Wednesday, 19 September 2018
THE Henley Conservatives claimed victory by fewer than 100 votes in Thursday’s town council by-election.
Donna Crook won the seat with 577 votes, beating Paula Isaac, of Henley Residents’ Group, with 484 votes and Jackie Walker, for Labour, with 131.
The turnout was 28 per cent.
The trio were contesting the seat in the Henley North ward left vacant following the resignation of Conservative Simon Smith in November.
Matt Gaskin, deputy returning officer for South Oxfordshire District Council, declared the result at just after 11pm after polls at the town hall and Henley leisure centre, off Gillotts Lane, closed at 10pm and the votes had been verified and counted.
There were cheers from the Conservatives as the result was announced in the council chamber and the candidates congratulated each other.
Ms Crook, 43, of Abrahams Road, Henley, said: “I'm gobsmacked - I'm shocked and quite happy. I really worked hard and knocked on lots of doors.
“Thank you to everyone who voted for me and I’d like to thank the other candidates because they did really well. I thought Paula had won at one point.”
Ms Crook, who has three grown-up children and works as a cleaner as well as running a craft business, says she is part of a move by the Conservatives to increase their appeal.
Her priorities are to improve public transport in Henley and campaign for more police on the streets.
She also wants to help tackle air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road and to have air quality monitors outside every school.
Frank Browne, chairman of the Henley Conservatives, said: “I’m very pleased with that result. I think our candidate was first class, she stood head and shoulders above the other two.
“The victory goes deservedly to Donna but also to the small but really dedicated team that was behind her.”
Councillor Julian Brookes, leader of the Conservatives on the town council, added: “It’s great to have a new member of the team taking it back up to seven. Winning a by-election is always a step in the right direction.”
It now means the political make-up of the council is eight HRG members, seven Conservatives and one Independent Conservative.
It was the third by-election in nine months with HRG winning two in May and then taking back control of the council at mayor-making days later.
Mrs Isaac, 38, who co-founded the Gainsborough Residents’ Association in September 2013, said: “It was close, congratulations to Donna. I’m really thrilled for her and I wish her all the luck going forward as a councillor.
“I would like to thank the HRG team because they have been really supportive over the last few weeks.”
The mother-of-three, who lives in Gainsborough Road with her husband Rob and three children, works as a teaching assistant at Badgemore Primary School and added: “I think everybody ran the best campaign they could. We had great feedback when we went talking to people, there was no negativity – it was just very tight.”
Mrs Walker, 51, a former civil servant, stood unsuccessfully in the Henley division at the Oxfordshire County Council elections in May.
The mother-of-one, who lives in Middle Assendon, she said her priorities were to tackle the town’s congestion and air pollution problems and to create more social housing for young people and those on low incomes.
For the full story and analysis see next week’s Henley Standard.
19 January 2018
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