Thursday, 24 June 2021

Smart look for Henley's streets for summer

Smart look for Henley's streets for summer

HENLEY should be looking its very best this summer.

The streets will be clean and filled with hundreds of colourful hanging baskets as the town prepares to welcome back visitors after the coronavirus lockdown is hopefully fully lifted next month.

Scores of volunteers nicknamed the Wombles have spent the past two months clearing roads of litter and will continue over the tourist season.

Both residents and businesses have been buying the baskets, which will be filled with summer plants and will go up from the end of this month.

In addition, the town council is in the process of cleaning the streets, which will continue for several weeks.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s contractor Biffa will carry out a deep clean in early summer.

This is in addition to the daily sweeps by street cleaner Ady Bowden. It’s hoped that this will make a good impression on visitors to the Henley Royal Regatta, which is due to take place from August 11 to 15 instead of its usual date in the first week of July.

The Henley Festival, which usually takes place straight after the regatta, has been postponed to September 15 to 19 but organisers are staging Summer Fling, a party with celebrity DJ sets, at Butler’s Field in Remenham from July 8 to 10.

The Thames Traditional Boat Festival will take place at Fawley Meadows, off Marlow Road from August 27 to 30.

The Henley Wombles scheme was launched in March by town councillors Will Hamilton and David Eggleton, who say they were promptged by the poor condition of the streets during the latest lockdown. There are now 70 volunteers covering every part of the town, including the River Thames and towpath, and they have already cleared at least 200 bags of rubbish.

Cllr Hamilton said: “Lockdown has clearly been difficult for lots of people and we need to built it back in a better condition, ensuring it’s absolutely pristine for when visitors start coming back.

“The Wombles should make things look great for the summer but, more importantly, they’re going to keep it going and keep the town looking tidy all-year round.

“The town and district councils will continue their cleans in Market Place and other central areas but the Wombles can go much further and cover all the verges.

“Making Henley more attractive will have a hugely beneficial effect on businesses and will be an improvement on three months ago, when there was rubbish everywhere.” Cllr Eggleton, who is also chairman of Henley in Bloom, which organises the hanging baskets scheme with support from the Henley Standard, said: “Henley will be looking great this summer, although it’s important to note that the town council and initiatives like Henley in Bloom do this all-year round, not just for visitors.

“We’re all incredibly proud of our town and do everything we can to keep it as attractive and welcoming as possible.

“It’s a worthwhile effort when you see all those flowers and hear people talking in the street about how wonderful they look or taking photos and sharing them on Facebook.”

He added: “We can all make our own contribution, whether it’s picking up litter or making our gardens look nice. We all live here so let’s have a bit of pride.

“Just doing a little bit here and there will add up and when the restrictions allow, people can start to form their own little groups or simply go out whenever they can.

“There are lots of other groups that would benefit from support, like our Gardening Buddies, and we want to hear from all ages and not just retired people.”

Mayor-elect Sarah Miller said: “These efforts are fabulous and so typical of Henley, which is what makes it such a great place to live.

“It is heartwarming to see everybody working together to improve their community and I would encourage people to take their litter home and not add to the problem.

“There’s still a particular issue with discarded masks but we’re looking into recycling boxes where these could be dropped off and retailers could host some of those. Keeping Henley looking good is vital for business as we’re a tourist town.

“We should want the streets to be as clean as our homes and not to have bins overflowing with rubbish.”

Niki Schäfer, who chairs the Henley Business Partnership, said: “It’s good to see these efforts being made and I have noticed a few Wombles working around town.

“Lots of retailers take great care of the pavements outside their premises, which makes a big difference too.

“You do notice when a town is messy compared with when it’s spotless with beautiful flowers hanging everywhere. Everyone should be looking after things, not just the councils. I’m hoping that with the reduction in covid regulations we’ll see an increase in footfall, albeit with people continuing to behave responsibly, and that will be an opportunity to leave a good impression on visitors.”

Town clerk Sheridan Jacklin-Edward said: “We’ve had a fantastic rush on hanging basket orders and would like to thank the Henley Standard for its support.

“Whether entering the Henley in Bloom garden competition, ordering baskets or joining local initiatives to keep Henley beautiful, we’re delighted with the pride that everyone takes in our marvellous town.

“That kind of community spirit and brio puts a spring in everyone’s step and makes Henley a wonderful place to work and live.

“I would also like to recognise our local businesses and our farmers’ and charter market traders, who have done much to welcome people back.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters@

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