Monday, 22 January 2018

Your letters...

Your letters...

Great except for rubbish

Sir, — What an excellent Christmas festival in Henley on Friday evening.

It was great fun and everyone seemed to be enjoying it, especially the children. It’s also a useful tool in promoting Henley’s businesses.

There was just one slight downside — a desperate shortages of rubbish bins, while those that were available were quickly filled to overflowing.

Certainly something that should be attended to for next year.

But to finish on a high note: as I was wandering along Bell Street, who should be walking through the crowds, dressed as Father Christmas, with a phone stuck to her ear, but our Mayor?

As she passed me, I just caught a snatch of her conversation, “...we need to get some litter-pickers down here as soon…”

Well done, Madam Mayor, bang on top of the job! — Yours faithfully,

John Downing

Reading Road, Henley

Fantastic festival

Sir, — What a great evening the Henley Christmas festival was.

Reinforced with a mammoth hot sausage with all the trimmings, followed by a glass of warming mulled wine and a piece of stollen cake, I found it a pleasure to check out the numerous food stalls, open shops and entertainments.

Smiling faces all round, if a little chilly, but, hey, it was the first day of December and the rain took fright and steered clear. Everyone was enjoying themselves, in particular the children, queuing for the various rides and fairground attractions.

Perhaps equally praiseworthy is that all signs of the previous night’s revelry had been cleared by early Saturday morning. Even the pavements appeared to have been washed.

Congratulations to all concerned, the Mayor, town manager, stallholders, open shops and all others involved in making the evening such a success. — Yours faithfully,

William A Fitzhugh

Caversham

No protection from attack

Sir, — Before we applaud a successful Christmas festival, we, as citizens of Henley, have to point out that the town council could very well have been responsible for it ending in the biggest disaster in Henley’s history.

There were no barriers to prevent terror attacks. Bell Street was wide open and there were no escape routes.

A tractor was put up in the alley at Waitrose, probably to prevent visitors from driving down to Bell Street.

We spoke with a couple of police officers and they were well aware of the problem. They told us to take the matter up with council as the security was its responsibility.

Unfortunately, terror is a well-known phenomenon in the UK and Europe that we must live with.

This summer we saw how every French market was blocked by heavy vehicles across the road to protect visitors. We do believe that it is about time Henley Town Council woke up and took better care of the citizens. — Yours faithfully,

Henrik and Marianne Meisner-Jensen

New Street, Henley

Thank you for donations

Sir, — Every year at Laurence Menswear on Christmas festival night we hand out mulled wine and mince pies to raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance service.

This year I am delighted to say that we raised £240. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed and helped make this the most successful evening yet in terms of money raised. — Yours faithfully,

Laurence Morris

Laurence Menswear, Duke Street, Henley

Waste issue isn’t sorted

Sir, — I was delighted to read the letter from Henley town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak stating that the town’s waste issue is sorted (Standard, November 17). Exactly what we all want to hear!

However, the reality seems somewhat different.

On my travels around Henley since then I have been taking note of and photographing the daily rubbish trail. (I deleted the photographs after 20).

All I can say is the situation is clearly not sorted.

The latest example of the Friday Street rubbish dump outside Lloyds bank was a row of grey bags on Saturday at about 11am (not, as proposed, after 4.30pm) which were still there on Sunday at 11.45am.

We live in a jewel of a town which is internationally known as a beautiful destination. We have an excess of nail bars and charity shops but do we need an excess of rubbish as well?

I, and I am sure many others, look forward to a successful solution for this ongoing problem. — Yours faithfully,

Leslie Plumb

Queen Street, Henley

Why do we accept fans?

Sir, — I am writing to complain about the builders’ skip that has been left at the back of the Hobbs of Henley boatyard.

Not only is it an eyesore, it’s a health hazard. I have seen rats running around and two weeks ago I saw Sheffield Wednesday supporters using it as a public toilet.

Why do we allow coaches to bring these people into Henley for games that are being played in Reading?

They are banned from the pubs in Reading, so why should we put up with them in this town? — Yours faithfully,

G Morse

Station Road, Henley

Not really independent

Sir, — I hope that you will allow me, through this letter, to thank Councillor Ken Arlett for his kind comments about me (Standard, December 1) following my letter of the previous week.

However, I am not sure which part of my letter gave him the idea that I believe Henley Residents’ Group to be independents. I certainly do not think that.

No group that admits to meeting prior to council meetings to decide their voting strategy so that, in their words, “there are no surprises at the meeting” can be considered independent.

Furthermore, the Mayor rather gave the game away on social media last week when she said that “no matter whether a Conservative or Labour candidate wins the forthcoming North Ward by-election, HRG will still have a majority on the town council”. She is, of course, mathematically correct but that statement tells us all we need to know!

Councillor Arlett will also remember that political infighting is not the sole preserve of the Conservatives.

It was only three years ago that five HRG councillors, including the then Mayor, plus the secretary of their executive committee, resigned from HRG because of “serious conflict within the group”.

My belief that all candidates for town council should stand as true independents — free of party or group pressure and free to vote individually on all matters under discussion — gains momentum by the minute. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Luckett

Lime Court, Henley

No political interference

Sir, — Those who have read my recent letters will know my concerns regarding political interference within the planning process.

Last week, John Howell wrote that he is working with the Government to determine the matter of Thames Farm but will have to wait until the legal process has been concluded.

The inference is that whatever the decision of the courts of law, the matter can still be determined by the Government using Mr Howell’s influence as an MP.

I hope that my understanding is wrong and that, whatever the decision, the courts will be the final arbiter in disputes between opposing parties and that parliamentary privilege will not allow interference within the justice system.

I hope that Mr Howell will clarify his statement and put my mind at rest. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Brexit is so damaging

Sir, — Every day more evidence emerges of the damage Brexit is inflicting on our country.

The latest news is that a hard border in Ireland may be inevitable due mainly to the inflexibility of Theresa May and her team.

If she announced that we wished to stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market so many of the problems posed by Brexit would be resolved.

Unfortunately, the aggressiveness of the Brexiteers in the Conservative Party (the original cause of the referendum) seems to prevail over common sense.

Surely it is time for Members of Parliament to reflect the views of their constituents. Oxfordshire voted overwhelmingly to remain. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Cole

Whitchurch

Compromise on reform

Sir, — We need a new approach to the Brexit negotiations.

We had a referendum and there was a vote to leave the EU but it was not by a large majority and the issue has split public opinion and caused much unrest.

It was a surprise result, even to the Leave campaign, and was largely due to a protest vote by the regions of the UK which felt neglected and disenfranchised by the current government — and who can blame them?

This, together with the misinformation and scare- mongering put out by both campaigns, in particular by Boris Johnson and his collaborators. Nigel Farage, as a UK representative in the EU parliament, has misrepresented British values for years.

Amid all the confusion and doubt there are certainties:

1. No one believes that the EU is not without its problems and not in need of reform but neither is it all bad. We have good trading relations and investment with Europe and around the world.

2. No one voted to be worse off.

3. The EU is desperate to keep the EU intact. The departure of the UK could upset the cohesion of Europe with devastating consequences.

These three facts alone are calling out for a new approach and there may never a better time to make it.

Before the referendum, the Cameron government tried to negotiate reforms but failed. The reason is simple — the EU had no reason to make concessions as it believed, like the rest of us, that a Remain vote would prevail.

With the Brexit process in place, the dynamics are reversed. The EU is now in no doubt that if concessions are not made, we will leave. Now is the opportunity to negotiate reforms within the EU.

The UK is not alone in this respect. Other countries in the EU would welcome a shake-up.

We need EU workers but we also need to control our borders. The details would take time but the principle need not.

This why we cannot allow Theresa May to set a deadline in law for departure. Those who believe that we can get a special deal without paying a membership fee are living in a fantasy world.

The EU cannot afford to upset the equilibrium of a united Europe.

Those of us old enough to have experienced the last war (albeit as a child) can appreciate Winston Churchill’s call for a united Europe.

Peace has largely prevailed, unlike in other parts of the world where conflict and even genocide still exist, but we cannot be complacent.

There is a Right-wing agenda with ambition in many EU countries. To quote the age-old saying: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

I will be sending a copy of this proposal to Donald Tusk, urging him to make the first move. He will be presiding over a meeting with the 27 members of the EU and this should be on the agenda.

Triggering Article 50 was the start of the process, not the end. There are alternatives. We should consider how the vote to leave came about. It was an aspiration to create a fairer and better future in all its various forms.

To make meaningful reforms to the EU therefore is not a betrayal of democracy.

Reform, flexibility and compromise is the name of the game. It is a last-ditch attempt to make a success of the EU.

If I am wrong and it fails, then we leave and face the consequences. — Yours faithfully,

Edward G Hallett

Longfield Road, Twyford

Let us buy branch line

Sir, — It is sad news that Great Western Railway has been granted another year on its franchise (Standard, December 1).

All users of the Henley branch line know that GWR’s performance has been dire for years and is getting worse.

I understand that the branch line is to be cut off from the main line in 2018 with no more through trains to London.

To look at this positively, though, it creates the chance of running the branch as a proper local service.

Surely it is possible for the people of the area to form a company, buy the line and upgrade it to a modern standard? If we electrified the line and rebuilt the passing loops, we could run a shuttle service every 10 minutes.

Without such an improvement, the reduced service by GWR will lead to reduced passenger numbers and the line could fall into a death spiral. That would be a serious detriment to our linked communities. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Milner

Market Place, Henley

Learning to be greener

Sir, — Sonning Common Primary School is the 25th Low Carbon Hub solar school in Oxfordshire.

It is the first school to be deployed after the recent reductions to the feed-in tariff and we hope that the shining example it has set, despite the recent drop in government support for renewables, will help encourage others to start powering up their communities.

The solar panels will accompany LED lighting, installed by the school a few years ago, and will further reduce the energy reliance of the school on the carbon-intensive National Grid.

Low Carbon Hub is thrilled to be contributing to the ongoing process the school is undertaking towards a more low carbon future and to help it generate its own green electricity and teach its pupils about the importance of green energy and climate change. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor David Nimmo Smith

Cabinet member, South Oxfordshire District Council

Are ‘leftover’ stones listed?

Sir, — In last week’s Diary Thomas Octavius noted the effort by Jerseyman Neil Holmer to reclaim the Neolithic dolmen in the grounds of Templecombe House, currently on the market for £7 million.

These pink granite stones were awarded to General Henry Seymour Conway in 1788 in recognition of his services as governor of Jersey.

He himself paid for the transport of the stones and then erected them on his estate according to an accompanying plan.

However, the latter was not adhered to correctly and some stones were left over.

These now border the little bridge on Wargrave Road known as Conway’s Bridge.

The dolmen is a Grade II listed monument but what of the stones? Are they also listed and would Wokingham Borough Council allow them to be removed? — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Marsh Mills, Wargrave Road, Henley

Nonsense thought

Sir, — I have written in the past about the significant number of Thought for the Week contributions where the content ranges from the merely silly to the ethically appalling. However, I cannot be the only reader to be astonished by Gillian Kelley’s contribution (Standard, December 1) in which she claims that the “sins” we all commit “will ultimately show on our faces”.

What nonsense! Quite apart from the question of whether this applies to Christians who aim to be more and more Christ-like, does she really see “sin” in the faces of the older Henley residents she meets on the streets, not to mention her neighbours and family?

If this is the case, it sadly says far more about Ms Kelley than it does about the rest of us.

Again, it must be asked why the Henley Standard believes it appropriate to publish “thoughts” of this standard. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

We’ve lost a true star

Sir, — I was saddened to read the obituary for Vivienne Lyle (Standard, December 1).

She was an outstanding chiropractor with a gift for understanding her patients and for caring about them.

Her treatments went way beyond merely treating the patient — she treated the person as well.

I first met Vivienne about 30 years ago when I crippled into her practice in Greys Road with just about everything out of alignment.

I was bent almost double and felt (and looked!) about 100 years old.

After one treatment, I could stand upright and walk like a normal human being — a miracle!

No amount of painkillers, support braces or physio treatments had achieved that transformation. Vivienne’s skill did.

Vivienne was the brightest of stars in the firmament of practitioners and I shall be forever grateful for her kindness, help and expertise. Henley was indeed fortunate that Vivienne decided to settle and to practise her skills here: she must have been the answer to many a prayer for pain relief.

She always helped her patients to understand what had gone wrong and helped them to help themselves to put it right — such a caring talent is rare and beyond value.

Beyond all that, she was a delightful and beautiful person. Always kind, caring, welcoming, encouraging. What a star. What a loss. — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser

Hambleden

Wonderful party, thanks

Sir, — I would like to thank and congratulate the Mayor and all those who organised such a wonderful party at Henley town hall on Tuesday afternoon.

The catering by Fingers & Forks was excellent and the food was served by pupils from Gillotts School.

During the afternoon there was bingo and an excellent raffle with prizes donated by several local firms.

Gillotts pupils sang beautifully and were an absolute joy to listen to.

I am sure everyone who attended had a most enjoyable afternoon.

Once again, thank you to all those who were responsible for such a lovely occasion. — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Thompson

Reading Road, Henley

See you again next year

Sir, — Jeux d’esprit would like to thank all those lovely people who attended Something Wicked at King’s Arms Barn in Henley on November 24, 35 and 26 to raise funds for the Chiltern Centre for disabled children and young adults.

Our target was £1,000 but in the event we made a massive £1,950 for which the centre is most grateful.

See you all again next year — same time, same place, for Something Else? — Yours faithfully,

Jill Richardson

Jeux d’esprit, Henley

Can’t have too much Debbie

Sir, — Having bowed to pressure and delivered our weekly dose of Councillor David Eggleton pictures, I am increasingly concerned that you might go even further and deny your loyal readers “news” of the minutiae of Debbie McGee’s daily round.

Please be aware that we are only just coming to terms with the absence of ongoing details of Vince Hill’s world.

Refusing us knowledge of Ms McGee’s use of hot water bottles could surely be a step too far. — Yours faithfully,

Christopher Selkirk

High Street, Cookham

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