Saturday, 21 July 2018

Hawks want £200,000 towards new clubhouse

HENLEY Rugby Club has asked the town council for £200,000 towards its new clubhouse.

HENLEY Rugby Club has asked the town council for £200,000 towards its new clubhouse.

The Hawks are trying to raise £475,000 towards the redevelopment of their facilities at Dry Leas, off Marlow Road.

South Oxfordshire District Council is expected to provide a £100,000 grant while the club has raised £110,000 from members and is hoping for £75,000 from Lafarge.

Chairman Mike Trethewey said the new clubhouse would allow more social events to be held there, helping to generate more income.

He told a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee that the club had started making a profit since he took over in 2013 but surveys had shown that supporters and other users felt the facilities were poor.

Mr Tretheway said: “My first concern was to keep the club going and the finances are now on a firm footing. We have only three paid employees and at the end of the day we’re a club of volunteers.

“Our sponsorship is decreasing so we need this. We would love to see Dry Leas as part of a bigger sporting facility and we know the owners of Swiss Farm next door are open to a community facility.

“What we have now isn’t just not very good, it is totally and utterly unacceptable for the rugby club and Henley as a town.”

Councillors backed the idea in principle but Dylan Thomas, who lives in Northfield End, was concerned about late-night noise from parties.

He said: “I know you’ve received a number of complaints because of functions which have had an impact on neighbours.

“You will be looking to have more functions and I’m not sure taxpayers’ money is best served if it will blight their lives.”

Mr Trethewey replied: “If it reached the point where it was really serious I would stop us holding them. I will have a meeting with  neighbours.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said it was a “no- brainer” to support the club but he feared setting a precedent of awarding large sums to sports clubs.

Councillor Will Hamilton proposed giving £100,000 next year and the rest 12 months later but this was voted down.

Instead, members opted to ask the council’s value for money working group to investigate.

Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “Giving them the money isn’t a problem — it’s finding it. We need clarity on where it’s coming from.”

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