Monday, 20 September 2021

Your letters...

Bad week for our town

Bad week for our town

Sir, — Last week was a bad one for Henley as the town reeled from being told by the leading authorities in their fields of health and planning respectively that two pillars on which we depend as a community are surplus to requirement — namely part of Townlands Hospital and the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

I have written repeatedly about Townlands and warned that incompetence and ill–thought through strategies since 2012 would produce an expensive white elephant.

Even Councillor Ian Reissmann’s rose-tinted spectacles letter cannot disguise the fact that up to £7 million of precious public money has been squandered if in fact the second floor and part of the first floor are surplus to requirement.

This Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group debacle needs to be exposed for the expensive folly that it represents and the people responsible held to account.

Remember that John Howell, our MP, stated that Townlands represents the pinnacle of 21st century medical services. If this is true it must be now in miniature on 1.5 floors as it is no better than many large clinics which are already working in the UK and other parts of the world. No big deal!

Then we come to South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee kicking the advice of the Henley people in the neighbourhood plan into touch.

They have said they know best and now we will get a glorified nursing home instead of houses on Reading Road.

The neighbourhood plan cost Henley Town Council a mere £160,000 of public money and 5,000 hours of volunteers’ time.Despite a letter from Mr Howell to members of the planning committee defining the dangers of going against a neighbourhood plan passed by a referendum of the people, they in their infinite wisdom gave him and the people of Henley two metaphorical fingers.

They opened the flood gates of the town for any developer to ride roughshod over our neighbourhood plan.

What they have done is to undermine the whole process of public consultation which supports the 2012 Localism Bill that led to neighbourhood plans nationally.

Mr Howell has not been slow in lauding the neighbourhood plan as “a planning policy document with legal status like the South Oxfordshire Local Plan”. These have proved to be hollow words.

Both of our community pillars have been felled at a stroke and there are common denominators at play in each reversal.

How is it that organisations outside our locality can take decisions contra to the consulted will of the people that they represent? How is it that public money can be squandered without anyone being held accountable? How can our local MP be so ineffective in fighting for the views of the people he represents?

I now believe that it is time these actions, leading to public disarray and disillusionment, should be investigated at the highest level, recommendations made, blame allocated and lessons learned.

This can only be by an independent chairperson or judicial review because the lessons are not just for the people of Henley but for other communities across our nation. — Yours faithfully,

>Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

Why ignore agreed plan?

Sir, — Like many Henley residents, I am surprised and dismayed by South Oxfordshire District Council’s approval of the planning application for the old Jet garage site.The town spent years, and lots of money, producing a neighbourhood plan that gave the residents the choice as to how their town would develop.

The plan was passed by referendum and became a legal document.

It is important to remember that last year the plan was read twice by the district council. Apart from making some minor amendments, the council approved it and passed it on to an independent inspector who also approved it.

I mention this because the district council has now ignored the approved plan.

The plan has five primary objectives which are clearly written and underly all the proposals in the document. These objectives are what we expect to happen.

One primary objective clearly states that all new developments should provide 40 per cent affordable housing but the application for the Jet garage site provided no affordable housing and yet the district council has approved it. Why?

I am chairman of the Henley Conservatives and I can assure residents that we will continue to put Henley first and will support action that forces the district council to abide by our plan.

We were promised a legal document and now we have to enforce it. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

>Chairman, the neighbourhood plan steering group and Henley Conservatives, Elizabeth Road, Henley

Decision on homes stinks

Sir, — As a Henley representative on South Oxfordshire District Council, I attended the meeting of its planning committee which decided to allow 345 Reading Road to be turned into “assisted living” homes.I spoke logically and passionately against this development.

The vote was won on the casting vote of the chairman Felix Bloomfield.

Henley has spent three to four years, many hours and £160,000 on our neighbourhood plan, which was passed with an 81 per cent majority.

Our plan clearly states “…to deliver affordable housing (40 per cent), which is sensitively integrated as part of all new developments”.

That’s a minimum 40 per cent of affordable units on ALL developments.

This decision stinks.

We were told that this was the “people’s plan” and our MP John Howell stated that neighbourhood plans gave local communities a say in the style and location of homes. To keep our vibrant community balanced and brilliant we must have affordable homes on all sites.

Councillor Bloomfield and district council leader John Cotton must explain this decision, especially as there are now 21 other neighbourhood plans coming forward in South Oxfordshire. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak

>Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council, Elizabeth Road, Henley

So much for people power

Sir, — I told you so! For years, I told you so! Last week we had lots of letters with suggestions on how to help our town. We always do.

Val Stoner must remember, as I do, that the junction of Station Road had a mini-roundabout and parking in the central area and not down the sides. There was criticism at the time of the decision to create a traffic light junction there.

Councillor Will Hall ought to turn on his fellow politicians and get them to fight for a third Thames bridge. Much of the groundwork for it is ready on one side of the river already.

This would substantially cut the through-traffic in Henley, thereby reducing the pollution significantly.

If the worry is large, articulated lorries delivering goods to our chain stores, sit the companies round a table and tell them to use smaller greener vehicles, which they do possess on account of delivering in London. If they think the companies are too big to take notice, create and use bylaws to restrict them and fine them heavily for each infringement after a certain date.

Profiteering developers that just want to create high-priced chicken coops to make a buck should be targeted and forced to provide what the area needs or told to get lost and named and shamed.Our wishy-washy councillors are not providing the service to the community they were elected to serve.

The same goes for Townlands Hospital and here I refer to Alexis Alexander’s letter about Boris Johnson.

If it were not for Boris’s attitude to serving our community (remember the march?) then there still would be no Townlands Hospital redevelopment.

In fact I would wager that as an easy solution the site would have been “requisitioned” as part of the housing plan, ending the hospital discussion for good.

The classicist in Boris was perhaps aiming to be more like Claudius but ended up like Julius Caesar. My heart goes out to Barry Wood who (with many, many others) clearly explained the need for a concentrated effort in building up services and infrastructure, things that were ignored despite more people voicing exactly that sentiment for a lot longer than just the course of the Townlands Steering Group.

Once more we head into the troubled waters of being ignored by our elected representatives. Loud, vociferous protesting has been banned (thanks, Mr Blair), so all that remains is the ballot box.

But then surprises do spring up from the most unlikely places — David Cameron can vouch for that. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

Pitches were secure before

Sir, — May I comment on your article about the vandalism of The Henley College rugby pitches (Standard, July 29)? In it, Tristan Arnison, head of the humanities faculty at college, commented: “We are looking at future ways of making the playing fields more secure.”

May I suggest their consideration should go back 20 or 30 years?

In those days the playing fields were “policed” and certainly protected by the local residents and others that used the playing fields to walk on.

This worked incredibly well and the drug problem ceased, the motor bikes roaring up and down the playing fields ceased and there became fewer and fewer incidents.

Dog fouling was minimal and the locals worked in a sort of unwritten harmony with the college.

Then it changed and fairly recently. Gates were put in, fences erected, stern warning signs appeared and the whole atmosphere became very hostile.

Now everything is managed by attrition and complaints have to be sent in by email with photographs, etc.

May I suggest that we return to the old ways? The local residents actually care about the area. They do act and behave responsibly.

Sometimes less is more! — Yours faithfully,

Chris Baker

Lauds Close, Henley

Relocate our ‘Flower Lady’

Sir, — Added to the indescribable, immediate inconvenience and, in the end, considerable loss of parking places that is happening in the King’s Road car park in Henley it appears nothing has been done to help our lovely “Flower Lady” Denise Benham to find a new spot (Standard, July 29).

She has been coming on Thursdays and Fridays for many years and is so helpful to those who do flowers for St Mary’s Church — quite apart from having a strong flow of customers.

The watch and specs man Brian Pool is to retire and the relatively new “veg” lady Tamsin Borlase has a new pitch.

This is a plea for something to be done for Denise — perhaps at the end of Ravenscroft Road near the library or the small area behind WH Smith? Help her please. Can we get up a petition? — Yours faithfully,

Mary Romanes Market Place, Henley

More change not wanted

Sir, — I wonder if people are aware of the plans for Market Place and the surrounding area by Catalyst Capital with the forced closure of Vintage Look (Standard, July 22) and my own letter about the changing face of Henley in April.

I feel the plans/drawings should be in full view in Market Place Mews and an explanation given of the disruption this redvelopment will cause.

I wonder will the 16 flats be for Henley people or the privileged with money? — Yours faithfully,

Diana Coleman

Abrahams Road, Henley

Don’t spoil rural areas

Sir, — On July 15, Chalgrove Parish Council hosted a meeting of representatives from Watlington, Shirburn, Cuxham, Great Haseley, Great Milton and Stadhampton to discuss the implications on their communities of the proposed South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2032.

There was acceptance that new, affordable homes are needed and each village is working with the numbers allocated to them (approximately 500 in those villages attending) through neighbourhood plans.

However, there was unanimous objection and rejection of the district council’s proposed plans to build a new town of at least 3,500 homes (the size of Thame) on either Chalgrove airfield or at Harrington.

These sites, being open countryside, are highly unsuitable for intense development which would increase the flood risk to Chalgrove, Great Haseley and the surrounding villages.

The existing road network of country lanes linking all our villages is currently at capacity and will not be able to cope with extra traffic, especially towards the Science Vale and Oxford if these 3,500-plus homes are to fulfil the remit to provide for the Oxford City overspill. To make either of these locations work would require a huge investment in infrastructure on valuable farmland and rural countryside with an impact far greater than would development of the location(s) on the edge of Oxford.

For example, the Grenoble Road option is 3.5 miles to Carfax Tower, while Chalgrove airfield is 11 miles, more than three times the distance.

Neither Chalgrove nor Harrington would meet Oxford’s need for low cost accommodation close to Oxford’s employment.There is a valid argument for extending the Oxford City boundary and thus the Green Belt boundary in order to maintain countryside.

The proposals to build on either Chalgrove airfield or at Harrington go against the majority of objectives in the Local Plan, which aims to maintain and enhance rural life.

It is agreed by all that the proposed development would destroy the rural character of life in our villages that we love and cherish. Keep rural Oxfordshire rural. — Yours faithfully,

Jo Murphy

Parish clerk, Chalgrove

Pollution isn’t fault of lorries

Sir, — I’m all in favour of improving air quality but Councillor Will Hall’s inflammatory and ill-informed comments are unlikely to make a sensible contribution to achieving it either in Henley or anywhere else.

For starters, heavy goods vehicles do not “spew out poison”. In most towns and cities, the air coming out of today’s truck exhausts is cleaner than that drawn into the engine in the first place. Truck manufacturers have made massive strides in reducing emissions, adopting the Euro VI standard significantly in advance of cars.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions have been reduced by 97 per cent and particulate matter by 99 per cent in just 15 years.

All but 0.1 per cent of what comes out of today’s truck engine exhausts is “clean” — it’s made up of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water, so nothing to worry about. By the way, government statistics show that there are fewer heavy commercial vehicles licensed to operate on UK roads today than there were in 1950. Then there were 450,000. Today, there are 385,000, so 15 per cent fewer.

They’re bigger for sure, and far more efficient in delivering our daily needs, but there are fewer of them.

In the same period, the number of cars on the road increased from a mere two million to 28 million. And that’s not all. In the 20 years to the end of 2015, the amount of truck traffic on UK roads increased by 2.2 per cent while car traffic increased by 13.9 per cent and van traffic (also mainly diesel, Cllr Hall) increased by 72.4 per cent.

And it’s heavy trucks that are the source of all our pollution and congestion woes? I think not….

Then there’s the fallacy that drivers “use Henley as a cut-through” to save themselves time. Proof, Cllr Hall?

As someone with more than 40 years of HGV experience, I can tell you there is no joy in coming off major roads to cut through anywhere, let alone busy towns like Henley. It does not save time and it worsens fuel consumption. That increases cost.This is the biggest reason why almost all today’s trucks are carefully routed and satellite-tracked by their fleet owners every inch of the way is to ensure it doesn’t happen.

All power to your efforts to improve air quality, Cllr Hall, but want to know the real facts about heavy goods vehicles and their operation? Get in touch, I’d be delighted to help. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Symons

Bell Street, Henley

Rethink bus timetable

Sir, — It appears we have a new bus service, the X80 High Wycombe to Reading service that stops in Henley, launched by Carousel.It all seems lovely and shiny, this bus being a hybrid and with free wi-fi and offering to get people to Reading much more quickly.

But beware of this new service for it is running 10 minutes earlier than the Arriva 800 service and scooping up most of the passengers but completely bypassing the people of Binfield Heath — and this is where the real problems start.

I travelled on the 800 bus the other day and it had only five passengers when it’s usually three-quarters full.

How long can or will Arriva continue to run this service when the X80 is taking all its passengers?

If Arriva then decides to stop the 800 service then what becomes of the people who live in Binfield Heath and the surrounding area who are dependent on buses?

And what if Arriva then decides to stop the 850 — how would people get to Reading College or the Royal Berkshire Hospital, for example?

And what about the Sunday service that had its subsidy stopped but the company agreed to keep running?

Many people use it and since there are no trains before 10am on a Sunday what would happen to those people who use the bus to get to work? I have seen for myself the damage that can be done when a bus route is stopped and this service is not something that can be taken for granted.

On Monday, I happened to see the launch of the X80 and asked Phil Southall, managing director of Carousel, if he would be willing to change the timetable so that the bus runs at 45 minutes past the hour and people have the choice of going on Arriva’s 850 to Reading via Twyford or use the X80, avoiding Binfield Heath.

I also asked him if he would be willing to explain in a meeting to the people of Binfield Heath why his company is avoiding their village but he said no.

I asked if he would consider running a route from Reading to Henley via Sonning Common, Peppard and Rotherfield Greys as the 145 service is now lost.

I understand that despite the loss of their subsidies from Oxfordshire County Council some bus companies don’t want to lay off drivers but they obviously need to come up with a solution to run routes they know to be popular and run a bit earlier so they scoop up the maximum number of passengers.

Some have said, “well, that’s just business”. Try telling that to people who will end up cut off with no means of getting about.Please rethink your timetable, Mr Southall. — Yours faithfully,

Donna Crook


Phil Southall, managing director of Carousel, replies: “About 12 months ago Arriva took the commercial decision to reduce the number of buses on the High Wycombe to- Reading corridor by three buses an hour to two buses an hour — one each via the 800 and 850 routes.

“We are of the belief that this corridor still warrants three buses an hour so we wished to start a service that had a unique selling proposition over the Arriva service.

“We wish to offer a more direct route between the five main places (High Wycombe, Marlow, Henley, Caversham and Reading) with a faster journey time. We also wanted to introduce new, low-emission buses (Euro 6) with free wi-fi and the ability to buy tickets on mobile phones.

“Customers on this corridor had been asking us for quite some time to start a service. However, we didn’t wish to mirror exactly either the existing 800 or 850 services from Arriva.

“We plan to run the X80 in its existing form for the foreseeable future to assess demand. We plan that the route will remain for at least 12 months to allow us to make this assessment.“For now we have no plans to operate the service via Binfield Heath.

“However, if Arriva chooses not to serve Binfield Heath at any time, or changes the level of service it operates on the corridor, then we will review our service pattern and frequencies accordingly.

“I don’t envisage ever seeing a situation where Binfield Heath doesn’t receive a bus service. “However, at the moment, demand is insufficient for two buses an hour in my view.”

Fuel-ish  suggestion

Sir, — As I used to live in the Henley area, a friend brought me your paper last week.

I had to smile when reading the letter from Mrs J Hadley suggesting that all motorists drive from Henley to Emmer Green to fill up on fuel because a garage there was cheaper.

A 10-mile return journey and 20 minutes of your time? Great suggestion. Any other brainwaves? — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Sillett

Marlborough, Wiltshire

Beware of car park vigilante

Sir, — Weekly, I read of the kindness of youths towards their elders and am heartened.

Sadly, this was not my experience in the Waitrose car park in Henley on the afternoon of Saturday, July 23. The car park was especially busy and one had to wait for parking spaces to become available.

When I was attempting to reverse my vehicle into an especially tight space I accidentally scraped the bumper of another vehicle.

I was cross with myself as I like to pride myself on being good at parking. However, it was an unfortunate accident — they happen.

Having no available paper on which to write my contact details for the other car owner, I went to the ticket machine in order to get a ticket on which to write my details.

On the way there I was accosted by a hooded youth who aggressively told me he was reporting me to the police for leaving the scene of a crime and that he was going to photograph my number plate, car and my face in order to “get me”.

Initially, I attempted to tell him that my intention was to write my details and leave them on the other car’s windscreen.

This was not good enough for this fellow who continued to harangue me.

I am in my mid-seventies with various health issues and consequently am frail and, I am ashamed to say, I felt threatened and intimidated by his aggressive attitude which could clearly have escalated into violence.

When I eventually drove off, I saw him wandering around the car park photographing other cars with the probable intention of seeking other folk to intimidate.

Subsequently, the other car driver has contacted me and we have exchanged our insurance details most amicably.

How sad that an unfortunate incident was seized upon by this angry character who clearly wished to turn it into a very ugly incident. This is the first and only time I have ever felt threatened in Henley.

I am writing to you as I would like to warn other drivers of this fellow who likes to frighten the elderly. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

No cause for celebration

Sir, — I was literally agog at the contribution from your correspondent Edward Sierpowksi (Standard, July 29).

I am still wondering what possible contribution was meant by such a missive.

The heat has died down from the EU referendum debate. Anyone who claims any conclusion at this stage is probably a fool.

Our Government is faced with upcoming negotiations to implement our exit from the EU. These will be complex, time-consuming and challenging and there is no assurance that the result will be viewed as successful.

There are broadly six areas of negotiations ahead:

1. The UK’s exit from the EU, contributions, liabilities, division of assets etc.

2. Our future trade relationship with the EU.3. The interim arrangements covering the period between exit and the establishment of No 2 above.

4. The UK’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, which requires consensus agreement of 163 member countries.

5. Transition arrangements for the trade agreements with 53 countries currently in place via EU trade agreements.

6. Our future co-operation with the EU on security, foreign policy and defence.

Each point would be considered a major body of work for our Government. That all six are required in unison is already depleting Whitehall of capacity for normal issues of government.

Such is the seriousness of the situation, simplistic metaphorical allusions only indicate ignorance of the facts. It is worth noting that none of these negotiations has commenced yet and will not do so until we notify the EU of our intention to leave using Article 50.

We are living in interesting times. Many will recognise this reference as not being cause for celebration. — Yours faithfully,

David Thomas

Greys Hill, Henley

Bullying diatribe

Sir, — I read the extraordinary diatribe from Edward Sierpowski in which he likened the EU to a playground bully.

In the referendum a group of predominantly older people voted to remove EU citizenship from the youth of the country, the majority of whom did not want to leave the EU and who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

If you want an example of bullying behaviour, look no further than Edward Sierpowski. — Yours faithfully, Arnold Hay McCraes Walk, Wargrave

Lives before wildflowers

Sir, — We have no wish to label your correspondent Martyn Read a racist or mentally deficient, which he admits is open to debate (Standard, July 29), however perhaps his leaving the EU referendum “circus” would be more appropriate as a circus clown.

We also like wild grass verges but, regardless of local government economies, there comes a safety issue for motorists.

We ask you to look again at the photograph of the turning out of The Hamlet in Gallowstree Common on to the main road (Standard, July 8).

Some 150m before the Reformation pub is a dip in the road so it is almost impossible to see a small vehicle in this dip even with the grass verge cut and, although there is a 30mph limit, one needs a very clear view to be sure it is okay to safely proceed.

We thought it a good life safety investment and paid for the grass to be cut ourselves.

Your thoughts and views on potholes, Mr Read? — Yours faithfully, Audrey Fox, John Pitt

The Hamlet, Gallowstree Common

Mental health lacks funding

Sir, — A front page lead article in the Daily Telegraph put forward the idea that “the biggest obstacle in dealing effectively with mental illness is society’s attitude towards it”.. No way!

While currently 28 per cent of the total number of NHS users each year are using it as a direct result of major mental health problems, only 13 per cent of the entire NHS budget is allocated to mental health care and only seven per cent of that is allocated to child and adolescent mental health care when report after report confirms that more than 75 per cent of all adult mental health problems first surfaced before the person reached the age of 16.

It is obvious that continuous inadequate NHS mental health commissioning and funding is the biggest obstacle in dealing with mental illness, just as it always has been and no doubt always will be. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Expose BBC arrogance

Sir, — May I use your columns to suggest that, in addition to top salary disclosures, there’s another area in which transparency at the BBC should be enhanced.

I recommend the public on-air consideration of complaints against the BBC rather than such being swept quietly out of sight into a BBC Trust-based investigation.

Earlier this year, I had cause to send an email containing no fewer than four substantiated examples of serious issues I had encountered (failure to maintain confidentiality being just one) to a very senior BBC television executive.

Unsurprisingly, I received neither reply nor even acknowledgement.

This lack of balance between how the BBC treats the outside world while its own shortcomings go unpublicised leads, unfortunately, to arrogance as the corporation supposedly “crusades for the truth by ferreting out and exposing errors and misjudgements allegedly made by other individuals and organisations”.

This arrogance then creates a barrier that interferes with information flows and hence cannot do other than adversely impact the quality and integrity of the BBC programme-making process at national and local levels. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

MacDeutsch Films, Henley

Thank you for support

Sir, — On the afternoon of Sunday, July 24, we were enthralled by the marvellous performance of the Henley Rock Choir in St Mary’s Church in Henley.

We were further delighted by the fact that the concert was in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.Our daughter had been asked by a friend associated with the choir if she could organise some refreshments and a raffle in order to realise extra funds.

The trust provides practical help and assistance to families with sufferers of cystic fibrosis as well as funding much needed research towards finding a cure for this life-limiting condition.

The results of canvassing local Henley businesses meant that a raffle could also held with the proceeds being added to the donations from the audience for the refreshments.

The result was that £400 was raised, all of which will continue to help the charity pursue its goal of improving life for cystic fibrosis sufferers.

None of the above could have been successful if it were not for the generosity of local businesses in Henley and to that end we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for their contributions.

In particular, we wish to thank the following for their contributions to the raffle prizes: Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop, Bell Street/New Street; Wine Rack, Falaise Square; Chocolate Café, Thames Side; Bagatelle Toys, Bell Street; Bell Street Bookshop; Cafe Buendia, Bell Street; Waitrose Henley and Tesco Henley.

Special thanks are also due to Starbucks for the generous provision of fresh coffee and cups for the refreshments.

Finally, of course, we must thank the Henley Rock Choir for their outstanding concert and their generosity in allowing us to raise additional money for the trust.

It is heartening to see such support for a charity that is working so tirelessly towards an effective treatment for cystic fibrosis and we would like to extend our grateful thanks to all who supported this wonderful event. — Yours faithfully,

Zoe and Graham Bagley, Jane and Chris Varnals

On behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Nottakwire’s going strong

Sir, — As founders and directors of Nottakwire, we would like to correct an error in last week’s Henley Standard. We set up our group in March 2010 and therefore have been running for six years and four months, not five years as stated.

We have performed 10 concerts and raised more than £13,500, all of which has been donated to local groups, charities and needy causes.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all those members who regularly go the extra mile with practical help, setting up and clearing the hall for our fortnightly sessions and our concerts and organising and serving members’ refreshments.

We are equally indebted to our supporters, who voluntarily help to look after our audiences when we hold concerts.

Nottakwire’s next event will be “Come and Sing Carols” at Sonning Common village hall at 4.30pm on Saturday, December 10. Entry will be free.

We are aiming for a community-based, non-fund raising, traditional carol singing occasion, with seasonal items performed by Nottakwire and our smaller Notts Group.

Carol leaflets will be provided, refreshments will be on sale after the singing and there will be a retiring collection for charity.

Our new term begins on September 9. We are always happy to take new members, especially gentlemen!

Anyone interested in knowing more can call us on 0118 972 1248 or send an email to

We will be happy to send you detailed information. — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Moola and Elaine Williams

Sedgefield Close, Sonning Common

Searching for old friend

Sir, — I am trying to find Malcolm Charles Bryant, who used to live at Quarries in Henley.

He went to Stokesmead children’s home in Hampshire when the Farningham Home for boys in Kent closed in 1961.

I am trying to find old boys to make them aware we have a reunion each year.

I can be contacted by phone on 07968 854386 or by email at

Any help given would be much appreciated. — Yours faithfully,

David Jones

>Keep it short and pithy

Sir, — Please could correspondents observe your suggested letter length of 300 words?

I feel sure that the pithier the letter, the more impact it has.

Last week lengthy letters from Val Stoner, Barry Wood and two members of the Henley Historical and Archaeological Group were published.

These letters invariably concern Townlands and the enforced housing development in Henley. — Yours faithfully,

William Fitzhugh

Makins Road, Henley

Wonderful makeover

Sir, — I want to say a huge thank-you for the complete repaint of the Catherine Wheel pub in Hart Street, Henley.

Being so large, the building is very importabnt to Henley and it now looks wonderful complete with numerous glorious hanging baskets. (This really shows up the business premises that do not bother to have one.)

Please could the council replace the appalling Hart Street sign above Monsoon? This would follow Wetherspoon’s good example. — Yours faithfully,

Carol Lewis

Gillotts Lane, Henley

• The letter published last week from Councillor Ian Reissmann, chairman of the Townlands Steering Group, should also have carried the signature of Councillor David Nimmo Smith, vice-chairman of the group, but this was accidentally omitted. We apologise for this oversight.

Do you recognise old photo of boys?

Sir, — A couple of years ago I bought an old photograph in a lovely walnut frame from a Sue Ryder sale at Nettlebed as I needed a good frame for something.

Within its oval mount was an old 13in by 15in photograph of these two little people, aged about two and four.

Although the younger one is wearing a dress, it was common practice to dress young boys like this and I think the shoes and face look more male.

When I took the photo out of the frame I could not bear to throw it away.

By the clothing it looks to be Victorian/early Edwardian. The children must be some local person’s granddad and great uncle/aunt.

Do you know who they might be? If so, do contact the Henley Standard and they’ll put you in touch with me. I’d love the photo to be returned to their family.

Of more recent historical interest, the inside of the frame was padded with some pages from the Reading Evening Post of Monday, November 19, 1990.

The front page news then was the Conservative Party leadership battle between Maggie Thatcher and Michael Heseltine, plus an amazing story of veteran Greenham Common peace campaigner Lorna Richardson travelling to America, walking through the Nevada desert for three days and successfully stopping an atomic countdown just seven minutes before detonation at “Camp Houston”.

Other pages show the high number of local young people without a job, including a whole-page story about master’s graduate Paul Glinkowski getting continual knockbacks from potential employers. I wonder what he went on to do. He would be 53 now.

On a lighter note, average house prices were around £70,000. TV shows included Telly Addicts, Keeping up Appearances, The Krypton Factor and The Equalizer with Edward Woodward.

The back page shows Chris Eubank, unbeaten in 25 fights, beating Nigel Benn in a painful match, resulting in Eubank sustaining a split tongue and broken ribs.

Maidenhead were top of Division 2 South by five points and had just lost to Hampton after 13 successive victories.

The letters pages show motorists annoyed with cyclists, complaints about smoking in restaurants and calls for no smoking areas(!), worries about food radiation and a long letter of exasperation about British Telecom and an engineer that the writer termed “Mr Jobsworth” and an outstandingly unsatisfactory customer service experience.

So some things don’t change! — Yours faithfully,

Helen Chilvers


Rare photo of green woodpeckers

Sir, — Here’s a picture of a pair of green woodpeckers having a conference on top of a fence post behind my house.

They politely held this pose while I went to find my camera. This almost never happens. By the time it is found the bird has normally flown.

This can cause some distress and the use of rude words — words like “bird brain” and “feather brains”, which are not generally used in polite society. I suspect the birds were making an arrangement to meet up in the future.

It’s possible one of them had made an inappropriate suggestion, causing them to be stunned into holding this position for quite a time while they gathered themselves and then flew away. Anyway, it gave me time to get this shot. — Yours faithfully,

David Wood


My difficulty reporting a water leak

Sir, — I used Thames Water’s online form to report a leak outside Henley station but its system did not provide me with a copy of the form I submitted.

I tried to find a general email address for Thames Water but only found an email address for the developer services department when searching via Google.

I asked for my complaint and subsequent email to be passed on to the leaks department, IT department and complaints department.

To the leaks department, I said: “Water is leaking into the nearby BT manhole and presumably it is only a question of time before all the phone lines in the vicinity, including the Henley Standard’s, will go down. This has been going on for at least three weeks.”

To the IT and complaints departments, I said: “It would be helpful for your form system to provide the user with a copy of the form submitted.

“Please consider altering your system to make it more user-friendly in this respect.” — Yours faithfully,

Richard W Moyle


Thanks for finding wandering dogs

Sir, — Could I thank the Shiplake community whose group activity ensured the safe return of our pair of miniature wire-haired dachshunds who did a runner from my daughter’s house?

We had come down from Northumberland to go to Farnborough Air Show and left the dogs, Biggles and Gertie, in their kitchen as it was so hot and noisy.

We had not envisaged that they would break out through the cat flap!

However, they were seen making a getaway by alert neighbours and, with the help of six other neighbours, they rounded them both up.

However, Gertie made a break for it and flew down the street, under the railway arch and down to the path to the Thames. She was chased by a herd of cows and was last seen opposite Henley Sailing Club. It appears she was spotted going through a hay field about a mile upstream and a “Sally” intervened by phoning her tractor driver to cut off Gertie’s escape!

Between them, they cornered her and then drove her to Henley Vets who scanned her microchip and phoned my mobile to say that they had her.

To you all, what a wonderful effort, thank you so much. But for all your efforts, my wife and I would have been heartbroken.

The world is a wonderful place and, despite all the misery we so endlessly hear about, goodness and kindness abound, especially in Shiplake. Thanks again. — Yours faithfully,

Roderic and Judy Craig

Wooler, Northumberland

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