Sir, — Phil Southall, managing director of the Carousel bus company, implies that his firm is doing us a service by maintaining three buses an hour via the High Wycombe to Reading corridor (Standard, August 5).
However, the Arriva 800 has always run hourly and it has maintained a bus “service” by passing through Shiplake Cross, Binfield Heath, Dunsden and Playhatch to pick up passengers.
Mr Southall’s idea of a service is to supply nice, shiny new buses that take the quickest route between Henley and Reading when the reason it is quicker is because it doesn’t stop at many places to pick up passengers.
He suggests that if Arriva decided not to continue its 800 bus route, which I suggest would be due to a fall in passengers from Henley and Shiplake who have opted for Carousel’s faster service, then he would review his company’s service pattern as he does not envisage a situation where Binfield Heath doesn’t receive a bus service.
This sounds sensible until you investigate and find that in the past Carousel has abandoned routes that do not suit its smart buses.
In 2010, due to potholes damage to two buses, it withdrew a bus service in Buckinghamshire without informing anyone, neither the users nor the county council which subsidised the service, only reinstating the service when the road was repaired.
In the meantime, passengers were left waiting at bus stops for a bus that was never going to arrive.
In 2008 the company withdrew bus services from Winchmore Hill in Buckinghamshire, leaving it with just one bus a day because it said the roads were not wide enough or good enough for its buses. Carousel no longer services Winchmore Hill.
So I am asking readers to consider whether they want a bus that provides a service to villages and runs on a Sunday or would they prefer to use the smart red Carousel bus? Arriva has its faults but it has continued to run the 800 and 850 even though it only just makes a profit.
If Arriva’s service becomes unviable can you be confident that Carousel will provide the service you need? — Yours faithfully,
Gravel Road, Binfield Heath
No need to feel stranded
Sir, — I refer to your article regarding the withdrawal of various bus services, particularly affecting people in Peppard (Standard, August 5).It is unfortunate that the M1 bus service has been withdrawn, affecting the quality of the lives of many people.
As more and more cuts are made by county and district councils alike, we are very fortunate to live in an area where volunteering has become for many people a way of life.
The FISH volunteer service is one such organisation, run completely by, on average, 70 volunteers with our aim being to provide “support and transport for the community”.
We cover a large area replicating that covered by the Sonning Common Health Centre (plus bits).
While we cannot replace the bus service we do, through the use of our minibus, have shopping trips daily and our volunteer car drivers are ferrying people to appointments every day of the week.
With the demise of bus services please do not feel cut off, please give our office a call on 0118 972 3236 and we will try our best to help you. — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, FISH volunteer centre,
Sir, — When travelling the pleasant, undulating road from Henley to Oxford it’s hard not to notice the yellow police “Crash” signs appealing for information that seem to be positioned every five miles. The amount of collisions on our roads is by no means limited to the A4074 but we seem to have our fair share of these tragedies in South Oxfordshire.
Statistics clearly show that, contrary to popular belief, most people involved in road accidents when driving are not “over the limit”.
In Germany, national and regional television shows many of the road crashes of the previous 24 hours during the peak viewing news programmes, often in graphic detail, concentrating on the cause and effect with the hope that the shock element will make people think very hard when they next get behind the wheel. — Yours faithfully,
Leach Road, Wallingford
Take care of road safety
Sir, — It’s with immense frustration that I am writing again about the junction of Highmoor Road with Albert Road in Caversham following another collision there on Tuesday.
Three people were involved, two of whom suffered minor injuries and, I understand, were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for further examination.
It’s incredibly fortunate that the collision was not much worse.
I have written to both Reading Borough Council and deputy leader Tony Page on half a dozen occasions since the fatal accident there in May and what’s clear is that the council is not taking seriously the significant safety concerns at this junction.
I’m aware that the council is not supportive of a raised speed platform — the preferred long-term solution of residents surveyed — but did agree to an experimental junction realignment.
This was on July 12 and yet, nearly a month later, no substantive action has been taken to improve safety for local residents.
This lack of effort cannot be justified and it’s abundantly clear that the council is failing completely in its duty to do all it can to ensure the safety of people in Caversham.
My constituents need reassurance that the council cares about people’s wellbeing. This is severely lacking at present and needs to be rectified without further delay. I expect a prompt reply from the council detailing the actions being taken and the timescales involved. — Yours faithfully,
Reading East MP, Caversham
Good sense on parking
Sir, — On Tuesday last week, in the pouring rain, my wife and I attempted to stop for a moment in our car outside Machin’s in Market Place, Henley, but I was intercepted by a police community support officer, who demanded to know whether I was disabled.
Replying in the negative, I was told to move the car from the double yellow line.
Now I am sure that this officer was acting entirely within her rights, but the Market Place was deserted and the car would have been in position for no more than two minutes. As it was, Machin’s lost my custom for that day.
The point I am trying to make is that it is hardly surprising that so many shops are closing in Henley when you have such an aggressive and insensitive attitude to parking. I implore whoever is in charge of policing to instill a degree of common sense and leniency on the part of those enforcing parking laws. — Yours faithfully,
I’m not sorry for ‘out’ vote
Sir, — I wondered when it might happen but to be called a bully for speaking my mind (we are in a free democracy the last I checked) and telling the truth totally surprised me.So in my defence:
l I did not threaten the country with war if the Leave vote won.
l I didn’t threaten pensioners with reductions in their income and benefits or an emergency austerity budget.
l I didn’t threaten the nation with uncontrolled inflation and millions of jobless and home repossessions.
l I didn’t threaten small businesses with closure of trade markets.
l I didn’t threaten our country and its businesses against making deals outside of the EU.
l I haven’t made a long list of cronies for honours year in year out, which cost the taxpayer (that’s you and me by the way) millions each year.
l I haven’t sought to undermine the lawful democratic process by calling nearly 17.5 million voters idiots who need time to rethink their decision.
What I do have to apologise for is not believing my father when he said: “You can’t hang the truth like a sign about someone’s neck, they will despise you for it.” He was right.
But in a democracy like ours, which is still free and all its values are worth fighting to preserve, I can also say this- Arnold Hay, of Wargrave: Stop espousing Call Me Dave’s discredited “Project Fear”, wipe your tears in your Remain campaign T-shirt and start working, no, start fighting, in support of the country that is your home, your shelter, your defence against those that are jealous enough to try to strip it from us. — Yours faithfully,
Crisp Road, Henley
Care homes are needed
Sir, — Henley town councillors seem to be fixated with ghettos as too many “affordable” houses create one and too many care homes create one.
Do too many £1 million houses also create one? I suspect not! Even councillors cannot escape the ravages of time and could find themselves looking for care accommodation within easy access of amenities and family.People are living longer and such places are needed as much as affordable accommodation for young people.
So what are those reaching the point of needing care to do — move far away from the area they have lived in?
Maybe we could build a couple of new towns specifically geared to the elderly and shuffle them off there when the time comes (now that really would be a ghetto) or maybe the word “ghetto” should be linked to “euthanasia” which it certainly was during the Second World War. — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — My innocent observation on the wildflowers in our roadside verges seems to have elicited a somewhat hostile and puzzling response from Audrey Fox and John Pitt (Standard, August 5).
It was puzzling because they appeared to contradict themselves in the matter of the “hidden dip” in the road at Gallowstree Common, where they live.
They stated: “It is almost impossible to see a small vehicle in this dip, even with the grass verge cut.” Why then go to the personal expense of having it cut if it doesn’t make any difference? Your correspondents then posed what appears to be a non-sequitur of a question, namely “What are your thoughts and ideas on potholes, Mr Read?” when I thought I was talking about flowers.
Well, generally, Mr Read’s thoughts and views are that potholes are, by and large, a bad thing.
Finally, they suggest that my leaving the EU referendum “circus” would be more appropriate as a clown.
I’m flattered. Clowns have been entertaining us for millennia and they even had privileged status in medieval courts.
The profession probably reached its zenith in the 17th century in the form of the commedia dell’arte, which gave us the familiar characters of Harlequin, Pierrot and Pulcinella, the forerunner of the ever popular Mr Punch.
I am looking forward to my new career.
Ms Fox and Mr Pitt may be interested to know that in a circus there are several job opportunities for the tidy-minded, such as cleaning up after the elephants. — Yours faithfully,
Mount View Court, Henley
Wonderful welcome to allotments
Sir, — We did not expect courgette, cake or beetroot and horseradish sandwiches to be on offer when we arrived for our “root and branch” review meeting with the Henley Allotments Association but they were, along with an array of allotment-sourced goodies that the members had made. Delicious.
As those with an allotment know, the association is the perfect example of what a volunteer group can achieve when members work together, have a clear aim and love what they do.
In addition to producing vegetables, fruit and flowers in abundance, the allotment holders, ably guided by the committee, organise produce sales and a calendar full of social events and are an amazing source of gardening knowledge. Henley Town Council provides two allotment sites in the town and we work very closely and effectively with the association to ensure the smooth running for the plot-holders.
The council couldn’t do this without the efficiency of the committee and, following a detailed presentation from the members, we will continue to work together to support and develop the allotments in our town.
A huge thank-you to the association for its hard work and fine hospitality. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Sam Evans
Henley Town Council,
Reading Road, Henley
Sir, — Your Hidden Henley item last week showed some recently revealed business signwriting in Wargrave.
Sir, — Your Hidden Henley item last week showed some recently revealed business signwriting in Wargrave.
This picture of the shop comes from the Wargrave Local History Society collection and shows the same lettering as it was originally displayed.
The shop then belonged to G W Talbot, local coal merchants etc, and can be dated to about 1910. — Yours faithfully,