Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who is standing at the County Elections on 4 May, is calling for action on the old Chilterns End Care Home site where the residents left last December and moved to the new Chilterns Court Centre next to Townlands.
He said, “I was stunned and surprised by County Councillor David Nimmo-Smith comment last week about what is happening with the sale of the old Chilterns End Care Home site which is owned by Oxfordshire County Council. He said “”They (OCC) have got lots of property all over the county. I don’t know when Henley will be looked at.”
Stefan commented, “The Chiltern’s End Care Home was included in the Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan 4 years ago and it will not be looked into for another 2 years. This site is worth £5,000,000 and it will take OCC 6 years to do nothing. Plus the site is costing OCC money for all of the associated security.”
Councillor David Nimmo Smith states “There are a number of buildings like Chilterns End that are surplus to requirements.”.
Stefan added, “If there are 20 sites “like” Chilterns End worth £5 million a piece that is £100 million of real estate sitting idle and doing nothing.That is appalling waste on a shocking scale.
OCC always state that they are strapped for cash. They have cut the buses, cut the children centres, there is a crisis in the provision of social care in the South of Oxfordshire, £60,000 in school funding cuts and “there is not enough money to fill the POT HOLES”. We could rebuild 5 Gillotts schools with this money. PLUS there has been an increase the council tax by 5%.
This above all proves that Oxfordshire County Council is run ineptly.
- How many pot holes can you fill for £100 million?
- How many Social Care packages can you fund for £100 million?
- How many Buses can you fund with £100 million?
- How many Children Centres could you fund with £100 million?
- How many pedestrian crossings can you fund with £100 million?
- How many traffic calming measures can you fund with £100 million?
Elderly and vulnerable people have to wait for care, whilst Oxfordshire County Council is sitting on assets worth £100 million.
Oh! and by the way – this site was designated in our neighbourhood plan for housing -40% affordable-which is so desperately needed in Henley.
This is why I am standing in the County election.”
County Councillor David Nimmo Smith replied:
“I am disappointed at the lack of understanding being displayed. The HRG candidate is making wild accusations. Let us look at the facts.
The Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan has many years to run and the Chiltern’s End site development will be carried out within this period. The decision will be taken within the next few months as the phased County review is concluded. Will it be in the best interests of Henley for all the Neighbourhood Plan sites to be developed now, or will it be best for an approach across the whole period? And it will include the 40% affordable housing so desperately needed – which prominent former (HRG) mayors sacrificed when they sold the Youth Centre site. Let us also celebrate the relocation of the Care Home to the Townlands site, making it an integral part of the Henley community.
As the HRG Candidate is fully aware of, the County Council has been forced to cut costs over a number of years by a combination of less Government grant and a capped ceiling of how much can be raised locally through council taxes. This unpalatable situation has never been disguised and restricts the County ability to carry out discretionary duties. The vast majority of our budget looks after adult social care and vulnerable children & their families. That will not change after the coming election.
The property review currently being carried out is looking at ways for the County Council to share resources and offices and make best use of all public or semi public facilities. This cannot be carried out overnight. Why not, for example, combine the post office with the library? Or move the registry office into the Town Hall?
The opportunities afforded by the Unitary Council bid – supported by HRG – is part of this. This could include Henley Town Hall if the Town Council looks to take on more roles and responsibilities as part of a Unitary Council agreement. 2 independent reports on County Unitaries both show that around £100m savings can be achieved over a 5 year period. Enough to deal with many of the infrastructure and maintenance works so badly needed in Henley.
However, and this is where the HRG candidate shows his lack of experience, any funds received from the sale of property are classified as capital receipts and cannot be used for routine maintenance and running costs, which is classified as revenue. This includes the majority of items he refers to in his statement. The capital receipts will be used to provide better services across the County.
If re-elected, I will continue to work, as a senior County Councillor, with fellow Conservatives to provide as much benefit and infrastructure to Henley as I can. Something a lone voice will never be able to do”