akehurst and Hinke have since switched to the Tories, who now have an overall majority.

Cllr Gawrysiak argued more HRG councillors should be appointed to the committee.

He accepted this idea had been rejected previously as any new members might struggle to catch up but pointed out that Cllr Akehurst had been absent for four months from November 2013.

Now Cllr Akehurst has written a letter of complaint to town clerk Mike Kennedy, saying Cllr Gawrysiak was "insinuating in public that I missed a period of meetings without just cause"�.

He described the incident as an "unedifying spectacle"�, adding: "I will not have my cancer or anyone else's cancer treatment used in this way to score cheap political points.

"This has brought the reputation of a councillor clearly and squarely into disrepute. To do this is utterly despicable.

"My illness was traumatic for me and my family. I lost more than a stone through worrying.

"As leader of the HRG councillors, he should know better. I can safely say at this point I am thoroughly glad I have no further ties with this appalling party."�

Cllr Gawrysiak said: "This is the Mayor getting angry again for no reason. My point was that we should be politically balanced and new members would get up to speed quickly.

"The Mayor was absent for a time but that didn't affect his ability to engage with the group and therefore any newcomers would do the same.

"I was simply drawing attention to the fact that some people on the committee haven't been here the whole time and have still made a good contribution.

"The minutes of the meeting will prove what I said. I said nothing about the Mayor's cancer scare.

"He should apologise for getting angry in a meeting again but he probably won't."�

Two months ago, Cllr Akehurst stormed out of a town medal committee meeting after Cllr Gawrysiak tried to stop him moving on to the next item on the agenda.

He slammed his pen down on the table, jumped out of his chair and exclaimed "Gawrysiak!"� before leaving. He later apologised.

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