The spat between the Oxfordshire dinner-jacket brigade and the waterproof jacket squad continues, after a meeting failed to resolve a footpath dispute.

Organisers of the black-tie Henley Festival want to close the Thames Path national trail for prolonged periods over nine days. The Open Spaces Society (OSS) and Remenham Parish Council say such a closure is unnecessary. A meeting between the two sides ended in deadlock, so now campaigners are calling on the borough council to reject the festival’s closure bid.

Wokingham Borough Council will now consider the path-closure request next Thursday, 31 January.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “The festival claimed that it was impossible to hold the festival without closing the path, but of course the path was there long before the festival. 

“If it had to proceed without moving the path, it would find a way. 

“Even if the council feels it is too late to avoid closing the path this year, it should give a clear message that it requires the festival to make its application much earlier for next year’s event; and the council must carry out a full, independent examination of how the path could remain open, by realigning the festival activities or altering the scale of the event.

“It should not just accept the festival’s word that this vital route should be closed for many days,”

Ms Ashbrook, whose organisation is based in Henley, described the Thames Path as of international importance, and the section through the town as the jewel in its crown.

Last year, Henley Festival closed the path for 37½ hours; this year it is seeking a total of 145 hours.

See also

Council agrees to talks on Henley path closure

Row erupts over Henley path closure