Saturday, 28 November 2020

Residents' group marks 25 years on council

MEMBERS of Henley Residents’ Group celebrated 25 years since it first won seats on the town council

MEMBERS of Henley Residents’ Group celebrated 25 years since it first won seats on the town council.

The political group was formed in 1989 in response to a town centre redevelopment plan involving Waitrose that many residents opposed.

Two years later it won eight seats on the council and three on South Oxfordshire District Council.

Members had a stall in Market Place on Saturday, where they chatted with members of the public and talked about the group’s achievements.There were balloons for children and leaflets were handed out to passers-by.

A map of the town was on display labelled with projects and campaigns the group has contributed to over the years.

The event was organised by Councillor Sarah Miller, chairwoman of the party.

She said: “It was a chance to celebrate and remind residents about what we have done.

“We also got to listen to residents and hear what is important for them and important for the town.

“Affordable housing and air quality, which I am passionate about, featured strongly and so did the neighbourhood plan.”

Party leader and former councillor Gill Dodds, who was one of the group founders, said that when HRG was set up the members believed that the Conservative-dominated town council needed a change and held a parish poll in which 84 per cent of respondents said they lacked confidence in the council.

Mrs Dodds said: “The only thing we could do was stand for council. Eight of us stood and eight of us got in, which was amazing. The Conservatives were in complete shock.”

She said the group was now focusing on affordable housing, air quality and the skate park at Makins recreation ground.

“There are lots of new people involved while others have left, died or moved away but 25 years on there is still support for a residents’ group,” said Mrs Dodds.

“We are not a political party, we are a residents’ group. We are from all walks of political life but we work together as Henley residents and want to do what’s best for the town.

“People move into the town and don’t have a clue about HRG or how it started but Saturday gave us a chance to explain who we are and what we do.”

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