Saturday, 28 November 2020

Council chairman in 'bullying' claim walks out after another row

THE chairman of Peppard Parish Council has resigned after his second public row with a fellow

THE chairman of Peppard Parish Council has resigned after his second public row with a fellow member.

Barry Wood, a former mayor of Henley who was only appointed in February, walked out of a council meeting after being challenged by Fiona Berry over the agenda.

Earlier in the meeting, Cllr Berry’s husband Kevin Browne raised Cllr Wood’s previous row with another councillor in which he was accused of “bullying”.

At Monday’s meeting, Cllr Wood proposed bringing together agenda items on Peppard Primary School and the Dog Lane lay-by under the section relating to Oxfordshire County Council as he felt they were linked.

Cllr Berry said she believed the council should vote on whether to change the order as it was “part of due  process”.

She said: “What I am trying to do is have councillors involved in part of the conversation on changing the order of the agenda.”

Mr Wood responded: “I have lost interest in running this meeting and I suggest you come in my place.

“You have come in with a mission to destroy something and I have not only lost interest in chairing this meeting but also being part of this council.

“At the end of the day it is impossible for me to continue.”

Mr Wood then closed his ringbinder full of council papers, stood up, put on his jacket and left the room.

Parish clerk Linda Collison later confirmed he had resgined from the council.

Earlier, Mr Wood accused Cllr Berry and Mr Browne of working together to criticise him during the meeting.

During the open forum section of the meeting, Mr Browne voiced his support for Councillor Veronica Treacher who had claimed at the last council meeting that she was bullied by Dr Wood over her reason for failing to attend a previous meeting.

Cllr Treacher had given her apologies and said she was preparing for the elections — she was a candidate for the Woodcote and Rotherfield ward on South Oxfordshire District council and agent for Labour’s Henley parliamentary candidate Sam Juthani.

Mr Wood said she had not given enough notice of her absence and that councillors should have a “sense of duty” to attend meetings.

Mr Browne said: “I saw the article in the Henley Standard about the last meeting where the chairman was denying his bullying claim.

“I would like to put in my support to Cllr Treacher because parish councillors give up their time to do this quite thankless task.

“I think this needs to be commented on. I would like to see the chairman create a feeling of cohesion between councillors rather than discord.”

Mr Wood replied: “It is my intention to create cohesion. If there is feeling that I am no longer suitable I would like members to push for a vote of no confidence and make the appropriate statement.”

Following Mr Wood’s departure, Councillor Simon Crouch stood in as chairman for the rest of the meeting.

Mr Wood, of Stoke Row Road, Peppard, was co-opted on to the council in September last year, four months after he and his wife Jeni moved to the village from Blandy Road in Henley.

He has previously sat on both Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council.

Mrs Wood is also a former mayor of Henley and was deputy mayor when she lost her seat on the town and district councils at the elections on May 7.

She had stood as an independent, having quit Henley Residents’ Group, along with four other councillors.

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