Saturday, 08 May 2021

Deputy Mayor resigns from party in bins row

Deputy Mayor resigns from party in bins row

THE Deputy Mayor of Henley has resigned from the ruling party on the town council following a disagreement over litter bins.

David Eggleton announced he was leaving Henley Residents Group during a virtual meeting of the council’s town and community committee on Tuesday.

He will now sit as an independent councillor.

The committee had agreed two ideas designed to improve the appearance and capacity of bins in the town, against Councillor Eggleton’s advice.

The first was to spend more than £19,000 replacing the 22 heritage bins with slightly larger versions.

Cllr Eggleton felt this was a waste of money and said the cast iron in the 16 original bins would have a much longer lifetime if these were properly maintained.

By comparison, refurbishing the bins would cost £6,000.

A report to the committee referenced a survey carried out in December to inspect the condition of the bins.

Councillor Eggleton was part of this but said he had left after five minutes as he “didn’t feel welcome”.

He said: “Some of the councillors will base their vote on this paperwork, which is misleading in my opinion. 

“The bins are cast iron and there is nothing wrong with them as long as they are properly maintained.

“They could quite easily be fixed. I think the bins work all right and we don’t need to be spending taxpayers’ money when these bins are perfectly functional.

“Cast iron pillars have been around for centuries and centuries. There are Victorian pillars made of cast iron that are as good today as the day they went in. Cast iron is meant to last — it will rust but as long as it is maintained, it will last.”

Councillor Sarah Miller, who chaired the meeting, said: “We are a tourist town — Henley deserves this, let’s invest in our town.

“I understand and appreciate what Councillor Eggleton has to say. In my eyes, a lot of the bins are in a terrible state.

“They have been refurbished before and they are just coming to the end of their life now.

“We could go through the refurbishment route again but we don’t want to be having this conversation again in a year or so.

“We want brand new bins — sparkling, lovely, fabulous looking bins that are going to give us a good 25 years or so. Henley deserves this.”

The committee agreed to replace the bins by five votes to three, with one abstention.

The second proposal was to have a six-month trial of two solar-powered compactor bins. These would be located outside the Cook shop in Friday Street and opposite the Angel on the Bridge pub.

These bins can take 10 times the amount of litter compared with a standard bin due to the compressor, which crushes the waste. There is also a data pack on the inside to indicate when they need to be emptied.

If the trial was a success, the council would have the option to buy one at a cost of £6,344, which includes two years of maintenance.

The Henley Society, a heritage group, has agreed to pay half the cost and Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak has agreed to fund the rest using his Oxfordshire County Council councillor’s grant.

A five-member motion was submitted by Councillor Eggleton, along with Conservative councillors Will Hamilton, Ian Clark and Laurence Plant and independent member Lorraine Hillier.

This said the solar bins would be a waste of taxpayers’ money during the coronavirus pandemic and would not be in keeping with the Henley conservation area.

Cllr Eggleton said “I don’t think Councillors Miller and Gawrysiak have got the expertise to put those bins where they’ve located them — end of story, leaving the meeting goodbye.”

After storming away from his camera, he returned moments later and said: “And I can tell you something else as well. Just before I leave, I’m resigning from HRG. Okay, goodbye.”

Cllr Miller said: “We haven’t just planted these bins anywhere. It has taken a lot of thought where they were put.”

The trial was approved by six votes to two, with Cllr Eggleton unable to vote, having left the meeting. 

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