Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Festival and Henley in Bloom clash over flagpoles

HENLEY Festival could still be allowed to use two flagpoles in the town centre to promote the event

HENLEY Festival could still be allowed to use two flagpoles in the town centre to promote the event after councillors agreed to think again.

Organisers want to have colourful flags on display in Market Place for two weeks in early July, when the annual festival takes place.

Last month, the town council’s town and community committee refused permission because members were worried that the flags could affect Henley’s Britain in Bloom entry.

The competition judges are due to visit the town at that time.

On Tuesday, the full council voted to refer the issue back to the committee after hearing a plea from Jo Bausor, the festival’s head of marketing. She said: “I understand Henley in Bloom has booked the flagpoles for July. It’s a fantastic organisation but it isn’t the only thing going on in July. There is the regatta followed by the festival.

“We would like to work with them if we can. Henley Festival is a charity and has to work really hard for our money.

“We would love to bring it more into the town — we’re not using the flags to sell tickets but to generate awareness.

“The festival brings tourists into the town and people going to the regatta could see there is a festival going on as well. It’s important that the council supports all events.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said she remembered the festival buying the flagpoles in 2002.

She said: “I don’t know how we can deny the festival the use of the flagpoles because they are clearly theirs. I think we should be supporting it.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said it was important to promote the town, the festival and Henley in Bloom and suggested erecting two more flagpoles in Thames Side so both organisations could use them.

Councillor Kellie Gehrmann, who chairs the Henley in Bloom committee, said the council had not stopped the festival using the flagpoles. “We had a lengthy debate that included sharing them and having one each,” she said.

“We invited the festival to use them at another time like in June, before the festival starts, so they are in use by Henley in Bloom at the all-important judging time in July.”

Councillor Sam Evans said: “We all agree that the festival is a fantastic event. We’re also delighted that Henley in Bloom won a gold award last year.

“If we refuse the festival using their own flagpoles it smacks of ‘we’re the council’.”

Cllr Gehrmann reiterated that she would prefer that both flagpoles were used by Henley in Bloom during the judging period.

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