Tuesday, 12 December 2017
We cause all this waste
Sir, — Your front page carried a story about the strong smell of rubbish piled up in a Henley council depot (Standard, July 28).
Horrifying to some as this no doubt is, at least the bags had been collected and were awaiting removal — hopefully part of a logistical problem on the way to being resolved.
However, like many such knee-jerk reaction issues regarding waste, it ignores the more fundamental question of who generates all the waste in the first place — us.
Recently the national press has alerted us to the dire problem of millions of tons of plastic floating around our oceans, creating mayhem in the environment.
Again it is us that were responsible for putting it there, nobody else.
Is it not, therefore, a somewhat irresponsible announcement by South Oxfordshire District Council, reported on page 2 of the same issue, telling us that it is now okay to line our food waste bins with plastic bags (don’t worry they can be removed, we are told)?
Despite the best efforts of various agencies to educate us on how to recycle and how to segregate our waste, we remain largely lazy and ignorant over such matters.
This retrogressive step in making things easier can only encourage a general apathy towards responsible sorting and recycling our rubbish and instil in our minds that it is someone else’s problem.
It is not — it is our problem and we must learn to deal with it responsibly. — Yours faithfully,
Watcombe Road, Watlington
Issue moved, not solved
Sir, — There was great public fanfare around the announcement that Henley’s business rubbish problem had been solved.
Numerous councillors were even photographed standing smiling next to bags of rubbish. As is so often the case, the reality isn’t quite so rosy.
Those councillors simply arranged for the piles of rubbish to be moved from one part of town to another and they want to continue doing so for the next three months.
You will marvel at the rubbish-free pathways on Duke Street and Hart Street but you may not be so delighted when you visit Tesco or take your children for sports activities to Jubilee Park.
The sight and stench of the mound of rubbish that has been dumped at that end of town is disgusting.
It was clear from the discussion during the town council meeting last week that those councillors who think this is a good site for rotting rubbish hadn’t been there to witness the impact for themselves, so “out of sight, out of mind” was obviously guiding their thinking.
Creating a rubbish dump next to one of the main supermarkets and an area frequently visited by children is not a solution, it is ripe for rat infestation, particularly during the warmer summer months.
Your Conservative councillors are not prepared to let the Henley Residents’ Group proposal stand, which would see a continuation of the storage of rubbish, and will push for a more timely and comprehensive solution which tackles the problem at its source.
Your Conservative councillors will constructively input at the working group that has been formed to ensure the end solution works for all Henley residents and not just those who frequent the centre of the town. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Sam Evans
Henley Town Council, Reading Road, Henley
Irresponsible and unlawful
Sir, — How many laws have been broken and how has a disgusting, festering rubbish mountain been formed in Henley?
And that’s not to mention the amount of taxpayers’ money that has been wasted.
Let’s be very clear: Biffa and Grundon are world-class companies and this is not down to them at all.
This is a costly and dumb disaster of Henley Residents’ Group’s own making.
As I understand it, HRG paid for a small company to move waste from Henley and dump it behind Tesco (I hope all the documentation under the Environmental Protection Act of 1974 for the transfer of waste is correct or the council could be sued with more cost to the taxpayer).
Then there is the unlawful use of an unlicensed site for the transfer of waste, fly-tipping on a monumental scale... what were they thinking?
You cannot just create a rubbish tip without planning permission.
Now someone has to move it. Moving it twice costs twice as much and as the tip isn’t regulated it could easily be deemed hazardous waste, so to take it away could cost a further £280 to £300 a ton to move and then the land may need to be brought back into a safe state.
We saw all the HRG councillors smiling in front of a waste collection vehicle (Standard, July 21) looking smug and pleased with themselves when all they had done was spend our money and moved the problem down the street and started an illegal waste transfer site/fly-tipping site that we will have to pay to have cleaned up.
It’s mad, irresponsible and dangerous.
I was voted Chartered Industry of Waste Management industry leader of the year in 2015 so I do have some experience in this area. — Yours faithfully,
We were not to blame
Sir, — We wish to make clear that Grundon Waste Management was not responsible for the discarded bags of waste featured in your article.
The report implied that the waste pictured was commercial waste due to be collected by Grundon which had been left piling up at the council depot, causing problems for residents and neighbours. This was not the case.
When the issue of commercial waste from businesses, shops and cafés being left out overnight on the streets was raised with us, we stepped forward to provide a dedicated new afternoon collection service — at our expense — and this will begin in mid-August.
The extra collection is in addition to our existing twice-daily commercial collections, paid for by our commercial customers, which are undertaken by specialist waste vehicles.
Until this new service begins, the council’s own staff have been collecting the commercial waste bags and taking them to a central collection point on land owned by the council.
At that point they are sorted and bags from Grundon customers go into one of our waste containers from where our vehicles collect them on a daily basis.
To help keep the streets as clean and tidy as possible and to help manage the collection area, we also supplied containers to store our competitor’s waste until such time as it could be collected.
Unfortunately, it seems that these collections have not been as regular as ours and therefore the amount of waste has exceeded the space in the containers we provided.
As soon as we were alerted to this fact, we provided a further large waste container and trust this will keep the situation in check.
Once our new collection service begins, our drivers will take over responsibility for collecting the commercial waste refuse bags and taking them to this area, so we will ensure they help to monitor the situation on a regular basis.
We look forward to continuing to work closely in partnership with the local council and to helping keep Henley’s streets clean and tidy. — Yours faithfully,
Oxford Road, Benson
We’ll keep town clean
Sir, — The bags of rubbish have been cleared from the council depot. Our system was working very well for three weeks but one of the contractors stopped collecting the bags. I have personally apologised to the businesses in that area.
Shortly Grundon will start its permanent scheme for the evening business waste.
I will point out that this situation began on March 1 — under the Conservatives — when the bags were not collected and for two months and left on the streets of Henley.
The Conservatives also stopped the three deep cleans of Henley that were started three years ago.
Two Conservatives were on the waste working group that agreed to this temporary solution and the permanent Grundon solution which will start shortly.
Henely Residents’ Group is determined to make our town clean and tidy.
Therefore we have come up with a solution to the evening business waste, had meetings with South Oxfordshire District Council about trade waste, litter and street bins and instituted three deep cleans of Henley, including bubble gum removal.
We will also work to improve the grotty spots, for example, around the Regal Picturehouse cinema.
We will work with businesses and residents to make our town clean. Progress is being made. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak
Henley Town Council,
Elizabeth Road, Henley
Heavy-handed ‘mooring’ fine
Sir, — I am writing concerning a fine in the form of a mooring charge notice of £200 issued on July 21 for an alleged offence that happened at 7.35pm on the evening of June 30 during Henley Royal Regatta after racing had finished for the day.
We waited until 7.30pm for racing for the day to finish and proceeded in my boat across the river just downstream of the start line to pick up three visiting American crew members from the towpath on the Berkshire side of the river.
We noted that signs had been erected along the river bank which are not normally there stating that “mooring charges apply at all times”.
On reading the details more closely, I noted that as long as the boat was in motion then these charges did not apply.
The crew members that we picked up were able to step on to the boat while it was gently moving upstream alongside the bank.
However, we were ordered to stop by a man dressed in an official looking uniform that made him look like an Environment Agency officer.
We obeyed the command to stop and the next thing he did was to start taking photographs on his phone and informing us that we had moored on the bank and were therefore liable to charges.
We told him that we had only stopped due to his order and that we had picked up the crew from the bank while the boat was gently in motion.
By his overzealous and heavy handed actions this would seem to be a case of coercion, which is totally unacceptable.
We left the bank and proceeded back upstream towards Leander Club but on the way I did drop into the Environment Agency mooring adjacent to Phyllis Court to ascertain as to whether one of their staff was on duty on the Copas land.
I was informed that this was not the case and they had no idea of what I was talking about. — Yours faithfully,
The Copas Partnership, Temple Island Meadows, responds: “During busy periods, such as Henley Royal Regatta and the Rewind Festival, mooring on this reach is restricted.
Mooring at Temple Island Meadows is managed by District Enforcement and supported by the Environment Agency. Unauthorised stopping and mooring is not permitted and an unauthorised landing fee is applicable to deter boat owners from doing so.
Signs are in place at 10m intervals stating: ‘By mooring, anchoring or remaining stationary at this site, you, the person or persons in control of the vessel, agree to the terms below: a charge of £200 per incident, payable within seven days, for any unauthorised use of this mooring site.’
This policy is in line with the Thames Navigation Licensing and general byelaws 1993 and safety recommendations from the Environment Agency.
District Enforcement personnel wear corporate uniforms. They do not wear Environment Agency uniforms or carry Environment Agency identification.
To avoid any misunderstanding, we would recommend that boat owners wishing to moor or pick up from our venue check our signage or website before doing so.”
Terrible way to be treated
Sir, — Over the past few months there have been some disturbing letters in the Henley Standard from angry correspondents regarding the parking system at Townlands Hospital.
I can empathise fully with these sentiments as I am now one of these people who is being hounded by Smart Parking.
In early July I had an appointment at the rapid access care unit at the hospital and parked on site.
However, I had some difficulty navigating the recording system, so I asked one of the receptionists to help me.
This lady willingly did but as no receipt or ticket was issued, I assumed that everything had been completed correctly.
I had the consultation and left the Townlands site, in my car, an hour-and-a-half later.
Four days later, I received a parking charge notice for £100 from Smart Parking.
I responded immediately, explaining that I had been a genuine patient and had parked legitimately on site.
On reflection, I should have contacted the care unit and asked for written confirmation of this but I didn't want to cause extra work, on a non-medical issue, for an NHS unit that is already overstretched.
I assumed, naively, that Smart Parking would be reasonable and cancel the charge.
However, I have now received a reply and it is upholding the charge.
I have applied to the Parking On Private Land Appeals service, as suggested, but I am sceptical that the outcome will be satisfactory.
Maybe POPLA and Smart Parking use these fines as part of their business model.
I am not allowed to use the Ombudsman service as Smart Parking “does not participate” in this nationally recognised scheme. Why not?
In my view, Smart Parking has no moral compass and is using bully-boy tactics to chase genuine people who have done nothing fundamentally wrong. — Yours faithfully,
Cyclist who wants to live!
Sir, — I welcome Malcolm Barnett’s letter about cycling on pavements (Standard, July 28).
Much of what he says is correct, except his assertion that “cycling on pavements is antisocial, dangerous and illegal — it’s as simple as that”.
Unfortunately, it’s far from being as simple as that. Let me explain why.
This country is already the most overcrowded in Europe and set to become much worse as we take in unprecedented numbers of migrants and birthrates soar. Space is at a premium.
Mr Barnett acknowledges that cycling is “a welcome thing”, so where does he suggest we do it?
I cycle around Henley most days, often on pavements (bring on the handcuffs).
I do so slowly, always giving way to pedestrians, if necessary by dismounting.
The reason I do this is simple: it’s called survival. Cycling on main roads is not only antisocial, slowing all traffic to the speed of the cyclist, it’s also dangerous. A slight bump between two cars will only cost you a few quid at a repair shop, whereas a similar bump against a bike may earn you a one way trip to the crematorium. On a bike you are very vulnerable.
The sensible approach is therefore to not only allow but actively encourage cyclists to use the pavement. We already do this in places where dedicated bike tracks have been painted on.
All this with one big proviso: this must be responsible cycling. All too often bikers are intimidating, giving all cyclists a bad name.
The answer surely is not to ban cycling on pavements as such, but to crack down on dangerous cycling — as we already do with dangerous driving. — Yours faithfully,
Wootton Road, Henley
Many benefits of a bicycle
Sir, — I was very sorry to learn that a woman was injured by a cyclist on the pavement but Malcolm Barnett has, I suggest, simply got it wrong.
The law, while necessary, is the bluntest of instruments; it is inevitably behind what communities and their ever-evolving behaviours and attitudes require. Fortunately, our local police use discretion when applying it.
All that is needed is tolerance, patience and a response that fits the situation, qualities which folk in Henley have in abundance.
Sometimes, motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders must share a common thoroughfare, for example, Gillotts Lane. Happily, my experience is that they can and do work it out.
In other places, there are as many as three parallel pavements available to pedestrians, for example, parts of Greys Road, and usually very few pedestrians to enjoy such over-provision.
Elsewhere, it can be much safer for the motorist and speed them on their way if cyclists make use of frequently empty pavements, for example, Church Street, Greys Hill and parts of Greys Road.
I have regularly cycled on pavements, in the UK and abroad, when appropriate, for nearly 80 years, occasionally going the “wrong” way up one-way streets, never hurting anyone, or causing an accident. And I still do.
I am a car owner and a reluctant motorist but also an enthusiast of walking, cycling and using buses.
The benefits of cycling are well-known — to personal health and to reducing pollution, now a recognised killer.
Cycling is the most efficient form of transport that mankind has so far devised. Let’s have more of it. It is not a just a toy for the young.
It would be great if our community leaders, i.e. councillors, were to demonstrate their commitment to reducing pollution in Henley, for which cycling is part of the solution, not by exhortation but by example.
So far that does not seem to have happened. — Yours faithfully,
Makins Road, Henley
No pavement rage in Japan
Sir, — Like Malcolm Barnett, I too was not surprised that a woman was knocked over and injured by a cyclist on the pavement in Henley.
But I disagree with his absolutist injunction against cycling on pavements.
He writes: “Pavements are for pedestrians and cycling on them is antisocial, dangerous and illegal — it’s as simple as that.”
Not quite — for, as Oscar Wilde wrote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
One of my most enduring memories of the medieval town of Ashikaga, some 80 miles north of Tokyo, was the sight of cyclists cycling, at a leisurely pace, on the designated and clearly marked cycle lanes on the pavements of the river bridges (managing to also hold an umbrella in light rain) in perfect and peaceful co-existence with the pedestrians on either side of them.
On several occasions we hired bicycles and used the pavement cycle lanes without any problems.
Now I can’t believe that the Japanese are cleverer than the Brits in coming up with a scheme which safely serves both pedestrians and cyclists, so I can only conclude that their mindset shies away from cycling pavement rage. — Yours faithfully,
Gosbrook Road, Caversham
You can hire bike from me
Sir, — With reference to your article about a bicycle hire scheme in Henley (Standard, July 31), I would just like to point out that my company, Henley Cycles in Reading Road, has been offering cycle hire for the past eight years.
I am all in favour of more people using a bike for transport but it would have been nice if your article had mentioned that bike hire is not a new thing to be offered to the town.
At the moment, I feel every single small business in this town needs as much support as possible. — Yours faithfully,
Henley Cycles, Reading Road, Henley
School move good for all
Sir, — I write in support for the Heights Primary School being permanently located on Mapledurham playing fields.
Performance Cricket was set up in 2006 to support cricket coaching delivery and development in clubs and schools for boys, girls and adults, both able bodied and those with disabilities.
To date, our programmes have engaged thousands of young people across the local community, working in dozens of local schools (both primary and secondary) and nearly 20 cricket clubs.
We also support the county board of Berkshire Cricket with coaching delivery.
Following the success of our cricket programmes, we have grown and strengthened our coaching delivery in the community to cover a variety of sports. We are now called the Performance Sports Group.
In addition, I was head coach of England’s physical disability cricket team from 2010 until recntly.
The improvement of leisure and recreation facilities is paramount to us. The value of quality facilities cannot be underestimated.
As documents in the school planning application state, independent consultants have advised that the Education Funding Agency’s proposal of a £1.36million investment plus the shared school facilities are in the best interest of the leisure and recreation ground, enhancing the playing fields way beyond their current state.
Furthermore, we have a growing population of young people moving through their primary school years who are lacking in exercise, developing early signs of obesity and being at high risk of mental illness and poor wellbeing in later life.
Sport, leisure and exercise is well known for enhancing fitness and housing a primary school within just five per cent of a playing field will be a significant opportunity for local children’s health and wellbeing.
And not just for the school children but for the whole community, from which children from other schools and local community groups will benefit.
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in Mapledurham playing fields unlocking the potential that exists from such a venture for Caversham and the surrounding community. — Yours faithfully,
Director, Performance Cricket
Best for the community
Sir, — I am writing in support of the proposed plan to site the Heights Primary School on Mapledurham playing fields.
For the year 2015/16, I chaired the Escape Toddler Group. It was (and still is) a great playgroup, providing fun, educational and interactive activities for babies and toddlers.
At the time, we operated out of the Mapledurham pavillion. The space was functional but in dire need of investment.
Still, it was popular as it was the only children’s group operating in the area and many families could walk there with their young children.
In fact, many of the children who attended Escape then completed their reception year at the Heights last month.
In January, Reading Borough Council was forced to close the pavilion.
Escape found the best option available that allowed us to continue running both sessions.
However, the new location on The Warren meant a considerable number of children could no longer attend as it was too far to walk.
Escape was keen to be back in the pavilion as soon as possible and raised this with the Mapledurham management committee.
When the council took the decision to delay any refurbishment of the pavilion until consideration of the proposed development of the school had been concluded we were understandably concerned.
We thought it was important to understand the real views of our users so we polled them — and more than 70 per cent either agreed or strongly agreed that the council’s decision to delay this refurbishment was the right course of action.
It was made clear to us that our users thought that a basic refurbishment, though quicker to achieve, would not offer as much as is on the table with the school proposal.
The Heights proposal offers a real chance for this under-used space to become a lively, lovely and welcoming place that is able to support the clubs and groups that used it before as well as offering significant improvements. A hub for the community, run by the community. — Yours faithfully,
Hoping for the best...
Sir, — One of the fates that can befall old buildings that are allowed to stand empty is to become the subject of vandalism, and then arson, and then what is left becomes uneconomic to repair or rebuild and so is then demolished.
I hope that is not the fate of Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane, Whitchurch. — Yours faithfully,
Kindness in the rain
Sir, — My daughter, baby granddaughter and I were caught in a torrential storm as we left the Kenton Theatre in Henley on the evening of July 18.
We’d had a lovely evening watching Peppard schoolchildren performing their production of Oliver! but as we left the heavens opened and the lightning zipped over our heads as we tried to cross the road in Bell Street to get back to our cars.
As we approached the Strada restaurant, a gentleman in the doorway (I believe he must have been the manager) invited us in to get out of the rain and said he would make us coffee so we could dry ourselves a bit. When we said we would continue on our way he also found a little jacket for my granddaughter and an umbrella from the lost property box. I’d just like to thank the gentleman concerned so much for his kindness — it restored my faith in human kindness. — Yours faithfully,
Lynne Froud, Hannah and baby Katie
Galsworthy Drive, Caversham
Fireworks still provide thrill
Sir, — I must add my hurrahs to all those concerned in raising the funds for the fireworks on the Saturday night of Henley Royal Regatta and the general work of the volunteers.
The fireworks continue to thrill with big bangs and bright lights, as they have done since my school days in the Fifties.
Hopefully, I will relive my childhood thrills next year as I sadly missed the display this year. Hurrah for Henley and its regatta. — Yours faithfully,
Peter M Adams
Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants
Looking for old friend
Sir, — I’m trying to find a Malcolm Charles Bryant who use to lived at The Quarries, Stoke Row. He went to Farninghan Home for Boys until 1960 then he was transfered to Alverstoke NCH Gosport.
The reason for trying to find him is we were in the same house at Farningham and I’m trying to trace old boys.
Do any of his relatives still live in the area? If you could help in any way I would be greatful — Yours faithfully,
50 Caryl Road. Lytham St Annes, Lancashire FY8 2QB
Lesser award for drama
Sir, — Many apologies for the article stating that the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society had won the National Operatic and Dramatic Association’s Joe Putnam Award for best musical for its production of Spamalot and that I won the Ken Wirdnam Award for best male in a musical for playing the part of Patsy (Standard, July 21)
We didn’t win the categories outright but in fact were district winners. The mistake was mine. — Yours faithfully,
Farewell from town ‘faces’
Sir, — On behalf of Denise [Benham], the “flower lady” and myself Brian (reading glasses), the market traders of King’s Road car park in Henley, we would like say goodbye and thank you for your custom, loyalty and friendship over our many years of trading.
So from two of the faces of Henley, farewell! — Yours faithfully,
07 August 2017
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