Monday, 08 August 2022

Yet another by-election

RESIDENTS of Henley are being asked to go to the polls for a third town council by-election in just over a year.

South Oxfordshire District Council has confirmed that an election will be held to fill the seat in Henley South ward vacated by Helen Chandler-Wilde, a Conservative who resigned last month. The Telegraph journalist said she was struggling to fulfil her council duties because of growing work commitments. She had been a councillor since 2015.

The date of the poll has not yet been set. The
election is set to be contested by the Conservatives, the council’s ruling Henley
Residents Group and Labour.

Frank Browne, chairman of the Henley Conservatives said: “I think it’s right that we have a by-election.

“I know Henley Residents’ Group want to co-opt a so-called ‘independent’, which would change the political balance of the council, but we think that’s the wrong way forward.

“We think it’s important that residents are given a choice. There are some really thorny issues that the town council should be tackling and this is a real opportunity to elect someone who is capable, forward-thinking and has a vision for the town.”

Mr Browne added: “I would rather not be having to fight another by-election but we understand that people’s lives change and Helen Chandler-Wilde has been given a great opportunity in terms of her career.

Councillor Sarah Miller, chairwoman of Henley Residents Group, said: “We would have preferred not to spend money on an election.

“We asked Helen Chandler-Wilde last year to carry out her duties as a councillor or to resign, so an active replacement could be chosen at the same time as January’s by-election. It’s a shame she didn’t take our advice.

“We are always happy for Henley residents to give their views on what elected councillors are doing in their name as well as listening to what they would like us to do in the future. That’s how democracy works.

“HRG will put forward a candidate so residents can choose their councillor. We will stand on our long record over more than 25 years of working to improve Henley.”

Jackie Walker, who chairs the South Oxfordshire branch of the Labour Party said: “If we have a suitable candidate we would look to stand.”

Mrs Walker, who lives Middle Asssendon and stood unsuccessfully in January’s by-election, added: “Our national party has grown and that’s come out in the local elections so it’s important for us to field somebody for our members to be able to vote for.”

Miss Chandler-Wilde’s departure followed that of fellow Conservative Simon Smith, who stepped down in November saying he no longer enjoyed the job.

A by-election to fill Mr Smith’s seat in the Henley North ward took place in January and was won by Conservative candidate Donna Crook.

In May last year two more by-elections took place at the same time following the resignations of two more Conservatives, Dylan Thomas and Martin Akehurst, a former mayor.

These were won by Henley Residents Group’s Ken Arlett and Glen Lambert, the current Deputy Mayor and mayor-elect respectively.

The political make up of the council is currently eight Henley Residents Group members, six Conservatives and one Independent Conservative.

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