Friday, 27 November 2020

‘Let’s give £4m to typhoon victims’

A MAN who helped organise Live Aid has urged Henley Town Council to donate £4 million in aid to the

A MAN who helped organise Live Aid has urged Henley Town Council to donate £4 million in aid to the Philippines.

Peter Burness-Smith claims the council can spare the money received from land sold to Tesco for its store off Reading Road to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Up to 2,500 people are feared dead and an estimated 670,000 have been forced to leave their homes after winds of up to 200 mph hit the country last week.

Mr Burness-Smith, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, wrote to Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak saying the town’s “spare” £4 million should be transferred from the council’s reserves to the Red Cross immediately.

He said: “Many years ago the town was paid £4 million in a land deal with Tesco. Nothing has ever been done with this money.

“Whether we need it or not, there are others now experiencing hell in the Philippines who need it more — others, including children, who endure extreme suffering as I write.

“We must send these people our spare £4 million. We must not offer any excuse not to. I am sure that there will be red tape, rules and regulations that stand in the way of our town making this donation but there can be nothing that will not be dealt with given a few phone calls.

“This could be done before the sun sets on more extreme human misery in a not-so-far-off place. Let us be the first town to step forward and donate a few million. Then we can sit down for Christmas lunch with our families and fellow Henley residents and account for ourselves with some dignity. They are not going to know that it is Christmas in the Philippines.”

In 1985, Mr Burness-Smith helped stage two simultaneous Live Aid concerts at Wembley Stadium and in Philadelphia to raise money for the victims of the Ethiopia famine the previous year.

The event raised £150 million and had an estimated global TV audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations.

Mr Burness-Smith said: “Nearly 40 years ago I sat between Bob Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith as they asked me to organise Live Aid with them. So much stood in the way then but it was nothing that could not be instantly removed with the determined application of good motive and goodwill.

“I do not believe that there will be one single Henley resident who will object to this simple and effective move. It is their money after all and there can be no better investment of it than in the humanity in which we all play our part.”

Councillor Gawrysiak told the Henley Standard: “I am sure that the whole of Henley and the town council, including me as Mayor, has enormous sympathy for what is happening in the Philippines but I do not think it would be a wise use of Henley Town Council money to put it to this cause.”

He said that while he was sure that people would donate on a personal basis he wondered what Mr Burness-Smith was willing to do personally.

“Another councillor suggested that he should be asked if he would he be willing to sell his house in Henley for this very worthwhile cause?,” he added.

* What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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