Sunday, 14 August 2022

Festive lighting on town centre trees to be replaced due safety concerns

FESTIVE lighting in the centre of Henley will be replaced due to concerns about health and safety.

There are two rows of trees in Market Place that have draped and wrapped lights but some are not working due to tree growth, vandalism and natural ageing.

Both rows of trees have 230v mains voltage lights that are accessible and a danger to the public of electric shock.

The town council’s finance strategy and management committee has recommended replacing them with 24v low voltage lights at a cost of £3,195.

It also agreed to requests from residents to put lights on the large tree in Station Park. These would be recycled so would be installed at a cost of £1,200.

Will Hamilton told last Tuesday’s meeting: “I think the tree at the end of Station Park needs to be done. There is a number of lights [around] there and it looks really good.”

He added: “We could keep going and keep and have the town look like a firework.”

Town clerk Janet Wheeler revealed that the council spends less on festive lights than other councils. “Other councils spend a lot more,” she said.

Cllr Hamilton suggested earmarking funding for the trees in Market Place and the tree in Station Park but try to obtain sponsorship for these and also extensions to festoon lighting in Hart Street, Bell Street and at the town hall.

Liz Jones, the council’s responsible financial officer, said she would try and get part funding from South Oxfordshire District Council. A final decision on the recommendations will be made by the full council on July 25.

The new lights were first used last year after the council agreed to spend £46,580 on a new lighting scheme, to be spread over five years.

Strings of lights were bought for Reading Road, Duke Street, Friday Street and the western half of Hart Street. Each had plain white LED bulbs hung from a network of steel support cables anchored to the sides of buildings and can easily be swapped for coloured lights or animated displays.

The council hoped that the “festoon” style would mean the lights cover a wider area and make a greater impression on visitors.

Lights were also installed permanently on the roof of the town hall and can be used at other times of the year by people hiring the town hall for weddings and functions in return for a fee.

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