Sunday, 14 August 2022

Councillors row over purchase of diesel vehicle

THE ruling group on Henley Town Council has been accused of not being “prepared to put their money where their mouth is” on the environment.

The claim by an opposition Conservative councillor came after the council agreed to buy a new diesel vehicle for the council’s parks service staff rather than a hybrid.

Councillors from Henley Residents’ Group, which controls the council, said only a diesel vehicle was suitable for the work required.

The council needs to replace its Toyota Hilux, which was bought in 2010 for almost £15,000, as it has suffered repeated mechanical problems.

But members clashed over a recommendation from the finance strategy and management committee that it buys a Nissan Cabstar for £21,059.

Conservative Will Hamilton told a full council meeting last week that the council should investigate buying a hybrid vehicle, saying the new Toyota Hilux model would be available from March 1.

He said: “If we were just to wait another three months we could end up with a hybrid vehicle and lead by example.

“There will be a revenue reduction because you will not be paying so much for fuel in terms of diesel and we will be reducing air pollution.”

Cllr Hamilton asked for the issue to be referred back to the committee.

But Mayor Kellie Hinton (HRG) said: “Thank you, Councillor Hamilton, that was a nice little story but, as we have already discussed, the Hilux is not appropriate for what they need.” Deputy Mayor Lorraine Hillier (Ind Con) said: “I can’t see any point in revisiting this. It’s about having the right equipment for the job. The parks staff need a workhorse, a diesel.”

Councillor Jane Smewing (HRG), who chairs the committee, said the Hilux needed replacing before the clutch failed.

She added: “We should always investigate electric first but I don’t think we should have a policy of having the parks staff wait and work with inadequate equipment.”

Councillor Julian Brookes (Con) said: “A hybrid should have the power. I do believe we should lead by example.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith (Con): “I feel sorry for the people who run this council at the moment. They talk big about environmentally friendly but they are not prepared to put their money where their mouth is.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak (HRG) said: “This is all a bit disingenuous from Councillor Hamilton.

“This item has been discussed at three meetings and now he suddenly produces the figures.”

Cllr Hamilton said he had only received the figures after speaking to Toyota earlier that day.

Town clerk Janet Wheeler said any savings in fuel from having a hybrid would be insignificant.

She added: “We should be working over a course of time to get our vehicles cleaner and environmentally friendly.”

The council voted against investigating buying a hybrid vehicle.

The parks service staff look after green spaces, including Mill and Marsh Meadows, Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road, and Freeman’s Meadow, off Northfield End.

More News:

POLL: Have your say