Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Your letters...

New school is solution

Sir, — I am responding to your article headlined “Housing would ‘put strain on schools’” (Standard, July 20).

The joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan committee was correct in highlighting the potential numerical shortage of primary school places as a result of the anticipated housing developments.

There is also the issue of accessibility. The majority of current and planned housing is to the south of the town, whereas the main spare school capacity is at Badgemore to the north and we are all painfully aware of the traffic problems when crossing the town centre at peak times.

The committee appears to have overlooked the potential role of Peppard Primary School in easing both the capacity and the accessibility problems.

The school catchment extends to the Henley town boundary and, most importantly, includes the whole of the new Highlands Park development off Greys Road.

The journey from this development to Peppard is straightforward.

Historically, Peppard is the de facto successor to the much-loved Harpsden Parochial School that closed in 1996.

The remaining Harpsden children transferred to Peppard and the school has continued to take children from the village, a large part of which remains in the Peppard catchment area.

Peppard primary is thriving under its current headteacher Nick Steele and has an exciting redevelopment project for a new school in the village.

The site has been purchased, planning consent secured and site development commenced to function initially as a sports facility.

Full Oxfordshire County Council funding of the construction is currently uncertain as public finances are affected by the sharp reduction in government grants to local authorities.

A more innovative approach must be found involving finance from a variety of sources.

The school is constructing a financing scheme based on the significant redevelopment value of the old school building, local philanthropy and other funding sources potentially accessible within the three main settlements that the school serves: Peppard, Greys and Highmoor.

Unfortunately, there was no section 106 agreement between the county council and the developer of Highlands Park for educational provision.

Instead, the Community Infrastructure Levy payable by the developer will go to South Oxfordshire District Council, which has no responsibility for the provision of education.

A portion of this tax will be remitted back to the Harpsden parish.

The scale of this windfall is likely to be greater than can be readily applied in Harpsden, so supporting the new Peppard school might be a suitable use for part of these funds.

The sale of the old Harpsden school by the Diocese of Oxford as a private residence yielded a significant sum that has been frozen until recently for legal reasons.

The diocese is currently arranging the release of these funds. A portion will go to St Margaret’s Church, Harpsden, and the majority, nearly £360,000, will be subsumed into the Oxford Diocesan Church Schools Uniform Statutory Trust Fund.

This fund is able to make disbursements anywhere in the Diocese of Oxford, the largest in England.

The two endowments from John Fowdon Hodges were explicitly local and intended to provide primary education for the children of Harpsden, not for distribution throughout the diocese.

Use of these residuary funds to support the Peppard project might be considered more in line with his wishes and consistent with the legal doctrine of cy- près.

It is hoped that our civic and church leaders will take account of the wider implications of the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

A new school at Peppard could make a material improvement to the primary educational provision in this corner of South Oxfordshire.

A focused application of at least part of these two windfall sums could make a decisive difference to the prospects for the school. — Yours faithfully,

Ian D Heriot

Foundation governor,
Peppard Primary School

Pavements are cleaned

Sir, — I do not recognise the situation complained about in Margaret Moola’s letter about filthy pavements in Henley (Standard, July 27).

Since Henley Residents Group regained financial control of Henley Town Council it has revived the contract for deep cleaning of the pavements and this appears to have led to a great improvement.

Critics should visit Brighton (controlled by the Green Party) to see what really filthy pavements look like.

Having recently returned, I have written to Brighton and Hove City Council asking if it will have a rolling programme of deep cleaning to effect an improvement to the tourist experience.

Henley’s pavements are far, far better. — Yours faithfully,

Valerie Alasia

Makins Road, Henley

Free parking for disabled

Sir, — I would like to respond to Nick Blandy’s suggestion that disabled drivers should pay the same charges as other drivers and that it might be a “trifle insulting” to them to suggest that they might not be able to pay for their own parking (Standard, August 3).

Has it not occurred to Mr Blandy that many disabled drivers do not have the luxury of choice that the rest of us face and have no option but to drive at all times, no matter how short their trip?

People like Mr Blandy and myself are lucky enough to be able to choose whether to drive into town or to park further out (for free) and walk in. Many disabled drivers don’t have that choice and so, to me at least, it seems entirely right that they are exempt from charges. — Yours faithfully,

Polly Kemp

Berkshire Road, Henley

Bring back parking area

Sir, — I was very interested to read your Hidden Henley item about the obstruction of the lay-by at Westfield, between Medmenham and Mill End (Standard, August 3).

About a year ago, the National Trust at Greys Court blocked off the parking place in the woods at Broadplatt, a parking area which has given much pleasure and convenience to people for decades.

I have written and called but have never received a reply as to why.

Now we have to park in passing places up and down this well-used but single- track road and then walk excited dogs up and down to access footpaths.

It is no good parking at Greys Court as it does not open until 10am and it shuts at 5pm and anyway it is frequently full, particularly in winter when the ground is soft. No doubt they will blame antisocial behaviour, but why should a few carloads of silly boys spoil it for the rest of us? We pick up their litter and greatly outnumber them! — Yours faithfully,

Brenda Armati

Springwood Lane, Peppard

Nice new bus service but...

Sir, — A thank-you to Henley Town Council for negotiating a new bus service contract with Reading Buses to serve Henley town. However, as bus users, we are most unhappy about the new timetable, especially the service from Market Place via South Avenue, Makins Road and back to Market Place.

We do not understand why, in the early morning, there is a gap of an hour and 20 minutes until the second round.

Many customers we have spoken to liked the 9.30am slot from Market Place and back, which meant they could catch the bus to Reading or High Wycombe and be back in Henley by early afternoon if they wanted.

With the later bus they will be in Reading closer to lunchtime.

We should like to ask if there were any female bus users on the bus working group or involved in the consultation with bus users.

We also feel that the late bus service will be a mistake. — Yours faithfully,

Anne Johnson, Cynthia Rich and Sue George

Blandy Road, Henley

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, chairman of Henley Town Council’s bus working group, responds: “We at Henley Town Council were determined to provide a better service than before for all members of our community.

“Choosing Reading Buses as our long-term partner for the bus contract will prove over the months to be the correct decision.

“Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing all aspects of the service including any comments regarding the timetable.”

You can rely on police

Sir, — The police sometimes get a bad name over attending burglaries etc.

However, I would like to reassure the residents of Henley that the local police are brilliant.

We had reason one night recently to call the police at 2.15am, believing we were having a break-in.

The phone was answered immediately and I spoke to a call handler/policeman who was so lovely — he calmed me down and stayed on the line.

The police car came within three minutes — yes, three minutes!

Fortunately, it was a false alarm. I apologised profusely but was told that’s what they are there for, better to be safe than sorry etc.

I cannot believe the speed the police came and it has given me so much confidence that we do have the support of our local police and are very fortunate to have such police in Henley.

Thank you, officers, you made my night! — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Ice cream by boat

Sir, — The residents of Hurley are fortunate to be harbouring a unique attraction in their midst.

As recent visitors to the village, we were sauntering through the fields alongside the river when we came upon the ice cream boat.

How can you fail to smile when you spot this?

It must attract a great deal of interest and I feel that both children and adults alike will be keen to sample its wares on a hot day.

What a novel enterprise which I hope will be treasured by the locals.

I only wish we had a similar tourist attraction up here on the Wirral peninsula. Possibly an idea for my second career! — Yours faithfully,

Alison Mitchell

Merseyside

We’ll miss you, Marisa

Sir, — Thank you very much, Marisa Francini, for your great contribution and hard work as secretary of the Henley Allotments Association.

We hope you enjoy your retirement. You will be missed by all us at the allotments. — Yours faithfully,

Lewis Every

Swiss Farm, Henley

Rowers go backwards!

Sir, — Let’s face it, rowers have some pretty weird habits.

The fact that alone in the whole wide world they persist in racing backwards can be confusing for the rest of us, even the editor of the district’s favourite newspaper.

Last week, Sarah Pye was quite right to describe her lovely painting as the view of a rower heading upstream, but your sub sub-editor should be forgiven for describing in the caption under the picture that this is the view upstream. It ain’t.

This minor error is not as bad as McCarthy & Stone who persist in describing their Reading Road old folks’ home as “across the banks of the River Thames, which flows west from London”.

It’s a long way from the Thames — it’s behind Tesco… and the Thames doesn’t flow west, even if you are rowing backwards.

To avoid falling foul of the Trade Descriptions Act, will McCarthy & Stone admit dementia patients only? — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Hambleden

Going the wrong way

Sir, — The sparkling water in Sarah Pye’s painting looking towards the start of the regatta course will certainly bring back memories of the summer we are experiencing.

As her friend rows upstream, she will, however, be looking downstream unless the river has started flowing uphill (see picture caption). — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road, Henley

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