Wednesday, 18 October 2017

£16,500 outdoor snooker game fails cost test after trial

NEW sports equipment will not be installed in Henley — for the time being.

NEW sports equipment will not be installed in Henley — for the time being.

Town councillors have voted against spending £16,518 to provide a street snooker game at Makins recreation ground.

The equipment was trialled at a family sports and community day in August to see how popular the game would be with residents.

In a report to the town council’s recreation and amenities committee, town clerk Mike Kennedy said the game was well-received by users.

But Peter Adamson, of Greys Road, told the committee that the noise created by using the equipment would be unacceptable to neighbours.

He said: “As a resident living opposite, I am rather against this on noise grounds. There doesn’t appear to be any sound-proofing on the games wall, which would have balls going against it.”

Councillor Will Hamilton, who also lives in from Greys Road, said the area was a favourite spot for informal football games. “It is not Wembley Stadium or particularly flat but a lot of teenagers like to kick a ball around,” he said.

“This area is one of the few green spaces in the centre of Henley and if we concrete over it, it won’t ever come back.”

Cllr Hamilton said he had discussed the street snooker idea with residents on the Gainsborough estate who felt the cost was prohibitive.

Mr Kennedy replied that there was confusion over what the recreation ground could be used for.

He said: “When it was gifted to the town it wasn’t gifted to be left as a green field.

“The long-term objective is to provide a multi-use games area which can be used by the whole family for sport and recreation.

“The street snooker was trialled and it was hugely successful. There were some young people who were there all day. Moving it into the middle of the field would take it away from the houses and reduce the noise.

“Multi-sports areas are extremely popular as they can be used for football and basketball and we have had some residents say that there are no basketball poles in our three recreation grounds and that would certainly meet their request. In time we could provide a multi-sports games area.”

Joan Bland, who is a town and district councillor, said she was “horrified” at this thought.

“Concrete or Tarmac will not go through planning if I am on the planning committee,” she said.

“I don’t want our green and wonderful country covered in concrete and this would only appeal to a small amount of the populace. We need grass as we need water to soak away and if you don’t it will flood all the houses below.

“We have got £20,000 in the budget but it doesn’t mean we have to spend it.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said there was space for street snooker, although he was concerned about its cost. He suggested looking at other equipment.

Councillor David Clenshaw said: “I have always had my doubts about street snooker as a sport or as a worthwhile investment. As a trial I thought it was worth it for £1,000 but there is no way I can vote to spend £16,000 on what to me seems to be a wooden board painted with a snooker table.”

Councillor Sam Evans said it was a “massive leap” from the trial to installing the equipment permanently but a multi-sports facility would enhance Henley’s sporting reputation.

Deputy Mayor Martin Akehurst said the council should focus on all the recreation areas, not just Makins and proposed deferring a decision so the issue could be discussed as part of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

The committee agreed his motion by four votes to three.

To see a film of the street snooker trial, visit www.henley standard.co.uk

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