Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Your letters...

True cost of drunk crash

True cost of drunk crash

Sir, — Having picked up my weekly copy of the Henley Standard, I was very upset to see the front page story, continued with another half a page on Page 13, of yet more dialogue relaying the latest events unfolding for Simon Narracott.

The gentleman’s obvious need and ability to get self-publicity and what appears to be a search for sympathy shows continued arrogance and distinct lack of any contrition regarding the circumstances of this incident.

As passengers on the bus at the time of the event, my wife and I would like everyone to know that there were in fact at least 10 passengers on the lower deck of the bus plus the driver, of whom six, including the driver, suffered varying injuries and severe shock.

A large number of us are of senior years and had never experienced any accident, never mind being struck by a car.

You should be aware that the correct number of people needing treatment was six, of which four were seen in the Royal Berks A&E, including the bus driver.

A married couple were attended to and received stiches to their wounds, by a paramedic ambulance team at the scene, before being driven home by Reading Buses.

Following a call by me to Reading Buses, I was advised that the bus driver, who took the brunt of the crash, was still unable to return to work over three weeks after the crash and my wife, who suffered head, neck, ear and throat injuries is still in considerable discomfort and now after A&E is being looked after by our GP surgery.

As a declared author and expert in the alcoholic drinks industry, he will be acutely aware of the taste of alcohol in a drink.

His driving judgement must have been severely impaired by alcohol and having lost control of his car, collided with the bus.

Not once, so it seems, have all the people injured and badly affected by his actions been in his consideration as they continue to try and recover.

Following his remark that “if it had been a bollard he had hit, his sentence would have been less”, Mr Narracott should reflect on the fact that had it been a family car he had hit and not a bus, any occupant may not be alive! — Yours faithfully,

Chris Elvin

All Hallows Road,


No sympathy for driver

Sir — I am writing in response to last week’s front page article regarding the drunk driver Mr Simon Narracott.

My first impression was that this gentleman was a reformed drinker. I became so incensed when I read further.

Firstly, how awful for those who were injured by his reckless actions, I hope that they are recovering well and not upset by this article focusing on Mr Narracott’s problems.

I liken him to the burglar who breaks into someone’s home and causes the resident to have a heart attack and then justifies his actions by phoning the ambulance which saves his life! Drink driving ruins lives and at its worst causes death.

Mr Narracott was convicted because he was over the limit, we all know when we have had too much!

How he can be grateful for the accident is beyond me, I have no sympathy. Accept responsibility, he made a choice to drive whilst over the limit with consequences that were devastating.

Maybe it would be more appropriate for Mr Narracott to write a letter of apology to those he injured. I am sure that readers of the Henley Standard have no interest in listening to his personal issues. —Yours faithfully,

Debra Morley

Whistley Green,


Think of the consequences

Sir — Am I the only reader who feels annoyance at the self-justificatory tone of a drunk driver, given front page prominence in last week’s Henley Standard?

“They said the accident may have saved my life,” Simon Narracott says. Well, that’s good for Mr Narracott, but his attempt to drive his Range Rover whilst intoxicated could have resulted in the death or injury of another person or other people — that would not have been so good or life-saving, would it?

And further consequences? I was one of the hundreds caught up in the gridlock in central Reading when Reading Bridge had to be closed at about 5pm, the evening rush-hour traffic.

A journey time from London Road to Waitrose in Caversham took one-and-a-half hours instead of the usual 20 minutes on a standard busy day, which meant that I missed an evening appointment on that Tuesday, much to my frustration and no doubt to the similar frustration of those many people similarly delayed.

It is selfish in the extreme to drink and then choose to drive (and it is a choice to drive). There are many taxi firms in Reading which are the safe option after a celebratory tipple, so please think of other people and use a taxi if you are incapable of driving.

And the financial cost? The costs of repair for all the material damage caused to both vehicles, the road, the bridge etc should be borne by the person who is responsible for the damage because of that decision to drive whilst drunk; these costs should not be borne by the taxpayers and council. — Yours faithfully,

N Robinson

Sonning Common

Pointless amenities

Sir, — I am disturbed by the article concerning Freeman’s Meadow (Standard, August 19).

I attended a sub-committee meeting in the spring. Has there been a more recent meeting?

Councillor Kellie Hinton was supposed to be setting up some sort of advisory group to deal with the meadow.

Apart from a message asking if I would like to be a member, I have heard nothing further.

A children’s roundabout very rarely goes round as it is jammed. The children’s play area is overgrown with grass.

The shrubbery at the eastern end of the Meadow is more overgrown than ever, it stinks as it is used as a toilet area by children and adults alike.

There is no new dog poo bin at the southern end of the meadow.

If we cannot maintain what we currently have, there is little point in spending money on more amenities.

I disagree with Councillor Evans’s statement that “it is used a lot for fitness training” One or two people run round it occasionally.

With regard to the man living next to Freeman’s Meadow who has trouble with footballs, I would point out that the meadow was there before his house and his house has been built within a few feet of the boundary wall.

The meadow was there before Pearce’s Orchard was converted into a housing development.

If the goalposts are moved then people at the north and south of the meadow are likely to be inconvenienced. — Yours faithfully,

Dr A I Tiffin.

Northfield End,


You should listen to us

Sir, — I overlook this area and know what goes on.

A councillor contacted me to liaise and potential dates were exchanged to meet.Since then nothing has happened. It is frustrating to be unable to contribute to wise decisions.

I have not seen the reported ‘fitness training’ taking place. — Yours faithfully,

Lord Remnant

Northfield End,


Sad goodbye to building

Sir, — Farewell to the old board room at Townlands Hospital.

It is sad to note that the building, which was once part of the Henley Workhouse on the Townlands Hospital site, has now been demolished.

It was erected in 1834 for the administration of the workhouse as well as the Henley School and infirmary.

From 1894 until 1952 it was the council chamber of the then recently formed Henley Rural District Council and, whilst not of great architectural merit, played an important role in the birth of local government in South Oxfordshire.The rural district council later formed part of South Oxfordshire District Council in 1974. It was one of the early local rural authorities and eventually included 23 villages by 1974. Many of these villages were desperately poor especially those “on the chalk”, that is on the higher Chilterns which have no fresh water springs and lacked any form of sanitation.

George Shadrach Mattick, who was appointed as full-time sanitary inspector in 1873, carried out a tour of all the villages.

Afterwards, he said: “The village of Nettlebed presents as bad a collection of sanitary conditions as it is possible to conceive existing in a situation in many respects naturally very healthy. Water there was none. Drainage much worse than none.

“What is there lies fermenting in an open ditch on the common, just at the top of the principle street of the village. The cottages are generally horrible, small, filthy, dilapidated, unventilated and surrounded by festering heaps of filth.”

The rural district council inevitably took some years to get on top of these many community problems but eventually a village such as Nettlebed got mains water in 1924, thanks to a private donation.

Mains drainage in part did not arrive until 1953 and many cottages still had “night soil” collections until 1968.

It is difficult to imagine these conditions only 50 to 60 years ago in a village where brickmakers’ cottages sell for a £1 million today. — Yours faithfully,

Malcolm D Lewis

Pearces Meadow,


NHS relying on volunteers

Sir, — Although I understand that independent providers of mental health services for children and adolescents, such as charities, have an important role to play, I remain concerned at the NHS’s reliance upon the voluntary sector’s provisions.

Report after report has confirmed that more than 75 per cent of all adult mental health problems first surface before the individual reaches 16.

With only 23 per cent of the entire NHS budget allocated to mental health — and only seven per cent of this to children and adolescents) — the time to change is now, as The Times’ campaign states. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road,


Dysfunctional rail system...

Sir, — John Howell MP says (Standard, August 19,) that the forthcoming increase in rail fares is fair, because the expected average increase in salaries is 2.4 per cent.

We know that he and his fellow MP’s recently awarded themselves a good pay rise, but has he forgotten that his Government capped the salaries of all the other public servants at 1 per cent until 2019?

Our MP also tells us that nationalisation of the railways would be a foolish thing to do, as the service has improved. If he ever used the railway he would know that this is simply not true.

If he is even slightly interested in railways he might note that the railway infrastructure is already nationalised.

He should ask why we allow German, French and Dutch state operators to run our trains and send the profits home, whilst barring a UK state operator from doing the same?

No other country runs such a fragmented, dysfunctional railway system, and no other railway has such high costs.

It is high time that the railway was put back together under common management for the good of all. —Yours faithfully

Paul Jenkins

South Stoke

...but it’s not all bad news

Sir, — Of course it’s a pain when fares go up each year (Standard, August 19) but can we clarify two points on investment?

Mr Jaeger rightly notes that the 0707 Henley to Paddington weekday service appeared in the recent “most crowded” list, but these figures relate to stats taken in spring 2015, since when Great Western have put on 20 per cent extra capacity by putting in an extra carriage.

While not pleasant at and after Maidenhead, branch and Twyford passengers generally get a seat and don’t generally suffer unless there’s a train shortfall.

Mr Meadowcroft refers to service cuts when the truth is that for Wargrave, Great Western are proposing adding two additional rush hour /evening services in place of just two very off-peak daytime services.

Regular commuters contributing to the local economy might consider this advantageous.

It is important to note that at no time is it proposed that there will be fewer services overall for any station on the branch, including Wargrave, and for most there will be more.

While branch passengers will ultimately all need to change at Twyford, it will be to and from faster, larger trains.

It is proposed that there will be a half hourly evening rush hour service from Paddington connecting to and from a more reliable and frequent branch service.

And remember, beyond that, half of Twyford’s London services will be Crossrail services going through the city. So, better services are there for the taking if we locals let the investment take place. Anyone who’d like to know the full story, contact us at Henleytrains@gmail.com

It’s not perfect but it’s not all doom and gloom. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Gunnell

Henley Trains,

Blandy Road,


Town was trade hub

Sir, — There is a major error in the way you described Henley’s role in the river transport (Standard, August 19). Goods were not unloaded here and taken by road to London, quite the reverse!

Henley owes its creation in c. 1200 and commercial success to the very fact that the river downstream from Henley to London was navigable.

It had only five flash locks and so therefore had fewer obstructions), whilst upstream from Henley to Oxford there were 20 flash locks.

Generally goods were brought overland by pack horses and waggons to Henley before they were then loaded on to the flat bottomed Western Barges to be taken by river to London.

On return trips goods from the port of London came by barge as far as Henley. These were then unloaded and taken overland to Oxford and other destinations, thereby avoiding the big Thames loop and its 20 difficult locks.

Thus Henley became an entrepot, a trading hub as we would call it now. Goods were awaiting shipment downstream to the capital; mostly grain, malted barley, timber and wool — all bulky goods.

This is difficult to transport on overland track ways — no decent, well maintained roads, but a river which was the transport artery of its time. — Yours faithfully,

Ruth Gibson

Secretary, Henley Archaelogical and Historical Group

Well done to hockey team

Sir, — On behalf of Henley Hockey Club we would like to offer our most sincere congratulations to the Ladies Great Britain Hockey Team for their recent success in Rio in becoming Olympic Champions.

We would like you to know we are very proud of all of you. — Yours faithfully,

Georgie Metcalfe

Henley Hockey Club 1st X1 Ladies Captain

Chris Baker

Henley Hockey Club  President

Snapping wildlife is much easier now

Sir, — I viewed the excellent photograph of the green woodpeckers by David Wood, of Maidensgrove, (Standard, August 5) with great interest, having never managed myself to get close enough to these birds to take an uncluttered picture.

There are several reasons for this but the main one is the fact that they have always been on the ground in the open and could only be photographed from a fair distance, bearing in mind that at the time of my attempts only film cameras were obtainable and you could not snap away merrily as you can with today’s digital cameras as every shot cost money and you were limited to only 36mm or 35mm film in any case. It was a rare and precious occasion (and photo) to find them off the ground.

My guess is that the adult looking after its young one in Mr Wood’s photo had just fed it and they were both waiting for the other adult to call on them when they will zoom of to join it for another feed.

The “pose” they assumed is one typically adopted by nearly all birds when listening for a close family member to call to them for whatever reason.

My photo above is of my favourite great spotted woodpecker mainly because it is one of our most colourful birds and because a pair have been visiting my back garden for the last 25 years or more to gather food for their young ones and later bringing them to feed themselves.

I have lots of cover in my garden so can conceal myself quite well but these birds are exceptionally wary and are gone in flash at the slightest sign of danger, so that great patience is needed to photograph them and there have been lots of failed efforts on my part.

With the digital cameras available these days it is possible to take 100 snaps to get one good one without losing anything, which makes life much easier.

Congatulations to Mr Wood on his efforts. — Yours faithfully,

R E Cooke

Northfield End, Henley

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