Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Your letters...

NHS can’t keep coping

Sir, — Regarding the foolish decisions of local councillors, I’m concerned that the various councils, parish, district and county, have all failed to realise the inevitable outcome of their decisions to allow more retirement and care homes.

Even private homes use the “free” NHS and related services.

Henley needs more single homes for wage-earning younger people and more affordable homes for younger families.

If not, Henley-on-Thames will become Geriatric-on-Thames. In fact, this is already happening.

The Government is now making local authorities responsible for raising taxes to pay for care.

Towns with older populations, such as Henley, will have to raise much more tax revenue to pay for the much larger number and percentage of older people.

However, Henley has one of the highest percentages of older people and this seems to attract developers to apply to build more retirement homes. It’s crazy.

The existing medical practices are at breaking point. Doctors, especially the better ones like Andrew Burnett, are retiring early.

The Oxford-based NHS executives seem determined to ignore the findings of SELF, the team of experienced lay people who represent all the patients in South-East Oxfordshire and who devote a lot of time to monitoring the actions and plans of the NHS services in the area.

We are very aware of the growing need for more “free” or volunteer carers because the funds available for healthcare are, in effect, being reduced.

As the costs of living in or near Henley rise, the reluctance of carers to try to live in the area increases, as do the costs for carers. They do not get paid for travelling time, so it is a vicious circle.

Your newspapaper carries more and more advertisements that ask for carers. The prices are rising.

This whole cycle will steadily get worse as costs of healthcare rise and the population of Henley steadily gets older and older.

As one gets older, health and the costs of healthcare become more and more
significant.

In Sweden they have provision for younger older citizens to earn money from looking after older old citizens and the tax regime makes this worthwhile.

Finally, my greatest criticism is the incredible waste of money related to IT systems that do not work and do not link up. It is a scandal.

The NHS is Europe’s largest employer and is the management consultants’ “milch cow”.

It is seen as the ultimate objective for all the multinational consultants based in London, each trying to carve out a niche for themselves.

The billions that have been spent on failed IT systems is outrageous but each government sweeps away and hides the past failures then goes on to create its own magical systems that will also fail. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Binfield Heath

Support, not euthanasia

Sir, — Thank you, Christine Bland, for your letter of support. You seem to be one of only a few who actually got the point.

I do not wish to be associated with “assisted suicide”. So, at the risk of being boring, let me just run over this again.

The Bluebells Club, which is held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the Christ Church Centre in Henley and run by the angels from Age UK, provides wonderful support and happiness for old people who are suffering with dementia.

They get four hours of entertainment and lunch for just £10. A mini-bus is provided to collect those without transport and then take them home afterwards.

Now this is under threat due to Oxfordshire County Council’s financial problems.

My letter was to seek support for keeping this valuable service running and to make financial cuts elsewhere.

To illustrate the plight of these poor souls, I added a bit of verse that I had written for the Alzheimer’s Society newsletter which the Henley Standard kindly published on these pages.

Sadly, the only reaction I seem to have provoked is the old Eskimo custom of taking their old people for “a one-way walk in the snow”.

Replacing the Bluebell Club with a DIY “euthanasia chamber” in the car park next to the public toilet is not my idea of solving this problem.

People with dementia do not have the mental capacity to make such decisions as this. They need the support of family and friends to help them through this terrible stage of life. Most of the time they respond well to love and kindness.

Where there is no family support we must ensure that the state provides this support. We cannot run the risk of leaving the responsibility to charities as their income is not guaranteed.

You could well be the next as it strikes everywhere. You may currently have the sharpest brain in the box and you may be a Sudoku, crossword, chess or bridge master but this is no protection. We are all going in the same direction. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Harding

Lower Shiplake

Oversized development

Sir, — I read in your article about the proposed new development in Lower Shiplake (Standard, December 23), which, contrary to government policy, has no provision for affordable housing for young adults in the area.

This appears to be a common theme among the deluge of proposals for mass development that we are now suffering.

Badly needed affordable housing for our children and grandchildren seems to be the lowest priority in this highly expensive district because of the greed of landowners selling their land to developers at hugely inflated prices.

In the same article, David Blomfield expressed concern that Shiplake Primary School is full, so where will the children go that will be living in the new homes?

Are Shiplake residents further aware of the application now lodged with South Oxfordshire District Council to develop farmland in the parish of Eye & Dunsden?

The proposal is for 245 homes — a massive development (bearing in mind that the current number of homes in Eye & Dunsden is only 140) that would swamp Shiplake Primary School, the catchment area that this development would come under.

Oxfordshire County Council has already stated that it does not intend to provide more school places for this development if it was allowed to go ahead.

In summary, South Oxfordshire district simply does not have the educational infrastructure to cope with all these mass development proposals and would have to rely entirely on the borough of Reading to satisfy this demand as well as all the other corresponding facilities that would be required.

The only solution would be for the whole area south west of Henley to be swallowed up by the greater Reading borough. — Yours faithfully,

Veronica Leeke

Emmer Green

Superficial planning

Sir, — On February 1 the planning committee of South Oxfordshire District Council will consider an application by Gladman to build 245 houses on fields in South Oxfordshire to the north of Emmer Green (application No. P16/S3630/0).

I consider that the area in question will not sustain any development irrespective of the number of dwellings being sought.

I consider that the following points militate against the granting of such approval:

l The application does not in any way accord with the district council’s strategic plan.

l The development would intrude into a green area which forms a natural break between urban Reading and the more rural surrounding Oxfordshire villages.

l There are insufficient educational resources to serve such an increase in the population, particularly at primary school level.

l There would be inadequate medical provision. No plans exist for an expansion of medical provision in South Oxfordshire. Services in Emmer Green are already oversubscribed.

l The road infrastructure cannot sustain a potential increase of what could well be 490 cars (two per household) and the associated service and commercial vehicles drawn to the development.

Any attempt to create an access/egress point for any development on to the B481 Peppard Road should be refused.

The road already has a high accident rate and it would be near impossible to achieve the lines of vision legally required of any such point of access and egress.

From consideration of the application and the supporting documents, it appears that only superficial and cosmetic researches have been made. I list but a few:

l The area in question is known to be undermined by chalk quarries and caves which both Reading Borough Council and Oxfordshire County Council accept have not been fully surveyed.

l There is a geological fault line across the planned site. Fault planes in chalk might be expected to be associated with a linear zone of weakening and possibly enhanced weathering, producing poorer quality chalk. Some years ago Reading Borough Council experienced a severe land collapse in Field Road, Reading, which made a number of houses uninhabitable for many months.

l The presence of protected species of bats on the site has been skirted over by the applicant.

l It is doubtful that Thames Water would be able to provide sufficient resources to service the potable water supply and soil water needs of such a development.

The charade of a public consultation was conducted in Emmer Green, outside the jurisdiction of South Oxfordshire District Council, and was targeted at residents of Emmer Green who have no control over this application.

Gladman seeks to rely upon this cynical subterfuge as evidence that it carried out public consultation.

In conclusion, I urge your readers to write to South Oxfordshire District Council before January 9 opposing this application, not only on the grounds of unsustainability but also on the grounds that the supporting research has been carried out at an extremely superficial level.

The documentation filed with the application suggests that it has been “cut and pasted” from other applications submitted throughout the country by this applicant. — Yours faithfully,

Barry A Prior

Kiln Road, Emmer Green

Your chance to have a say

Sir, — If you are in favour of building new houses but want to have a say in where they are built, if you wish to halt the urban creep from Reading into the beautiful South Oxfordshire countryside, if you wish to prevent local infrastructure overload (no choice of school for your children, weeks to get an appointment at your local GP surgery, nowhere to park outside local shops, congested roads etc) or if you are against Gladman Developments winning planning permission to build 245 houses on the northern edge of Emmer Green, now is your chance to have your say.

Gladman Developments has a planning application to build 245 houses on the northern edge of Emmer Green on South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning website (application reference P16/S3630/0-37) and also on Reading Borough Council’s planning website (application reference 162174).

Anyone can go on to the websites and express their views, positive or negative.

To those of you who have already made your comments known on both these websites, thank you.

For those of you who still have a mind to do so you have until January 9 to exercise some control over local planning decisions.

Happy planning in 2017. — Yours faithfully,

Eric Yarrow

Emmer Green

Where will we all park?

Sir, — Do the good people of Henley realise fully what is about to happen in the King’s Road car park?

It seems a City developer is going to build 16,000 sq ft of retail and additional residential accommodation at its southern end.

Around 60 car spaces now used by the people that service local shops will be lost. The five disabled slots will have to be moved, probably using seven or eight existing slots.

The entrance to the car park on the southern end of King’s Road will be closed during the period of development.

The little car park behind King’s Arms Barn will be used as a storage area for the development, thus taking away more spaces.

With so many shops finding it hard just to pay the exorbitant rents that are being asked in the town, do we need an extra 16,000 sq ft of retail space?

With the residential properties, has thought been given to where their occupiers will park their cars? Have they allowed parking spaces for these or will they take up yet more parking bays?

Oh yes, the short-cut alleyway will also be closed for 14 months.

As it is now, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a parking space. What will happen if and when the development starts? You’ve guessed it... — Yours faithfully,

Stephen Borlase

Henley

Village pub is an asset

Sir, — I was disappointed to read Checkendon parish councillor Tim Corbishley’s letter concerning the “neglected” Four Horseshoes pub (Standard, December 16).

I think he ignores two important points.

Firstly, a pub in a village is a good thing for the village. This, I think, is generally accepted, certainly by national and local government, and probably by Councillor Corbishley, and it is unnecessary to say more.

Secondly, a pub in a village increases the value of property in that village, some estate agents estimate by about 10 per cent and more if the pub gains some celebrity.

It also increases the desirability of a village property. As many as 25 per cent of buyers looking for a village property require a good pub, according to some estate agent surveys and in most lists of facilities desired by housebuyers a local pub comes around fifth, after accessibility, schooling, shops etc.

Country Life magazine’s property section categorically says the best English villages have a pub and local estate agents advertising properties in neighbouring villages such as Stoke Row and Woodcote invariably point out the pub or pubs as a plus factor.

Thus a village pub is of benefit to both the social and financial wellbeing of the village community and its absence will cost the residents.

So, while no fan of South Oxfordshire District Council planners, I think they have got this one right.

If Brakspear cannot make their business model (which involves taking a cut out of a product they neither brew, distribute nor retail) work for them, then they should market the Four Horseshoes as a free house and give someone else a chance, which they have not done. I urge Cllr Corbishley to reconsider, pursue this option and fight for the survival of his village pub, which I think would be to the advantage of Checkendon and visitors to his lovely (“but if only it had a pub”) village.

I think he might be pleasantly surprised at the success that may ensue if the Four Horseshoes was freed from the baleful grip of Brakspear. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Guy

New Street, Henley

Don’t leave donations out

Sir, — On December 19 I found yet another bag of intended donations for the local charity shop had been stolen, rifled through and abandoned on my driveway.

Why should the public’s generosity be taken advantage of by a select few?

Those who are in need are losing out from the actions of the few.

This is the third occasion that donations have been left and as a result I have to tidy up and take them to the charity shop myself.

I wish that the people leaving donations would do so when the shop is open to receive them as this would stop items being stolen and spoilt. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Rickards

Green Lane, Sonning Common

Three cheers for museum

Sir, — I’d like to propose a New Year’s toast to the team at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley who do such excellent work throughout the year with local children.

The pre-Christmas family fun session with tables of seasonal craft projects, carol singing and a visit by Mr Toad was a perfect start to the festive season.

The atmosphere was creative and colourful and encouraging to the dozens of little participants — just as a museum should be.

And the new John Piper Gallery is a splendid addition. — Yours faithfully,

Lynne Alderson

Lovell Close, Henley

Gentlemen of the road

Sir, — To the two gentlemen in vans who were behind me at the road closure near Colstrope Lane (off Skirmett Road) and helped me turn my car around in an unfeasibly tight section of road, thank you so much!

I am forever grateful as I fear I would probably still be there now waiting for the road to be re-opened!

I very much hope you read this. — Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Baughan

Thanks for generosity

Sir, — I would like to thank the people of Henley for their generous contributions to our recent collection in the Waitrose car park.

Henley Rotary Club chose Tuesday, December 20 to carry out this annual activity which was timed to coincide with a free parking day from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Hence there were many people happy to donate the change that otherwise would have gone into the parking ticket machine.

As a result we collected more than £600, all of which goes to charity.

Rotary supports a combination of local, national and international causes and in this case the money will be used for the Rotary Foundation, the worldwide charity.

One of the challenges that the Foundation has been tackling is the eradication of polio worldwide.

Globally in 2016 there has been less than one polio case per week reported compared with 1,000 a day in 1988.

Thanks to the generous donations from Henley residents, we are now one step closer to ridding the world of polio forever. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Thomson

Vice-president, Henley Rotary Club

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