Friday, 20 July 2018

Councillors back plan for Orwell museum

COUNCILLORS have said they want to see the proposed George Orwell visitor centre in Henley open.

COUNCILLORS have said they want to see the proposed George Orwell visitor centre in Henley open.

Peter Burness-Smith, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, put the project on hold after suffering four heart attacks and a collapsed triple heart bypass.

Now he has asked the town council for help in setting up the centre in the former chapel at Fair Mile cemetery.

Councillor Sam Evans, who chairs the council’s recreation and amenities committee, said councillors held a meeting with Mr Burness-Smith which proved to be "very positive".

She said: "He was pleased that the council had shown an interest and he is now fully fit. We need to do everything in our power to encourage this to move forwards."

Councillor Ian Reissmann added: "A George Orwell museum would be very popular and is something that the town lacks.

"We have always had the problem of what to do with the building, which is listed and we have to maintain. The interior was going damp and there were problems with it not being in use. This solves the problem.

"I would like to continue to work positively with Mr Burness-Smith. He has set out a timetable for the opening of the museum and I hope that he is encouraged to not allow this to drop out of his priorities."

But Councillor Kellie Hinton said: "I was quite excited about it four years ago. It should be going already and all the funding should be in place as we gave permission then. It is not exciting to me anymore. I don’t believe it is going to happen."

The committee agreed to look at setting up a quarterly meeting to track the progress of the project.

Mr Smith, an art publisher, estimates the cost to get the centre up and running would be about £25,000. He has agreed a deal with the council to rent the chapel for a nominal £1 a year until 2043.

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