‘An Extraordinary Year’ Mayor Tells Town Meeting

Residents, community groups, charities and Councillors attended the Town Meeting at the Town Hall on Thursday evening.

The meeting hosted by the Henley Mayor, Councillor Michelle Thomas opened the meeting by saying, “If there is one thing that has sealed my sense of our town since I became mayor – it’s a town that aims high when it comes to helping each other, we do not need or ask for help from the outside because we do it all for ourselves.  I guess it’s what we used to call a ‘close knit community’.  I think that description has fallen out of fashion, but I like it and I think it describes Henley well.

“It’s been an extraordinary year – by the time my term comes to a close in may my mayoral year will have been completely bookended by the royal family – from Platinum Jubilee to our Queen’s sudden death, to the crowning of our new King.  War in Ukraine, a cost of living crisis – the challenges go on.  Many of the people and organisations who have helped us through these challenges are here in this room tonight.”

The Mayor then gave some highlights of the last year which included the adoption of a revised Neighbourhood Plan which would see a community land trust formed, a new home for The Chiltern Centre and the redevelopment and new pavilion and 3G pitch at Jubilee Park.  The Adventure Golf park at Mill Meadows was delivered on time and on budget and is proving hugely popular.  Transport and highway safety continues to be improved with 2 new crossings, 1 out to tender and some 20 mile an hour zones.  Planning has approved a consultant to work on an HGV weight limit for our town.  A banking hub working group has been formed to work with the banks to ensure retention of vital banking facilities in our town for our residents and businesses.

The Mayor said that she had received positive feedback about Remembrance Sunday and the Christmas Festival.  She said, “I thought they all went very well, however we are always striving to improve wherever we can, and with the help of Paul Carey our Town Manager and our enthusiastic and experienced Events Chair (Cllr Sarah Miller) we will continue and very much look forward to the May Fayre.”

Reports were provided by Planning, Finance, Strategy & Management, Town & Community and Recreation & Amenities Committees along with a County Councillor report from Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak.

Speeches were then made by Geoff Walsh from Thames Lodge Freemasons, Patrick Fleming from Greener Henley, Valerie Alasia from The Henley Society, Sally Daniells from Henley Bowling Club, Lisa Grant from Henley YMCA, Diana Barnett from Quakers, Michael Redley from Henley Archaeological and Historical Group, Julie Huntingdon from Kenton Theatre, Tim Prior from Nomad, Andy from Henley Citizens Advice, Laura Matthews from Henley Youth Festival and Patrick Fleming from the Falaise & Leichlingen Twinning Association.

No questions were asked of the Mayor from electors on any matter which affects the town.

The Mayor spoke about the forthcoming celebrations for the Coronation weekend and invited the many voluntary organisations to submit a video of 1 minute to showcase their organisation and the volunteering opportunities available which would be showed on the big screen before and after the televised programme.  If you would like to submit a video, contact Paul Carey, Town Centre Manager at tcm@henleytowncouncil.gov.uk.

The Henley in Bloom Committee are seeking an enthusiastic member of the public to join them and to take over the organisation of the garden competitions.  Email Nicci.taylor@henleytowncouncil.gov.uk if you are interested.

The Mayor ended by saying, “I must finish by thanking all of the officers at the council for their hard work and loyalty to the council, to all of the councillors who are all volunteers, and again to all of you who do so much for our close knit community!”


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