Saturday, 28 November 2020

Ex-mayor drops complaint over jibe

THE former mayor of Henley has withdrawn his complaint against a fellow councillor who compared him

THE former mayor of Henley has withdrawn his complaint against a fellow councillor who compared him to Adolf Hitler.

Kellie Hinton, a member of Henley Residents’ Group, made the comments about Martin Akehurst at a council meeting in December. She late apologised.

Councillors Akehurst, who was then a former member of the HRG sitting as an independent, reported the comments to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Now he has withdrawn the complaint following the elections on May 7 when both councillors were re-elected.

Cllr Akehurst, who switched to the Conservatives before the election, said: “It is clear we are going to have to work together. There’s a new mayor now, so let’s kick off with a clean slate.

“We have not actually spoken about it but we have spoken a number of times over the last three weeks because we have met each other out canvassing.”

Cllr Hinton said it was “fantastic” to hear the complaint had been withdrawn.

She said: “While Martin and I were being civil towards each other, this complaint was hanging over my head. I don’t think we would have been able to move on.

“For me definitely it’s a clean slate now. We can move on — it’s a new council, a new term and so far everyone seems really positive about working together.”

The row erupted following the decision by Cllr Akehurst and four other councillors to leave HRG in November, blaming “serious conflict” within the party.

Dieter Hinke, who also joined the Tories, and Jeni Wood, Pam Phillips and Elizabeth Hodgkin, who stood as independents, were not re-elected.

At the meeting in December Councillor Hinton wanted to speak on the minutes of a meeting of the neighbourhood planning governance committee, which had recommended paying an extra £7,000 to the council’s plan consultants Nexus  Planning.

But Cllr Akehurst wanted the council to vote to accept the minutes so he could close the meeting as it was 10pm.

Cllr Hinton told him “you can’t just do that” to which Cllr Akehurst replied: “Why not?”

Cllr Hinton then shouted: “You are not Hitler, so stop thinking you are.”

When he reminded Cllr Hinton he was chairing the meeting, she responded: “You are not a dictator. I can speak as a member of this council on these minutes. You are trying to refuse us a say.”

Cllr Akehurst replied: “You will have respect for the chairman of the meeting or I will have you removed.”

Cllr Hinton said: “When the chair has respect for  himself.”

Speaking to the Henley Standard after the meeting, Cllr Hinton apologised for her comments.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “Kellie Hinton has apologised publicly for her remarks and she and Martin Akehurst are committed to working alongside one another for the good of Henley.

“Martin Akehurst has decided not to pursue this complaint.”

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