Town Council By-Election Candidates Announced

The two candidates standing in the forthcoming by-election for the empty seat in the Henley South Ward on 14 June have been announced.

The seat was vacated by Helen Chandler-Wilde, a Conservative who resigned last month.  It is understood the Conservatives called the by-election which will cost the Council at least £4,000 based on the last 3 by-elections.

Michelle Thomas who campaigned to save LA Fitness as a community asset will be standing for the Henley Residents Group and Laurence Plant who owns The Henley Practice which operates from Athlete Services in The Oast House in Greys Road car park will standing for the Conservatives.

The candidates have issued the following statements:

Laurence Plant – Conservatives

I grew up on Greys Hill and then Greys Road, attending Valley Road School and Gillotts before winning a scholarship to Pangbourne College.

I have rowed at Henley Royal Regatta on three separate occasions, once reaching the semi-finals of the Princess Elizabeth Cup.

Throughout my school holidays I worked locally, including at Hobbs boatyard and Franco Belge, which has given me a valuable insight into how independent local businesses can continue to thrive in Henley.

At an early age I played junior rugby at Henley Hawks Juniors which started me on a journey to a career in sports injury management. In 2015 I set up The Henley Practice, now the largest multi-discipline sports injury clinic in Henley.

Now aged 30, I believe I have developed a strong understanding of many aspects of Henley life through his family, school, sports and business. My experience of starting my own business, The Henley Practice, which caters to a wide demographic of Henley residents has given me first-hand experience into the challenges facing our town.

I am passionate about Henley flourishing, and would welcome the opportunity to contribute on the Town Council to build on existing successes as well as tackle the significant challenges our town faces.

Laurence’s priorities include:

  • Working for a proper solution to the current misuse of Marsh and Mill Meadows and promote a carefully thought through strategy to utilise these fantastic town assets properly and sympathetically.
  • Help tackle Henley’s traffic congestion, whilst also working for the better provision of car parking in the town for residents, visitors, students and businesses.
  • Draw on his personal business experience to help create the right conditions for local shops and businesses to thrive in Henley.
  • Champion the delivery of truly affordable housing to enable first time buyers to purchase a home in their town.

Michelle Thomas – Henley Residents Group

I have lived in Henley for 13 years and have 2 children who attend Trinity and Gillotts schools.  As well as living in Henley, I work in Henley for the Leander Club.  My husband David works in the pharmaceutical industry and locally is a volunteer coach for AFC Henley.

I am energetic in supporting our community. I am the co-founder of Keep Henley Active, which brought the town together to fight the landlords and SODC planners to save the former LA Fitness site from being turned into an 80-bed care home.  1,300 residents of the town signed the petition.

Singlehandedly, I wrote and submitted the application to “Call the application in” to the Secretary of State.  The entire campaign took over 2 years to fight and is still ongoing as I currently have an application in progress with a Planning Inspector to force the County Council to decide the application on the footpath linking Newtown Road with Mill Lane.

During my time with KHA, it became clear that I needed to understand planning policy at town, local and national levels – the Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan, the Local (retained) Plan, the Local Emerging Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework and how to apply this to planning applications were all studied. I gained a huge amount of experience and knowledge from these campaigns which I now want to put to good use as a Councillor of Henley Town Council.

I am passionate that Henley has the right facilities and services to meet the needs of all its residents. My three main priorities are to:

  • improve the scope of amenities in Henley, including local footpaths, cycle paths and sporting facilities, and I want to explore the opportunity to restore previous facilities such as the town’s historic wild swimming venue;
  • ensure a greater diversity in the town’s housing, commercial, retail and leisure mix;
  • improve Henley’s infrastructure – school places and doctors’ surgeries to meet the needs of all the residents of Henley.

As a mother with school age children, I am particularly concerned that our local schools and college receive the correct education budgets to meet the needs of Henley’s children. We are at risk of endangering their future if we do not ensure adequate funding for their education.

In addition, I recognise Henley is a town in a state of change, and we have much work to do to deliver the right kind of affordable housing and new ways of tackling pollution.

I have long been a supporter of HRG, because I believe it delivers what it promises, and have been a volunteer member of HRG’s executive committee for the past year.

I am looking forward to tackling issues, working for the town and residents, and would be truly honoured to be a Councillor.