Increase in Astroturf Hire Charges by Council Will Affect Hockey Club

In a recent meeting held by the Recreation and Amenities Committee, Henley Town Council agreed to increase the astroturf pitch hire fees at Jubilee Park. The decision to review the current charges was made in order to ensure the sustainability of the facility while accommodating the needs of various user groups.

The astroturf pitch at Jubilee Park serves as a venue for several local clubs, including AFC Henley and Henley Hockey Club (HHC). While these clubs primarily use the pitch during peak times, other organisations, such as schools and community groups, also make use of the facility during off-peak hours. Currently, the astroturf has been running at an annual loss, leading to Henley Town Council’s review of hire fees to ensure the pitch’s financial viability.

With the pitch nearing the end of its usable lifespan, additional maintenance work is also required to extend its longevity. In light of these findings, the committee proposed an increase in hire fees to mitigate losses and contribute towards a sinking fund for the pitch replacement.

The recommended rates will see the standard peak rate, currently set at £41.25/hour, increase to £60, while the standard off-peak rate, currently at £22, is proposed to rise to £30. Additionally, the partner rate, currently varying between £16.97 and £22.65, is proposed to be standardised at £35.

The proposed changes in hire fees will predominantly affect Henley Hockey Club and AFC Henley.  The Henley Hockey Club’s treasurer spoke about the proposed increases in hire fees for the all-weather pitch at Jubilee Park. This would represent a doubling in pitch fees for the club and a significant rise in their costs and membership fees. The Club had provided a counterproposal for consideration, which was suggested would allow the Council to reduce the deficit whilst enabling the club to phase in the increases.

Councillors discussed Henley Hockey Club’s counter proposals, i.e. that the partner rate is increased as outlined in the report, but their booking time is reduced by 25% (releasing more booking time at the commercial rate) with potential to increase their commercial activities e.g. summer camps. Further, that they retain all revenue from banner sponsorship (currently 60% Hockey Club, 40% Council) and work with the Council to look at efficiency savings e.g. cleaning or more commercial advertising of the pitch, to reduce the deficit.

The Recreation and Amenities Committee recommended the approval of revised hire fees for the Jubilee Park astroturf, effective from 1 September 2024.

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