Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Your letters...

Unsettling business

Sir, — I have written to Henley MP John Howell to report a comment from one of our French suppliers who is puzzled about where negotiations on Brexit are heading and wondering whether his products will be priced out of the market in 2018/19 by additional duty charges.

This hit me like a bolt out of the blue as currently very few British companies are producing the products we need for the burgeoning electric boat market.

We may set ourselves up to produce our own boats but with the lack of available skilled staff in the local area and the cost of premises in South Oxfordshire, this is unlikely for the time being.

I have reassured our French partners that for 2018 nothing will change and that we should continue pricing as normal.

However, I could give no guarantees for 2019 as no one knows.

It just occurred to me that our tiny company is probably typical of the uncertainties surrounding so many larger businesses.

While we ride the wave, our trading partners in Switzerland, France, Germany and Canada wonder what the future with British companies means for them.

Understandably, this is unsettling.

In the meantime, we struggle on with enthusiasm and optimism and have to put our trust in MPs to represent our concerns. — Yours faithfully,

Gillian Nahum

Director, Henley Sales & Charter, Friday Street,
Henley

Stop carping and prepare

Sir, — Regardless of what the eventual outcomes of the Brexit negotiations may be, I suspect that I am not alone in feeling that the final epitaph on the previously internationally little known M Michel Barnier will be that he did not acquit himself in a very constructive or statesmanlike manner.

Specifically, some of the language used has been more reminiscent of relations between cricket teams rather than two civilised blocs bent on continuing and also initiating multiple close and vital collaborations in the short, medium and longer terms.

One fast-approaching issue area where the European Union seems completely unprepared is that of artificial intelligence.

Here, Britain is already well placed in a technology where widespread disruptions of work processes are likely and pre-preparedness essential rather than any facile points-scoring approach to the derivation of the required regulatory frameworks. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

No need to fear Brexit

Sir, — With reference to the two contrasting letters about Brexit by David Thomas and David Cooksley (Standard, December 22), I fully endorse the latter’s view about leaving the EU.

I cannot understand why those wishing to remain feel so content for the UK to contionue being subservient to the Brussels bureaucrats for evermore, under their directives, control and regulations and usually being outvoted by 27 other countries while having to make ever-increasing payments to justify their empire.

It is also disappointing to witness all the negativity coming from most politicians, probably fearful of their future positions.

It’s no wonder that Brussels seems unlikely to give the UK a good, acceptable deal, which we might have had if everyone had pulled together. — Yours faithfully,

Stephen Derek

Fairford Road, Tilehurst, Reading

Democratic vote to leave

Sir, — In a letter to the Henley Standard in June, David Thomas told us that he was an “avid” reader of the paper’s letters pages.

While he writes rambling letters like the one of December 22, he does not appear to note the letters of other correspondents.

What exactly is it about the European Union, David, which makes it so essential that the United Kingdom remains a member in spite of a democratic and clearly-expressed vote to leave?

You do not say, but I suspect that, like me, you are not an “expert” in these matters.

How do you “know” better than the 17 million voters whose democratic decision you wish to overturn 18 months after the referendum? Or perhaps you are not a democrat?

Despite the steady diet of dire predictions served up by the media and echoed by your sage forecasts, the EU has far more to lose than the UK if no agreement is reached.

While it appears that some petulant EU politicians wish to punish us, wiser counsels will surely prevail.

If not, and we decide to “crash out” of the EU, we will revert to World Trade Organisation tariff rules and trade with the over-mighty EU on the same terms as every other non-EU country. What is the problem with that? Our competitive position is better now than it was before the referendum, is it not?

Finally, I would remind you, David, that it was as a result of the 1975 referendum that we confirmed our membership of the EU in the first place, by a simple in/out question, so I think it is rather rich for you to imply that this referendum was somehow unsatisfactory and may therefore be disregarded at will. Or are you too young to remember 1975? — Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common

Shameful statistics

Sir, — So far as can be seen through such murkiness, both slavery and man-made extinctions have increased since 2000.

This, like Brexit, is shameful. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Parsley

Mount View, Henley

Best way to run council

Sir, — In response to Conservative councillor Julian Brookes’s letter about Henley Residents’ Group and independence (Standard, December 22),

I would just like to say that HRG is totally independent in that the decisions made by the group are made with Henley’s interests and the interests of the town’s residents always in mind.

In the years that I have been working in the community in Henley, working with residents and trying to tackle issues they face day to day, HRG has been the only group to have supported us.

Having approached the Conservative mayor on numerous occasions for help with community issues and events, we were either fobbed off or ignored completely.

I was introduced to Kellie Hinton and HRG and within weeks they were helping us to get work completed in our area, which we desperately needed support with.

HRG has helped us immensely in the community, always getting involved with events and helping us to organise support for residents.

This is as a result of being independent, being able to get together, discuss issues, make a decision and just get involved. No answering to a higher body, having to toe a party line or make decisions according to a political agenda.

This is the reason I decided to join HRG and I am now thrilled to be standing in the coming by-election as a candidate for Henley Town Council.

The cynical among readers might say, “Of course, you would say those things.”

I can honestly say this letter comes from the heart and from someone who truly loves our town.

HRG is independent, free to make decisions with the town’s best interests at heart, involved in the community and very open to all Henley residents who want to be involved.

I would urge anyone to come along to a meeting and see for yourselves how HRG works and the enormous amount of work that members are involved in within the community. I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

As somebody who has lived in Henley all my life, I know that I would only ever want local people making important decisions about local issues that affect the town and its residents.

This is how a town council should be run — by the people for the people. — Yours faithfully,

Paula Isaac

Henley Residents’ Group candidate (Henley North ward), Gainsborough Road, Henley

Too much Tory power

Sir, — Councillor Julian Brookes repeats a number of assertions about Henley Residents’ Group, including that we have a “distinctive manifesto”, often “vote as a group”, and are “registered” (which enables us to put our logo and name on ballot papers in elections).

It’s not clear why he thinks these are bad things. It is certainly true that we do organise ourselves into standing for elections and work hard as a team to improve Henley when elected.

He is entitled to believe that promoting affordable housing, fighting to save Townlands Hospital, building a skate park, keeping the streets clean etc is “Left leaning and anti-conservative”.

In HRG we simply regard it as common sense and among the reasons why Henley residents vote for us.

Cllr Brookes goes on to suggest that it helps Henley to have the same Conservative party controlling the town council as well as South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

However, it did not work out that way in practice between 2015 and 2017.

Otherwise we would not be suffering the cuts to bus services, approval of planning applications with no affordable housing, closure of our children’s centre, lack of action on air pollution, ignoring our neighbourhood plan etc.

The voices expressing concerns about these important issues for Henley are from HRG because Tory councillors are told to keep quiet or, like Councillors Lorraine Hillier and Paul Harrison, they are expelled and ostracised, or resign in disgust at their fellow Conservatives, as did Councillor Simon Smith. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian
Reissmann

Henley Residents’ Group, Henley Town Council, Gainsborough Road, Henley

Well done on improvement

Sir, — I am writing to express my support for the (new) headteacher of Chiltern Edge School Moira Green, her staff, the governors and all the puils who have worked tirelessly to improve results at the school.

I am pleased that the recent Ofsted monitoring visit reported that the school’s leaders and managers are now considered to be taking effective actions towards the removal of special measures and that the school’s improvement plan is considered fit for purpose (Standard, December 22).

I would like to assure the headteacher and her staff that they have my full support as they work hard to move the school forward and out of special measures.

I would encourage any parents and children considering Chiltern Edge School in their application process to read the full report on the first monitoring inspection on November 21 and 22 at https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/
inspection-reborts/find-inspection-report/provider/
ELS/123245

I’m grateful, too, to the local authority (whose statement of action is also considered fit for purpose by Ofsted) and to both Matthew Newberry and Anne Turner, the Ofsted inspectors who produced the most recent positive report. — Yours faithfully,

Matt Rodda

Reading East MP, House of Commons, London

Thank you for donations

Sir, — I would like to thank the people of Henley for their generous contributions on December 12 and 19 when we were collecting in King’s Road car park.

Henley Rotary Club chose these dates to carry out this annual activity so they coincided with the pre-Christmas free parking days from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Hence there were many people happy to donate the change that otherwise would have gone into the ticket machines.

As a result we collected more than £737, all of which goes to charity.

Rotary supports a combination of local, national and international causes.

In this case, the money will be used partly for the Rotary Foundation, the charity which has been tackling the eradication of polio worldwide, and partly for local charities in the Henley area.

In the past year we have donated more than £12,000 to various causes thanks to the continuing support of Henley residents. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Thomson

President-elect, Henley Rotary Club

Wonderful performances

Sir, — The South Chiltern Choral Society’s Christmas concert (two performances) at Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common was a wonderful event.

Nobody fortunate enough to attend would disagree with your reviewer’s praise of the performance of the various participants. All were excellent.

The Sonning Common-based society chose the Reading homelessness charity Launchpad as its nominated charity to benefit from an interval collection at each performance.

As usual, the audience response was magnificent — a total in excess of £1,500 being raised for this worthy cause. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Scott

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

First class hotel service

Sir, — I am writing on behalf of the trustees and residents of the Henley Municipal Charities to thank Hotel du Vin in Henley for the wonderful Christmas dinner provided for the almshouse residents in the Chantry House on December 14.

The hotel team, ably headed this year by meeting and events manager Lisa Baroud, together with her colleagues from the hotel, cooked and served a wonderful dinner.

Over recent years, the hotel has continued to make this annual voluntary contribution to the festive season for the residents and it is greatly appreciated by all.

A thank-you also to the choir members from Trinity Primary School who provided Christmas cheer with their carol singing. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Forsdike,

Chairman of trustees, the Henley Municipal Charities

Club cuisine best in town

Sir, — Notwithstanding my previous comments about it, I have the highest regard for Phyllis Court Club and hope that it will have a single- storey fitness centre. Incidentally, the club’s cuisine cannot be bettered in Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Derek Shirley

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley

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