Monday, 20 September 2021

Your letters...

A town for families again

A town for families again

Sir, — Having read Dieter Hinke’s excellent letter headlined “Eastbourne of the Chilterns” (Standard, October 7), I’m moved to compare the opportunities I and my contemporaries had in the Fifties with young families of today.

Then one had a reasonable chance of starting a home not too far distant from one’s parents.

The Gainsborough estate, a massive development by today’s standards, provided starter homes under terms that gave everyone a chance.

If I remember correctly, most were council houses at an achievable rent if one had a job.

Later on, many young families were able to buy these homes and watch their children progress in the excellent local schools of the time.

Later still, in the Sixties, fields that used to be full of cows, where we kids used to gather mushrooms, play bows-and-arrows and walk the dog, all gave way to the next phase of excellent, “affordable” homes at Hunters Ride and Wootton Manor.

We would help Dick Green at Highlands farm in the fields where we now live.

What is now Thamesfield Retirement Village was then a youth club where we competed in quiz games, learned how to dance and how nice girls could be and how to build and paddle our own canoes.

Trinity Hall, at the other end of town, was a down-to-earth youth club with a modest gym — a place where we kids could get fit, learn how to handle a rifle and march and generally have fun; where we found ways to appreciate one another.

Henley was a great place to grow up in, a real “families town”.

Now, after all the hard work and contributions of so many in producing the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan to promote such a community, if the developers and South Oxfordshire District Council get their way, Henley will become an enlarged nursing home.

I’m very much “getting on” in years and may well need such a service one day. However, I want to see my beloved Henley with homes and community services suitable and affordable for future generations to grow up in, as it used to be.

A town for families, not just the product of profiteering landowners and building developers.

Come on, Henley, come on, South Oxfordshire, by all means provide for the elderly but develop for the young and their future too. — Yours faithfully,

David Gobbett

Elizabeth Close,


More homes for young

Sir, — I am most alarmed at the multiple planning applications pending for care homes in Henley. Why are there so many? Are we under siege from over-55s?

As a non-Henley native who chose to move here to raise our family, I can appreciate the town’s draw. It really is a lovely place to live.

To me, living means participating and contributing to the community by spending in local shops, joining sports clubs, attending schools and utilising our fantastic facilities, such as the library and the Kenton Theatre.

If new housing is given over to the construction of multiple care homes by deep-pocketed development companies, the vibrancy of our town’s spirit will be diminished. The very people who want to live and work and raise their families here will be denied.

Where will the young families who spend in our town’s shops and cafés and attend our schools live? Where will the care home staff live?

I understand that the UK has an ageing population but we also have generations of people leaving school or college, embarking on their careers and starting families, all of whom need accommodation too.Moreover, why should older members of society be led to believe their only option is to “downsize” to a tomb with a view and wait to die? It is cruel, undignified and the very opposite of care.We should be appealing to our leaders to help people stay in their own home with good care provided as long as possible and build decent, affordable housing for those just starting out rather than focus on the pursuit of mammon. — Yours faithfully,

Amy French

Blandy Road,


Meaning of living walls

Sir, — Following your article regarding Henley in Bloom’s plans to tackle air pollution (Standard, October 7), it is probably worth mentioning the various green infrastructure options Henley has in remediating the effects of urban air pollution.

All greenery is good but, to paraphrase Orwell, some greenery is better than others.

Living walls represent an excellent way of placing a high concentration of green plants in a small terrestrial footprint.

However, there are two types of living wall — passive and active.

Passive walls are just plants grown in a vertical container. The three major benefits they provide are:

1. The plant leaves collect particulates.

2. The plants provide oxygen and moisture.

3. The plants create a psychological benefit that has been lauded in academic research by the likes of NASA.

Active walls add another critically important dimension. They suck in air surrounding the living wall by electro-mechanical means and then push this air through the roots of the plant in the soil.

The soil is crammed full of micro-bacterial matter around the plants’ roots. The dirty air passes over this matter and is cleaned and passed out though the top of the soil.

This process is known as “rhizo filtration” and it makes an active living wall 50 to 100 times more effective than a traditional passive living wall (depending on location and configuration).

Just 1m² of active wall is therefore roughly equivalent to 50m² of passive wall. It’s like comparing a Formula 1 car with a domestic bicycle.For some of life’s journeys a bicycle will do but if you want to win a grand prix, then only that car will help you.

Henley is a beautiful town with an ugly problem. We strongly believe we have the solution to this problem and would welcome discussions with anyone interested in sponsoring us to make this a reality. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Francis

Environmental tuner, Sensescape

Festival not to be missed

Sir, — I was surprised to find on your letters page last week only one comment, and regrettably a negative one, about the Henley Literary Festival, which, as it happens, has just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

There may have been a minor hiccup or two but the festival did not disappoint.

It was filled with a huge number of intellectually stimulating and entertaining events. My personal highlights were the sessions with former government ministers coming from across the British political spectrum.

It seems Anne Robinson didn’t go down very well with the audience who came to see Jeremy Paxman but Daniel Hahn’s interview with Michael Heseltine would probably qualify him to take Paxman’s old job in Newsnight.

There were also some interesting surprises.

One such surprise for me was Miriam González Durántez. She didn’t just present her cookery book but talked also about her vision of Europe and affection for Britain.

The audience was predominantly female. After the event many of us came to the conclusion that Miriam would make a good replacement for Nick Clegg. Should he be told?

Many thanks to the hard- working festival team and all the wonderful volunteers who made the festival such great fun and created a really friendly and welcome atmosphere.

The Henley Literary Festival week is now firmly ring-fenced in our family’s diaries. It’s unmissable! — Yours faithfully,

Magda Ralphs


Russia is the aggressor

Sir, — The death of Aleppo is happening purely so that Russia can have a naval base on the Mediterranean within a “friendly” country”, Assad’s Syria!

Which Baltic or other state will be next on the list? — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road,


An appeal to decent driver

Sir, — My wife’s car, a blue/grey Vauxhall Tigra, was parked in St Mark’s Road, Henley, last Friday when it was hit on the driver’s side by another vehicle, causing a scrape on the rear panels.

She was both reassured and impressed by the fact that the driver had the decency to leave a note on the windscreen offering an apology for the incident and a contact telephone number.

The note read: “I have just scraped the drivers’s side of your car. I am so, so sorry.” It provided a mobile number ending in …5192 but this number was incomplete, being one digit short, and therefore we have been unable to make contact.

Unfortunately, the car had been hit on the passenger side the day before, just around the corner, by what we can only assume was a wheelbarrow or similar as that side was next to the kerb in a row of cars and so could not have been hit by another vehicle.

On that occasion the person responsible did not see fit or have the decency to leave any contact details.

My wife would be very grateful if the person who left the note would be kind enough to make contact on 07733 260044 in order to resolve the situation.

It would also be appreciated if the person with the wheelbarrow or similar would also get in touch but we recognise that this is highly unlikely. We look forward to hearing from you. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Plant

PO ‘system’ always down

Sir, — It appears that ever since Nettlebed post office moved to the village petrol station, the post office “system” is down.

We used to have a fantastic local service when the post office was next to the Field Kitchen.Now, at least twice a week, it’s impossible to use the new post office because “the system is down”. Why is this? It seems impossible to contact the Post Office’s head office to find out why.

It feels like there will soon be another loss of a valuable local service as the Post Office will no doubt claim that the new site is not viable. — Yours faithfully,


Middle Assendon

The Post Office responds: “We acknowledge that there has been a technical issue at Nettlebed post office, which affected the branch a few weeks ago for very brief periods and more recently caused it to close for four hours.

“A faulty cable was identified as the cause and it was replaced and the post office is now fully operational again.

“We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused during any short-term closure.”

Lost key got me thinking...

Sir, — I found a Honda car key on the grass verge outside No 20 Fair Mile in Henley on Sunday afternoon.

It was probably dropped by someone spectating or participating in the Henley half marathon in the morning.

It is in immaculately clean condition, so it hadn’t been lying there long. I checked with the householder nearby but it wasn’t theirs.

I feel that we need a central point somewhere in Henley where items that are lost and found can be handed in. Does anyone else agree with me?

Could the town council help provide this service? Would a lost and found page on the council’s website be a starting point? What do other towns do?

Something like a lost car key can cause extreme distress and inconvenience and they are very costly items to replace. It would be so nice if there was a mechanism for trying to unite people with their possessions as, let’s face it, this can happen to anyone.

I will contact the main Honda dealer to see if they can help by “reading” the key to find out who the owner is but I’d be really grateful if anyone has any suggestions as to how a service like this could be set up and effectively managed, especially now we don’t have the police station front counter.

Could the post office host a service like this maybe or the town hall?

Happy to hear from anyone on or by calling 07774 962888. — Yours faithfully,

Helen Gaynor

Bell Street,


The editor responds: “The town manager Helen Barnett tells me that small items can still be posted through the letter box at the police station in Henley. The nearest police stations that are open with a front desk are in Abingdon and Reading.

“Probably the best thing to do when you have found a lost item is to do what Helen has done and write to the Henley Standard as, more often than not, this does the trick.”

Inspiring young man

Sir, — I was delighted to read of the amazing achievement of James Quigley running with “401 man” Ben Smith and raising £300 for his charity (Standard, October 7).

My daughter ran with Ben at the start of his epic journey, which was to run 401 marathons in as many days. Ben is a fantastic, charismatic person who suffered greatly from bullying in his youth, which resulted in him wanting to take his own life.

As a family, we followed his progress avidly and were there recently to see his run in Portsmouth. My grandson was privileged to run with him with pupils from his school.

Ben has raised £250,000 for two charities, Stonewall and Kidscape, which help those suffering as he did. He also visits schools to talk and inspire pupils.

I remember James as a happy-going schoolboy and was thrilled to see what a superb young man he now is. Well done, James! You are an inspiration. Keep on running. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Pegg

Periam Close,


Identifying those clouds

Sir, — The excellent picture of clouds by Jacqueline Page (Standard, September 23) shows a cirrus cloud formation, of the type “cirrus floccus” — Latin for tuft of wool, which those clouds resembled.

The clouds form around 20,000ft in this latitude and are also found at heights approaching 45,000ft and consist of ice crystals.

Winds at these altitudes can be quite strong, typically 100kts-plus and the appearance of cirrus can be a sign of a change in the weather. — Yours faithfully,

David Wood


Poets who ‘just do it!’

Sir, — Henley’s Free Range Poets go from strength to strength.

In September, poems by two writers, Patricia Thorburn-Muirhead and Heather Coffey, were selected by the highly respected and long-established Ver Poets.

In the current issue of South magazine, no fewer than four Free Range Poets have their work featured, Gillian Stoneham, Dorothy Yamamoto, Gail Ferguson and Jules Webster.

It’s very encouraging when work is selected for publication and it only goes to show that our motto of “Just do it!” works.

The input from our monthly workshop sessions is invaluable and can only improve everyone’s writing.

New members are always welcome to join our small and friendly group. For more information, call (01491) 579989 or email — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser


My view of magical Monday morning

Sir, — Seeing Jeff Kinghorn’s photograph (Standard, October 7) prompted me to send my own.

Monday morning last week was magical and the camera really doesn’t do it justice. Can you spot the man cycling along the riverbank? ’Twas a great start to a working Monday. — Yours faithfully,

Laura Beales

Rotherfield Peppard

Another case of thoughtless parking

Sir, — There seems to be an increasing number of people parking on the pavement by the zig-zag markings outside Café Nero in Bell Street, Henley.

In this case, the Audi driver did not even come into the coffee shop.

He was very unrepentant when asked why he had stopped there, when it was causing problems for families with prams. — Yours faithfully,

Tamzin Ainsworth

Deanfield Avenue, Henley

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