Sunday, 01 August 2021

Your letters...

We’re paying for verges not to be cut

We’re paying for verges not to be cut

Sir, — The grass verges around Peppard and Gallowstree Common are very dangerous.

Coming out of The Hamlet in Gallowstree Common on to Horsepond Road looking right, it was impossible to see a bike or a motor bike.

Further along the road, near the new houses, I had to walk on the road as the path is so overgrown that you just cannot see it. Plus the cars go very fast despite the 30mph limit.

The photograph shows what it should look like. A very kind gentleman (who is not a resident and in fact lives in Checkendon) cut the verge.

In conversation with him, I mentioned the state of the very long grass and how dangerous it was to exit The Hamlet. The very next day there he was with a strimmer! What a saint. We have no street lights or road sweeping in the area. Where does our council tax go? — Yours faithfully,

Audrey Fox

The Hamlet, Gallowstree Common

Sir, — This is the pavement on Greys Road, Henley, that young children have to navigate to and from primary and nursery school each day.

I was nearly swept off my feet by a passing car, so how does a mother with a buggy and children manage? Who owns these trees?

I rang Oxfordshire County Council’s highways department but could only get a website address. — Yours faithfully,

Denise Keir

Elizabeth Road,


No doctor on busiest day

Sir, — Is a hospital a hospital when it does not have a doctor?

Last Saturday afternoon my daughter visited us for the day. She was coughing badly when she arrived. Within an hour she was short of breath and had to lie down.Her discomfort increased. She was having real difficulty breathing, so I drove her to Townlands Hospital in Henley, our nearest hospital, at about 2.30pm.

The reception staff calmly told us there were no doctors at Townlands that afternoon and no one could see her — this despite her coughing painfully and looking seriously ill.

The regatta was in full swing and there were thousands of visitors in Henley that day. Was there any medical cover for them or anyone else in Henley?

What happens when a dying patient arrives at Townlands on a Saturday afternoon?

My daughter was told that she should call 111, which she had already done. 111 had suggested my daughter should go to the nearest hospital! Catch 22?

So the Townlands receptionist suggested we could drive to Abingdon, where she thought there might be a doctor but was not sure.

I immediately drove my daughter to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where the accident and emergency staff saw her at once and arranged for a doctor in the maternity clinic to see her within an hour.

The doctor immediately prescribed antibiotics which are steadily helping her to recover. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Dutch crew were robbed

Sir, — I had the luck to be invited to picnic at Henley Royal Regatta and had the misfortune to witness a travesty of justice.

The final of the Ladies’ Plate was between Nereus Holland and Leander Club.

Watching on the screens in the grandstand, I saw Nereus were warned several times during the race for steering, albeit they never actually crossed the centre point of the river and weren’t disqualified on completion of the race.

Leander, to their shame, chose to raise an objection with the umpire — a Leander crew setting out their case to an umpire wearing a Leander tie!

After three hours, the stewards deemed to disqualify the Dutch on the basis that something must have been said to the umpire by a third party in the launch and thus deemed this “unsportsmanlike conduct” — sufficient excuse to disqualify the athletes who won the race!

While unsportsmanlike conduct is rife in certain sports and cannot be condoned, it is not fair or reasonable to reverse a result.

I referee rugby union at a decent level and in the heat of battle or even after a game you do occasionally experience unsportsmanlike conduct from a player or coach. Good management of a game and explanation of decisions reduces such cases but you can never, ever, reverse the result of a game for such a spurious reason.

Given Sir Steve Redgrave’s explanation, he has obviously forgotten the semi-final of the Silver Goblets in 1986 when he and his partner Andy Holmes (God rest him) stopped rowing in the enclosure to remove a top, wave to the crowd and then continue the race to humiliate their opponents — sportsmanlike indeed?

I assume he will be disqualifying himself retrospectively and returning his medal forthwith?

Yes, Henley Royal Regatta is an amateur regatta generally well run by amateur volunteers but a review of how to manage issues arising is obviously well overdue, as is careful appointment of competent officials to oversee certain races. — Yours faithfully,

Charles Zappa


Shameful boaters

Sir, — Everyone in both the stewards’ enclosure and on the Berkshire bank along with Phyllis Court Club stood silently to attention at 11am on Friday at the royal regatta in remembrance of the horrors of the Somme and all those who died and suffered so we may live as we do today.

It was an amazing experience for so many to stand silently in honour of the dead, following the Last Post played by a single bugler standing on the barrier in the middle of the river.

Unfortunately, not everyone thought the same.

There was a growing noise coming up the river as a French Brothers boat, no doubt full of “corporate hospitality” clients, ploughed its way through the silence, presumably in order to keep the pounds rolling in regardless.

If that was not bad enough someone at Phyllis Court decided to make a very loud public announcement during the bugler’s Reveille following the two-minute silence.

What a shame but well done regatta stewards for arranging the moving pause for thought. — Yours faithfully,

Mark P Hatt

South Stoke Road,


Complaint in perspective

Sir, — I read with interest the letter from Vivienne Marton regarding the placement of temporary toilets during this year’s Henley Royal Regatta (Standard, July 1).

What a lot of fuss! Is it really so awful that this poor lady cannot have essential conveniences placed within her line of sight for such a short period of time? After all, she is privileged to have the glorious view of the River Thames unfettered for the remaining part of the year.

At a time when a vast number of human beings are putting their lives at risk just to seek a way of life free from persecution is it not time to put things in perspective? — Yours faithfully,

Richard Buckingham



Please back fireworks

Sir, — We hope everyone enjoyed the fireworks display on the Saturday night of the regatta. It was spectacular and one of the best ever.

Police closed the road as hundreds flocked to the bridge to watch and untold people witnessed the display from the bars in the town, on the riverbank and from their bedroom windows.Your readers will know that there was a real chance that it all wouldn’t happen this year.

A total of £10,000 (plus VAT) had to be raised to save the display but thanks to the enormous generosity of the people of Henley, who responded to our rallying call, we got there.

One resident, who wishes to remain nameless, came forward with a cheque for £1,000 and another with one for £400.

Special thanks must also go to Henley Town Council and Henley Royal Regatta for their funding, Lady McAlpine for her unstinting support, the Henley Sea Cadets for their bucket-rattling around the boats moored up on Saturday evening and our small but enthusiastic group of helpers who carried out street collections. We must also thank the Copas Partnership for allowing us to use its land and Jon Culverhouse, of Fantastic Fireworks, for his pyrotechnic brilliance, not forgetting Billy Pinches, who was the previous saviour of the display.

So it’s all done for this year but what of next year? It is not a cheap event to stage and the chances of being able to stage another rescue act at the last minute again is not one we would look forward to.

There is a whole year to raise the finances so can we ask local organisations, businesses and others to consider the Henley Fireworks Fund in any fund-raising event they may hold? We can be reached on 07913 670249 and the Lloyds bank sort code is 30-80-54, account number 18827960.

Once again, many thanks to all who made the display possible this year. — Yours faithfully,

Will Hamilton (Deputy Mayor) and Richard Reed

Henley Summer Fireworks

Promoting female sports

Sir, — What is happening to the Henley Standard and fair reporting?

In a town that is steeped in sporting glory for both females and males, you have become incredibly biased in your reporting.

Of the 20 photographs in the sports section last week, 18 were of males and there were two small photos of females.

Only three of the reports were on female sport and all short pieces. Why are the reports for female sport not put in prominent positions?

At a time when not enough girls have a positive body image or are interested in sport, local papers should be leading the way in promoting any teams for girls.

As a mother of two boys who is working hard at bringing them up to be respectful of everyone and believing in equality, this sort of bias doesn’t help. I want them to see photographs of women of all ages and sizes enjoying and competing in team sports.

Let’s start promoting positive messages for the next generation and get more people wanting to join in with more activities. — Yours faithfully,

Clare McCarthy


The editor responds: “The Henley Standard is most certainly not sexist and we are very happy to report on girls’ and women’s sport and indeed we do.

“For example, the previous week we published eight sports pictures featuring females and had a double-page spread on Henley Women’s Regatta while almost the whole of page 3 was devoted to a 12-year-old girl’s equestrian achievements.

“In the week before that we published six sports pictures featuring females including one with 39 Henley Cricket Club women and girls.

“This is despite the fact that participation in many local sports, such as league cricket, is dominated by males.

“Furthermore we are, to a large extent, reliant on clubs and individuals supplying match reports, news, achievements etc. Thankfully, many do but we would be very happy to receive more, especially from women and girls.”

Let’s have the evidence

Sir, — I see the issue of pollution in Henley has inevitably surfaced again (Standard, June 24).

I mentioned this nearly two years ago and all we seem to get is another round of fobbing off by Oxfordshire County Council members and staff.

The counter arguments make little sense:

1. The council has confirmed previously that the traffic sensors (part of a system called SCOOT) on White Hill are only a short distance up the hill, so can’t detect a queue which stretches on occasion past White Hill Garage.

2. Since the installation of the SCOOT traffic light system in 2006 the levels of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide continue to rise.

3. Cars emit more NOx when they accelerate, so stop-start driving has the opposite effect to that suggested.

4. Cars moving freely through the town take their NOx emissions with them — sitting in stationary traffic causes the emissions to build up in that area.

If the council is so convinced that SCOOT is the saviour of our traffic and pollution problems in Henley, why not turn it off for a few days each month, monitor the traffic and pollution levels and make a more empirical comparison? — Yours faithfully,

Phil Stubbington

Adwell Square,


Meaningless platitudes

Sir, — Your item on the meeting between Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy director of environment Bev Hindle and Henley Town Council’s transport strategy group (Standard, July 1) demonstrated why campaigners have been trying for years to stop the town being used as a rat run for heavy goods vehicles without making any progress.

Mr Hindle states that the county council must “up our game” with regard to air quality but his further comments are all negative and become nonsensical when mentioning the lack of a magic wand.

A ban is apparently not the answer and, although the director wants to work to find solutions, he doesn’t suggest any. He states that a ban is not the answer because it only moves the problem elsewhere.

Suppose a ban was co-ordinated throughout the local area, forcing distribution companies to stick to the national networks.

Penalties against companies would have to be introduced because it is they that put pressure on drivers to deliver/collect as quickly as possible to cut costs.

Of course transport companies would resist such a move and it’s my contention that the reason nothing improves with regard to air pollution is that both local and national government would have to take on the powerful transport lobby.

Unfortunately, history tells us that when it comes to commerce versus the public interest, it is business that wins out every time.

And so, Mr deputy director of the environment, the next time we read of your efforts to improve the air quality in Henley, it would be encouraging if the county council had something useful and positive to contribute instead of offering up meaningless platitudes. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Rule

Church Avenue,


Measuring air quality

Sir, — This past week I have used a hand-held particulate measurement device in and around the centre of Henley to help understand the quality of our air.

There are some key things that can be learnt.Firstly, the worst day last week was Wednesday when it rained and caused lots of traffic to queue.

Secondly, the air quality out to Northfield End and up St Andrew’s Road can be just as bad as in the centre of Henley.

Thirdly, the worst place in Henley is outside the police station at the bottom of Greys Road. Increasing the queueing traffic there should be avoided at all costs.

More is still to be learnt. I am still hopeful for some action soon by Henley Town Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and our MP. — Yours faithfully,

David Dickie

St Katherine’s Road,


We’re free to abandon cars

Sir, — An old, beaten-up Toyota has been parked directly outside my home in Greys Road, Henley, for almost three months now.

Tiring of its constant presence, I checked online with the DVLA to find the car’s MOT and road tax both expired in March.

I reported it online to the DVLA on May 27. Thus far, nothing seems to have been done.

I also reported it to the local police and was assured in a phone conversation that “something will be done” — thus far nothing seems to have been done.

I also reported it online to South Oxfordshire District Council’s waste section as an abandoned car. In a series of emails back and forth, “Abi”, of the waste team’s corporate strategy dept, assures me that in fact, despite having no MOT or tax (and hence no insurance and hence no right to be on the road), the vehicle isn’t “abandoned” and that they have traced the owner and he “has plans to remove it”.

When pressed as to the timeframe for removal, I’m told in the latest email that “we would not be imposing any timeframes on removal”.

In my view. this is unacceptable. Presumably, knowing no one is taking any meaningful action, now I can clog up Greys Road with a series of knackered old cars. — Yours faithfully,

Simon Waller

Greys Road,


Shameful response

Sir, — I would like to thank you for publishing my letter headlined “Should have gone public” (Standard, June 24).

I would now like to respond to John Howell MP’s response to that letter.

Mr Howell, I have had lots of positive responses to the comments made in my letter. Sadly, I cannot say the same about your response.

Your remarks about the death of Jo Cox were totally abhorrent and tasteless. This incident occurred three days after the meeting in discussion and using this poor woman’s murder as an excuse for the cover-up of the meeting is vile and irrelevant.

I merely asked why certain members of Henley Town Council were not invited.

The unkind comments that were made on social media following my letter are an extremely poor show from someone in such public standing. You are the MP for Henley and are supposed to be representing the public of the area.

I am perfectly within my rights to question what I feel are poor judgements and disrespectful behaviour.

It is your responsibility, Mr Howell, to respond to these questions with a valid and kind response. My questions to you were perfectly valid.

Many people have since agreed that the behaviour of the Conservative group in Henley was at least rude and at worst damaging to your campaign and future voters’ opinions. I say shame on you for acting so rudely and contemptuously towards hard-working local councillors, shame on you for not answering a straightforward question in a valid and polite way and shame on you for your rude and unkind remarks on social media.

Not only were you rude to me but also to the highly respected town councillors who work extremely hard to keep our town beautiful and community minded (perhaps you could learn a thing or two from such people).

You were also rude to other Henley residents who have worked very hard to campaign for important local services for no personal gain but just because it is the right thing to do for people of Henley.

Perhaps if you spent more time in the local community working with such people you would be able to work on your interpersonal skills in time for the next election campaign — something tells me you may need all the help you can get! — Yours faithfully,

Paula Isaac

Gainsborough Road,


Fund rural schools too

Sir, — I was delighted for the pupils, teachers and governors of Badgemore Primary School in Henley that they have completed their £2.3million refurbishment and expansion project (Standard, July 1). I recall that the school was already relatively modern and spacious, so as it will be “some years” before it reaches full capacity, it will in the meantime have very splendid facilities.

Even if it succeeds in attracting a full intake at foundation level (very dependent on the rate of population growth in Henley), it will be six years before the school is operating at capacity.

This project is an example of the current policy focus of school building in towns.Although admirable in its way, it completely ignores the plight of Oxfordshire’s rural schools, most of which still have their original Victorian building with various haphazard extensions and additions dating from the Sixties and Seventies and exist on very cramped sites that usually preclude any practical upgrades. Many have not had significant investment for decades.

With the current pressure on school places, most rural schools have a space problem now, not in six years’ time.

This problem was anticipated some time ago at Peppard Primary School and the governors had the vision to purchase a new site and secure planning consent for a new school to suit 21st century educational needs. All project development work has been done to the “oven ready” stage. There is substantial value in the old school building but the required balance of finance from public funds is not currently available.

A brand new school for less than the cost of the Badgemore extension is in prospect.In the post-Brexit era with a new government with a different policy outlook and a saving on the annual subscription to Brussels, it ought to be possible to redirect some finance to support capital projects in rural schools.

I urge our political leaders, both national and local, to press the Government to honour its own “fairer funding for schools” initiative and relieve the problems of our rural schools which are so important to the life of a significant part of our population. — Yours faithfully,

Ian D Heriot

Foundation governor,

Peppard Primary School

Big business doesn’t care

Sir, — Further to the letter from Janice Stow regarding the lack of hanging baskets outside chain stores and banks in Henley market place (Standard, July 1), over many years I and other members of the Henley in Bloom committee have visited every business in town large enough to display a basket and attempted to persuade them to support Henley.

Every year we manage to add a few more baskets here and there, but it is the many small businesses which always contribute generously, while most chains stores in Henley merely benefit from the display.

Last year I took the time to write individually to the top people in six prominent firms with no response, so what more can we do?

While individual managers are often keen to help, their headquarters seem to have a rule to quietly ignore any such requests and, as most of the chain stores are in prominent positions, their large frontages remain noticeably bare year after year.

Apart from “naming and shaming” or starting a campaign for shoppers to boycott chains without baskets, I can’t think of any way to persuade them to join in and support the town.

We are very lucky to have so many caring individuals and businesses who do buy the hanging baskets which contribute so much to Henley looking lovely throughout the year. — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Langler

Queen Street, Henley

I love Europe but not EU

Sir, — Apologies to your correspondent Enid Light for being one of the older generation preyed upon by chauvinistic and jingoistic cant (Standard, July 1), though what actually preyed upon me was the influence of my mother.

She worked in Germany for 10 years between the wars and made several local friends with whom she resumed contact after the Second World War.

Thus I was brought up to love Germany, quite unusually for a post-war British child. My mother’s best friend (my “auntie”) was a white Russian emigrée.

Subsequent European experiences included scattering Mum’s ashes in her beloved Rhineland and parental hosting of exchange students from Germany, France, Greece and Hungary.

For those and similar other reasons, I might have been the perfect Remain voter.Alas, a preference for democracy prevented me from voting to stay within the unsatisfactory EU structure.

Reported elsewhere was Mayor Julian Brookes saying: “If you’re 30 now you’ve grown up with freedom of travel and EasyJet and the internet and you’re exposed to people from Europe.”

There were plenty of us teenagers youth-hostelling around western Europe in the Fifties and Sixties (the Iron Curtain was a bit inhibiting for travel further east, though my wife did get to visit East Berlin).

No visas, just a passport and very disappointed to miss out on a cherished rubber stamp in it if a border post was unmanned.

Lack of mobile technology was not a problem; parents got a postcard if they were lucky. No EasyJet but biking, hitchhiking and railing put us in authentic local contact.

No widespread use of English, so at least a smattering of a country’s language was a necessity for independent travel.

In line with my strongly pro-European sentiments, I very much welcome the presence of our continental cousins hereabouts.

My great love of Europe and my rejection of the EU’s structure are two entirely separate matters. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive,

Sonning Common

Consider the havoc caused

Sir, — Now that Brexit campaigners have got their sad way they tell those of us who wished to remain to “just get on with it and stop protesting”. So please could we now have an end to the virulent anti-German letters with racialist undertones that can only cause more conflict between the two factions?

This would also give the Brexiteers more time to contemplate the havoc they have caused, not only to the UK and Europe but possibly to the whole global economy. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch can’t stop smiling — there’s a sobering thought. — Yours faithfully,

Lyn Wright

Grove Road,

Sonning Common

Have faith in ourselves

Sir, — I was disappointed to learn South Oxfordshire denizens lacked faith in our country’s ability to manage our affairs or should we be governed by officials in Brussels and abolish our Parliament?

Fortunately, Winston Churchill and not Lord Halifax became prime minister in 1940.

My wife experienced life under the Nazis and subsequently the Communists, so there was no way either of us could vote to Remain.

Surely we’ve got more faith in ourselves than be run by spendthrifts in Belgium? — Yours faithfully,

John Barlow

Stoke Row

We’re still good friends

Sir, — The vote in Britain to leave the European Union has caused some of our many friends in Düsseldorf to be concerned about the possible impact on our friendship.

>We would like to assure everyone in Reading and Düsseldorf that we remain committed to the friendship between our cities.

Whether or not Britain and Germany share membership in the European Union, we shall continue to do all we can to promote the closest contacts and co-operation between Reading and Düsseldorf and to overcome any adverse effects of political changes.

We ask our Düsseldorf colleagues for understanding in these difficult times. — Yours faithfully,

Robert Dimmick


Reading Düsseldorf Association,

Lowfield Road, Caversham

Bullied by the binmen

Sir, — Two weeks ago, on green bin collection day, both of my green bins were left unemptied.

A note left on one said there was food contamination and on the other garden contamination.

After going through the bags and putting the rubbish into see-through bags for collection the next week (as was promised), I found one plastic bag with a few leaves of rotten lettuce stuck to the sides and the other one with four small leaves which had probably caught in the bin lid when it was stored away (there were two bins).

I sent an email to the department responsible and was told that the binmen will not pick up any waste that is contaminated.

They didn’t bother to take the other bags that did not have the four leaves or the small amount of rotten lettuce.

They did not pick up the six bags left out for them but the binmen came and left a mess on the lawn in front of our house. The bin was not emptied completely and was obviously thrown as the lid was broken off.

I contacted the department responsible and was sent five generic emails from different people saying they were sorry but they have done nothing about replacing the bin or picking up the refuse.

Here is an example:

“Thank you for your email. If you are reporting a missed collection we will respond to you within 24 hours.

“Please note: We can only return for an agreed missed collection if we receive this email before the end of the following working day.

“Please include your full address, contact details and the type of waste collection (refuse, recycling, food waste or garden waste) you have experienced difficulty with. We will respond to all other emails within seven working days.

“If you have not had a response to your email in this time please call us on 03000 610 610. Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm.”

I told them I would be contacting the Henley Standard to see if other people might have been left distressed and  frustrated.

I do try to use the three bins — green, black and food — properly. No one is perfect. People have guests who might make a mistake and put something in the bin that doesn’t belong.

I personally felt this was bullying. Why would they come to pick up the food and throw the bin half-emptied on to the lawn hard enough for it to break?

If anything incorrect was in it, at least put a note on it. As I can’t leave the disgustingly smelly open bin out it is now in the black bin inside a plastic bag waiting for a new one which has not been offered.

As this service is paid for with our council taxes, I think the South Oxfordshire District Council should find a company that will do the job correctly.

Many days we come back from work and the neighbours and I will have to walk down the road in search of our green bins. Is this acceptable? — Yours faithfully,

Trisha Crocker


Seating etiquette

Sir, — A market place should have tables and chairs for people to sit talk and drink coffee.

Patisserie Valerie and Maison Blanc have good manners and do not put walls (fabric and metal) on public spaces. Starbucks, Café Copia and others lack good breeding but so does the town clerk in allowing them to hog public space. — Yours faithfully,

>Neil Parsley

Mount View Court,


Please save our postman

Sir, — The Henley post office is thinking of changing our lovely postman Adrian Chaplin and moving him to another round.He has loyally served Swiss Farm residents for more than 11 years.

Please may we retain his service? Let us keep him. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Huntington

Swiss Farm,


I miss joy of fireworks

Sir, — The world of fireworks — what joy.

When I was a child in Henley in the Fifties, Mum would say, ‘now children, go and rest on your beds’ before an evening walk to Thames Side and late wonders — whizz, bang, wallop. Alas, all gone now.

I find it hard to enjoy my childhood treat these days. How I miss my dear mum and sister, who get a better view from above! I do so miss those magic moments too. — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Petersfield, Hants

Winning friends

Sir, — My son, Henry Bell, from Peppard, gained the silver medal in the junior men’s category in the Henley Classic swim as you reported (Standard, July 1).

The gold winner was another Peppard boy,  16-year-old Scott Barnett.

They were at Sonning Common Primary school together and it was wonderful to see these two young men standing together on the podium. — Yours faithfully,

Rebecca Bell


I think regatta visitor was blazered!

Sir, — I think this man had a really good regatta Saturday! — Yours faithfully,

Steve Ludlow

Station Road, Henley

Alternative way to keep the rain off

Sir, — This photograph was taken on Saturday afternoon in the stewards’ enclosure at the royal regatta when the rain came down suddenly and unexpectedly. The chairs became impromptu umbrellas.

The other photograph is of my sister, Sue Stovell, and me. — Yours faithfully,

Janey McDowell


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