Sunday, 21 April 2019

Town clerk to leave as she’s had enough of three-hour drive

Town clerk to leave as she’s had enough of three-hour drive

HENLEY’S town clerk is quitting her “dream job” after three years in post.

Janet Wheeler is to take up the same position with the town council in Didcot, which is nearer her home in Gloucestershire.

She is currently serving her three-month notice period and will not leave before the town council elections on May 2.

Mrs Wheeler, 57, who lives near Lechlade with her husband Richard, says she is seeking a better balance between her home and work life as she currently spends up to three hours a day travelling.

When the town council and various committees meet on Tuesday evenings, she often stays in hotels instead of making the 40-mile drive home, which she says is costly and stressful.

Mrs Wheeler said: “I did want to stay until retirement but sadly it wasn’t to be.

“The attraction of the new job is that it’s half the distance so I can go home every night and not stay in hotels on some nights. Doing three hours’ travelling on top of a full working day is asking a lot.

“I’ll be sad to leave a town as beautiful as Henley but my home life will be better as the commute is such a haul.

“I’m looking forward to going home every day, sitting in my garden and enjoying a proper cooked dinner with my husband, which is more important at my age.”

She said it had been “challenging” to work with councillors who often strongly disagreed with one another but she had remained “totally committed” to the role.

Mrs Wheeler started work in April 2016 when she replaced Mike Kennedy who retired after more than seven years in post. She was previously town clerk in Amersham for six years.

At the time she and her husband, who have two grown-up children, were living in Oving, near Aylesbury. They said they planned to sell their house and move to the town but this fell through.

Mrs Wheeler had previously applied in 2007 when she was clerk at Cookham Parish Council but was rejected as she didn’t have the experience.

She grew up in Kent and Surrey and would often visit Henley as a child as her uncle Les Harrison lived in Nicholas Road.

She worked as a proofreader and advertising copywriter for 20 years before being appointed clerk at Cookham in 2002.

A decade later, she was named clerk of the year by the Buckinghamshire branch of the Society of Local Council Clerks.

Her successor is yet to be chosen.

Henley Mayor Glen Lambert said: “I was elected during a by-election so I missed the usual induction and Janet was very supportive during that time.

“She will be missed very much and I’m sure she’ll have a lot of fun in a much bigger town, although she will have her work cut out for her.” Councillor Ian Reissmann, leader of the ruling Henley Residents Group on the council, said: “I’d like to thank Janet for all her hard work over the past three years and wish her well in her new job.

“Henley Town Council has achieved a lot over that time and Janet has played an important part in that.

“The new skate park at Makins recreation ground is a particular example which needed a lot of her attention to ensure everything was ready when we finally got the go-ahead.”

Councillor Julian Brookes, the Conservatives group leader, said: “I worked very closely with Janet over my mayoral year in 2016 and found her to be both thorough and knowledgeable.

“She was always willing to seek advice from other clerks in her professional network if she was unsure of anything and, on balance, pretty fair in dealing with councillors where there were political disagreements. I will be sad to see her go.”

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