Thursday, 24 June 2021

Your letters...

Politicians not the same

Sir, — Over the last year Henley Residents Group has promised to protect the town’s bus service and to tackle traffic and air quality.

A new improved bus service, using a clean, gas-powered bus, will start next month. We have a 20mph zone happening later this year.

We have also promised to balance the town council finances while keeping council tax rises below inflation over the four years of the council.

We have successfully reduced the Conservatives’ deficit from £300,000 to £70,000 while protecting services.

We promised a replacement children’s playground at Makins recreation ground This will happen later this year.

Three years ago we promised to save the children’s centre, which was being closed by Oxfordshire County Council. This has now been running for a year.

We promised a new skate park to replace the dilapidated one. This magnificent facility finally opened last year.

In 2003 we promised to make every effort to save Townlands Hospital. We not only saved it, but secured a £10million new hospital and care home which opened in 2015.

There are many more things that I have not got room to list. Some commitments, such as the ban on heavy goods vehicles passing through the town, remain a work in progress but we are determined to make every effort to get this vital policy made a reality. Our record suggests we will succeed.

We have already won the argument — we just need some political will and money from the county council. Our job is to press for that.

In 2015 the Conservatives advertised in the Henley Standard, promising to solve the problems of HGVs, noise from traffic, pollution, speeding and the phasing of traffic lights. They promised all this in 100 days.

In two years they achieved nothing. The one promise they kept was to freeze council tax. This resulted in their deficit of £300,000.

HRG makes responsible and achievable promises and has a record of delivering.

As an independent group answering solely to residents, we do things differently: we say it; we mean it; we do it. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann

Chairman, Henley Residents Group, Gainsborough Road, Henley

Thank you for support

Sir, — I would like to thank all of Henley for the support shown to me throughout my year as mayor.

I had a wonderful, fascinating year and thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people who help this beautiful town continue to be the special place that it is.

I couldn’t have had such a great year without the efforts of my fellow Henley Residents Group councillors, Henley Town Council staff and Deputy Mayor Lorraine Hillier.

For the times that were hard, I was lucky to have such a team around me.

I would also like to thank everybody that helped me to fund-raise and raise awareness for my charities — the four Henley state primary schools. I look forward to presenting the cheques soon.

It has been an honour and, put quite simply, there is no better town than Henley to be Mayor of! Thank you all so very much. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Kellie Hinton

Henley Town Council, Queen Street, Henley

We had to leave early

Sir, — Further to the letter from Patricia Hughes (Henley Standard, May 11) regarding her experience at the Herb Farm coffee shop in Sonning Common.

I wanted to share that I have had similar experiences on more than one occasion of being there towards the end of their day.

The opening hours, I believe, are until 4.30pm but what that seems to mean is that they want you to have left by 4.30pm.

On two occasions we have been presented with our bill at around 4.15pm and 4.20pm and been told that the café was closing.

We felt very uncomfortable if we hadn’t made a move to leave immediately.

My mother is in a wheelchair and the last time we went, the bigger area of the barn was closed due to floor washing (why during opening hours?) so we had to try to squeeze around tables and chairs so that we could take the only table left in the conservatory.

We were there to meet friends for tea at 3.30pm. We were given our bill at 4.20pm and left at 4.30pm after being made to feel as though we’d overstayed our welcome with everyone standing around seemingly waiting for us to leave.

Having spent a lot of my life in hospitality, my experience is that if your opening hours are until 4.30pm that’s last orders rather than when everyone has to be gone.

I would want my customers to enjoy their stay and not feel that they were being made to drink their tea and leave!

Sadly, like Mrs Hughes, we won’t be returning to the Herb Farm coffee shop either.

Maybe it’s time for the business to rethink the customer experience rather than it being all about the staff who want to get home. — Yours faithfully,

Sarah Caffey

Knights Way, Emmer Green

Road solution won’t work

Sir, — I was interested to see Hamilton Baillie’s plans for a more pedestrian-friendly Sonning Common, particularly Wood Lane being “visually narrowed”.

There is no need for this as Wood Lane and neighbouring streets are already choked all day with parked cars, left there by commuters who take the bus into Reading for work.

When the planned new housing developments are built we will have another 400 cars in this small village.

Even if this seemingly Utopian plan was carried out it would fail as there is no enforcement and the parking free-for-all would just continue. — Yours faithfully,

Adrian Vanheems

Baskerville Road, Sonning Common

Where has paint gone?

Sir, — Having recently travelled in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, it appears that yellow road marking paint and yellow cross hatching paint has been snapped up by these two counties an in consequence there appears to be a national shortage.

Has Oxfordshire County Council run out of road marking paint, in particular yellow cross hatching for light-controlled crossroads? — Yours faithfully,

Ian Forster

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Time for a good system

Sir, — It really is about time the parking fine fiasco at Townlands Memorial Hospital was sorted out by the NHS and Smart Parking.

Two correspondents suggested last week that we should just park and pay and that we have brought this chaos upon ourselves. I disagree.

I suggest that Smart Parking, and other parking operators, make registration for parking unnecessarily difficult using machines to register registrations that don’t tell you if you have made a mistake.

All other car parks issue a ticket — yes, a ticket — which may or may not have to be displayed.

Incidentally, many car parks only require the last three letters to be entered. Much simpler and just as efficient. — Yours faithfully,

Denis Gilbert

Baskerville Lane, Shiplake

NHS service underfunded

Sir, — Recent figures revealed a 245 per cent rise in the number of successful referrals to NHS child and adolescent mental health services nationally since year end 2014/15 (123,713 referrals in fact) and that almost 50 per cent of these were made on behalf of primary schoolchildren.

Yet have we seen a similar rise in the funding of these services (either locally or nationally)? The answer is a rhetorical one (sadly).

Locally and nationally, schools and colleges et al have been encouraged to improve their early detection of mental health problems and to improve their mental health first aid while having their funding drastically reduced. “Go figure”, as they say in America.

All this (non-funding) has led to the current crisis within the voluntary sector, including Childline, as this too faces chronic underfunding and is increasingly unable to meet the demand from those not able to (or waiting too long to be able to) access NHS child and adolescent mental health services.

When will this ever not be so? June 31 seems likely given my experience as a campaigner for a decade or more. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Falmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Double bill of classical

Sir, — Many thanks to David Winter for writing in support of our classical music concerts at Henley Festival this year (Standard, May 11).

Having listened to feedback from all sectors of our audience, we’re delighted to welcome the English National Opera to the festival on Sunday, July 15 and also the Henley Symphony Orchestra for their summer concert on Saturday, July 14 at 11.30am.

Each year our programme is carefully constructed to provide quality entertainment across the genres which we hope will appeal to as wide a sector as possible.

As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on our ticket sales income to be able to support the work of our chosen charities, which this year are the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and the Teenage Wilderness Trust.

We know many of you are huge fans of classical music and hope you’ll continue to support this genre of programming so we can continue to bring the best that classical music has to offer to the festival in years to come. — Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Geeves

Chief executive, Henley Festival

Proud to play at home

Sir, — David Winter wrote about the welcome re-introduction of classical music to the Henley Festival programme this year, referring to the inclusion of the English National Opera on the Sunday evening.

There are, in fact, two programmes of classical music in the programme.

As you reported in your supplement of March 30, the Henley Symphony Orchestra will be performing at the festival for the very first time.

It will take to the “floating” stage at 11.30am on Saturday, July 14 to present its annual summer concert.

Conducted by music director Ian Brown, with solo violinist Min Kym, the whole orchestra for the first time in many years will perform in the picturesque setting of its home town.

Since its formation in 1970, the Henley Symphony Orchestra has become one of the country’s leading amateur orchestras.

It promotes an annual series of four concerts, featuring internationally acclaimed artists, and has given performances in Henley’s twin towns of Falaise, Leichlingen and Bled.

Tickets are now available at £20 (£10 for under-18s and students) from the festival box office or visit www.henley-festival.co.uk

We look forward to the residents of Henley joining us for this significant event. — Yours faithfully,

Judy Whittaker

Chairman, Henley Symphony Orchestra

Help victims of disaster

Sir, — I expect that many of your readers, on seeing the horrors caused by a disaster somewhere in the world, wonder what they can do to help those left destitute and homeless.

Anyone who comes to Market Place in Henley tomorrow (Saturday) will see what can be done.

There, the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge will have on display an emergency shelter tent and essential equipment provided by the charity ShelterBox to help alleviate the suffering of people experiencing the immediate traumas of a disaster.

From its Cornish base, this charity distributes the necessary equipment to strategically placed stores around the world and organises, with Rotary’s assistance, the immediate help needed wherever a disaster happens.

At the display there will also be information about the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, an organisation that many may be interested to join.

I hope anyone unable to visit the display will give generously to the Rotary collectors around the town and know that you have helped someone in any ongoing or future disaster. — Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Leonard

Chairman, international committee, Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

Beware of dodgy callers

Sir, — We had a visit on Tuesday from some “Nottingham Knockers”.

I can’t give you a descriptions but they have been in the Cromwell Road area.

In case your readers are not aware, this is basically a scam where men try to sell you overpriced dusters etc out of rucksacks, along with a hard luck story.

They may say they have just left prison or the army.

The police have warned about them in the past. Don’t be deceived, they may also be looking for houses to burgle. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Dead deer anybody?

Sir, — Can anyone tell us how to get Biffa to collect a dead deer that has been lying in the road for almost two weeks despite repeated telephone calls and emails to the company?

The website says dead animals will be collected within 24 hours of being notified. — Yours faithfully,

David Sarson

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley

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