Saturday, 17 November 2018

Your letters...

Vulnerable need support

Sir, — With reference to your report from the inquest on my son Daniel James (Standard, September 14), I feel he was let down by “the system”.

While I appreciate that the Government provides, through local councils, a social care system for young people and adults with a diagnosis of autism, its “one-size-fits-all” approach is far from effective.

Autism is a spectrum disorder and those on the spectrum who are social, wanting friends, a home and jobs are slipping through the cracks and not receiving productive support because they refuse to conform to our social rules.

They struggle because their brains are wired differently and cannot process to function like people who are not autistic.

Some on the spectrum can seem as though they are self-gratified in their approach to life, which is what makes them vulnerable and susceptible to being taken advantage of as well as hard to guide and handle.

This difficulty in coping with them is where they fall away from help.

The Government clearly accepts that they are disabled by giving them money in the form of disability benefit but what they actually need is strategic guidance and structural support from highly trained, understanding, patient practitioners who can tailor the correct support so that they are less vulnerable in society.

They can be negative towards receiving support because of the nature of their diagnosis but allowing them to fend for themselves leaves them open to a turbulent life due to an inability to use common sense and a keen desire to satisfy themselves because they operate in life differently.

The Government clearly needs to recognise the magnitude of the relevant support needed as these young people and adults are growing in number and can be very intelligent, an asset to our society, instead of falling from grace and participating in our low-life environments.

I am sure that if I had been allowed to give my son the time and guidance I wanted to he would still be here today.

However, the rules from social services, whether directly or indirectly from the Government, helped him go further into society where he was vulnerable and I was unable to stop it. — Yours faithfully,

Linda Wellsteed

Bracknell

Farmland before sport

Sir, — I understand that Shiplake College is pretending to “consult” local people with the intention of destroying farmland in order to create more sports fields.

As I am sure you are aware, the college has plenty of surface for playing fields but this is used for decorative purposes which those in charge would prefer not to downgrade.

The idea of converting an operating farm’s assets into sports fields shows the mentality of the college.

The principals apparently have no idea of the value of arable land and would propose marginal land for a “swap” in order to play games and forget about food or any kind of necessary production to sustain life in Britain.

I am well aware of the Doble farmland and the production of necessities of life that those fields produce.

Perhaps those people involved should read how precarious life can get in Britain when a situation arises that requires dependence on local food alone.

Start with the Ministry of Food and read how desperate things got during the Second World War and then go to the Women’s Land Army that was employed to put every speck of arable land into production.

The Keen, Doble and Phillimore family farms were front and centre in food production.

There should be no need to protest at these proposals. All the proponents need to do is look at the land — productive land does not grow on trees or appear overnight.

I now live in Canada but word is getting out and the reaction is, what kind of people are these wanting to destroy farmland for sport and what kind of education will children get from such foolish leaders?

It is hoped that these folk think about their school and its reputation soon. — Yours faithfully,

G W Bayliss

Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, and formerly Binfield Heath


Stop abuse of loading bays

Sir, — I work in a business in Duke Street, Henley, and my office is above one of the two loading bays on the street.

It is incredibly frustrating to see these constantly used (abused) as free short-term parking by lazy shoppers popping for a coffee or a sandwich or to the shops.

I witness many delivery trucks trying to legitimately access mine and other businesses on the street with nowhere to load or unload so they have to dangerously mount the pavements (dodging pedestrians in the process) or drive round the block numerous times.

Currently there is only a barely noticeable (10in square) sign stating that these bays are for loading only (although I am pretty sure those who park there know they shouldn’t) and the white road markings have faded.

Can the signage please be improved to make it clearer that these are NOT parking spaces and perhaps yellow cross-hatching painted in the bays to make this obvious?

Or can they be “policed” by cameras as there are seldom any wardens patrolling?

Duke Street businesses need these loading facilities and I fear an injury or accident will happen if legitimate delivery trucks have to make alternative, dangerous arrangements because their loading bays are constantly blocked.

Alternatively, if the council accepts that these are short-term general parking areas (as they are currently used for most of the time) then there should be clear signage saying “Five minutes parking only”. — Yours faithfully,

Name supplied

Duke Street, Henley


Visitors are to blame

Sir, — It is beyond belief that Henley Town Council voted against charging for parking in the Mill Lane car park (Standard, September 14).

The vast majority of antisocial behaviour comes from visitors. I suggest you take a look on Sundays when this is most apparent as filth and rubbish abounds.

Despite a ranger supposedly overseeing the area, barbecues are still being used and rubbish left.

Boat owners are required to pay to moor, only to be subjected to smoke, smell and mess, which is hardly fair.

Henley residents have to pay at Henley town centre car parks, supporting local amenities, and we pay large council tax bills.

Double yellow lines are clearly visible along part of Mill Lane and even with free parking these are disregarded as no one ever bothers to police this area.

Wake up, Henley council, each year this area gets worse and residents have had enough of this ongoing saga. — Yours faithfully,

Pat Taylor

Reading Road, Henley


Floral train is tasteless

Sir, — Henley Town Council is to be applauded for the excellent restoration of Station Park this summer.

This included the three refurbished benches, the seat by the planter currently being refurbished, the pressure-washed paving, the cleaned-up notice board and the excellent plantings and tree maintenance by the parks department. However, Councillor David Eggleton, chairman of Henley in Bloom, is wrong to want to bring back the floral train, saying “it’s part of our heritage” (Standard, September 14).

Since when did we live in a dictator state? Neither Cllr Eggleton nor any other members of Henley in Bloom nor Henley Town Council actually lives in Station Road.

Therefore, prior to any final decision being made, I think Cllr Eggleton and the council should first ask the opinion of those residents who do actually live here before that tasteless floral train is foisted upon us yet again. — Yours faithfully,

Steve Ludlow

Station Road, Henley


No place for politics here

Sir, — Well, it looks like the Henley Conservative branch is mirroring the national party and washing its dirty washing in public.

Two weeks’ worth in the Henley Standard. I’m sure these things used to happen in private.

Looks like the Conservatives are split from top to bottom, although what is surprising in Henley is that they are split over political opinion and political direction rather than personalities. My view on this is that the Henley Conservative branch functions with a local town council whose few responsibilities are far away from national party politics.

The decisions made by the council are for the benefit of approxomately 11,000 residents and do not require national party political direction. Does building a play park need political direction or organising a May Fair, or rewarding charities with grants?

Furthermore, when I read that “Conservative values” should play a part in Conservative councillors’ decision- making I fail to understand how that would be relevant on a town (parish) council.

What we need instead is common sense and respect for Henley and not political jargon.

Also all the major financial decisions, apart from a part of the local council tax, are not even made in Henley but are made by the district and county councils.

Our council is all about the town and the skill and energy of our councillors to improve the lives of residents and keep Henley the special place it is.

This requires time, determination and the will to learn and act for Henley.

So, when electing the new town council next May, these are the criteria I will be looking for and avoiding those who promote using “Conservative values” in their decision-making process. National politics has no place in our council chamber.

There are some great examples among all the current councillors who have involved themselves in the community and are doing great work.

They are unpaid and give many hours to the town on top of their council meeting schedule. They are not enough so let’s find more more next May. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

P.S. Chris Baker made some good points about a fully independent council (like Wallingford) in his letter last week.


Tories’ split like a drama

Sir, — Just when I had stopped watching my Game of Thrones box set I am given a brand new series, hot from the production studios. A capo dei capi is struck down at the annual feast of the blue order of loyalists.

A normally mild and greying leader of an up and coming refined blue tribe organised a coup at which tribes of many hues united and signed off the murder in a mix of blood and barbecue sauce on a piece of pork loin.

He is unmourned except for a blue maiden who, tearing at her clothes, exalts his virtues of seeking change when all around seek a rosier future in reconciliation with the old enemy — the all-powerful black and white tribe across the blue water.

In following the plot, I have been able to ascertain that the chief’s ultimate mistake was that, in true Trump fashion, he wanted all chiefs of the main blue council to undergo selection or worthiness tests.

Fearful of their lives, this would have entailed the ultimate test of “kissing the dragon” or, as we would know it, singeing the former UKIP chairman’s beard.

This has never been achieved since the wily one crossed over into black and white territory three years ago. As we say in the military, “he who dares wins”, but not even that noble Prince Will in waiting (or is it hiding) has attempted such a dangerous play.

From beyond the grave, FB’s ghost now croaks that all he wanted was for the blues to win and for him to be loved. Only the blue maiden is of the opinion that these were his motives.

But, as it says in the script, the villain leaves the stage left to boos and shouts of abuse. Is this the end of the Game of Thrones? I think not — tune in next week, month, year for further entertainment. — Yours faithfully,

Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard


Remainers could leave

Sir, — Stuart Fox’s letter in which he seeks even at this late hour to reverse the clear choice of the UK electorate to leave the EU, presumably because he personally doesn’t like this outcome (Standard, September 7), is yet another example of “Project Fear”.

One has come to expect this sort of behaviour from the EU, who simply rerun referenda until the voters come up with the “right” answer. They appear to see nothing wrong with that.

The standard modus operandi of Remainers like Stuart is to bury the opposition in statistics to show us all their superior knowledge, hint sagely at the dire economic consequences of Brexit without acknowledging any of the many defects in the EU and portray Brexiteers as ignorant zealots with, of course, a touch of condescension for good measure.

Stuart exhorts me from on high to find out what he calls “the facts”, as if he had a monopoly on such information. Actually, Stuart, if you read my letter again I think you will find that, unlike you, I made no factual assertions, supported or otherwise. I merely responded to others in a general way.

The tragedy for our country is that regardless of what happens in March 2019 each side will blame the other for every inevitable national setback with increasing acrimony for many years to come. This corrosive and divisive atmosphere would perhaps only be resolved by some of the more fanatical Remainers leaving the UK, as your correspondent Roy Welch suggested.

I am reminded of the second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902, when some Boers, known as the “bittereinders” (irreconcilables), were unable to accept the provisions of the peace treaty which ended that conflict and in the case of Denys Reitz, later deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa, emigrated (to Madagascar).

If Stuart feels so strongly then perhaps he would be happier emigrating to another remaining EU state from the safety of which he could watch what he evidently thinks would be our predictable and richly deserved demise. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common


Arrogant presumption

Sir, — Stuart Fox is once again, rather arrogantly, informing so-called Brexiteers why they voted to leave the European Union.

I would not presume to tell Stuart why he voted to remain nor denigrate his decision to do so.

As the leave vote won the referendum is it not he and his like who are the ones obsessed with overturning British democracy? — Yours faithfully,

Vivienne Wheeler

Bradley Road, Nuffield


House prices should fall

Sir, — Bank of England governor Mark Carney no doubt thinks that his prediction of a 35 per cent fall in house prices if the UK leaves the EU without a deal will turn people against such an outcome.

However, in my view, a fall in house prices would be both beneficial and just.

First-time buyers and those who already own a house but are on their way up the ladder would benefit, while those owning a home but with no plans to move in the near future would see only a book loss.

The only losers would be older people downsizing, who have unjustly benefited from the massive house price increases caused by cheap and abundant credit and those who stand to inherit not just what their grandparents earned and saved (which I support) but also an amount on top which does not derive from their forebears’ hard work and thriftiness. — Yours faithfully,

Tim Beechey-Newman

Gravel Hill, Caversham

Eyesight test must be fair

Sir, — Your report that Thames Valley Police will be checking the eyesight of every driver they stop (Standard, September 7) needs some clarification.

It will surely be of concern to many Henley residents who could have their licences instantly revoked.

Someone quite able to read a number plate at 20 metres on a bright summer’s day may have problems on a dank November afternoon.

The law states that the test should be conducted in good daylight, so presumably police will be equipped with light meters or the test would be invalid.

Could Thames Valley Police comment, letting people know what mimimum light meter reading is considered good daylight and also confirm that the test is not applicable at night? — Yours faithfully,

Mary Beckinsale

St Andrew’s Road, Henley

A Thames Valley Police spokeswoman responds: “Officers have been told that they can conduct such tests in daylight, when it is safe to do so and when they have reasonable suspicion the person may have defective eyesight for driving.

“However, being involved in a crash, not knowing what the speed limit is, stopping too far back from a give way sign and being slow to pull out are opportunities to gain reasonable suspicion.

“Additionally, there is no reason why an officer can’t ask voluntarily for people to conduct an eyesight test to help raise awareness.

“The law states the test should be conducted in good daylight, so police will only be conducting tests in decent light conditions and not at night.

“It is essential that we all have good vision to drive but also having our eyesight regularly checked by an optician can have major health benefits as it can pick up many conditions (not only eyesight) so they can be treated early.

“We are working with the road safety charity Brake on this campaign. Our aim is to evidence the number of people driving with defective eyesight and why the current self-certification at renewal may no longer be suitable.

“The UK is currently one of five countries in Europe with the weakest laws in relation to drivers and eyesight.”


Poor way to treat needy

Sir, — On September 1 Oxfordshire County Council removed the social workers from the older adults mental health services (community mental health teams) to improve service, it is claimed.

This step will penalise the elderly with complex mental and physical needs, the most vulnerable in our society.

Until now, social workers were embedded with psychiatrists and mental health nurses in the Oxford Health organisation.

They were located in the same place and worked together to provide holistic, cohesive support and advocacy for the elderly mentally ill.

Each patient had a named practitioner who reviewed their needs biannually and co-ordinated their support requirements.

Urgent needs were dealt with speedily and appropriate psychiatric and other support delivered. Now patients will not have a named advocate, their circumstances will be reviewed once per year by a social worker from a pool.

Instead of having speedy access to psychiatric support, they will have to go through a process of referral with all the inherent delay that such processes inevitably encounter.

It is striking that in all other areas of life providers are moving to personalised support models, for example, GP practices assigning patients a named doctor, yet Oxfordshire County Council would rather degrade service.

This diminution of support would never be countenanced for child services.

The aged mentally ill are easy targets. They can’t complain, often they have no relatives to fight for them or if they do they tend to be around the same age and usually with their own health problems.

Penalising the mentally ill is a nasty, cheap shot aimed at the most helpless. — Yours faithfully,

J W Evans

Orchard Close, Shiplake


Fascinating history

Sir, — With reference to your Hidden Henley item (Standard, September 14), it would appear that the churchyard of St Mary’s Church in Fawley was enlarged in 1862 by the addition of a piece of land.

The Mackenzie family archives contain correspondence from this period regarding the consecration of this land as well as about a mausoleum for the Mackenzie family.

However, Edward Mackenzie, the first of that family and who as patron of the parish church must have given or financed this extension, lived until much later (1880).

It is therefore most likely that the day shown on the date stone and the letter “C” refers to the date of the actual consecration of this extension to the churchyard.

As to your earlier article and photo of the “R & M MK 1907” on Great Wood House, Fawley, formerly known as Sunnyclose and before that as Church Farm, you might like to know that this house was once the residence of William Roderick Dalziel Mackenzie and his wife Maud Evelyn.

He was the grandson of Edward Mackenzie and seems to have been more commonly referred to simply as Roderick, presumably to avoid confusion with his father, also a William. This explains the initials that are still on the façade. I have tried to keep this response succinct but the history of this branch of the Mackenzie family is quite fascinating.

I am currently conducting advanced research into the history of Fawley Court, its estate and its various owners, notably the Freeman and Mackenzie families. Their estates encompassed not only Fawley village itself but much beyond.

I would be happy to try to answer any other questions that might be raised or to receive any interesting contributions on the subject. — Yours faithfully,

Thomas Ziolkowski

Proudfoot Way, Aylsham, Norfolk

Volunteer drivers

Sir, — The Henley Volunteer Drivers (Bureau) held a street collection on Friday, September 7 and raised a grand total of £474.30.

This money goes towards the running expenses of the charity and gives an opportunity to publicise the service and recruit new drivers.

We are always grateful to the people of Henley for continuing to support this valuable community service.

Its aims are to provide door-to-door transport for elderly and disabled people in Henley and Shiplake, who are unable to use public transport, to essential medical appointments in Henley and at surrounding hospitals.

If you wish to volunteer as a driver, or would like more information, please call the bureau office on (01491) 572923. — Yours faithfully,

Jane Case

Henley Volunteer Bureau, Greys Road, Henley


Church open day for all

Sir. — I was pleased that the open day at All Saints’ Church in Peppard received a mention (Standard, September 14).

However, I would like to make it clear that the membership of our Friends scheme is not aimed at the worshipping community but rather the opposite.

It is to give those who are not regular worshippers an opportunity to contribute towards the upkeep of an ancient and very beautiful building.

There are many who have very fond of memories of the building and would like to think that it will still be there to be used, cherished and admired for generations to come.

Visitors to our open day between 10am and 4pm tomorrow (Saturday) will be able to enjoy the Harvest decorations and displays of local paintings and crafts.

There will be music including handbells, clarinet, saxophone, organ, piano and singing.

Morning coffee and afternoon tea will be available. — Yours faithfully,

Adrienne Heriot

Church Lane, Peppard

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