POWER points are being installed on Henley shop fronts so that more traders can have outdoor Christmas trees.
The town council’s contractors began fixing sockets and cables to more than 100 units in the town centre last week.
Workmen from Merlin Lighting installed them at first-floor level at stores in Market Place, Hart Street, Bell Street and Duke Street.
The final total could be as high as 150 but the team will assess the buildings individually and decide which are suitable.
Each year, Henley businesses are invited to buy an illuminated Christmas tree from Windowflowers of Burnham and display it by their signs.
A tree costs about £70, including VAT, and a £10 donation goes to Henley Lions Club, which puts up the trees and distributes the proceeds to good causes.
Last year the money went to the South Oxfordshire Mencap Society and the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Greys Road. In previous years more than 100 shops have taken part but some were unable to because they couldn’t connect the trees to a power supply and others could not afford the extra cost of electricity.
The town council will pay for the power from the new sockets and will switch them on and off every day using an automatic timer. This year’s trees will use LED lights to further reduce costs.
The council will remove the sockets whenever the property owners require and will repair any damage they cause.
The scheme will cost £11,379, of which the council will pay half and the rest will come from South Oxfordshire District Council.
Town clerk Mike Kennedy said: “This investment will enhance the town centre’s appearance over the festive period, making it a more enticing place to shop, visit and enjoy for visitors and residents alike.
“It will simplify the installation process of the trees and hopefully encourage an increased take-up by town centre businesses and retailers.”
Meanwhile, preparations for this year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar are well underway.
Richard Rodway, who is its new chairman following the departure of founder Julie Perigo, said many venues and performers had already been booked.
The fund-raising event, now in its fourth year, sees 24 artists perform at different locations each evening in the run-up to Christmas.
Each performer’s identity is kept secret until the night and each show includes bucket collections and raffles for local charities.
This year’s performances will last 30 minutes instead of 15 and will include a mix of new and familiar faces.
Mr Rodway, a partner at Bell Street solicitors the Head Partnership, said: “We always try to involve new people but there are only so many local acts. We’re therefore bringing back some old favourites that have been successful before and we’re sure they’ll be warmly received.
“You’d think Christmas would be the last thing on people’s minds now but it’s great how willingly they’ve got involved.
“We have extended the performances as there was a sense that some acts weren’t getting enough time. Half an hour is enough to put on a decent show without it being too long to stand out in the cold.”
A list of venues and performers will be announced next month. Anyone interested in performing or hosting an event should email Laura Biart at thinkbigevents firstname.lastname@example.org
Potential sponsors, partners, prize donors or helpers should email Mr Rodway at email@example.com
For more information, visit www.livingadventcalendar.co.uk