Friday, 27 November 2020

Councillors row over makeover for roundabout

A ROW has broken out between councillors over a makeover for a roundabout on an entrance

A ROW has broken out between councillors over a makeover for a roundabout on an entrance road to Henley.

Work has begun to transform the roundabout near Tesco in Reading Road after Henley in Bloom ran a competition to redesign it.

The winner was Paul Terroni, 35, a landscape gardener from Abingdon, whose design will feature a wire sculpture of a figure surrounded by flower beds of Olympic-style interlocking rings planted in bright colours.

Now some town councillors have claimed members were not properly consulted about the competition.

Councilor David Nimmo Smith said: “I want to know why the winning design was chosen and without consulting full council.

“This is an important entrance to the town. I suggest this is not the way we should be doing business.”

He referred to the mermaid statue that was finally installed at Red Lion Lawn after being debated by councillors for more than a year.

Councillor Sam Evans, who put forward the mermaid idea, said: “It took 13 full councils and eight recreation and amenities meetings to get it done.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton, who chairs Henley in Bloom, said: “Every councillor has seen the winning design and it was in the Henley Standard.

“It has gone through due process. The brief was voted through full council. It went to recreation and amenities on March 10 and those minutes have been approved.”

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin added: “It is not costing the council any money. It was all paid for by sponsorship. This is very important to the town and work has already started. I think we should stop going on about it. We have asked for due process to be followed and it has been.”

Asked for clarification by Mayor Martin Akehurst, town clerk Mike Kennedy said the Henley in Bloom sub-committee had delegated powers to make decisions. “Due process has been followed,” he said.

The idea of the competition was to show Henley as a “gateway to a healthy lifestyle” and create a vibrant welcome to the town.

The roundabout, which is sponsored by the Henley Standard, has featured a boat for the last 10 years and the new design is expected to last for about the same length of time.

Work is expected to be completed by May and the roundabout will be maintained by the council’s parks services staff and Henley in Bloom’s Gardening Buddies.

Meanwhile, a budget of £7,000 has been agreed for Henley’s entry into the Entente Florale Europe  competition.

Henley in Bloom will set aside £5,000 on top of the £2,000 that has already been agreed to pay for the 12 judges’ accommodation.

The judges will arrive on June 18 and stay at Henley Business School at Greenlands until June 20.

Councillor Pam Phillips said the competition seemed like “a bit of a jolly for the judges”.

But Cllr Hinton said: “The benefits for Henley are huge and Peter Holman, our mentor for the competition, has only achieved gold awards when he has mentored  participants.”

The budget will cover communications so the judges can stay in contact during the judging process, lunches, refreshments, a civic dinner and any eleventh-hour fixes.

Henley will be representing the UK in the competition, which promotes the “greening” of towns and villages, and will compete against towns from across Europe.

Mr Holman is one of two vice-chairmen of Entente Florale Europe and the lead UK judge. He is also chairman of South and South-East in Bloom.

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