Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Your letters...

Lucky to be alive... just

Sir, — I enjoy living in Henley and will no doubt, in due course, die here.

But I have no immediate plans to do so and in any event would prefer not to be killed before my time.

The drivers of two cars who nearly ran us down while we were clearly in the process of using the pedestrian crossing in Reading Road near the new McCarthy & Stone development two weeks ago, seemed to have had other plans for myself and two young companions.

Now, I feel that I am reasonably tolerant of the many irritations lying in wait in Henley for a person like me, of some summers, such as the flagrant and unpunished use by shoppers parking in loading bays, being hassled on narrow pavements by glassy-eyed women on iPhones pushing prams or trying to elbow past noisy groups of half-asleep students, untimely wrenched from their beds before midday.

All these I accept are merely part of the current social life in whatever century they tell me we’re in.

And they do not abrogate more fundamental English rights, for example, that of using a pedestrian crossing with confidence and in safety. A right, let us remember, denied to our Italian friends.

It seems to me there are three issues here, assuming that it is clear that the crossing is to be used.

The first concerns delinquent drivers and let’s confine that to those who do not engage in high speed car chases after ram-raiding a bank.

Now anyone familiar with the Phyllis Court Club members’ car park will know that, with the possible exception of trying to cross the road by foot in Monaco when the Grand Prix is running, it is the most hazardous place on the planet to park a car or walk about without exercising extreme caution.

This, of course, raises the wider question of compulsory tests for older drivers and that comes back to my own crossing where I think I saw that one of my would- be assassins might fall into that category. I cannot be categorical as my eyesight is not what it was.

The second issue concerns the siting of crossings. The new development of homes for older people mentioned above is directly opposite the crossing I used. Clearly there will be more footfall there in the future and the re-siting of the crossing needs to be addressed.

The third issue, again with wider implications, concerns the deterioration of street marking. Yes, yes, I know austerity and “cuts” and no doubt abrasions as well.

But will it take my dead body, lying across a faded, scarcely visible pedestrian crossing before something is done?

The yellow “box” at the junction of Reading Road and Station Road, outside the offices of our local thunderer, the Henley Standard, is another prime example which needs attention.

A spot of the jaune colour, so popular in Paris at present, would relieve a very congested and fraught situation for Henley residents and drivers alike. Finally, Henley really is a great place and I count myself very lucky to live here. But it can be even better — and safer.

Happy Christmas to all my readers and thanks to the Christ Church Centre and the Kenton Theatre for hosting some splendid recent events. — Yours faithfully,

Colin Barker

Norman Avenue, Henley

Muddled thinking

Sir, — I write with reference to your story headlined “Developers ‘should lose right to appeal planning decisions’” (Standard, December 14)

To John Howell’s ludicrous proposal, the immortal words of the tennis great John McEnroe fit perfectly: “You cannot be serious!”

Yet another Tory MP demonstrates a level of muddled thinking in line with many of his aimless colleagues as he proposes to deny the democratic right of appeal to anyone submitting a planning application under the Town and Country Planning Act, which he seems to regard as the exclusive province of “developers”, forgetting, it would appear, that the Act applies to everyone seeking to build anything from a housing estate to a simple kitchen extension.

What he proposes would entail complete revision of the Act to ensure equality for all under its auspices.

Worse still, his proposal substitutes the appeal process enshrined in the Act with the option of applying to the High Court for a judicial review.

A judicial review? So if my application to add a simple extension to my home is refused, I must seek a judicial review in the High Court at stratospheric cost. You cannot be serious, Mr Howell.

Mr Howell states that “…through such action (his action) will we return democracy to this country”, forgetting that we have it already, while seeking to eliminate that right to those applying for development at any level.

Although we probably all agree that participating in the planning process can be a frustratingly complex and costly encounter, there’s no point in bleating about it.

I am very certain that the kind of destructively dangerous intervention proposed by Mr Howell would be thoroughly unwelcome as it strikes at the very basic right of anyone to question a judicial decision. — Yours faithfully,

Pat Doyle


Who is our MP anyway?

Sir, — I went to Waitrose in Henley with my wife on Saturday morning.

She has a cold so she put some Lemsip and a box of paracetamol into the trolley. I put in a nice bottle of Pinot Noir to inoculate me from Brexiteers on the weekend news.

At the self-service check out it flashes red at us. I thought that must be because of the second childhood my children are noticing developing and the need for the staff at Waitrose to check my age.

But no, it’s because “they” think there is a risk my wife might kill herself by drinking too much Lemsip and eating all those paracetamol pills.

Sounds unlikely but I think if she wanted to then she might not find it all that tricky to go to Sainsbury’s, Boots and the other chemist in town and buy them all in turn.

Anyway, I bet the Brexiteers think that bit of busybody legislation to protect us from ourselves comes from the EU... wrong!

I then say to the nice manager bloke: “I can feel a rude letter to our MP for Henley coming on if I can be bothered to write to him.”

He says: “Who is the MP for Henley?”

I say: “That’s exactly the question we are all asking.”

Poor Henley. We had a great MP in Michael Heseltine, followed by a boorsish self-publicist and now someone or other.

It’s pointless writing to whatever his name is, so I wrote to the Standard instead. — Yours faithfully,

Adrian Hill

Badgemore, Henley

Let’s escape superstate

Sir, — I assume your correspondent Edward G Hallett (Standard, December 14) is a comparatively young man.

Because we have been in the EU for more than 40 years, younger people have no conception of what life was like before we joined.

We have been virtually ruled by Brussels for all that time, with our parliament totally emasculated by European diktats.

What we thought was originally a trading agreement has become a one-way ticket to a European superstate and we have definitely not received good value for money by our membership.

As well as sometimes absurd regulations concerning anything from vegetables to light bulbs and vacuum cleaners, we have been obliged to accept hordes of unskilled freeloaders at huge cost to our infrastructure and national security.

It seems hard to comprehend that some of those to whom we have given sanctuary actually wish to do us serious harm but that is a fact, as numerous terrorist atrocities here and in Europe have shown.

Of course, we are going to be punished for daring to challenge the plans of the European elites but after initial difficulties we will get our country back. We can either produce what we need ourselves or source it from other places in the world.

This time it will be easier as there are no bombs or bullets to contend with, so everything we have is still intact.

Our exit from the EU could provide a big stimulus to our own industry and the ability to trade with the world on our own terms. — Yours faithfully,

Adrian Vanheems

Baskerville Road, Sonning Common

No need for acrimony

Sir, — My mother worked in the consular service in the Rhineland between the wars and made a number of friendships that endured post-war, including having two of their teenage kids over for a holiday, so I was inculcated at an early age about “furriners” being nice people.

As a child in the early post-war years, I learned the words to Stille Nacht off by heart but still need to read the words to Silent Night beyond the first couple of lines.

In my mid-teens I was youth-hostelling and hitch-hiking in northwest Europe, including through out-of-the-way places where you felt that the last time they saw a young English speaker he was in uniform and carrying a gun!

Our honeymoon was in the Rhineland and, some years later, my brother and I drove over one weekend to scatter Mum’s ashes there.

My wife has a similar longstanding love of Europe, including deigning to accompany me there on our honeymoon.

She spent time in Belgium as an au pair, developing an enduring liking for its singer Adamo, which I thought was taking things a bit far.

In parental life, we have hosted exchange students from Germany, France, Hungary and Greece.

In the latter part of my career, I was on some minor European international committees and always got on well with colleagues from other countries.

Why am I boring you with all this personal stuff? Because I hope it demonstrates that we love mainland Europe. It’s the EU that is the problem.

I believe in close friendship, trade and general co-operation between countries. That doesn’t mean one has to give up nationhood and sovereignty to achieve it.

This isn’t a topic that only arose in my mind in the lead-up to the referendum. I’ve been opposed to the EU construct for more than 15 years. I certainly haven’t been led astray by the “lies, deceits and propaganda” of Brexiteers. My conclusions were formed and developed by calm, personal analysis.

Much of this was from delving deep into material from the official EU website and at the peak of my online activity I reckoned I knew more about EU structures than many politicians!

Against all the odds, a referendum was authorised. Against all the odds, it was won despite the weight of pro-EU preference by the Establishment, thus making its significance that much greater.

Actually, part of the success might have been down to dire warnings of the consequences of leaving “Project Fear”, with less emphasis on the benefits of continued membership. We don’t like attempts to frighten us!

It is sheer arrogance to dismiss all those 17+ million Leave voters as soppy airheads who didn’t understand the question, unlike the ever-so-educated 16+ million who voted Remain.

While that vote was fairly close, it was proportionately little different than between Labour and Conservative at the last general election, yet I don’t recall anyone demanding a re-run on account of the winning party only gaining a million votes more, a similar differential of about four per cent.To the referendum result I might also add the fact that the UK Independence Party has more seats in the European Parliament than Labour or Conservative, yet UKIP’s performance in Westminster elections hasn’t yet produced any MPs.

I interpret that as people using their Euro vote as a single-issue one, whereas in Westminster elections one is voting for a party on a whole raft of governmental policies, or because that’s how they’ve always voted.

As to the usual epithets against Brexiteers:

“Fascist” — the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions include “(loosely) a person of Right-wing authoritarian views” and “a person who advocates a particular viewpoint or practice in a manner perceived as intolerant or authoritarian”. If we’re labelling anything as fascist I’m not sure that our political system in general or Leavers in particular qualify for it, other than as a boo word for people with differing opinions, including trivialisation of the word, as in “body fascist”.

In a more technical application of the term, fascism is a form of government that prioritizes the nation/state above all else.

As such, a fascist government gives itself the role of making decisions in all economic, social and political matters. The EU is aiming to become a single country; that is a form of nationalism, isn’t it? Perfectly valid for those who want it but I wouldn’t consider unless the fundamental framework provided a suitable basis for democratic development.

Fascism also means the people of the country having essentially no say in the decisions that affect their lives — the government makes all the decisions.

There is such a gulf between ordinary people and the rule-makers of the unelected European Commission that such an insult might more appropriately be hurled at them.

In Britain, we are more accustomed to the Civil Service being subordinate to the rule-makers but the EU parliament can only consider such proposals as are put to it by the commission (the EU’s civil servants).

“Nationalist” is another convenient boo word, applied rather discriminately. Apparently it is respectable to be a Scottish, Welsh or peaceable Irish nationalist but to aver being a British or, horror of horrors, an English nationalist instantly removes hair from your head, puts studs on your boots and covers you in tattoos.

The idea of wishing to stay out of a political EU and to have an English parliament within the Union, on a par with the Scottish Parliament etc., is, I suggest, a legitimate aspiration.

“Xenophobe” — looking outwards to the world is hardly xenophobic.

As to immigration, I simply want it managed by a government that we have elected, whether that be by a very restrictive policy, a very liberal one, or whatever in between at any given time.

The saddest thing about this whole business is the acrimony generated, the accusations of lies, deceit, fraud and so forth — so unlike anything seen in general elections. What next, gilets jaunes? — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Second vote is silly idea

Sir, — There was much food for thought in last week’s letters page as well as much misinformation and misunderstanding.

Edward G Hallett seems to think that the EU and its forerunners was an organic attempt by Churchill and other European leaders to save Europe from wars, a noble cause of course.

But the reality is that from the beginning it was a product of corporatism and global bankers.

Yes, Churchill did think a united Europe would prevent wars, but this union was not to include Britain since he saw the country as the hub of an empire morphing into a commonwealth, worldwide trading bloc.

It was globalist Allen Dulles, assisted by his brother John Foster, who took an old idea and aggressively advanced it in the late Forties and Fifties.

Allan Dulles, aided and abetted by the CIA, which he headed, gathered together a consortium of international businesses, the American Committee on United Europe.

Many of these conglomerates had made a fortune out of the Second World War and now sought riches through the abolition of nation states and the establishment of a global order controlled by themselves.

And, of course, as we increasingly see, there’s no room for democracy in all of this (if you don’t believe it, then take a look at The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot and The EU: A Corporatist Racket by David Barnby).

In this new world order, nation states that resist abolition are classified as rogue states and attacked and dismembered, as we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and the ongoing attempts to destroy Syria and Russia itself.

I am grateful to Andrew Ball’s letter explaining the EU’s role in it.

No, those EU enthusiasts make no secret of their desire for it to become an empire and are right now in the process of creating a “European army” with nuclear weapons.

This, by the way, is not the first move towards a European army; it was planned in the Fifties but was scuppered by France. A force for peace it is not.

Remainers have a psychological problem with the 2016 referendum result and have formed a group supported financially by globalist vested interests, particularly George Soros.

They have formed the “People’s Vote” and are making noises out of all proportion to their numbers.

I would say to them:

The People’s Vote, an offshore registered company, is at odds with the country that voted decisively, with eyes wide open, when 68 per cent of constituencies voted to leave.

Presumably, as one of the great washed “people”, Mr Hallett didn’t vote, along with all those “non-people” who voted to leave two years ago.

Seriously, in a repeat referendum, what question should we be answering:

Remain a member of the European Union as it is at present?

Remain a member of the European Union and join the euro and the planned European army?

Leave with no deal?

Leave on the terms of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement?

Leave with Canada plus, plus, terms (offered by the EU)?

Leave with a Norwegian-style agreement?

Leave with a Swiss-style agreement?

Or just pick and mix?

Then who’s going to select the questions? Are we to have a referendum to do this?

So you can see how, besides being profoundly undemocratic, having another referendum before we’ve even implemented the first is just plain silly.

Instead, perhaps we should be looking at a more important issue, a referendum on the UN Global Compact for Migration agreement made at a conference in Marrakech earlier this month. — Yours faithfully,

Alan Hill

Liddon Road, Chalgrove

Disastrous deeds by PM

Sir, — What the dickens is going on with this dog’s Brexit?

Appearing on the last Question Time to be hosted by David Dimbleby after a 25-year stint, the comedian Jo Brand said that it resembled a Dickensian novel. Yes, but which one?

I realise this is the festive season but I wouldn’t go for A Christmas Carol.

Instead, and in the light of the latest rebuff meted out to the Prime Minister in Brussels, I would suggest that Oliver Twist would be more appropriate.

There is Mrs May, basin and spoon in hand, advancing towards her EU masters and, somewhat alarmed by her own temerity, saying: “Please, sirs, I want some more.”

The trouble is that more gruel won’t cut it and, more devastatingly, the EU hierarchy has pronounced that it is unclear what exactly it is that she wants more of.

In reality, we are as far as can be from the heady days in 2016 when a jubilant Nigel Farage declared the UK’s “Independence Day” and the 17 million voters, or 52 per cent of the vote, celebrated a famous victory.

This has come as no surprise to me as within weeks of the referendum I picked up the signs that the powers that be were already beginning to stall and backtrack.

I told concerned friends on the Continent that they needn’t worry as nothing was going to happen.

It is therefore ironic that Mrs May insists that her Brexit plan delivers the result of the referendum while her detractors in Parliament and in the country insist that it doesn’t.

It’s obvious that to call her plan a Brexit plan is a misnomer and her attempt to call it so in order to placate the 48 per cent who voted Remain is doomed.

In fact, she has given herself away by stating that she has been negotiating with the EU for two-and-a-half years with the national interest uppermost on her mind.

That’s just it: she shouldn’t be negotiating at all, there was a Brexit Secretary for that. No wonder they stepped down when they realised that a Remainer negotiating Brexit could only end in tears.

As for the national interest, this was a reprise of the pre-referendum debate which her predecessor lost inspite of a massive nationwide propaganda mailing. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May rather excitedly stated that the danger to this country didn’t come from the EU (coming from a Remainer, that’s a surprise) but from a Corbyn government.

This is rich coming from a Prime Minister without a Commons majority, who was found in contempt of parliament, who pulled the debate on her Brexit plan and who can only hold on to power by announcing that she will be relinquishing power, yet still clams that her plan is the best and only plan.

Mrs May is not the first political leader to say “apres nous le deluge”. — Yours faithfully,

Alexis Alexander

Gosbrook Road, Caversham

EU kills our free spirit

Sir, — Your correspondent Edward G Hallett states that the most compelling reason for staying in the EU is for the UK to be international to meet the “less insular outlook” of the younger generation.

In fact, the main reason for Brexit is to regain sovereignty in order to be once again an international nation.

Remaining in a bureaucratic EU kills our traditional adventurous free spirit, ready to meet the world. — Yours faithfully,

Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Let’s get out and get on

Sir, — By now most of us are fed up with Brexit and the incompetence of our government and the malicious machinations of our European “friends”.

The deal Mrs May has obtained is totally unacceptable so it had to be withdrawn from presentation to parliament and it is most unlikely that she will get an acceptable deal as long as the backstop remains. Talk of another referendum is an insult to those who voted out and is mooted by only those who wish for no Brexit.

Talk of an election is frightening beyond words.

The referendum made it clear that the majority of people in this country wanted to leave the EU and regain powers to run our own country.

To do this we must have the courage to pull out with no deal and trade on World Trade Order rules with the whole world.

Why do people talk about “crashing” out? This is “Project Fear” rearing its ugly head again.

WTO tariffs average a bit more than four per cent, which is not excessive, and we would be able to trade with anyone in the world we wished to.

Trade seems to be the main talking point now, but why hasn’t there been more emphasis on regaining the freedom to run our country the way we want having shed the shackles of the EU?

Let’s get out and get on! — Yours faithfully,

Brian Triptree


Overloaded with Brexit

Sir, — Can I suggest that contributors to the letters section keep their topics local?

The last subject I want to read about in my local newspaper is Brexit.

I’m already suffering Brexit overload in the national press so please keep it local. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Large

Nicholas Road, Henley

Architects’ wrong turn

Sir, — Since when has the Waitrose car park in Henley been accessed from King’s Street?

Someone at architects ColladoCollins did not do their homework thoroughly before displaying maps about the redevelopment around Market Place Mews. Please would someone inform them that it should say “King’s Road”. — Yours faithfully,

Barbara Reid

London Road, Twyford

Sorry, wrong development

Sir, — I made an error in my letter about the idea of a traffic-free in Henley (Standard, December 14).

When referring to development, instead of Lucy’s Farm, I should have said Thames Farm for which I apologise to the owners of the former. — Yours faithfully,

Guy Corrie


Office named after mentor

Sir, — The correct name for the Henley office building shown on your front page (Standard, December 7) is Andersen House, not Anderson House.

I named it after Californian Charles Andersen, the European vice-president of Ampex Corporation, who lived in Lambridge Wood Road, Henley.

He was my mentor in the early days of Videcom when we moved our factory from the Suttons estate in Reading to this building.

It had previously been used as a warehouse by Stelrad Radiators. — Yours faithfully,

Keith Barker

Fuelling suspicion

Sir, — We are frequently made aware of “fair trade” in the press. Maybe the faceless manager of Henley filling station can justify why petrol can cost 10 pence per litre more than Reading Tesco filling station the week before Christmas.

Maybe he would like to explain his high prices through this newspaper? Can it possibly be transportation costs between Reading and Henley if it comes by barge? — Yours faithfully,

Ian Forster

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Thank you for support

Sir, — I am writing to thank Henley Choral Society for their kindness in allowing Henley Citizens Advice to be the beneficiary of the retiring collection at their carol concert as well as everyone who contributed for their generosity.

It was an excellent concert and we collected just over £871 which will be used to support the service in Henley.

Henley Citizens Advice is part of Oxfordshire South & Vale Citizens Advice, which is an independent local charity. We are members of the national Citizens Advice charity but receive no core funding from them. Our money has to be raised locally. About 70 per cent comes from local councils but the rest we have to find ourselves.

The need for our services increases year on year (up by 15 per cent last year across South & Vale) and Henley Citizens Advice advised more than 3,000 people in that year.

The service is provided by trained and experienced volunteers, supported by a small number of paid staff.

Citizens Advice is a service for the whole community and we are grateful for the support of the community. — Yours faithfully,

Eleanor Hards

Chair of trustees, Oxfordshire South & Vale Citizens Advice

Wrong title on review

Sir, — What a shame that Trevor Howell’s thoughtful review of Henley Choral Society's concert that took place on Saturday, December 8 was titled “The Mill on the Floss, Kenton Theatre, Saturday October 3.”

Whoops, how did that happen? — Yours faithfully,

Susan Edwards

Chair, Henley Choral Society

Lovely visit to Toad Hall

Sir, — May I just say a word or two about our visit to the Toad Hall garden centre in Henley?

What a wonderful sight. I was taken back with delight. The staff must have worked very hard Santa’s grotto was so lovely. Mums and dads were waiting with their youngsters with smiling faces to see Father Christmas. What a delight for them.

After getting our gifts, we had a cup of tea to refresh us after our lovely trip out. It’s a pleasure to spend time at Toad Hall.

Well done to all the staff and thank you once again; we all had a lovely time. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs H Austin


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