Sunday, 19 September 2021
THE aged and failing sound system at Henley town hall is to be replaced.
The town council has been awarded a grant of almost £15,500 towards the cost of a new system that will cost almost £62,000.
The new equipment in the Queen Elizabeth II Hall and council chamber will include acoustic panels and hearing loops.
It should improve the experience of users and encourage more people to hire the venue for events such as weddings, conferences and meetings.
The project has already received planning permission.
A report to a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee said: “The sound and lighting equipment in the town hall is so old it no longer meets any EU regulations and is not supported should the sound system fail.
“Replacement would be difficult without replacing the whole system and individual parts are no longer made.
“Several of the wall-mounted speakers have ceased to work, hence the need to disconnect and use the temporary floor-mounted speakers so that hall users have something to use for functions.
“The floor-mounted speakers are a trip hazard and should be replaced with a permanent option as soon as possible.”
The report said that over the past year income from 39 weddings at the town hall had amounted to just £15,740, adding: “There would be an opportunity to increase this income stream with the new system in place.”
Committee chairwoman Jane Smewing questioned whether audio was needed in the council chamber.
Councillor Julian Brookes replied that he had been sitting in the public gallery at a recent committee meeting and it was difficult to hear what members were saying.
He added: “If we want full transparency and want people to hear what we’re saying it would appear we need some form of audio.”
Cllr Smewing said eight table microphones had been proposed for use by 16 councillors. Councillor Lorraine Hillier said members of South Oxfordshire District Council, to which she also belongs, shared microphones one between two at meetings.
The committee agreed to proceed with a sound system for the Queen Elizabeth II Hall using 3in thick acoustic panels but will ask its consultant for more information on the sound system for the council chamber.
The £15,500 grant was made by South Oxfordshire District Council’s community grants panel.
The panel awarded another £80,459 towards community organisations and charities in the Henley area.
The town council was awarded £7,499 towards a £20,000 project to install outdoor gym equipment at Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road.
The Chiltern Centre for disabled children, off Greys Road, was awarded £7,976 towards a £21,271 project to improve its garden.
The garden has specialist equipment for children in wheelchairs but the ground is uneven and the turf is not wheelchair-friendly.
The centre plans to remove the turf, level the ground and install artificial grass which will be easier to manoeuvre wheelchairs on.
The fencing surrounding the property will also be replaced.
The Eyot Centre, off Wargrave Road, was awarded £52,984, which is half the cost of a project to improve boat launching facilities, which are also used by the Henley Sea Cadets.
This would involve reforming the slipway, which has suffered from subsidence and erosion, and replacing the upper launch and landing stage.
An access point for people with limited mobility will be installed, while the finger pontoon and downstream landing stage will be replaced with a permanent launching/landing stage with steps for safe river egress.
The work is due to start at the end of next month.
St Mary the Virgin Church in Ipsden was awarded £12,000 towards a £56,000 project to install a disabled toilet and washbasin in the church vestry.
This will also involve improving wheelchair access, installing a resin-bonded path with improved drainage and a permanent ramp for wheelchairs.
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