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Henley NEWS Online

Reporting On Events In and Around
Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, England


Campaigning for a better Henley

Edition 239 - 4th February 2010
Warwickshire Village Competitions
Winner 2007 & Gold 2009
Fortnightly
on Thursdays

Special Edition following the JPC Meeting

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Why a special edition?

On Monday night around 50 residents attended the JPC meeting to listen to the debate on the complaint about the behaviour of certain councillors in respect of the curtain shop. During the meeting the parish clerk read out a statement which she first said was on behalf of the Council but, when challenged, said it was a personal statement on behalf of a Councillor.

The Chairman, Cllr L Goodman, then held a vote on the motion to continue the debate in a private session from which the residents would be excluded. The motion to exclude the residents was passed, with the two councillors (Cllr C Goodman and Cllr C Milsom) who were involved in the incident voting for secrecy. If the councillors involved had not been been allowed to vote by the Chairman, the motion would have been lost and the discussion would have continued in public.

Most of the residents left in disgust having expected that such an important issue would be debated in public. It has been reported to Henley NEWS On-line that 2 complaints have so far been sent to the Straford District Council's Monitoring Officer for consideration by the Standards and Ethics Committee. One of these complaints is reproduced below.

Read the full report by the News Editor of the Stratford Herald below.


Henley NEWS Online's POLL

"Do you approve of the JPC's conduct over the Curtain Shop?"

Provisional Results for the poll

I DO NOT APPROVE

I APPROVE

141

1

Download a summary of the Comments

Dr Douglas Bridgewater, former High Bailiff and independent scrutineer, will be validating the poll on Friday 5th February. His report will be published in the next edition.


BBC

LISTEN TO BBC COVENTRY & WARWICKSIRE

Featuring "The Curtain Shop"

BBC iPlayer

Drag the player cursor to 2.19 for Linda and to 2.48 for one of the parish councillors.


MP Says Curtain Shop Row is Bad for the Town

Warwick & Leamington MP James Plaskitt – whose constituency includes Henley-in-Arden – told Henley NEWS On-line, he was dismayed by the Parish Council’s mishandling of the curtain shop row in the town. He was critical of the on-going argument, of the alleged personal comments, and of the secrecy surrounding the issue. He is calling on the parish council to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion to avoid further damage to the town’s image.

Mr Plaskitt said, “Personally, the frontage looks fine to me, but if some parish councillors want to make it a planning issue, then they should take it before the district’s planners and get it quickly resolved. As it is, all the innuendo and secrecy is just unpleasant and reflects poorly on the town.”

Mr Plaskitt says he will offer proprietor Zak Miah any help he can.

Mr Plaskitt added, “Residents seem to be understandably annoyed at the council’s antics. Members should heed that and clear the matter up swiftly. A local business doesn’t need this sort of hassle.


Stratford Herald Reports

Council shuts down further debate on 'purple shop'

FRUSTRATED Henley residents left a meeting of the parish council en masse on Monday night after councillors effectively drew the curtains on any discussion on the town's controversial "purple shop."

Some 30 residents turned out to the meeting of Beaudesert and Henley Joint Parish Council on Monday evening, drawn in by the promised discussion on Bespoke Curtains and Blinds of Henley. The 'purple shop' has been a hot topic of conversation in the town ever since the Herald ran an article stating that the proprietors of the shop felt "ousted out of the town" by the parish council.

Some residents have even gone so far as to say they believe the parish council's behaviour to be racially motivated especially after Cllr Carsina Goodman declared to shop proprietor Zak Miah that it was her town and he was not welcome here.

The parish council meetings usually attract a maximum of three or four members of the public.

All week, Henley News On-line has been running a poll on whether residents approve of the parish council's conduct over the curtain shop. The poll attracted well over 100 voters with only one vote in favour of the parish council's behaviour. Those who voted were also allowed to leave a comment on the website and the majority have been incensed by the behaviour of the councillors.

However, if the residents who turned up to the meeting on Monday evening were expecting a full and frank discussion on the shop, or in some cases, according to comments posted on Henley News On-line, an apology, they were sorely disappointed as councillors voted for the discussion to continue in private session.

What the residents were given was a statement read out by parish clerk Jenny Walsh, but even that proved a source of confusion and provoked several mutterings about its inadequacy from the assembled residents.

Initially, Ms Walsh declared this was the council's statement in response to residents' questions at the last meeting. However, on being called up by Cllr Bill Leech over the statement which he said should have been circulated three days prior to the meeting if it was to represent all the councillors views, Ms Walsh then declared this was a personal statement from one councillor, which residents could only assume was Cllr Carsina Goodman who has been at the centre of residents' discontent.

In short, the statement read that the matter of the curtain shop was about the contravention of planning regulations and was therefore nothing to do with being "ousted out of the town."

It continued that when Cllr Mrs Goodman said it was her town this referred to the fact she had been born and bred in Henley and at this point she had been talking as a private resident.

Refuted
The statement added that the claim Cllr Mrs Goodman had said that Mr Miah was not welcome in the town has been refuted by Cllr Mrs Goodman and Cllr Chris Milsom, who was also at the meeting where the comment was allegedly made.

During the public participation section of the meeting two residents rose to Cllr Mrs Goodman's defence.

One said that Cllr Mrs Goodman had done more for the town than others and had worked tirelessly and relentlessly for many hours outside of council meetings to help residents with their problems.

Another resident seemed to be speaking for the majority of the assembled residents, judging by the cheers that his comments received, when he said he had been so ashamed to read what Cllr Mrs Goodman had said. He asked councillors what they were going to do to address the ill feeling and bad image generated by her actions. He continued that there was no point spending money on the town's tourism and trade if all Cllr Mrs Goodman was going to do was "kick them out when she doesn't approve."

Cllr Roger Hubbocks called for any discussion of the curtain shop to continue in private session. The vote was carried by three votes totwo. At this point around two-thirds of the residents who had turned out for the meeting got up and left.

Report by Philippa Mingins - News Editor - Stratford Herald

Henley NEWS Online is most grateful to the Editor of The Stratford Herald, Chris Towner, for allowing us to reproduce this report.


Complaint to Standards & Ethics Committee of Stratford District Council
Re: Alleged Breach of the Code of Conduct by Cllr Carsina Goodman
by Mr. John Latham

Having lived in Henley for more than 40 years and having served the community in many roles including High Bailiff and chairman/president of several organisations it is with some dismay, disgust and desperation that I resort to sending this formal complaint to you in the hope of getting some justice and democracy back in to the governance of our community.

The situation concerning the behaviour of Cllr Goodman towards the proprietors of Bespoke Curtains and Blinds is well documented but I include 3 articles by the News Editor of the Stratford Herald to remind you of the history of the problem. The articles are authenticated by several witnesses including your own SDC enforcement officer.

I went along to the JPC meeting last night (Feb 1st.) to observe how the Council were going to deal with some sort of disciplinary action, even suspension, of Cllr Carsina Goodman for her disgraceful behaviour whilst representing the JPC in a public place ie the High Street of our town. The meeting was packed with other members of the public equally unhappy with what had gone on and anxious to make sure some sort of justice was done both for the owners of the shop and the self respect of the town.

What happened was a disgrace and prompts me to write to you and ask if you have any powers to make sure justice is done. After 2 ladies read out statements asking for mitigation (not condoning) of Cllr Goodman’s’ actions I spoke as did Mr Zak Miah (the shop owner) asking the JPC to take some action to discipline/censor their member. Our spontaneous words were greeted with loud applause from the crowded meeting suggesting we all did really need the JPC to take positive action.

The response was pathetic. A statement was read out by the parish clerk ignoring the facts and suggesting that the JPC were completely happy with what had gone on. After questioning it transpired that these were not the collective views of the JPC but her own.

A discussion then took place lead by the chairman of the JPC, Cllr Carsina Goodman’s husband, Cllr Les Goodman, in which it was agreed that a discussion should take place. It was agreed by a vote of 3 to 2 that the debate should be in private. Amazingly the casting vote was by Cllr Goodman.

Surely she should not have been allowed to vote on this motion. But of course, if she hadn’t voted the casting vote would have been with her husband. What has happened to democracy in Henley?

In the matter of the possibility of racism being a factor in this dispute I look at a photograph taken from across the High Street of the Curtain shop sitting so minutely between Somerfield’s and One Stop’s ghastly frontages, to say nothing of the fish and chip shop further along the street, and think this cannot possibly be just about aesthetics and whether purple is a less suitable colour for a shop front than the variety of garish colours used by these other shops.

One final point which I asked the JPC to consider was whether they could justify a budget of many thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to promote trade and tourism in the town if one of their members had their own agenda of driving out businesses which don’t fit in with her perceptions of good retail marketing. Surely words like “If you don’t like it clear off” and “it’s my town you’re not welcome here” to someone who has just invested a lot of money in the town cannot be statements which will attract new investors and new jobs which the town so badly needs.

I urge the Standards and Ethics Committee to take this matter seriously and not allow the factions that control the JPC to get away with sweeping this matter under the carpet to rear its ugly head and cause more harm to the town in the future.


Certain Members should resign and allow the residents of Henley to have a contested election.

As Cromwell said in 1653, "You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, go!”


JPC Clerk says "Don't Read Henley NEWS Online"

photoAt the Council Meeting on 1st February 2010, the Clerk, Jenny Walsh pictured right, made some most forthright comments as the 'Responsible Officer' about the Henley websites.

It should also be remembered that the clerk has no executive authority to make policy decisions and is a servant of the Parish Council, principally responsible for administration and minute taking. It was totally inappropriate, judging by the derision shown from the floor to her very personal public attack on a Parish Councillor, who is also the Editor of HNOL.

Unfortunately there is no body, not even the JPC, to which residents can complain about her conduct.

Public servants, at both national and local government level, are not supposed to make political comments and are expected at all times to remain impartial.

The Clerk's functions are:

Clerks provide the information and help needed to enable Parish Councillors to make decisions. They may manage projects, carry out research etc on behalf of the PC but only at the specific, minuted, request of the PC. Clerks often manage the finances of the PC but they have no power to spend unless authorised by the Councillors and that authorisation is minuted. The Clerk has a duty to advise Councillors if they are about to do anything illegal.

Clearly, the Clerk was acting illegally in that there was no specific, minuted request from the JPC for her research into the Henley websites and her making recommendations to the residents at a public meeting.

The Chairman, Cllr Les Goodman, should have stopped the clerk from making such a statement and by his omission to do this he was probably in violation of the Parish Councillors' Code of Conduct - "Bringing your authority or office into disrepute" (Para 5 of the code). The Stratford District Council Standards and Ethics Committee will be asked to rule on this matter.

Henley NEWS Online has been provided with the notes she used for her forthright statement.

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The black marks are from the highlighter used by the clerk.

 

Response by the Editor of HNOL

In my opinion, the parish clerk's statement to the residents at the JPC meeting contained a number of serious and misleading inaccuracies.

    1. Henley NEWS Online is not aware of any errors in any of its editions or on the Town website.
    2. The JPC website cannot be regarded as an trusted source as it is so often out of date. It also omits important information such as the complaints procedure relating to its Councillors.
    3. The links about Code of Conduct in the last edition of HNOL went directly to the Stratford District Council website, which is the responsible authority and is therefore accurate.
    4. The polls in recent editions were requested by a respected member of our community to gauge public opinion. The results speak for themselves.
    5. Henley NEWS Online has been advised of two separate complaints to the Monitoring Officer in respect of the conduct of one of the members of the JPC.
    6. The Council Tax payers of Henley, who have paid for the video to which she refers, expect Henley's most popular websites to be first with local news. No request for an embargo was received from the JPC.
    7. The Henley Tour video resides on YouTube. According to the YouTube licence no permission needs to be sought.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request last year, the clerk had to admit that she was unable to provide any information about the number of visitors to the JPC website.

At the time of writing the Agenda and Minutes Archives are not up to date. The last added docs are for 15th September 2008 and 1st June 2009 respectively.   The Forthcoming Events page only lists one event, which was on the 25th of last month.

The JPC's new Trademarked logo, adopted last year, does not appear on the website.

www.parishcouncil.net is a specialist provider of websites for parish councils. It only charges £150 for development and £100 for annual hosting. The JPC's website budget is circa £800 pa. The Chairman was recommended to investigate this site last year but it appears this substantial cost saving has not been implemented.

In February 2006 there was a poll on whether HNOL or the JPC should run the town website. The result was 88 to 1 in favour of HNOL. At that time the following letter from a resident was published:

I would like the JPC to know that I and many others support an independent Henley web presence not dominated by the JPC. The JPC does a good job in many other ways representing Henley's interests, but when it comes to a community website they need to humbly reflect on their reasons for wishing to be so controlling.

The people of Henley love the town, are passionate about its activities and people and are proud of the way that they are currently afforded access to free speech. We don't all agree with what each other says but we defend each other's right to say it! There will be no confidence in a JPC controlled website, although the JPC have of course a part to play (along with other town clubs and groups) in contributing to an Independent Henley web presence. There is a great fear that opinions which don't toe the party line will not be included, and that a JPC gloss will be applied to all controversial issues. Whether or not this is true, justice should always appear to be being done. A JPC dominated website is already an unpopular choice, a lost cause with precious little support.

The website is already fine! - don't fix what isn't broken. The JPC alternative is viewed as controlling, which won't earn you love or respect. To acquiesce to the feelings of the townspeople you represent, would not be seen as weakness but true strength... that is, you have the power to forge ahead with your original plan, have the courage not to use that power!

Thank you for listening.

A Resident of Henley-in-Arden

This letter could have been written today after the outburst by the clerk, but it was written 4 years ago in February 2006. Does nothing change!

Let's hope the JPC will admit before May 2012, the date of the next election, that it's time to accept the will of the residents. Also, let's hope the clerk does not continue with her unauthorised speeches.

Bill Leech - Editor
John Love - Chief Photographer


As for telling people what not to read, they will be burning books next!

The European Convention of Human Rights, as recognised in Human Rights Act, gives us the freedom of expression.

Henley Resident who has suffered from aggressive correspondence from the JPC


John Garner's Business Column

Business in Henley

John GarnerWhy a business column in this special issue? Because I am becoming very concerned about what I’ve seen and heard which I think is detrimental to local businesses.

I attended Monday’s JPC meeting (and one in December) and witnessed the strength of feeling in support of the Curtain Shop and against the way the JPC has behaved. Some members of the JPC did not seem to me to take much notice of the criticism, which I find disturbing.

The JPC has produced a video which, I presume, is intended to attract visitors to the town.  Why?  Presumably so they spend money and support local shops including, I hope, the Curtain Shop. 

The Parish Clerk publicly chastised the Editor for “downloading this podcast” via Henley News Online “without permission”. It’s a video not a podcast and it hasn’t been downloaded. By putting it on YouTube the JPC has automatically put it in the public domain. So let’s get our facts straight.

But if it’s trying to attract people to the town surely the JPC would want everyone to see it?  They should be grateful to HNOL for bringing it to people's attention.  Have they publicised it elsewhere?  How much did it cost us council tax payers?  A little more transparency would be welcome.

I’m worried that some councillors may not understand business. I do hope that’s not the case but, if it is, Henley could soon lose its character and become just another dormitory town.

John Garner


The above reports have been prepared by an editorial team of 6 reporters

The Henley-in-Arden Notice Board

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For tickets and further information call Basil Sayer on 01564 795714 or email: basil@bigbasil.freeserve.co.uk
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Subscribe to Henley NEWS on-line

Henley Diary Dates

Articles and news stories for Henley NEWS Online should be sent to the editor@henleynews.co.uk at any time. Future diary dates should be notified to Diane Bayley at 6 Nightingale Close, Great Alne, B49 6PE. Email: henleyparishnews@btinternet.com

HENLEY AND BEAUDESERT SOCIETY
Our next meeting is on Thursday 18th February at 8.00 pm in the Baptist Church Hall. The speaker will be David Howe on “Prime Ministers and The Midlands”. Visitors and new members are very welcome. Further details from Pat Kench on 795419.

ULLENHALL GARDENING CLUB
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 23rd February in Ullenhall Village Hall, 7.30 for 7.45 pm. Our speaker is the author John Trinder on “The Iris Year”. Visitors are welcome (£3).

Details of all the local cinemas, theatres and exhibitions can be found on The Henley Town Website

www.Henley-in-Arden.org

HENLEY IN ARDEN TENNIS CLUB
Open to members (juniors and adults) of any standard. Full time coach. 7 courts open throughout the year mean that there is always a court available. No need to book. Club and American Tournaments held during summer months. League matches summer and winter. For details of membership please contact Judith Mathias 01564 792378
HENLEY-IN-ARDEN EVERGREEN CLUB.
Evergreen ClubMeetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month in the Parish Hall, Beaudesert Lane at 2.15pm. The Club has around 80 members and organises a varied programme together with various outings. If you are interested in joining please contact Gordon Trinder.
logoTHE ROTARY CLUB of HENLEY-in-ARDEN
Meets at the Golf Club on Monday evenings at 7pm.
New members are always welcome.
Please email Robin Freeman <robinf1@btinternet.com>
Download Henley Rotary Club calendar
HENLEY-IN-ARDEN FLOWER CLUB
Are you interested in gardening and flowers or just spending a pleasant evening watching a demonstrator arrange foliage and flowers?  We meet on the second Tuesday each month at 7.30pm in The Memorial Hall, Station Road, Henley-in-Arden so why not come along and see for yourself? Visitors are always welcome £3.00. You do not have to be an active flower arranger to enjoy watching our demonstrators but if you do feel you would like to 'have a go' we hold occasional workshops. For further information contact Secretary - Annette Walker - 01564 792837

HENLEY-IN-ARDEN ALLOTMENTS & GARDENING CLUB
The Objectives of the Club are:

  • To maintain and develop facilities for gardening and allotment sites.
  • To enable members to enjoy the activity of gardening and allotments.
  • To enable a healthy and rewarding past time enriching people's lives.
  • To preserve local green spaces for the community of Henley-in-Arden.
  • To foster an allotment and gardening spirit.
  • To create synergies and alliances with other like minded organisations.
  • To create a network where members can communicate with each other in order to exchange ideas, exchange produce and flowers, share equipment, seek advice and help.

The HAAGC is open to everyone with an interest in gardening and membership is FREE. Click Here for Application Form

HENLEY-IN-ARDEN BADMINTON CLUB
Meets every Friday and Sunday evening from 8pm at the Memorial Hall, Station Road, Henley-in-Arden. The season runs from mid September to end April. A warm welcome is extended to all badminton players who may be interested in joining the club. Visitors welcome. Please contact the Chairman, Alan Barber, on 01564 793320 for further details.

HENLEY CRICKET CLUB
Henley Cricket Club fields two teams in the Cotswold Hills League on a Saturday and two teams in friendly fixtures on Sundays from mid-April to mid-September. We are always on the lookout for new players, irrespective of age or ability. Anyone interested in joining our club should contact Kevin O'Brien on 01564 794903.
Bowls ClubHENLEY-in-ARDEN BOWLS CLUB
meets on Monday evenings from April to September at 6.30pm and plays until it is dark. The club is situated next to the Tennis Courts at the Sports and Social club ground on the A3400 just outside Henley. The Club welcomes new members, whether beginners or established players. For further information contact John Townson 01564 792407.
JOLLYTOTS
Jollytots meet every Tuesday morning during term time between 10am and 11.45am in the Church Hall on Beaudesert Lane, Henley.  It is open for all under 4 year olds and costs only £1.50 which includes a drink and a biscuit. There are toys, games, arts and crafts and singing. Any questions please ring Rachel on 01564 794470.
Neighbour WatchNEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
There are still vacancies in some areas of Henley-in-Arden for NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH Coordinators. If you are aware that your area is not covered or you are willing to be a coordinator, please contact Annette Walker on 792837
Business ClubTHE WARWICKSHIRE BUSINESS CLUB
Holds its monthly lunchtime meeting on the third Thursday of each month from 11.30am to 2.15pm at the Henley Golf Club. There is a one hour networking session followed by a quality lunch and an informative speaker on a business topic. Full details at www.swbc.co.uk
TAI CHI in HENLEY Thursdays, 11am at the Baptist Church Hall. Age, health or fitness no barrier. £5 per session – no termly fees. For further information contact Debbie Wild on 07773 318830.    Full details at: www.swantaichi.co.uk
WOOTTON WAWEN FOOTPATHS GROUP
Meets the last Sunday of the month at Wootton Wawen village hall at 2.15pm for a conducted walk of about 5 miles over the local and surrounding area footpaths. The Group welcomes all walkers. There is no subscription.  More details from Denis Keyte on 01564 792872.
ProbusTHE PROBUS CLUB OF BEAUDESERT
Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Membership consists of retired professional and business men residing in the vicinity of Henley. Visitors are most welcome and for further details please contact the secretary Andrew Yarwood on 794079.
DE MONTFORT LODGE OF FREEMASONS
De Montfort Lodge is the only freemasons’ lodge meeting in Henley. It was established in the town in 1930 and holds meetings in the Guild Hall. Anyone interested in freemasonry should contact John Pollard on 0121 603 8577 for further details.
WRVS LUNCH CLUB
The WRVS organise a lunch club for the elderly of the district at Dell Court every Tuesday at 12.30pm at a cost of £3.10.  For further details contact Christine on 01789 209210.
Bridge ClubHENLEY-IN-ARDEN BRIDGE CLUB
Plays Duplicate Bridge of intermediate standard on Tuesday evenings at the the White Swan Hotel and usually finds time for a tipple, which may or may not improve our play!!  Play commences at 7.15 promptly. There are normally 5 - 8 tables and the club does not issue master points.
For further information please contact the Secretary - Christine Whitehouse on 01564 792993.
coverHENLEY FOCUS
Each month the Henley Focus contains plenty for everyone with local business advertisements, reviews and community information. The Henley Focus could be helping you to promote your business or service to local people at affordable prices and also offers a range of design services at very reasonable rates. The publication is very happy to promote community and charity events free of charge.
Please call Karen on 01564 774748 or email karen@henleyfocus.co.uk for more information.

Details about tourist attractions and neighbouring villages can be found on The Henley Town Website

www.Henley-in-Arden.org

From our own Correspondents

Henley NewsHenley NEWS on-line is looking for additional correspondents to send in stories and pictures. Why don't you become one of our correspondents and send in stories about your area, your club, your school or events you have witnessed? Please always try to include a photo in jpg or png format. Letters, articles, pictures sent to the Editor are always welcome. Please do not use the following file formats 'Publisher" or 'Serif'. 'Microsoft Word' is the preferred format. Please send to editor@henleynews.co.uk

We are delighted to publish the growing list of our correspondents:

Court Leet
Religious Affairs
Property
Rotary Club
The Henley Society
Henley History
Henley in Bloom
Wild Life Society
Warwickshire College
Henley Methodist ChurchJames Steele
Henley Diary
Flower Club Annette Walker
 
Editorial Team
Proof ReaderJohn Garner
Senior CorrespondentIrene Robinson
Warwickshire County
Stratford District Council
Heart Start
Trading Standards
Business
Heritage Centre
Memorial Hall
Henley High School
Primary School Elaine Field
Make Henley Greener
Drama - HADS
Claverdon & RailwayClive Hanley
 
Photographers
Chief Photographer
Court Leet & HADSAlan Robson

WRCCThe Warwickshire Rural Community Council (WRCC) helps and encourages people living in rural areas to develop their communities. By aiding locally led and run projects it also hopes to strengthen social ties within Warwickshire's villages and small towns.

Henley NEWS Online was the outright winner of the Village Ventures competition 2007.

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