Tuesday, 01 December 2020

£10,000 grant for River and Rowing Museum

THE River and Rowing Museum in Henley is set to receive a council grant in exchange for special offers for residents.

The museum in Mill Meadows asked for £10,000 a year from the town council, which would be used to help fund children’s activities during the spring and summer.

Ludo Keston, who took over as chief executive of the museum in January, said the grant could replace the £10,000 annual payment the council makes to the Henley youth centre, which is closing.

Mr Keston promised incentives for Henley families in return for the money.

The museum, which has more than 11,000 visitors a year, currently pays to use the council-owned car park in Mill Meadows but is given free use of the building in exchange for a single red rose each year.

The council’s finance strategy and management committee supported the idea of the grant provided there was a benefit for residents. Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “There are two really good reasons for saying yes. The first is the huge amount the museum is doing for the town: they played a big part in getting the Green Flag for Mill Meadows and have supported Henley in Bloom.

“The second is this would strengthen the ties between the museum and local families.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “The museum is a wonderful asset and Ludo is thinking of ways to involve the local community. It was instrumental in getting the Olympic torch here and also houses a town gallery. I would waive car parking as well.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “We do have a duty to have a closer relationship with the museum but I agree that there should be something for residents.

“I think all children in Henley should get a free ticket which could be an income driver for the museum because if children go free the parents will pay.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann added: “We give them free use of the land, which at commercial rates would be very great.

“I would be very keen to see something back for the people of Henley, which would be good for the museum because it would encourage more people to go.”

The full council will make the final decision.

Meanwhile, the youth centre has turned down a £5,000 grant from the council.

The centre in Deanfield Avenue receives £10,000 per year in two instalments from the council, which goes towards its running costs.

But the trustees have opted to refuse this year’s second payment as they are planning to sell the centre.

They announced the closure decision in June, saying they could no longer afford the £45,000-a-year running costs and found it difficult to attract volunteers. Clive Wilkinson, chairman of the trustees, told the committee: “We didn’t think it was right to ask for the money. We would like it to be used for young people in the town but that’s your decision.

“We want to thank the town council because you have been our biggest supporter. It’s important to recognise the good things you have done.”

Councillors were asked to consider a proposal to earmark the money for incentives that support vulnerable young people in Henley.

They voted to put the money into the general grant fund, which would allow interested parties to apply.

• The youth centre site has been offered up for housing in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan. The trustees had originally opted not to offer the plot but changed their minds after deciding to sell the centre. It is estimated that the site could accommodate 32 two-bedroom units.

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