Friday, 20 July 2018

Councillors row over ex-Mayor’s sick leave

THE opposition group on Henley Town Council has criticised a decision to allow a member a

THE opposition group on Henley Town Council has criticised a decision to allow a member a year’s sick leave.

Martin Akehurst, a former mayor, is continuing as chairman of the town and community committee while he is away.

He was re-elected as a Conservative councillor in May but has been on leave since June due to problems with a dormant growth in his neck. Last week, the council extended his leave by another six months to June next year.

At a meeting of the committee on Tuesday, Henley Residents’ Group councillors Ian Reissmann and Kellie Hinton said a new chairman was needed.

Cllr Hinton said: “I thought we had agreed at full council to discuss the fact that because Cllr Akehurst had been given another six months’ leave we would look at electing a new chairman and vice-chairman.”

Councillor Will Hamilton (Con) replied that he was disappointed HRG had not been more sympathetic to Cllr Akehurst, adding: “We wish and hope he gets better sooner rather than later.”

Cllr Hinton said: “I do feel sympathy but you are elected to do a job. We should elect a new chairman and vice-chairman because the Mayor, who is already very busy, is having to chair more meetings.”

Cllr Reissmann said: “It might make sense to speak to him and see what he thinks of the situation. I think it is a requirement of a good governance to have an active chair of this very important committee. If Cllr Akehurst is not going to return then it would give another councillor a chance to actively lead.”

Mayor Lorraine Hillier, who was acting chairman, said the ruling Conservative group would discuss the issue with Cllr Akehurst.

Cllr Akehurst first took a break from his town council role in November 2013 on the advice of his specialist. He returned in February 2014 after being diagnosed with a tumour on an artery in his neck. In September he stood down from South Oxfordshire District Council having only been elected in May.

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