Saturday, 16 December 2017
A HOTELIER is to be allowed to continue using a Henley beauty spot to serve guests food and drink but has been told to take better care of it.
Sam Gill, who runs the Red Lion in Hart Street, denied that Red Lion Lawn was not maintained following criticism by members of the town council, which owns the mooring site next to the Thames off River Side.
The council had considered taking away the hotel’s licence to use the area, which was first granted four years ago, saying it was poorly maintained and often untidy.
But at a meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to renew the agreement following a plea by Mr Gill.
He said: “I want to thank the council for allowing us to use this area for the last four years.
“We have always maintained and respected this beautiful area. I understand there were some rumours about the hotel being sold and concerns about the area not being kept well.
“The hotel is not being sold and we have maintained that area. We would like to continue using this beautiful part of history.
“We want to use the feedback so we are able to provide a better service.”
In February vandals targeted Red Lion Lawn, ripping benches from their fixings, spraying graffiti on Henley Bridge and scattering litter.
Mr Gill said he was aware of problems with antisocial behaviour and revealed that hotel staff had helped catch an offender last summer.
He said: “Sometimes people climb over or break the chain on the gate. There is not enough lighting to use the area in the evening so it creates an opportunity for antisocial behaviour. CCTV might deter people from using it in the night hours.”
Councillor Sam Evans said she had used Red Lion Lawn for her concierge business during Henley Royal Regatta and felt the condition of the area was embarrassing.
She said: “I was a huge fan and supporter of the Red Lion serving drinks there and looking after it as it reduced work for our parks staff.
“We have had a couple of renewal decisions since then and feedback has been made about rubbish and the fact that the area is not being well looked after.
“The last time was during the regatta on the Friday when there were people there being served drinks surrounded by pizza boxes and rubbish.
“It had not been swept in days. It was embarrassing as I was meeting clients on a Hobbs boat and I was picking up the rubbish so they did not see it.
“I really, really want to support you on this, but something has got to change. You’re not maintaining it. I want to know how it’s going to get better.”
Councillor David Eggleton said: “I’ve been there several times and the bins have been overflowing with rubbish. I go back the next day and it's still the same.”
Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said the hotel paid the council to use Red Lion Lawn and the licence meant the council did not have to worry about maintenance.
Councillor Ian Reissmann said the hotel had struck a good balance by leaving space for both hotel guests and residents and visitors.
The council asked Mr Gill to meet with town clerk Janet Wheeler to agree some key performance indicators on maintenance of the area.
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