Sunday, 20 August 2017

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Show visitors with sense of humour

Show visitors with sense of humour

Sir, — Some number plates spotted in the livestock car park at the Henley Show. Who said farmers can’t have fun! — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser

Hambleden





Homes better than eyesore

Sir, — Am I the only person in Henley who is thoroughly bemused about the ongoing discussions about the proposed Thames Farm development?

The two facts that come out loud and clear are that Thames Farm is not earmarked for housing in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and that there is a very solid objection to this project, it seems mainly from Shiplake residents — I apologise if this is incorrect.

It is also clear that this derelict site is an eyesore on the road between Henley and Shiplake. It needs to be tidied up and put to some constructive use — it is clearly not, as Kester George states, “a green field in the valley separating Henley, Shiplake and Harpsden” (Standard, September 9).

One of the reasons for the success of our cyclists in the 2012 Olympics was that when a plan did not work they went back to the drawing board, worked out why it did not work and changed their plan.

They realised that earlier decisions, made with the best will in the world, were not constructive and not working, so they changed the plan to accommodate the new information. We all know the result.

Maybe I should say at this stage that I do not know anyone who has any involvement in the proposed development and I am a genuine Henley resident, having lived here since 1969.

Wherever we build much-needed housing there is, of course, going to be an increase of traffic, an increased need for public transport and more schools and doctors etc.

At least developing Thames Farm is not going to change anyone’s view or encroach on their garden!

Planning rules seem to be broken at the drop of a hat if a care home needs to be built.

Looking at the site as I drive past regularly, I just see an eyesore. Surely there is a way to develop this site with safe vehicular access and put it to good use without starting World War Three? — Yours faithfully,

Leslie Plumb

Queen Street,

Henley



Hypocritical decision

Sir, — I am a Harpsden resident living in Gillotts Lane and I remind readers that the Thames Farm site is situated in Harpsden parish.

I was shocked when I received an excited phone call from a Shiplake resident informing me that the Thames Farm application for outline planning permission had not been granted when South Oxfordshire District Council officers were in favour of development.

My neighbours and I have always supported development at Thames Farm. We believe it should have been included in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

It is the only site which has amenities to support sustainable development as required by the Government and many people have written to the Henley Standard outlining this fact.

The site has public transport facilities and a supermarket with a large parking area nearby as well as a flourishing shop and post office in Shiplake.

People being able to use these facilities on a regular basis would help reduce congestion in Henley and therefore the problem of pollution which has not been resolved (or a traffic plan produced).

The possible homes planned include social housing and it is an ideal site for commuters to Reading and London and for people who work in Henley.

Many Shiplake residents oppose our views and a large number attended the meeting of South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee, although the site is not in their parish.

Many believe they cannot access Henley town quickly because of traffic congestion. This is true of all entrances to Henley, particularly Greys Road.

Shiplake residents do have the option of catching a train into Henley, a very quick journey, or to take a bus or taxi.

I have no concerns about traffic exiting from this site as many cars exited from the garden centre next door when it functioned.I am informed the application for development at this site has been refused because of a dangerous entry on to a busy road. Why then has a factory been given permission to be built with an exit on to this road?

Also the neighbourhood plan advocated a plan for employment facilities at the old nursery.

Harpsden residents have to enter the A4155 from Sheephouse Lane and the point of entry has a 50mph sign.It seems rather hypocritical as the solution to the problem of exiting from the site safely was a roundabout, which was outlined in the plans.

My neighbours and I supported outline planning for this site and regret that logical reasoning and discussion did not take place at the working groups forming the neighbourhood plan nor, it appears, at the planning committee meeting.

Where will housing be planned next? At the moment major development is planned to the west of Henley, too far from the town centre with no amenities except more playing fields and contrary to the district council’s original local plan, which is now invalid. — Yours faithfully,

Odette Moss

Gillotts Lane,

Harpsden



Good sense has prevailed

Sir, — I have lived in Henley all my life and have watched it change over the years, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.

I cannot remember seeing plans for a development like the one proposed for Thames Farm that would have such a crushingly hideous impact on a prosperous market town like ours.

Now that this has been rejected by South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee, it would seem there was a gross underestimation of the objection to this site.

There were even a couple of coaches laid on to take people to the committee meeting, including the landlady of the Baskerville Arms.

I have received nice personal emails from a couple of members of the committee who said they felt they had made the right decision having considered carefully all the arguments.

Contrary to my previous thoughts of our democratic process being replaced by plagues of locusts, famine etc, it would appear common sense was available for comment! — Yours faithfully,

Rupert Thurgood

Northfield Avenue,

Lower Shiplake



Disastrous development

Sir, — I read with concern about the Gladman Developments proposal to build 270 homes on three fields in Emmer Green (Standard, September 2).

This proposed development should be refused as it would have disastrous consequences for Sonning Common.The proposed site is outside the boundary of houses in Emmer Green. It is on green belt land and would be an unwanted intrusion into open countryside and would result in the loss of arable farm land. It is also on a dangerous bend.

If this development is allowed to go ahead it would set a precedent for further development between Reading and Sonning Common, resulting in a land grab of Sonning Common by Berkshire and eventually our lovely village would be swallowed up into Reading with houses all the way.

We do not want this to happen and want the county boundary to stay where it is. — Yours faithfully,

Anne Gough

Sonning Common



Importance of our plan

Sir, — It was very encouraging to see the letter from South Oxfordshire District Council leader John Cotton stating that neighbourhood plans still carry weight (Standard, September 9).

It is only right that they should, bearing in mind the national planning policy framework, categorically states: “Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals.”

The Sonning Common neighbourhood plan may not carry quite as much weight as we were led to believe when it was initially under preparation but, rest assured, it is very much better than nothing.

The housing number allocated to our village is inescapable.

The Sonning Common community, through the working party and extensive consultation, has been able to decide where these homes should go and at the same time gain additional benefit from proposed recreation facilities and the community infrastructure levy which will help towards this and other community projects.

I am not a member of the working party but, together with other villagers, I did help with the survey process and I am impressed by the objective and democratic process that has produced this plan.

There is an ever-present possibility of encroachment into South Oxfordshire from expansion of Reading as seen with the proposed development north of Emmer Green.

Most residents want Sonning Common to remain as a distinct village and the neighbourhood plan has identified land for housing which does this to the greatest extent possible within the overall housing allocation. I strongly urge all residents to support the plan and vote in favour at the village hall on Thursday, September 29, or by postal vote. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Fitchett

Kennylands Road,

Henley



Stables would add to chaos

Sir, — I am writing to draw attention to the Park Place planning application for 40 stables and a second polo pitch (the owner already has a pitch but wants a larger one), with the main access for all resulting traffic and visitors to the polo matches to be on Remenham Hill, a road that is already overly busy and congested.

Anyone local who regularly uses the A4130 to come into or out of Henley knows the traffic on Remenham Hill can be awful.

We’ve all spent the odd 20 minutes waiting in traffic here and occasionally a lot longer when local events are on.

At Remenham the speed has been reduced to 30mph to make it safer but still some car drivers and motor cyclists go through at 60mph-plus. It’s amazing that there aren’t more crashes.

Any effort to make the roads here safer and reduce traffic is always appreciated and recent road improvements have helped.

It therefore horrifies me that traffic could become even worse if Park Place is allowed to have a polo pitch with its entrance directly on to the A4130.

They are applying for 40 matches to be played in the summer months, which would be around three matches a week.

The horse lorries are massive. On match days we would expect 20 to 40 extra horses from the teams, meaning at least 10 large vehicles coming and going with all the entourage and spectators on top.

It doesn’t take much for the traffic in Remenham to come to a standstill and this could easily add another three awful days a week to it.

The size of the planned stables, where incidentally there is no current building in place, is to accommodate 40 extra horses on top of the eight to 10 already there.

This would seem like a small industrial estate in lovely countryside with lorries and cars coming and going all day.

The building works would take at least 18 months, meaning lots of articulated lorries dropping off machinery and materials.

The last time building works occurred on this site three cars crashed into the building lorries. It’s going to be much much worse if this application is allowed.

How can this disturbance to Remenham and Henley be allowed for the benefit of one person?

If the owner really does need the 40 polo matches a year, which they know will disrupt a significant amount of locals and visitors to the area, they could at least look to minimise this havoc to all of us.

The owner already has enough land that the stabling and access can be moved away from the A4130, meaning traffic wouldn’t affect us as much, but it seems he won’t even consider it! — Yours faithfully,

Neal Thomas

Remenham Hill



Please fix scout hut

Sir, — I write with reference to your story headlined “Shiplake scouts need £5,300 to repair their scout hut (Standard, Sept 9).

Last year Henley Rugby Club was awarded a £100,000 community grant for its premises yet these scouts have to raise £5,300 to repair their hut.

Surely the council could have made a donation of this amount, which is very small in comparison to what has been donated to others in the past.

This is such a worthwhile cause and it is very sad that the group will cease to exist in the next few months if the money is not raised when it means so much to these young people. — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Thompson

Reading Road,

Henley



Tidy up old pub sites

Sir, — Brakspear may win awards and make good profits but when are they going to going to invest to invest some of their profits into their properties in this area?

The Dog and Duck at Highmoor has been an eyesore and disgrace for some years. Nearby are the Crown at Nuffield and the Four Horseshoes at Checkendon, which have also been empty for two years.

People need houses and builders are looking for land. Why not tidy up these up these places? — Yours faithfully,

Nina W Evans

Ishree Terrace, Stoke Row



Tom Davis, chief excecutive of Brakspear, responds: “Nina, I could not agree with you more. It is sad and, given the lack of housing in the area, wrong to have these buildings standing empty.

“The truth is that for both the Crown at Nuffield and the Four Horseshoes we have been refused permission for change of use by South Oxfordshire District Council, which would rather the derelict buildings were left vacant for squatters than turned into much-needed housing.

“The Dog and Duck is awaiting planning permission for two further houses before any work can start.

“Unfortunately, until there is a change of attitude at the district council these buildings will remain in a state of disrepair.

“These are pubs of yesteryear but Brakspear spends £3million a year on maintaining and improving our tenanted and leased pubs so that both we and our customers can be proud of them.””



Stop culture of moaning

Sir, — I generally enjoy reading your newspaper but am increasingly dismayed by our “moaning” mindset.

We grumble about pollution, congestion, car parking and obesity with its effects on health and an overstretched NHS.

Arguably we need a change in attitude and culture and all these problems could be at least ameliorated at a stroke.

Such a culture shift needs to start with our community leaders, political and otherwise. What is needed is a more northern European attitude towards walking, cycling, public transport, exercise and food intake.

All these items are largely matters of individual choice and can be grasped to an extent, depending on circumstances.

How many of our community leaders and others seem capable of using their brains, accepting responsibility and doing more along these lines? It seems not many and in any case far too few. — Yours faithfully,

John Thornley

Makins Road,

Henley



Be careful with knotweed

Sir, — Your report regarding Wargrave Parish Council’s problem with Japanese knotweed (Standard, September 9) contained some factual inaccuracies and glossed over the legal position regarding this invasive species.

The plant will spread underground but suggesting “miles” is misleading. It will spread into a larger and larger clump but will not appear suddenly with no apparent source. This only happens if a small piece of a plant (a fingernail sized piece of the rhizome will do) is transferred inadvertently.

This can be with soil from another site, cuttings, or plants being dumped illegally. It is extremely rare for the actual seeds to germinate.

The commonest places to find the plant are in undisturbed areas where it has a chance to grow unnoticed. Railway cuttings and embankments, canals and disused land are the preferred locations.

It is suggested that the plant is poisonous. It is not and indeed a search of the internet reveals many recipes for using the young plants.

Your report indicates that the parish council ground staff will deal with it themselves but they run a very real risk of breaking the law if they do.

Any part of the plant cut back and removed is controlled waste and can only be disposed of by a licensed contractor.

In these circumstances it is not clear whether the ground staff or the members of the council who instructed them to carry out the work would be held liable.

According to the Government’s website: “You could be fined up to £5,000 or be sent to prison for up to two years if you allow contaminated soil or plant material from any waste you transfer to spread into the wild.”

Consequently, allowing the plant to spread to other land close by, particularly into gardens, could lead to claims from owners. These rules apply equally to homeowners who also have a responsibility to their neighbours.

The existence of the plant can affect the saleability and mortgageability of residential properties so it should not be ignored.

If anyone wants further information then just search the intenet for “Japanese knotweed and residential property, 1st edition — RICS”,

The report gives useful information on identification, the law and the effects on structures together with guidance to surveyors and valuers on classification of risk which is used by mortgage lenders — many will not lend if the risk is too great. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Pope

West Chiltern,

Woodcote



Overpaid newsreaders

Sir, — The inability of the BBC to fund the Great British Bake Off’s retention must be in part due to the large number of £150,000 salaries paid for relatively undemanding roles in the corporation for which there would be a long queue of perfectly competent lower-cost applicants if advertised.

Newsreaders are often paid more than those who make the news — indeed at a level similar to individuals who have to meet the challenges of successfully running small to medium-sized businesses. I suspect moreover that the job security of the latter men and women is significantly poorer than of the former! — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road,

Henley



Health chiefs don’t listen

Sir, — I was not surprised to read that only 18 people turned up for the “Big Conversation” with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (Standard, September 9).

What is the point of having a big conversation with people who don’t listen?

They paid little heed to the dozens who attended their meeting at Phyllis Court Club, to the hundreds who signed the Henley Standard Save our Beds petition, or to the thousands who marched around town and gathered in the town square.

Our voices were raised in support of the Townlands beds and the excellent team who worked in the unit.

This unit has now been disbanded and we are still waiting for a replacement. — Yours faithfully,

Lynne Alderson

Lovell Close,

Henley



You could be the governor

Sir, — The Royal Berkshire Hospital seeks new members and a new public governor for South Oxfordshire.

You are invited to come along to a members’ open day at the Royal Berkshire Trust Education Centre at the hospital tomorrow (Saturday), from 9am to 3pm, to see how the trust works and meet staff and governors.

Debbie McGee, widow of the late Paul Daniels, will give a short talk and there are keynote presentations from the emergency department and trauma and orthopaedics teams.

There will also be tours of cardiology, catering, pharmacy, the medical museum and simulation centre as well as many interesting stands and exhibits and a friendly atmosphere.

I have held the post of governor for some time but now, sadly, I have to step down as I am moving out of the area.

Anyone who is already a member of the foundation trust is eligible to be a governor. Membership is free and has many benefits — a better understanding and involvement in the hospital and fascinating visits.

Being a governor is an even greater privilege, with responsibilities including holding the board to account, and is a three-year commitment.

The NHS needs our support. In Henley we increasingly benefit from the clinics the Royal Berkshire runs in our smart new Townlands Hospital.

Do think about becoming part of the picture. Find out more about membership and applying online at www.royal berkshire.nhs.uk — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Bowder

Northfield End,

Henley



Our sale of festival waste

Sir, — I am a member of the team of Warren and District Residents Association which for the past six years has worked with Festival Republic to recycle metal, reclaim camping gear for sale to support the refurbishment of the Mapledurham playing fields pavilion and reclaim food, clothes, towels and other items for the homeless centres and food banks in Reading.

This year we have recycled four tons of metal and reclaimed hundreds of items for resale (all proceeds to the refurbishment of the pavilion) and donated approximately 30 bags of food, clothing and other items to homeless centres in Reading.

On Saturday, September 24 from noon to 3pm we are holding our annual camping gear sale.

It is normally held at Mapledurham pavilion but this year, due to the closure of the pavilion, it will be held at the Christchurch Meadows Pavilion (another pavilion in need of some TLC).

Every year we have a terrific group of volunteers — mostly young local people who come to help, get a ticket to the festival and do some good for the community.

It is a huge contrast from the people who walk away from the festival, leaving just about everything they came with for someone else to sort out.

The waste is incredible but we are lucky that Festival Republic is keen to work with us to some benefit of those in need. — Yours faithfully,

Elisa Miles

Upper Warren Avenue,

Caversham



Thank you to two kind men

Sir, — I would like to please thank the two kind gentlemen who helped me when I tripped up in the alley between the Henley market place and the Greys Road car park.Fortunately, I was only shaken up but their attention was gratefully received.The sooner the work on the redevelopment of this area starts, the better. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Chivers

Westleigh Drive,

Sonning Common



Same word but different

Sir, — Further to the correspondence about grammar/grammer (Standard, September 9), can you also tell your births, marriages, deaths compiler the difference between “formerly” and “formally” please?

I write as a former secondary schoolboy with no  O-levels and a former compositor (hot metal). — Yours faithfully,

Roger Lightfoot

Odiham Avenue,

Caversham Park Village



Honour our Paralympians

Sir, — It is wonderful that we are welcoming Henley’s Olympians at the celebratory parade tomorrow (Saturday).

However, while the parade is happening the local successful Paralympians will still be in Rio or travelling home and will, sadly, miss out on participating.

Perhaps it would be possible for you to publish some profiles iso we can share their individual journeys to success. — Yours faithfully,

Lisa Drage

Norman Avenue,

Henley





The editor responds: “The lead story on our sports pages this week is about the success of our rowers at the Paralympics and I understand there is to be a special event for them at Henley town hall next month.”



The effect of inconsiderate parking

Sir, — For several weeks now we have had a problem with the collection of our rubbish and it’s all because of people parking inconsiderately.

Our collection should have been Wednesday but the rubbish is still here, including the food waste bin. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Green

Mount View, Henley



Great spirit of farming community

Sir, — The Henley and District Agricultural Association’s 125th anniversary show was probably one of the wettest on record and will probably also record one of the worst in attendance.

Nevertheless, with great spirit, we ploughed on, demonstrating the true character of the farming community whatever the weather.

Because of that I would like to recognise the time and effort each member of the association has put in to make this year’s show so memorable.

Beyond that I would like to say thank-you to everyone who braved the rain and joined us at Mill End – there was a lot to see and a lot to do and I hope that you managed to enjoy yourselves.

Perhaps God will look down more kindly on my successors in the years to come and you will all enjoy future shows in better conditions.

With every good wish to the association and to everyone who continues to support it. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Ovey

President, Henley and District Agricultural Association, Rotherfield Greys







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