Monday, 18 October 2021

Hotel’s deal to serve drinks on Red Lion Lawn renewed

A HOTELIER says he wants to continue providing refreshments at Red Lion Lawn in Henley.

A HOTELIER says he wants to continue providing refreshments at Red Lion Lawn in Henley.

Sam Gill, who owns the Red Lion Hotel, said he would like to return the riverside area to its “glory days” by serving traditional afternoon teas and drinks.

He was speaking to members of Henley Town Council, which owns the land and was considering whether to renew the hotel’s contract to serve light refreshments on the land.

The contract was awarded in 2013 and the Red Lion pays £1,500 a year to put tables and chairs on part of the land for paying customers with the rest being open to the public.

Some councillors have argued that the contract should not renewed, claiming that the hotel has been taking up too much space. Mr Gill told members of the council’s town and community committee that he felt the hotel had done a good job, adding: “We have looked after the area very well.”

He said he had worked with the police to reduce levels of antisocial behviour and drug–taking on the site at night.

He added: “We are bringing back history down there. It was used centuries ago for afternoon tea and drinks. We want to bring it back to its glory days.”

Speaking from the public gallery, Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said the hotel looked after the area and kept it clean, which saved the council money. Deputy Mayor Julian Brookes agreed, saying that the contract provided revenue for the council.

He said that better signage was needed to show that Red Lion Lawn was open to the public and suggested having a string between the public area and hotel’s part.

Councillor Sam Evans said there had been some “teething problems” at the start of the contract but every single request for change had been fulfilled by the hotel.

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “The Red Lion has done a fantastic job of looking after that area and I think they should continue to do that.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann added: “I know some of the concern was this is a public space and we have spent a lot of money repairing the ground. About one third is taken up by the Red Lion and two thirds is for the public to use it in any way they want.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “I passed there about three weeks ago and, to be honest, the tables were spread all the way along there and were blocking the gate to allow you to get to boats.

“While I don’t have a problem with the principle, the hotel should make sure that the tables don’t spread.”

Mayor Lorraine Hillier said: “I do think some signage is necessary and a division set up so it is clearly stated that the public can use this. At the moment it is not that clear.”

Councillor Reissmann said any signs should be “tasteful and discreet”.

The committee recommended that town clerk Mike Kennedy should discuss the contractual arrangements and signs with the hotel.

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