Monday, 14 June 2021

Your letters...

Conservatives give you extra

Sir, — I am sure that many of your readers will be breathing a sigh of relief that this is the last letters page before the town and county council elections on Thursday.

Accusations and blame have filled the letters page as local politicians (yes, all town and county candidates are members of a registered political party) try to persuade you to vote for them.

Let me try to cut through the rhetoric and state some facts.

Firstly, as a former councillor, I do not accept the premise that some councillors, once elected, “do nothing”.

Being a councillor in a town or parish is a voluntary role. The position is unpaid. Even those who become mayor and receive a small allowance are out of pocket by the year end. Ask any past mayor.

Councillors join Henley Town Council, some after many years of living here, to help do what they can to maintain, protect and improve the facilities of this beautiful town in which we live.

Of course, personal circumstances, such as work or family commitments, will dictate the degree of involvement (for example, I was retired and could contribute during the day) but I have never met a councillor who is not proud of Henley and only wants to maintain or improve where we live or deal with the problems already here or coming our way.

But here is a problem. As a parish council, Henley Town Council is not in control of the major issues which affect our town.

Traffic, air quality, parking, road conditions, rubbish collection, planning etc. are all outside of our authority.

We can fill the pages of the Henley Standard with endless wish lists and criticisms but the reality is that without district and county support we cannot progress.

That is why I joined the Henley Conservatives.

Having been heavily involved in the neighbourhood plan for the past five years, I am fully aware of the increasing problems that extra homes, traffic and the corresponding lack of infrastructure will bring to Henley. The town council alone cannot deal with that.

I believe that we need to re-elect our county councillor (David Nimmo Smith) and elect our town council candidates Joan Bland and Yasmina Siadatan.

These candidates, together with our current district and town councillors, can influence local government to support us and, if necessary, use our MP to take our submissions to the Government.

This is becoming an urgent task as the ever-increasing need for more homes in the South-East continues and the district council’s new local plan is nearing completion. You will not be surprised to hear that we will be asked to provide more houses.

The team of Henley Conservatives can open doors at all levels of local and central government to make sure our voice is well and truly heard.

I believe this is an important “extra” that only local Henley Conservatives can provide. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Chairman, Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, Elizabeth Road, Henley

Don’t bank on apology

Sir, — I was concerned to read your front page article about the Conservatives and the Love Henley brand (Standard, April 14).

I agree with the comments that they “should be ashamed of themselves”.

I agree also that the local Conservative councillors should apologise and that’s why everybody shouldn’t hold their breath.

Last October, I replied to an email sent to me from the council offices asking me if I was prepared to help with the neighbourhood plan.

I replied that I would not, as I had spent 18 months-plus on the working parties which discussed the various site that were included in the plan.

I gave as my reason the fact that, despite being assured by our MP that he would “hold Oxfordshire’s feet to the fire” once the residents had passed the plan, which they did, the plan was now in disarray with care homes going where houses, including affordable housing, were supposed to be.

Next thing I know I get a reply from John Howell, saying he had “been asked to respond”.

This was a “private” email sent by me and I have asked him several times “Who sent you my email?” He did not respond and still hasn’t.

To cut a long story (six months) short, despite a meeting with Dieter Hinke, who chairs the neighbourhood plan steering group, telephone calls from the Deputy Mayor and a meeting with the Mayor and numerous emails, the only councillors who showed any concern that my email, without my authority, had been passed to Mr Howell, were the Henley Residents’ Group councillors Ian Reissmann and Stefan Gawrysiak.

Both raised the matter at council meetings. I attended the January council meeting and asked the Mayor, in the public session, to find out who forwarded my email only to be told, rather abruptly, “Ask Mr Howell”.

At the February meeting the town clerk Janet Wheeler was asked, as I asked the question again, to carry out an investigation as to who had passed on the email.

Mr Hinke had by this time asked his “colleague” to whom he had shown my email if they had forwarded it to Mr Howell but the reaction was to be very offended and tell him “it was none of his business”. Mrs Wheeler carried out her investigation, writing both to our MP and Mr Hinke, only for Mr Howell not to reply.

This was discussed at the March council meeting and the resulting vote was that I should not receive an apology by seven votes to four, the seven being the ruling Conservative councillors!

After attending a meeting with Mrs Wheeler to be told the result of her investigation, I returned home to find some Conservative local election leaflets through the letterbox.

They expect me to vote for them, as will Mr Howell, come the next election. No, I will not and, as lifelong Tories, my mother and father will be turning in their graves.

So, members of HRG, Mrs Wheeler and Alison Hussey of Love Henley, do not hold your breath waiting for an apology. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Herriot

Valley Road, Henley

MP’s insult to our estate

Sir, — I was very shocked and annoyed (in equal measure) to come across John Howell MP walking the streets of the Gainsborough Estate in Henley on Friday. He was one of four Conservative Party members canvassing for the town council by-elections on May 4.

I can hear many people saying: “So what, why were you so shocked by this?”

I will explain. I refer to comments made by Mr Howell on BBC Radio Berkshire on Friday, March 8, 2013.

During this interview, he referred to the Gainsborough estate as an area suffering from “severe deprivation and poverty” and having “real problems”. These references were in poor taste, very offensive and unnecessary. Mr Howell was discussing the fact that Henley is an affluent area (quite true) but for some reason felt the need to point out that not everyone was rich and that Henley does indeed have council estates.

This then led on to his rather pointless and offensive remarks about the Gainsborough estate.

My family have long links with the Gainsborough estate — my grandparents lived there and raised their family and I have very happy memories of playing there as a young child with my cousins and the neighbours.

My husband and I now live on the estate and find it a lovely place to be raising a young family.

Many families on the estate may not have the large earnings and fancy homes that Mr Howell is obviously accustomed to, but it is a wonderful place to live with a long-standing, multi-generational community which has withstood many changes within the town over the years.

People who live here look out for each other, work together as a community and have lifelong friendships.

Following the radio interview, Mr Howell was contacted by incensed Gainsborough residents and asked to apologise.

His response was as follows: “I am sorry if my comments caused you distress. I have nothing further I wish to add to those comments. The relative lack of affluence of the area speaks for itself.”

Mr Howell has been asked on more than one occasion to apologise for his remarks and, rather than do so gracefully, he in fact went on to say that he stands by what he said and makes no apology for this.

Because of this, I was rather shocked to see him canvassing for electoral support on an estate which he so cruelly slated.

I think it is two-faced, in very poor taste and really not very well thought through, an act which clearly shows how out of touch the Conservatives are with the people of the town.

Perhaps Mr Howell felt that residents of the Gainsborough estate were too poor and stupid to remember the comments he made or maybe he does not even remember making the comments or realise the hurt that they may have caused residents?

Not only were his statements unprofessional, they were untrue and not supported by people who live here and could potentially have affected residents’ ability to sell their houses as a result. Hardly the actions of a good representative for the town and townspeople.

Now he has been to the estate himself, perhaps he may realise all the community work that goes into the Gainsborough estate and what a beautiful little place it is.

This may be a nice time to finally apologise to residents and retract his hurtful comments, especially when trying to win potential votes from the very people he insulted.

Gainsborough is nowhere near the poor, rundown area that Mr Howell portrayed in his radio interview. In fact, it a lovely, quiet, safe and community-orientated area in which we love to live.

We have residents on the estate who have lived here since it was built. If the area was so terrible why would they stay here for such a long time?

One last point I will make is that as my family walked past the group of canvassers, myself and my husband both spoke to the Conservative members in passing.

The only person to acknowledge or reply to our polite “hellos” was Councillor David Nimmo Smith.

Mr Howell simply kept his head down, stared at the ground and continued on his way. A real man of the people, well worth voting for!

I eagerly await an apology for residents, which has been far too long in coming. — Yours faithfully,

Paula Isaac

Gainsborough Road, Henley

John Howell MP responds: “I have long tried to convince people that Henley is not all about the wealthy. Without that recognition, we too easily miss out on funding opportunities.

“In fact, while out canvassing that night, I had a conversation with someone who pointed to the need to recognise that Henley has poorer parts and more deprivation than imagined.

“Mrs Isaac needs to get her story straight. Rather than berating me, she should recognise that I came to visit people on the estate personally. The conversations were all polite and friendly.

“Of course, elections are around the corner and every comment or movement will be taken out of context by those who would wish to discredit me.

“I would hope that this is not the standard of the letters in the coming weeks but I won’t hold my breath.”

We must stop this madness

Sir, — Having attended the consultation event on the proposed South Oxfordshire District Council local plan at the Christ Church Centre in Henley on Saturday, I can confirm that the Conservative-led council is proposing another 677 houses for Henley.

These on top of the 500 that have already been agreed in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

Four years ago, when I went to the first meeting about the plan, I asked about infrastructure, roads, drainage, schools, doctors’ surgeries etc.

I was politely told, “we need to look at where the houses go first”. We found sites for 500 houses but no new infrastructure for the town has come forward.

We are now being told to find space for another 677, yes, 677, more houses.

What are our Conservative district councillors thinking about? This is utter madness.

This senseless local plan needs to be stopped before it goes any further. Only a town council led by Henley Residents’ Group will stop this stupidity. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Candidate for Henley Town Council, Henley North ward, Elizabeth Road, Henley

Tories have split loyalties

Sir, — From his window over in Shiplake, it is no surprise that Malcolm Leonard has a rather distorted view of Henley life and, in particular, of Henley Residents’ Group.

But I welcome the opportunity to explain the reality to him and anyone else interested in voting for, working with or joining us.

HRG councillors are independent but work closely together to get things done. We represent the views of all residents, which means we sometimes have honest differences over what we see as best for Henley.

All HRG asks is that our councillors are open about their positions with the group. I believe this is entirely reasonable and fully consistent with our independence message.

All eight HRG councillors and candidates are Henley residents, all other individuals in leadership positions within HRG are Henley residents and all addresses legally affiliated with HRG are located in Henley.

We are a purely local, completely independent group of individuals who act in the interests of Henley and are accountable only to the residents of Henley.

Mr Leonard asserts that Henley Conservatives “do not have to follow the diktat of senior Conservative figures”. This is nonsense.

We need only cast our minds back as far as February 23, when the Henley Standard reported that Paul Harrison, the chairman of South Oxfordshire District Council, had been thrown out of the ruling Conservative group when he accused the council of ignoring his parish’s neighbourhood plan.

Lessons like this explain the reluctance of our own Conservative councillors to challenge decisions by the district council that are bad for Henley and disregard our neighbourhood plan.

Conservative councillors are not, and never will be, independent.

When decisions arrive that pit the interests of Henley against the policies of the Conservative Party or Conservative-controlled district or county councils, they are expected to vote with the party and risk punishment if they fail to do so — as Paul Harrison’s case so aptly demonstrated.

This is the price Conservative councillors must pay in exchange for the backing and huge resources of the Conservative Party machine at election time.

The June 8 general election is the time voters should decide which national party best represents them in Westminster.

For the local elections on May 4, however, I urge everyone to consider very carefully the split loyalties that the Conservative candidates will face should they be elected to our local council. — Yours faithfully,

Glen Lambert

Membership secretary, Henley Residents’ Group and candidate, Henley Town Council South ward

Hold me to my promises

Sir, — Further to Tony Taylor’s letter (Standard, April 21), I would ask what was the “party line” on Townlands Hospital he assumes I have followed?

The line I followed was that of the modern medical profession and the Royal College of Physicians which pointed out that the hospitalisation, particularly of elderly patients, was dangerous for their health. What we have now is a fantastic, model hospital of which we should all be proud.

I wonder whether Mr Taylor has considered that issues such as a local hospital based in Henley are too small to have a “party line”.

At the time of an election, a candidate sets out their personal manifesto for the whole of the constituency.

I am happy to be held to account on my promises in my last manifesto on which I have already written and shown that I have already achieved some success. — Yours faithfully,

John Howell

Henley MP, House of Commons, London

Vote local to stop waste

Sir, — At a meeting of South Oxfordshire District Council on Thursday last week the ruling Conservative group voted to include £90,000 in the budget for “political assistants”. This was not in their manifesto.

These are appointments to help the Conservative group with research and their message. I spoke and voted against. Councillors Joan Bland and David Nimmo Smith voted for this money as part of the Conservative block vote.

Earlier in the year, these councillors voted to scrap police community support officers (saving £90,000). Shocking.

Henley schools are facing cuts of £60,000. Why did Cllrs Bland and Nimmo Smith vote to spend £90,000 of taxpayers’ money, which was not in their manifesto?

This is a shocking waste of public money, which I opposed.

This is why it is important to have independent Henley Residents’ Group councillors who only spend money in ways which benefit residents.

Please vote local at the May 4 election to stop this waste. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak

South Oxfordshire district councillor and candidate, Henley Residents’ Group Oxfordshire County Council

Unfulfilled promises

Sir, — Leafing through my treasured archive of the district’s favourite newspaper, I came across an advertisement in your issue of April 24, 2015. It bears a Union flag and comes from an organisation called “Henley Conservatives” (based, apparently, in Watlington).

If elected on May 7, 2015, Henley Conservatives pledged within 100 days to:

“Provide a solution to HGV’s (sic) passing through Henley.”

“Recognise that noise from traffic has become unbearable.”

“Understand pollution is too high.”

“Remove the continual abuse of the speed limit.”

“Resolve the problem of delays through Henley due to the phasing of the traffic lights.”

Apparently they promised to “make best use of local, district, county and our national politicians” .

They’ve had more than 700 days.... and have voted zero money for any of this.

The Government website says that regulations governing unfair trading “put a stop to... misinforming and misleading people about... services”. Fat chance. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Mill End

We’ll carry on being effective

Sir, — With all the fuss of the general election, it’s possible to lose sight of the importance of the local council elections on Thursday.

While maintaining a strong economy, properly educating our children, defeating terrorism and more are vital, there is a lot to be done closer to home too.

Residents’ letterboxes have been pummelled with leaflets these past weeks but, for me, it comes down to this: who is going to achieve the most for our community?

As we’ve seen with Jeremy Corbyn, a good protester doesn’t necessarily transform into a high achiever once in office.

Standing outside an empty building crying: “Something must be done!” is much easier than navigating the entrenched and seeing change through.

Equally, a lone council warrior is rarely successful: local government is at its most potent when the resolute work together.

That’s why so many people will be voting Conservative next Thursday.

At town, district and county council level, Conservative councillors have shown themselves to be an effective team that delivers — on housing, on roads, on leisure, on health and on the environment.

With your support next week, they will carry on doing exactly that. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor John Cotton

Leader of the Conservative group, South Oxfordshire District Council

Give us what we need

Sir, — We all felt reassured when the original neighbourhood plan was given a positive result in its referendum.

I doubt if, after the changes made via the introduction of retirement homes by developers, that it would win that vote again.

The developers avoid paying the Community Infrastructure Levy (decided in Whitehall).

A senior South Oxfordshire District Council employee told me on Saturday that we were just better off with a plan although we may not appreciate it. Hardly an endorsement.

I have always suspected that it is a developers’ plan. Why? Firstly, the residents of Henley did not write a word of it.

Considerable parts of other local plans have been designed and written by the volunteers themselves, not by a consultant who was in regular contact with developers under the guidance of councillors.

At its behest, and unlike other with local neighbourhood plans, Henley Town Council was given advice to exclude sections on shaping the future of our town.

For instance, the traffic congestion and air pollution questions were both deferred.

The volunteer groups met a few times and were then disbanded.

Yet we will have close to 1,000 new houses adding to the current serious situation with no agreed actions in place.

“We are discussing ideas”, which is the phrase used for the past 10 years! (The Department for Environment doing nothing in Whitehall is key.)

Maybe we should hold another referendum when we have some proposed solutions.

The next issue is the environmental quality of housing. New commercial build, as at the Greys Road (Physiolistic) site, have to meet a seriously high level of sustainability criteria. Housing specifications took a major step backwards soon after the last election due to developers’ pressure on the unconstrained Conservative Government.

Who has already played politics with our neighbourhood plan?

John Howell, ordinary working people need “affordable” housing, not retirement nor £2million homes, and clean air to breathe.

Give us what the town voted for and needs, not what you think we should have. Then we might be proud. — Yours faithfully,

David Dickie

St Katherine’s Road, Henley

Inconsiderate neighbours

Sir, — It is a long-standing convention, as well as neighbourly good manners, that members of one council refrain from publicly criticising the actions of another, especially when the council from whom the comment arose has had no members actually elected within living memory.

We were, therefore, surprised and annoyed to read comments about our neighbourhood plan made in a public meeting of Peppard Parish Council by Councillor Fiona Berry and apparently endorsed by the chairman of that council (Standard, April 21).

Cllr Berry was her council’s invited representative on the Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan working party when it began its work. She chose to resign at an early stage but continued sniping from the sidelines.

Peppard Parish Council knew that the purpose of the plan was to find sustainable sites for at least 138 new homes as allocated to us by South Oxfordshire District Council.

In the event, we actually allocated sites for 195 new homes in a plan that passed formal inspection and then, at referendum, 94 per cent voted in favour on a 47.6 per cent turnout.

Cllr Berry is well aware that our neighbourhood plan allocated 50 houses on Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty land in order to obtain a significant area of land for a much-needed sports ground for Sonning Common.

By failing to recognise this key reason in our neighbourhood plan, Cllr Berry tries to make it appear that we have wilfully and negligently allocated housing on AONB land, which is manifestly untrue.

Sonning Common residents have enthusiastically participated in developing our neighbourhood plan, which now has a legal status and by which we stand.

Since its adoption, the district council’s planning committee has wholeheartedly endorsed our plan and on March 1 it unanimously refused the Gallagher application for 95 houses on a site off Kennylands Road (SON6).

At that meeting we were also strongly supported by Iain Pearson, who was representing Kidmore End Parish Council.

Cllr Berry’s belated criticism is unfounded and unwarranted. If Peppard Parish Council is so concerned about our site allocations it might like to contribute by taking on some of our housing allocation in the next round. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Carole Lewis

Chairman, Sonning Common Parish Council planning committee

Encouraging electric cars

Sir, — I was pleased to read that Henley would like to encourage electric cars (Standard, April 14).

My car is all-electric and runs on off-peak electricity from a supplier of 100 per cent renewable electricity at a fuel cost of 2p per mile.

Moreover, it is a joy to drive and I would recommend it to anyone.

Encouragement to buy them really needs a nationwide policy but Henley could make a start.

The first step, which is under way, is to have charging points in car parks, backed up with penalties for anyone using those spaces for a non-electric car.

If you can park next to a house or garage wall, it is simple to install a home charger or to charge your car via an outside socket. But if, as is often the case in Henley, there is a footpath between your house wall and the roadside, you can’t do this.

We have considered houses in Henley but rejected them because of this. In such cases, the next step is for planning regulations to facilitate charging at home.

This requires permission to run an underground cable to the roadside and erect a post with a charger.

It would not need to be as big as the ones at motorway service stations but would be similar to a bollard and would need a dedicated parking space.

Alternatively, you have a lockable socket at the roadside with a cable running underground to the house.

All of this can be done and is well worth doing but requires forethought. Over to you, Henley! — Yours faithfully,

Helen Watson

Cold Harbour, Goring Heath

We’ll tackle air pollution

Sir, — As a South Oxfordshire district councillor and a resident of the centre of Henley, I am fully aware of the poor air quality that is caused by vehicle emissions.

At an air quality conference that I attended in London, I was introduced to a marketing manager from Nissan, manufacturers of ultra-low emission vehicles. As such, I arranged for them to bring two vehicles, the Nissan Leaf and the ENV 200 Van, for us to view in Falaise Square on Saturday.

Our county councillor David Nimmo Smith is leading the initiative to find places to put electric car charging points in Henley, as he is doing in Oxford.

Henley Conservatives are committed to delivering solutions on air quality, working with the district and county councils. — Yours faithfully,

Joan Bland

Candidate for Henley Town Council, Henley North ward

Excellent choice for us

Sir, — With reference to Councillor Joan Bland’s ambition to increase electric car use in Henley, we have owned a Nissan Leaf for six years and it has never been necessary to charge on anything other than our domestic power source, usually with off-peak electricity.

We plan our journeys appropriately. I don’t think that anyone would come into Henley with insufficient mileage available to do their return journey. The charging points may be occupied.

It is necessary on motorways but not for local journeys surely. When we bought the car we knew our motoring needs and it has been an excellent choice for us. — Yours faithfully,

Sylvia Cooke

Hawthorn Way, Sonning

Turn off the traffic lights

Sir, — A cheap solution to reduce the traffic pollution in Henley.

If the pollution from traffic is above safe levels why not switch off the traffic lights for a given period and put down temporary mini-roundabouts and monitor things to see if this will improve traffic flow?

This idea has been put forward many times over the years in your newspaper.

When a power cut occurs and the traffic lights are off traffic flow always improves.

The pedestrianisation of the market place increased the traffic flow problem even more and returning it to its original state would also help to reduce pollution.

If these suggestions were put before the public or local councils both would be rejected out of hand.

As for the brilliant idea of closing shop doors to help with pollution problems, I cannot for the life of me see how this is going to reduce pollution, which is what is needed.

Sooner rather than later a test case is going to be brought before the courts claiming damages for loss of health due to the legal limit for omissions being routinely broken. — Yours faithfully,

D W Hermon

Northfield End, Henley

Diesel cars not only cause

Sir, — As a diesel vehicle owner, I am fed up with people pointing the finger.

The modern diesel engine is a highly efficient and economical power unit. We need to look at the wider issue. Lorries, vans, buses, tractors and trains and boats are all emitting fumes.

To improve our pollution levels we need to cut down on congestion. In the summer months the town is overcrowded with visitors to the regatta, boat rally and various festivals.

We need to change our roads. Perhaps a park and ride system could be considered with hydrogen-powered buses and better car parking.

Please don’t put all the blame on diesel cars. — Yours faithfully,

Lewis Every

Swiss Farm, Henley

Technology is the answer

Sir, — Oxfordshire County Council and I are looking at using smart technology to make sure that the road polluter pays in proportion to the extent of the pollution they cause.

Road vehicles, and in particular diesel vehicles, pollute so it is only appropriate that all polluters contribute towards improving air quality.

Once the Oxford trials have been completed, this technology can be rolled out across the county.

This is another demonstration of how seriously I am looking at ways of reducing vehicle-generated air pollution, working on a wider stage to ensure that Henley benefits and that those places where Henley residents visit also have better air quality.

A trial has to be carried out somewhere and parts of Oxford have just as many air quality issues as Henley. This is associated with the electric vehicle demonstration at the weekend in Henley Market Place, arranged by Joan Bland.

Another way of cutting air pollution in Henley and on roads across the whole country. — Yours faithfully,

Councllor David Nimmo Smith

Henley Town Council, cabinet member for environment and candidate, Oxfordshire County Council

Proud of our foreign aid

Sir, — Britain keeps its promises, particularly to those most in need.

For 10 years, our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid has been testament to that and featured in all the major political party manifestos running up to the last general election.

I am proud of the UK’s history of providing lifesaving aid to the world’s most vulnerable children.

As the first major economy to reach this spending target, the UK has shown how a transparent, independent and accountable approach to aid funding can change the world.

It is the right thing to do and it shows the world that we are bigger than just ourselves.

Immunising millions of children against preventable diseases makes us a bigger Britain.

Supporting our doctors and nurses to lead the fight against Ebola makes us a bigger Britain.

Creating jobs and trade opportunities in developing countries makes us a bigger Britain.

This election must be an opportunity for all parties to reaffirm that commitment.

We are big enough to help people both at home and abroad. Let us all call on our future politicians to show their commitment to the most vulnerable by protecting UK aid. — Yours faithfully,

Amanda Holden

Hammer Lane, Warborough

What doesn’t church get?

Sir, — So the church in Watlington is planning to appeal against the most recent, of many, unfavourable verdicts on its proposals for redevelopment (Standard, April 21).

In so doing, it increasingly runs the risk of being seen as an ungracious loser, unwilling to accept any decisions until (presumably) its own narrow definition of self-interest prevails.

Further, on allying itself with a planning department at South Oxfordshire District Council widely seen in recent times as inimical to local interests, the church shows itself unable (or willing) to see beyond its own limited horizons. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Bell

The Meadows, Watlington

I complained about fatberg

Sir, — Your front headline “Fatberg blamed for road chaos” (Standard, April 21) took my full attention because I first complained of this problem more than a year ago.

Then there was sufficient effluent to lift the inspection cover on the pavement outside the Cau restaurant, soaking the pavement to such an extent that pedestrians had to walk through the foul waste for week after week. This ran into the surface water drain in the road a few yards away.

Initially, I asked a member of staff at Cau, who implied: “What problem, it’s outside?”

Following comments on Trip Advisor, Cau installed artificial grass at the Hart Street entrance.

Next I enquired at Henley town hall what to do next. It was suggested that it was South Oxfordshire District Council that I should notify as the effluent affected the pavement.

Some days later the flow ceased only to recur again, so I called the highways department. As the waste flowed into the open drain, they responded and seemingly resolved the problem as the flow ceased again.

But it wasn’t long before the residents of Henley and the drivers through the town two weeks ago knew the result of pouring fat down the drain — at what huge cost I can only imagine.

Cau may say that it’s an historical problem but that’s no surprise when a restaurant has been on that site for the past 15 years... fat congeals.

It seems that communication between public departments is inadequate. — Yours faithfully,

Rupert Molloy

York Road, Henley

Well done, Henley

Sir, — Having read endless whingeing letters in these columns over the years — and contributed to them on occasion — it’s time to sing the praises of our fine town of Henley.

Over Easter we entertained endless members of our family, visiting us from impressive Germany, wonderful Yorkshire and scenic Shropshire — and they loved it.

The courtesy of staff at Hobbs and the beauty of the river; football with the children on beautifully maintained Mill Meadows; rides on the mini-fairground and delicious ice creams when we tired, everyone from five to 80-plus catered for.

I suggested we visit Marsh Lock where there is so much of interest to read, for the children to see the weir’s white water and watch the splendid boats going through the lock; such a charming stroll for us all.

The superb woods across the river with a pair of buzzards, not red kites, circling overhead; looking back to the cruisers approaching the lock with the fine St Mary’s Church tower and the hills beyond Temple Island in the background; trying out the carved-tree seats under the beautiful willows while the children wondered at the “fairy doors” on the older trees and fed the fledgling geese and ducks; the pretty cottages and gardens approaching the famous bridges — it was all a delight.

Returning to the town, we admired the beautifully maintained “living wall” on Leichlingen pavilion in Mill Meadows while the children explored the fine playground.

For us all it was one of the best days of the holiday, blessed by lovely weather.

So, less whingeing please and more appreciation for all the staff who do their best with the limited funds available.

They do a wonderful job maintaining it all for us — it’s such an asset to the town’s economy and a delight for us all. — Yours faithfully,

David Gobbett

Elizabeth Close, Henley

Come cheer the Hawks!

Sir, — On Saturday the mighty Henley Hawks play their last game of the season against Redruth at Dry Leas (kick-off at 3pm).

After a difficult first half of the season they have developed into an effective and free-scoring squad, their eight-try 52-27 win over Barnstaple last week being typical.

So please come down and support them tomorrow for the last time this season.

There will be a big crowd, and, while lunch is sold out with 200 attending, food and drink will be freely available pitch-side.

As this is my last season as club chairman, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all who have been down to watch — your support is an integral part of what we do and I trust you will return in September.

Go, the Hawks! — Yours faithfully,

Mike Trethewey

Chairman, Henley Rugby Football Club

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