Saturday, 25 May 2019

Council wants to ban silly string at Christmas festival

Council wants to ban silly string at Christmas festival

SILLY string could be banned from this year’s Henley Christmas Festival.

The town council says the toy spray foam, which is beloved by young children, is difficult to clear up.

It is to write to Bagatelle Toys in Bell Street asking the owner not to sell the product in the run-up to the evening celebration and late-night shopping event on Friday, November 30.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s events sub-committee on Friday, Councillor Kellie Hinton said children only bought silly string “to cause trouble and spray it around the town”.

Councillor Sarah Miller said “gangs” sprayed it at other people. Town manager Helen Barnett added: “I cleared it up and it really, really isn’t fun. When it’s sprayed on the wall you can’t get it off because it goes hard.

“I would personally rather pay for however many he sells than clear it up.”

Councillor Sam Evans suggested that the shop should pay to have the mess cleared up.

But Laurence Morris, who runs Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, said: “You can’t go to a retailer and tell them what they can and can’t sell — what happens outside the shop is a different matter. Are you going to go into supermarkets and say ‘you can’t sell chewing gum’?

“You can approach them in a kind way and say ‘this is a problem’ but at the end of the day it’s a fun item which is used at parties or whatever.”

Councillor David Eggleton said: “It’s that one night when the kids are going in and they are spraying it over their friends. It’s easier to control from the main source.”

This year’s festival will run from 5pm to 9pm. There will be a Christmas
market, fairground rides, carol singing and Father Christmas in his grotto at the Kenton Theatre.

It will begin with a children’s lantern parade led by reindeer from the River & Rowing Museum in Mill Meadows to Friday Street where there will be a snow machine and hot chocolate.

This will be followed at 7pm by the switching-on of the lights on the huge Christmas tree in Falaise Square by the winner of the Mayor’s Christmas card competition.

There may also be roving entertainment with performers on stilts or dressed as Christmas puddings.

The meeting heard that so far 14 food stalls and about 10 charity stalls had been booked.

Ms Barnett said: “We want to try to increase the number of stalls in Duke Street because last year there were very few down there. We want to make sure we have the best mix possible.”

The council has sent 180 leaflets to all the retailers and hospitality venues in the town asking them to become involved.

Ms Barnett said she hoped that as many shops as possible would stay open late.

She added that this year’s fairground rides would be slightly smaller than in previously.

The town centre will be closed to vehicles from 3pm.

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