Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Failing floodlights set to be replaced

HOCKEY players were forced to abandon a match after the floodlights at Jubilee Park in Henley went out.

HOCKEY players were forced to abandon a match after the floodlights at Jubilee Park in Henley went out.

Half of the 24 lights at the artificial pitch off Reading Road failed during Henley Hockey Club men’s third team game with Witney on January 17.

Just 86 seconds were left to play when the game abandoned with Henley winning 5-2 at the time. Witney agreed to let the result stand.

Club chairman Julian Herbert, who is captain of the third team, was on the pitch when the lights failed.

He said: “The lights at the bottom end by the train track just went off. They had only been on for 20 minutes.

“It was quite dark so it was a safety issue and the umpires decided to call it. There was only about a minute left and it wouldn’t have changed the result so our opposition agreed to finish the game early.”

It was the second time in a month the lights have failed unexpectedly following a similar incident on December 10 at the town council-owned pitch.

Mr Herbert said: “The lights are a problem which might cost us points if it’s not fixed but I know people are working on it.”

Club president Chris Baker said the lights needed replacing urgently or the club risked being kicked out of the league.

Speaking at a meeting of Henley town council’s finance strategy and management committee, he said: “If we continue to lose games like we did last weekend we will be punished by the league at a time when we are having the best season of our lives.

“Sooner or later we will be prevented from playing altogether if we can’t be relied upon.”Councillors agreed on an emergency budget of £30,000 to be added to this year’s capital expenditure for new LED floodlights.

Mr Baker has already obtained a quote of £29,332 and town clerk Mike Kennedy will obtain two more before awarding the work to the most suitable bidder.

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin said: “It’s an urgent problem and needs sorting out immediately. Those floodlights are no longer working properly and the hockey club is having enormous problems.”

Mayor Martin Akehurst added: “We have spent a small fortune on the Astroturf and if we can’t use it that’s ridiculous.”

Mr Baker said eight of the broken lights had been temporarily fixed and the rest would be repaired this week.

He said: “We are always frustrated when these problems aren’t fixed straight away but it’s not an easy thing to get up to the lights.

“We are hoping that with the new floodlights there will be less and less need to go up and replace bulbs.

“In respect of the new lights, the town clerk is well and truly on the way with getting the prices and I’ll help if any of the companies need to have a look at the lights.

“We are lucky that every day that goes by there is more daylight. On Saturday it was a particularly bright day and we got through all the games without having to use the lights.”

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