Friday, 17 September 2021

Christmas lights to change

THE Christmas lights that decorate the streets of Henley town centre are to be replaced this

THE Christmas lights that decorate the streets of Henley town centre are to be replaced this year.

Henley Town Council has invited quotes from two companies to replace the existing supplier, Merlin Lighting.

Members of the council’s Christmas events and decorations sub-committee agreed that there should be strings of lights in Duke Street, Bell Street and parts of Reading Road and Friday Street.

These would have old-style bulbs but with LED lights.

The council also wants to see the front of the town hall in Market Place lit up.

Paula Price-Davies, events  co-ordinator for the council, said: “We have this beautiful building that is lit for one night a year but other than that we do nothing with it.”

Councillors viewed possible designs by SparkX, of Chesham, and Light Angels, of Surrey. Both included a range of options and costs which can be adjusted according to what the council chooses.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said he liked the design for the town hall incorporating the town’s new “H” branding.

But Councillor Sarah Miller said it was “not very festive” and added: “If one of the lights goes out on the ‘H’ I’m worried it could say something different.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said she would prefer the stained glass window at the town hall to be illuminated from behind.

Councillor Sam Evans said: “I like the idea of old-fashioned light bulbs and lighting up the town hall.”

Some of the SparkX designs included entrance lighting for Duke Street but Cllr Evans said she would prefer strips of bulbs.

She said: “The challenge you have is it’s a one-way system so if you’re walking the other way you have to look at the back of something.

“My way means it does not matter which way you are walking. It would look fabulous.”

Helen Barnett, Henley’s new town centre manager, said the strings of bulbs would be similar to the bunting used to decorate the town during summer.

The most expensive estimate came from Light Angels and was for £51,750 over three years and then the lights would be owned by the council. 

The company’s cheapest option was £15,939 over three years.

SparkX’s estimates involved a three-year hire scheme based on annual payments.

The most expensive was £20,500 plus VAT per year while the cheapest was £5,450.

Cllr Evans said: “It’s expensive but Christmas means a lot and the lights go up for the whole of December.”

Town clerk Janet Wheeler said the council could apply to South Oxfordshire District Council for a grant for Christmas lights.

The committee agreed to ask the two companies to requote on the council’s exact specifications.

Meanwhile, the council is also considering changing the supplier of its large Christmas tree in Market Place.

Ms Price-Davies said that the tree supplied by Elveden Farm Estate in Norfolk last year shed its needles early.

“They have said they will deduct £200 this year if we want to go with them,” she said.

The council could ask the Tree Barn in Christmas Common, run by Andrew and Jane Ingram, to supply the tree in future.

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