Delay, Complaints and Safety Issues on Christmas Lights

Henley’s Christmas overhead lights and the small Christmas tree lights were not switched on by the deadline of 1 December that Henley Town Council requested to the new contractors and there have been 9 complaints about the quality and size of the small Christmas trees which have cost businesses and residents £60 each.

The small Christmas trees have been subsidised by the Council from £120 which includes the tree, installation and lights.  113 small Christmas trees were sold.  The new contractor sub-contracted the installation and electricity works.

Although the main Invesco Christmas tree and stars in the trees Market Place were switched on the Christmas Festival evening (25 November) the overhead street lights were not switched on.

Henley Town Clerk, Sheridan Jacklin-Edward said, “We’re very sorry that not all the small Christmas trees have been put up yet and that the lights on some aren’t working. Unlike other towns which have fixed locations for their small Christmas trees, Henley offers the opportunity for businesses and residents to order one for themselves. As each location needs a bracket to be fixed and a nearby outdoor power supply, and locations will vary from year to year with little notice for the contractor, this makes the installation process more complicated. As a result, we’ve experienced a number of problems in recent years, such as trouble accessing the location and power supplies not working. This has been compounded this year by adapters, which are required for many of the locations, not having been passed from a previous contractor to our current contractor.

When working, the small Christmas trees are a beautiful addition to the town’s festive display, and it is a great shame that some are not working. We’re working to address each of the individual issues with the customer and will offer refunds where appropriate.

The Bell Bookshop has two beautiful trees outside their shop on Bell Street.  They have installed their own for the last few years due to the quality and cost of the Council’s trees.

We forwarded the photo above of wires hanging down from the tree by Henley bridge which are a health and safety issue.  Sheridan replied, “The lights on the tree by Henley Bridge have been in a poor state for quite some time. Our new contractor has been putting a lot of time and effort into rewrapping all the gateway trees and has completed Northfield End, Singers Park and Gravel Hill. The positioning of the tree at Henley Bridge means that ideally they would require a partial road closure in order to do that. As you can appreciate, we were keen that they try to do the work without adding to the traffic in the town. They’ve managed to get round this by arranging for it to be done by a tree climber rather than a cherry picker, and this is scheduled to take place on Monday 12 December.”

With energy costs as they and the Council declaring a Climate Emergency should the Council only be switching on the lights when it is dusk each evening not during the day.  Sheridan replied, “All the lights used are very low energy LED lights. Due to the complexity of the lighting displays, as mentioned above, it’s a challenge to have all lights on timers and for them to be synchronised. This is something we’d like to review.”