Bridge lights controversy

A man who took it upon himself to light up a bridge in Henley wants to make the illuminations permanent.

Clive Hemsley used his own money to pay for the temporary decorations to light up both sides of Henley-on-Thames bridge last month.

A petition has since been launched to show Oxfordshire County Council the level of support for the lights, in the hope they will decide to keep them.

However, Mr Hemsley did not seek permission from OCC, which is responsible for the listed bridge and has said the lights must be removed.

The Hart Street resident said he has received scores of messages of support from people wanting the lights to remain permanently, including one from the mayor.

“We have so many important events in Henley, not least of which is the Leander Club’s 200th anniversary this year, which are worth celebrating,” he said.

“It makes perfect sense, both from a tourist’s and a local’s point of view.

“We feature other ancient buildings within Henley, including St Mary’s Church, with spotlights and street lights.

“It was a no-brainer for me to light up our beautiful ham stone bridge.”

Henley resident Mary Sinclair gave a big thumbs up to the idea.

She said: “These lights enhance our beautiful town even more. How fantastic that someone went to the effort to do this. Thank you.”

A county council spokesman said: “We have not given permission for this to be done and installation must stop now. We will be seeking to have the lights removed under our supervision shortly.

“Henley Bridge is a listed structure and clearly any permanent lighting installation would require not only our permission but also listed building consent from the district council.”

Support quickly gathered pace and, as we went to press, 1,600 people had signed the petition which can be signed at tinyurl.com/ybvankdb

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