Monday, 21 June 2021

Your letters...

Landlords killing town

Sir, — Your correspondent Sara Dobson has a point but was unfair on town manager Helen Barnett who is really “good news” for Henley (Standard, June 22).

She is passionate and persuasive and intelligent. She knows the problem, as do many of us who have investigated.

Marlow benefits from at least one very enlightened landlord who believes that you encourage good tenants by having other good tenants and not by being completely mercenary.

Rents in Henley seem to have gone beyond the limits that small businesses, however attractive, can risk.

I cannot believe that Henley, so visually attractive, historically interesting and with a town square that Marlow must envy, is not full of small antique shops, “gift” shops and children’s clothes shops (okay, expensive children’s clothes but special).

Remember the “proper” sweet shop that had to close because of rent hike? Wherever I encounter one, even without the grandchildren, I spend too much. Most people will but at Henley rents? Not a hope!

When “The Ivy” opened in Marlow, I called the owner and asked “Why Marlow — surely it should be Henley?”

The response: “Yes, you’re right. We looked hard at Henley, but it seems to be dying… Marlow is so vibrant, sorry.”

So can we get the greedy landlords to back off a bit or just sell to one less greedy? There’s a thought.

While on the subject of “life”, please can someone explain why the main coffee shop in the square is allowed to close at 6pm (or earlier)? It should be open in the evenings. Young people who can’t or shouldn’t go into the pubs need somewhere central to meet.

As one of the generation who “grew up” in coffee bars with juke boxes, I reckon it is time for a nostalgic return. The town square is the perfect place. Mind you, they would have to drop the ridiculous price of their coffees for youngsters! — Yours faithfully,

Lady McAlpine

Fawley Hill

Must have more parking

Sir, — Following the debate in your pages, I am of the opinion that Henley risks being strangled if more parking cannot be provided.

We live out of the town and have more than once come to Henley, driven round and round the car parks, given up and gone home.

At least we do that in an electric car so are not polluting in the process.

The Waitrose car park is well below the backs of the King’s Road houses, but clearly a multi-storey would still affect them. Going underground would be much more friendly but hugely expensive.

Is it possible to compromise by digging down half a level on the west (King’s Road) side to give a ground floor level with the Waitrose entrance, then putting on a second floor? This would only be a half-level height increase on the King’s Road side. If the whole thing then had a green roof, the outlook from surrounding houses might actually be improved.

The biggest problem is how to get there from here without shutting the town in the process. Maybe a temporary park-and-ride might help, though a site would need to be found and non-polluting, reliable transport provided. — Yours faithfully,

David Watson

Cold Harbour, Goring Heath

Air pollution is priority

Sir, — You report that Henley Town Council is considering finding a sponsor to fund the £8,000 purchase of the mermaid statue on Red Lion Lawn (Standard, June 22).

This is sensible as council money should be used to benefit the town.

But what has a mermaid ever done for Henley?

Surely we should ask the council to spend the money on more planters to help the horrendous pollution there is in the town.

It is said that children’s lungs are being seriously damaged by the time they are eight years old and goodness knows what it is doing to the rest of us.

Please, councillors, give more consideration to the health of your people and spend our money wisely.

I am sure the mermaid would be much happier to be by the sea.

Let us celebrate people like Humphrey Gainsborough, brother of Thomas, who was the cleric at Christ Church and an inventor who designed the lock system we have on the River Thames today.

How nice it would be to have a statue of him as it would have some meaning for the town.

But, best of all, help use the £8,000 to turn the town green and pollution-free. — Yours faithfully,

Val Stoner

Wyndale Close, Henley

Paying more for the NHS

Sir, — We have been told the Government has promised billions to the NHS but, according to some papers, the pot is almost empty.

Last week my sister was over from New Zealand, where she has lived for the past 60 years, and said she wasn’t feeling too good and she was flying home that evening, a 26-hours flight.

I rang the Bell Surgery and asked if they could help. The long and the short of it was she was seen and prescribed the appropriate remedy in an hour.

When she offered to pay, she was told it was not required and it was the same at Boots for the prescription.

She was very surprised as in New Zealand she would have paid 15 dollars for the consultation and 10 dollars for the prescription.

As our doctors and nurses give us such fantastic care in this country, which is highly valued and much appreciated, would it not be an idea to introduce charges here?

I’m sure all adults could afford such a small amount, even the over-65s, and it would make the general public more responsible for their appointments. Just a suggestion. — Yours faithfully,

Sheila Constantinidi

Wargrave Road, Henley

Change this system now

Sir, — My wife was referred to Townsland Memorial Hospital in Henley for an X-ray on June 5.

She had fallen at home and the result was a broken shoulder. An appointment was made for 1.40pm.

I drove her to the hospital and parked up. I used the log-in screen at reception. You enter your car’s registration number and that is supposed to be that. The problem appears to be that once you’ve entered your details there is no actual confirmation on the screen.

I asked the lady at the reception was that it and she said that if I was in any doubt to do it again. I did.

I have now received a parking charge for £60. Time of entry 1.35pm, exit 2.15pm which is all correct. The problem must be with the interface with the log-in screen at reception.

Within the hospital itself the walls are littered with signs warning about the parking system — perhaps more signage on parking than there is about using the hand sanitisation soap dispensers. Something is very obviously wrong with the system.

So-called Smart Parking is not very smart and the hospital should take immediate action to get this system switched off.

What is wrong with simple “get a ticket for the windscreen”? — Yours faithfully,

Ian Reynolds

Goring Heath

Time to end pub dispute

Sir, — I was sad to read your article on the continued state of limbo regarding the White Lion at Crays Pond (Standard, June 22).

I think a fresh, realistic look is called for, especially when even South Oxfordshire District Council’s own report concluded it was non-viable as a pub.

The article said “villagers say the business had thrived under the management of Stuart and Caroline Pierrepont” but it is a nonsense to imagine anyone could easily repeat that success.

The Pierreponts, then an energetic young couple (though, sadly, Stuart has since died suddenly) sold up because the long hours and workload were detrimental to their health and could not be sustained.

In order to succeed, a restaurant-pub has to be good enough to attract people from quite a distance.

Those villagers who imagine the White Lion could survive on however many pints they might drink a week are living in cloud cuckoo land.

There are no good footpaths for walking there so a casual stroll to the pub is not much of an option.

I don’t know how many villagers Councillor Peter Dragonetti has spoken to but, as one who lives half a mile away, I would much prefer to see a change of use granted with planning permission to build two or three homes in the grounds.

Lastly, David Keeley thinks Mr Sandhu should have moved out and be renting somewhere to live, ignoring the fact that he owns the property and has been unable to sell it or let it.

It’s high time to put aside this dispute and co-operate in looking forward. — Yours faithfully,

Helen Watson

Cold Harbour, Goring Heath

Thank you for support

Sir, — I’d like to use your letters page to thank all the visitors, audience members, workshop participants, artists and children who visited or took part in the Gap Festival in Goring and Streatley.

I would especially like to take the opportunity to thank our supporters, sponsors, workshop leaders and all the volunteers who made it all possible.

The festival takes over a year to plan and every member of the team gives their time for free. Most also work or have family commitments so I am incredibly indebted to them for giving up their valuable spare time to make the festival the success it was.

We kicked off on June 9 with five days of fringe events followed by four fabulous days of entertainment in the marquee in Goring and other locations.

Streatley and Goring were full of people going from one event to another and the marquee was full to bursting with audiences enjoying West End-style entertainment and production values brought to their doorstep.

How wonderful to see a star like Mica Paris, or to get up close and personal with the likes of Joe Swift and Gyles Brandreth so close to home.

We’ll be doing it again in 2020 and we all look forward to seeing our visitors again then. Thank you. — Yours faithfully,

Heather Dunthorne

Artistic director, the Gap Festival 2018

True star of the family

Sir, — May I bring a touch of realism to the recent wave of adulation poured upon David Dimbleby for his long-term occupation of the prestigious and very highly paid role as host of Question Time.

Might I suggest that being the son of a genuine superstar in Sir Richard Dimbleby may have had something to do with him getting the job in the first place... nepotism in BBC appointments has not been entirely unknown.

And, yes, it can potentially be a somewhat tricky to at least “appear” to give equal exposure and weight to the differing political views but clearly there must be many people who could almost certainly do that equally well. Witness the large number of names now in the frame.

I do recall vividly one episode when Jimmy Wales, the (genuinely) illustrious founder of Wikipedia, was on the panel and the master of ceremonies barely gave him airtime. What an opportunity missed!

Anyway, the recent frenzy to achieve racial and also gender equality in the allocation of BBC starring roles might at least have the effect of diminishing or even killing off the nepotism factor for good, although I doubt it!

What’s the betting on DD not being given a knighthood, ere lang? — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

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