Friday, 04 December 2020

Children’s designs called ‘pathetic’ by councillor

CHILDREN’S designs for a new village sign in Sonning Common were branded “pathetic” by a parish

CHILDREN’S designs for a new village sign in Sonning Common were branded “pathetic” by a parish councillor.

Councillor Jane Diwell made the comment as the parish council discussed plans for the sign and then refused to withdraw her comment.

The designs were mocked up by children at the village primary school as part of a project with the now defunct Sonning Common Society four years ago.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins, a former member of the society, said the plan was to have a sign at the junction with Wood Lane and Peppard Road.

“The idea involved a number of children from the primary school collating what they felt was distinctive in the village and what they thought was significant,” he said.

Cllr Diwell said she supported having a village sign and agreed the location suggested four years ago was sensible as it was on a main road where people would see it.

But she added: “These designs are awful — only one shows things in Sonning Common. The designs are all pretty pathetic. If we have to have one of those, don’t have one at all.”

Council chairman Douglas Kedge said that perhaps she didn’t realise the designs were the work of children.

Councillor Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury asked if she would withdraw her “personal” remarks, adding: “I’m anxious words like ‘pathetic’ and so on are going to go in the Henley Standard and it’s our parish council speaking about children in the village. I just think that is a shame.”

Cllr Diwell declined to apologise, saying: “No, I will stick by it because it’s an honest opinion.”

Cllr Phillips-Tilbury then said she didn’t think it was the right time to consider a sign.

Councillor Barrie Greenwood said: “I like the idea and did when it was first broached, when we had an exhibition of the primary school’s ideas. Personally, I thought of it for the approach to the village as an alternative to the bland sign.”

Councillor John Stoves said: “We should be looking to do this as a celebration when the neighbourhood plan is finished and we have got traffic-calming and hopefully one or two other things in place. Then we can get a sign that reflects what has been done in some way.”

Cllr Rawlins said a new sign would help re-establish the identity of the village, adding: “When you look at the context of a push by Reading to gain more housing land, I think it’s not irrelevant.”

The council agreed by six votes to three to pursue the idea of a new sign in principle.

Chris Hurst, the school’s headteacher, said: “One person’s comments are unfortunate and disappointing however everyone is entitled to their point of view.

“The relationship between the parish council and school is as strong as ever.”

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