Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Boat festival bids for £10,000 grant but fireworks must wait

THE Thames Traditional Boat Festival could be awarded a £10,000 grant by Henley Town Council.

THE Thames Traditional Boat Festival could be awarded a £10,000 grant by Henley Town Council.

The annual event, previously called the Thames Traditional Boat Rally, was revived under a new name last summer after being cancelled in 2014 due to flooding.

Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, who is now the main organiser, told a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee that the money was needed for a range of costs, including advertising, signage and traffic management.

She said that last year’s event, which attracted 10,000 people compared with about 3,000 previously, was a “horribly uphill struggle” despite its success.

Lady McAlpine said: “We believe that this year’s event will be even more successful than last year’s and that we can grow it into an event as important to Henley as the regatta.

“I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this statement: it is a common goal. We believe that we are inclusive whereas the regatta, which is not even in Henley, is by its very nature exclusive. That said, we are beginning to work with the regatta in the hope that we will eventually be able to use both sides of the river, making use of their pontoons and possibly the boat tents.”

She said the festival was now a limited company with a smaller management team but it was hoped to make it a charity.

Councillors agreed the council’s value for money committee should consider the request and make a recommendation.

Councillor Will Hamilton, who chairs the committee, said: “This is a great event in the centre of Henley so the value for money committee should look at it in the same light.”

The committee agreed a total of at least £8,257 in grants to 11 charities and community groups.

The Henley U3A group was awarded £250 to organise more events while £900 went to the third Music on the Meadows festival, which will take place in Mill Meadows in July. South Oxfordshire Mencap was awarded £600, the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind £500 and the Oxfordshire Befriending Service £1,000.

The Henley Youth Festival, which is taking place this week, was given £1,500, as was the Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta.

The Henley Borama Friendship Association was awarded £300, the Friends of Trinity Primary School £741 and the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion £795.

All the grants are subject to approval by the full council.

The committee postponed a decision on a request for £8,000 from the organisers of the Henley Summer Fireworks, which take place at Pinches Farm, off Marlow Road.

Organiser Billy Pinches said the money was needed to pay for the fireworks and staff to run the show, which takes place on the Saturday night of the royal regatta in July.

Councillors said they needed more information about the event’s finances and agreed to consider the request once this was received. They declined a request for £6,200 from the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society to refurbish its studio behind the Kenton Theatre.

The group says it needs new aluminium staging, a new sound desk and speaker system and 10 round tables with chairs so it can host shows with “café-style” seating.

It has about £17,000 in the bank but says it needs this money to cover the cost of putting on shows.

The committee recommended that HAODS sought an infrastructure grant from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who also sits on the district’s grants committee, said such an application was likely to be looked on favourably and he would champion it.

Councillors also turned down AFC Henley’s application for £5,802 for eight new sets of goalposts which it said would last much longer than the plastic ones it currently uses.

They said that since the clubhouse at Jubilee Park was due to be redeveloped for housing that the developer could pay for this.

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