Saturday, 21 July 2018

Councillor allowed six more months off

A FORMER Henley mayor is to take another six-month break from the town council due to illness.

A FORMER Henley mayor is to take another six-month break from the town council due to illness.

Martin Akehurst, who was re-elected as a Conservative councillor in May, has been on leave since June due to problems with a dormant growth in his neck.

In September he stood down from South Oxfordshire District Council.

On Tuesday the town council agreed to allow Cllr Akehurst to continue his break until June next year on the casting vote of Conservative Mayor Lorraine Hillier after seven councillors had voted for and seven against.

Cllr Akehurst will be asked to step down as chairman of the town and community committee.

Some councillors suggested he should step down from the council altogether.

Councillor Kellie Hinton (Henley Residents’ Group) said she felt sorry for Cllr Akehurst but added: “We are elected to do a job for the town and to be out for a year, ill or not, makes me think he should take a back seat and make way for someone better for the town.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak (HRG), also a former mayor, said: “We have been and will continue to be hugely supportive of Martin with his illness but I do feel a whole year out or a four-year term is not correct.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith (Con) replied that other councillors had been treated similarly in the past, including the late Terry Buckett.

He said: “I would like to support Cllr Akehurst in his efforts to get better. I think we should be sympathetic again.”

Cllr Akehurst, who lives in Two Tree Hill, Henley, first withdrew from town council duties in November 2013, when he was deputy mayor, on the advice of his specialist.

He returned in February 2014 after being diagnosed with the tumour on the artery in his neck and was made mayor less than three months later.

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