High court hearing in Henley political fight

Monday 11 February 2013 Updated: 15/02 10:51

THE POLITICAL bad feeling in Henley shows no sign of abating despite the presenting of a united front after a ban on a town councillor was lifted following a High Court hearing.

It is the latest twist in the on-going saga of Beaudesert and Henley-in-Arden Joint Parish Council (JPC) which has already been labelled "dysfunctional" by Stratford District Council's Standards and Ethics Committee after it failed in a bid to sort out the long running tit-for-tat row back in 2011.

Coun Bill Leech of Henley Independents - who have long argued the council’s running costs are far too high - had a ban imposed on him last summer preventing him from visiting the parish office, sitting on council committees or communicating with parish clerk Jenny Walsh.

Coun Leech always maintained the ban was illegal, and took the council to court.

He said: "No proper procedure was followed in advance of handing down their ban, breaking the laws relating to fair trials first established by Magna Carta in 1215 and now covered by the Human Rights Act."

But while the council have agreed to pay £8,000 towards Coun Leech’s legal costs, it has done so on the clear understanding it did nothing unlawful in imposing the ban in the first place.

The two sides even agreed the only public comment they would make on the High Court outcome would be in a jointly agreed statement.

It reads: "Councillor Bill Leech and Beaudesert and Henley Parish Council are pleased to announce that the legal proceedings brought by Councillor Leech against Beaudesert and Henley Parish Council have been resolved.

"Councillor Leech had commenced proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of the restrictions imposed on him by the Council

"Without any admittance of wrongdoing and in order to save further public funds being expended the Council has now agreed to lift those restrictions and to make a contribution towards the legal costs incurred by Councillor Leech

"All councillors, including Councillor Leech have repeated assurances that they will abide by the Code of Conduct for councillors

"Both the Council and Councillor Leech are pleased that this matter has been resolved and look forward to serving the interests of the people of Beaudesert and Henley in the New Year."

On January 21 council Chairman Les Goodman and the Vice-Chairman Chris Milsom resigned their positions but remained as councillors. Alternate members were elected by a majority vote.

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