Friday, 23 April 2021

Mayor denies council fails to welcome new businesses

Henley Town Council by-election confirmed

A FORMER mayor of Henley has claimed that new businesses are not being given a proper welcome by the town council.

But the current Mayor hit back, saying Barry Wood was “totally incorrect”.

Mr Wood, who served as a town councillor for 12 years, spoke out at a council meeting, saying he was involved in establishing Rumi, a Persian restaurant due to open at the former Café Copia in Market Place.

He said he was “staggered” at the lack of a welcome for a new business.

Mr Wood said: “I know that many years ago we did have a welcome pack and people would visit and they would be welcomed into the family of restaurants and shops. This has actually gone wrong and it needs Henley Town Council to push business development at South Oxfordshire District Council and say, ‘We need to do something’.

“New business is precious but, generally, it is very inferior what has happened to these guys — no welcome, no knocking on the door and, generally, a most unsatisfactory situation.”

He also claimed there was also a problem with the disposal of business waste.

Mr Wood, who lives in Peppard, said: “We have had a formidable number of problems. This particular establishment has no rear exit and there is no storage zone outside.

“I actually found out that the owner of one of the restaurants is bagging the waste, taking it home and putting it in a skip outside his house in a residential area. It needs the town manager to survey all the restaurants in Henley. All I can see is that each restaurant is responsible for itself and there is no town system as such.”

Mayor Ken Arlett responded: “That is totally incorrect. I can tell you that the town manager goes to every new business and I know that because I go in as well.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, also a former Mayor, said Grundon offered a free collection of business waste that was left out overnight.

He added: “What we need is a conversation with this restaurant if they have a particular problem.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who owns the Hot Gossip coffee house in Reading Road, said waste removal was the responsibility of each business. She said: “It isn’t anything to do with the town council. Businesses pay their business rates because they pay for their waste collection.

“I don’t use Grundon — you can use who you like — but you can’t dictate as a town council which waste service a business is going to use. We want to see businesses flourish and the interest for the town council is to keep our streets clean and have the waste stored responsibly.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton said that some new businesses were made to feel more welcome than others.

She explained: “As a town council, we are quite retail-focused and we could certainly become more hospitality-focused.”

What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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