Monday, 23 October 2017

Shops may no longer have to fund cost of mini Christmas trees

Shops may no longer have to fund cost of mini Christmas trees

BUSINESSES in Henley could get their Christmas trees free.

The town council is considering paying to install the trees outside shops in the town centre instead of asking retailers to cough up as they have done in previous years.

Town clerk Janet Wheeler said the move would save the council staff time and ensure uniformity in the street displays without gaps.

In previous years, businesses have paid £45.60 for the 3ft high illuminated trees and they are installed during November by WindowFlowers, which also supplies the town’s summer hanging baskets.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s events sub-
committee on Friday, Mrs Wheeler said: “Other towns spend far more on lights than we do. There are also the savings in staff time, in running after them and invoicing.”

Committee chairwoman Sarah Miller said the move would make Henley look “fabulous”.

Committee administrator Paula Price-Davies said about 35 to 40 tree orders for this year had already been placed and the Catherine Wheel pub in Hart Street, which hasn’t previously contributed, wanted to become involved in the scheme this year.

Mayor Kellie Hinton suggested introducing the new arrangements from next year and to aim to have 200 trees this year, adding: “We should be increasing our target every year.”

Meanwhile, the council has said that all the food stalls at this year’s Christmas Festival on Friday, December 1 will be situated in Bell Street.

Councillor Hinton raised concern about the barbecue traditionally held outside Gabriel Machin’s butchers in Market Place, saying it created a “bottleneck” among the crowds of spectators.

She said: “What we can’t have really is food all the way down Bell Street and then have a barbecue there. No one business is more important than any other.”

Richard Reed, a member of the committee, said he didn’t believe that Barry Wagner, who owns the butchers, would want to move.

Mrs Wheeler agreed: “He’ll want to be outside the shop — it’s a bit of an institution.”

Cllr Miller suggested having a “pop-up” stall in Bell Street.

This year’s festival will also feature a competition for the Mayor’s best-dressed stall and Father Christmas will be in his grotto at the Kenton Theatre in New Street instead of King’s Arms Barn.

There will also be a stage in Falaise Square where Christmas carols will be sung and that evening’s performance of the Living Advent Calendar will take place.

Hart Street will have a range of fairground rides including bungee jumps but there will not be a haunted house.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak will compere the evening.

Cllr Hinton asked for a meeting with the police to discuss how to tackle the problem of pedlars.

She suggested putting up signs saying their merchandise would be confiscated until after the festival, adding: “We really need to send a strong message out that we don’t stand for it in Henley.”

Mrs Price-Davies said: “They are like bees buzzing around and they come in early, at about 1pm.”

A festive shopping Sunday will be held on December 10, with a treasure hunt, fancy dress competition with a festive theme, arts and crafts, face painting and singing.

A grotto may be situated at the back of the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street.

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