Monday, 21 June 2021

Your letters...

Don’t give us your rubbish

Sir, — We are extremely grateful for the donated goods the local community gives to our sales every three weeks at the Sue Ryder Nettlebed hospice.

These sales make a significant contribution to the cost of providing care at the hospice and in people’s homes to ensure we can be there to help those who need us.

However, in recent months, we have seen an alarming increase in household rubbish and waste being left at the donation station.

We are finding bags of food waste, general rubbish and items which are clearly broken and not suitable for sale.

This not only means our wonderful volunteers who work so hard to sort the donations ready for each sales, have the unpleasant and time consuming job of removing it, but it also has a financial impact as we have to pay to have it taken away.

In the last six months, on average, we are having to pay for an extra skip each month, which equates to four nurses for a day at the hospice.

There are also some items we are not able to accept, either for safety reasons or because we are unable to store or sell them, and notices are displayed around the donation station making it clear what these are.

These items include three- piece suites and sofas, beds and mattresses, old-style TVs, medical equipment and children’s pushchairs and highchairs.

We would ask that the public observe these restrictions and to not leave these items for us to have to dispose of.

Again, this has a significant cost implication to the charity, meaning that less of the money raised at the sale can be directed towards providing our care.

The majority of goods donated to us are wonderful and help us to make each sale as unique and varied as ever but can we please make a plea that you do not treat us as a refuse tip but take your rubbish and unsuitable goods to the local tip and not leave them for us to dispose of?

Thank you. — Yours faithfully,

Tracey Hancock

Head of fundraising, Sue Ryder Nettlebed hospice

Mental health care is vital

Sir, — We would like to acknowledge the letter from our colleagues in Reading (Standard, January 20).

As a charity that has been providing mental health care in Henley and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years, Riverside Counselling Service welcomes Theresa May’s plans to “transform” attitudes to mental health, particularly in relation to children and young people, and John Howell MP’s expressed support for incorporating these plans locally.

It is certainly time that steps were taken to make up for the chronic underfunding of mental health services by successive governments.

Our counsellors are aware of the increasingly high levels of distress and anxiety among young people locally and of the need for early intervention before difficulties become more severe or entrenched.

With escalating mental health issues among children and young people causing considerable concern, along with stretched budgets in the mental health services, there is a pressing need for collaborative and joined-up working between voluntary sector organisations such as ours and the statutory services of schools, primary care and local child and adolescent mental health services.

We welcome the commitment to mental health first aid training being offered to schools, which will support the school community in their task and promote the early recognition of difficulties as an important first step in facilitating those in need being directed to appropriate psychological support.

Riverside actively seeks to work with local organisations and schools and has already provided mindfulness training for young people at Gillotts School.

There is still much to be done. More affordable mental health care such as ours is needed to bridge the gap between the under-resourced NHS and private care.

The links between poor mental health and poor physical health need to be more widely recognised and acted upon.

Although it can sometimes appear elusive, we are working towards our vision of a health service and a society where equal weight is given to mental and physical health and where neither is stigmatised.

At Riverside, we have 30 volunteer counsellors seeing more than 100 clients of all ages each week.

Our clients pay what they can afford, with bursary places available for young people.

People are welcome to contact us directly or they can speak to their GP about us and pick up a leaflet from their practice.

The Space is the specialised branch of our service for young people from the age of 12 to 21-plus. For more information, please call us on 07879 381334 or email
riversidecounsellingservice@ or
thespace@riversidecounselling — Yours

Hilary Arthur, director, and Becky Saunders, clinical lead, The Space

Riverside Counselling Service, Northfield End, Henley

NHS staff have life too!

Sir, — I am writing in response to your correspondent John Moore’s woefully inaccurate ramblings (Standard, January 13).

He appears to be labouring under the misapprehension that human beings, who happen to be healthcare professionals, should be obligated to renounce all rights to family life and personal choice when they enter employment with the NHS.

I’m sure Jeremy Hunt and his cronies have considered writing employment contracts akin to those of a Trappist monk but for now the Human Rights Act prevails.

Is it any wonder that doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are feeling under so much pressure, when individuals like Mr Moore see them as mere “servants to the cause”?

I’m disappointed that the Henley Standard published a letter containing such offensive, ill-informed nonsense.— Yours faithfully,

Claire Cheetham


Foolish act of great driver

Sir, — I was very surprised by your front page lead story about the bus left in Henley with its engine on (Standard, January 20).

Yes, it was foolish and careless of the driver to have left the engine running for so long but what coverage is given to, and what action taken about, the many other buses which so often stand at the stops in Bell Street and Hart Street with their engines running for anything up to 10 minutes or, for that matter, the heavy lorries which thunder through our streets?

What does the council actually do about these?

Gary, the driver of the yellow bus on your front page, is a wonderful asset to many Henley residents and has been for so long.

An excellent and caring driver, he takes such good care of his passengers, many of them elderly and/or disabled. He gives a personal and friendly service which I, like so many others, greatly appreciate. I do hope we won’t lose him (or the so valuable town bus service) as a result of one thoughtless and foolish act. — Yours faithfully,

Barbara Lippitt

The Close, Henley

No action on air pollution

Sir, — The Government issued warnings that many areas in the South-East would experience high levels of pollution at the beginning of this week. The high levels were thought to be caused by the foggy conditions and lack of wind.

People with respiratory conditions such as asthma and heart problems should avoid strenuous activity and all other people should look to reduce strenuous activity outside.

The Government has been consistently in breach of European limits and last year the High Court ruled that it had to present a new plan to tackle it and comply with European levels.

Air pollution causes 29,000 deaths every year — when will this Government wake up and realise that?

EU legislation is there to protect people but the Government’s refusal to comply means the second we get some bad weather we experience dangerously high levels of pollution.

With public health clearly not figuring on this Government’s agenda, I am becoming increasingly concerned about its plans for Brexit. — Yours faithfully,

Catherine Bearder

Liberal Democrat MEP, South-East England

Abandoned waste bins

Sir, — Two weeks ago I reported to South Oxfordshire District Council that there were two large green bins outside number 31 Hart Street, Henley.

They had been there since before Christmas. They are still there and have been joined by many more bins since then.

This does seem a poor state of affairs for our town at this or any time of year. — Yours faithfully,

Deon Melck

Hart Street, Henley

Conservatives out of touch

Sir, — You reported last week about the failure of Henley Town Council to support the community campaign to protect the gym facility at LA Fitness.

You reported how Michelle Thomas and the Keep Henley Active group had written to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, asking the council to consider legal action regarding the decision by South Oxfordshire District Council to grant planning permission to demolish the gym and swimming pool and build (yet another) care home.

You also reported that Ms Thomas had been prevented by the Mayor from asking about the site at a meeting of the council’s planning committee.

Subsequently, an informal meeting of some councillors decided not to pursue any further action against this application and instructed the town clerk to write to Ms Thomas informing her of this decision.

The Henley Residents’ Group councillors would like to make clear that we were unaware of the correspondence with the council on this matter and that we were also not informed about the secret meeting which took place.

This meeting had no right to make this decision — it should have come to a formal meeting of the council to be discussed in public.

Had proper process been followed, we in HRG would have argued for a very different approach.

It is clear from your article that the decision was taken on a mistaken view of the facts, for example, there is no need for a judicial review to cost more than a few hundred pounds. The figure of £40,000 is wrong.

There are good reasons for decisions to be taken in the proper way — avoiding making an ill-informed decision is just one.

Yet again Henley is threatened with the loss of a valued facility and the planning system has shown itself not to be acting in the interest of residents.

The former Jet garage site, Market Place Mews and 116-118 Greys Road have had applications approved and are being redeveloped in a way we believe is not in the town’s best interests.

More widely, we are seeing Henley children’s centre under threat, local buses under threat and the beds at Townlands not being reprovided in our hospital.

The neighbourhood plan has not given us control of our town and Conservative councillors at town and district level are (with one or two exceptions) voting through these undesirable applications and supporting the loss of these facilities.

Our MP continues to support the loss of the beds at Townlands. It is shameful to see campaigners who have a much closer understanding of the needs of Henley thwarted by our Conservative councillors. — Yours faithfully,

Gill Dodds (leader,
Henley Residents’ Group) and Councillors David Eggleton, Stefan Gawrysiak, Kellie Hinton, Ian Reissmann, Jane Smewing and Sarah Miller

Silencing of councillor

Sir, — Last week you kindly published my letter about Councillor Gary Cowan’s resignation from the Conservative party on Wokingham Borough Council.

He claimed that the ruling group was acting “to silence any reasonable vocal debate”.

Now another councillor has made a similar claim. Charvil councillor Emma Hobbs said: “I would like it to be known that I have and always will support Hare Hatch.” (Standard, January 20).

She went on to reveal that she was not allowed to speak in our favour at the recent council debate, saying: “I can assure you all I was not happy that I was not allowed to speak out. My hands were tied by the legal department.”

Yet an anonymous council spokesman claimed: “Cllr Hobbs was not advised by our legal department that she could not speak in favour of Hare Hatch Sheeplands.”

So who are we to believe — Cllr Hobbs or the council spokesman? I will leave readers to make up their own minds. I know what I think. — Yours faithfully,

Gill Saxon

Human resources manager, Hare Hatch Sheeplands garden centre

Disrespectful tittle tattle

Sir, — I’m sure I’m not alone in being appalled at your piece regarding the death of George Michael (Standard, January 20).

To present the views of a one-time friend, with whom Mr Michael had “fallen out” some 20 years ago, as newsworthy is another example of the dreadful journalistic standards of this paper.

Mr Michael may or may not have used recreational drugs prior to his death, but dubious tittle tattle is neither respectful nor helpful.

On the wider issue of memorial tributes to “much-loved” personalities, I do wonder why those creating these “grief grottos” do not leave their flowers un-wrapped.

A bank of beautiful flowers would be impressive but what we see at Goring, for example, is a mass of plastic litter concealing flowers.

When the authorities decide it is time to remove this tribute, it will be bulldozed into landfill. Unwrapped, those flowers (given respectfully) would be composted and returned to the earth. I suspect that Mr Michael would have preferred that outcome. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Wise

Coombe End, Goring Heath

What fate awaits pub?

Sir, — We learnt over the weekend that the Plowden Arms in Shiplake Cross has been sold subject to contract.

It appears that the site has been divided up into two plots — the pub with a smaller car park as one plot and the garden with the remainder of the car park as the second plot.

While a lot of the regulars knew that the current tenants were planning to leave in April, they were not aware that the site had been divided and sold on.

It would be useful if Brakspear could comment on its plans. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Manson

Shiplake Cross

Thanks for weekend trip

Sir, — To the pupils of the Oratory Prep School and the ones who left in July last year, I have just come back after spending a weekend in London, sightseeing and going to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, which on its own was magical.

It was a weekend to remember. Once again, thank you to all the children — Yours faithfully,

Pam Soley

Penny Royal, Goring Heath

Inspired by The Donald

Sir, — I have just coined the word “Trumperaeria”. — Yours faithfully,

Derek Shirley

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley

Schoolgirl error...

Sir, — Was it possibly unfortunate timing, or the missing of a print deadline, or was it instead Mrs Gina Miller (née Singh) “running away from Roedean at 14 years old” (Wikipedia) that kept this earth-changing lady out of Debrett’s “most influential 500 in Britain”? — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

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