Saturday, 19 June 2021

Your letters...

No word for such an act

Sir, — I am writing to express my complete dismay at the mayhem at the Henley mayor-making ceremony (Standard, May 12).

As a citizen of Henley and not currently a member of any political party, I simply want what is best for our lovely town.

Mayor-making is, I believe, a ceremonial gathering to formalise a prior vote — a vote all our councillors are privileged to be given to decide the mayor-elect.

This was executed on March 28 and was ratified at the full council meeting on May 3.

It is also worth noting that all Conservative councillors had, when personally asked, agreed to support the mayor- elect Will Hamilton as the local elections approached.

Councillor Sam Evans referred to this at mayor-making.

She said: “We all now have a choice. Are you going to stick with the power of your convictions and vote for Will as mayor, as you promised, for the good of Henley or are you going to vote for personal and political gain and forfeit the good of Henley?”

I received an invitation to attend the ceremony and expected a celebration of Councillor Hamilton being announced as the new Mayor.

I understand that after the by-elections Henley Residents’ Group gained strength, resulting in a 8-8 split in control of the council.

This could have been a great opportunity for the two parties to really put the town first and work in collaboration.

I also understood that the Conservatives, via the Mayor, would have the deciding vote, if needed.

Based on those facts, together with the verbal personal commitment from all Conservative councillors to support Cllr Hamilton as mayor-elect, he should have been officially announced as Mayor.

In my naivety, I was wrong. It appears that a specific councillor reneged on her promise of support just days before the ceremony and made the decision to abstain from the ceremonial vote, fully understanding the implications.

Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone want to push the two opposing political parties that make up our council further apart?

Well, in my eyes, for no reason other than self-gain or due to some sort of manipulation by others.

Either way, this move has left me pretty faithless in the majority of our councillors, specifically those of HRG and the new “Independent Conservative” councillor.

If our councillors can’t deliver a promise they made among themselves how can we, the citizens of Henley, trust them to deliver their promises to us? They are here to serve the community, not themselves.

The councillor who changed her mind to scupper the original outcome and then reneged on her promise to support the mayor-elect was subsequently made Deputy Mayor (with, presumably, a promise of being Mayor next year).

Let’s hope for her sake that her councillor colleagues have better scruples than her and ultimately keep their word. Is this a case of a power-crazed individual acting to self-serve or a case of manipulation of an individual by others pulling the strings?

Whatever it is, for the good of Henley from now on, the said councillor should do the right thing for both the community and her own self-worth.

The town can and will move on from this. This will be a good year for Henley because most citizens act with good intent and are true to their word.

I look forward to seeing Mayor Kellie Hinton succeed and wish her all the best for the sake of our town.

I praise Will Hamilton for his integrity, professionalism and continued commitment to this town, despite the way he has been treated.

Sadly, I have no words for Lorraine Hillier. — Yours faithfully,

Lisa Lee

King’s Road,Henley

(Not) voting for herself

Sir, — Clearly Lorraine Hillier doesn’t appreciate that she was elected to Henley Town Council to represent the interests of local residents, not her own.

Councillor Hillier’s abstention over the appointment of mayor-elect Will Hamilton was a disgrace.

As an “Independent Conservative” councillor, can we assume that Miss Hillier will continue to pursue her own political and personal interests, given the explanation she has given for her mayoral vote abstention, rather than those of the people who elected her? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Ward

King James Way, Henley

Self-seeking skulduggery

Sir, — What on earth is happening to Henley?

To discover the extent of the skulduggery and self-seeking going on in the “corridors of power” at our town hall and council chambers was quite nauseating.

I was not surprised to find that one of the chief culprits was our new Deputy Mayor Lorraine Hillier, who was caught parking in a loading bay unlawfully.

Those good people who have been sidelined as a result of the unpleasant and devious behaviour you have described will continue to be respected and appreciated by the people of the town. — Yours faithfully,

Deenagh M Reynolds

Badgemore Lane, Henley

Mayor sets an example

Sir, — Congratulations to Kellie Hinton on being elected Mayor of Henley. Reading this news made my day.

We now have as Mayor a young mother who has lived in Henley all her life and has spent the last six years working hard for the Henley community as a councillor, leading by example.

I think this is fantastic news for Henley. I’m looking forwards to seeing what someone who is truly community-minded can achieve over the next year.

It’s also a great advert to the youngsters of Henley that they can get involved, have an influence and make a difference and that it’s not just an old boys’ network.

Kellie’s smile alone makes Henley a better, brighter place. — Yours faithfully,

Andy Healey


‘Common’ comment

Sir, — The word “common” — good or bad? Some of your readers will know exactly what I am referring to, others may need to read between the lines.

Good: the same in a lot of places or for a lot of people, common courtesy/decency: the basic level of politeness that you expect from someone, common knowledge: a fact that everyone knows, for the common good: if something is done for the common good it is done to help everyone, make common cause: to act together with someone in order to achieve something.

Isn’t “common” exactly what is needed in terms of politics?

Common is certainly not a word I would use aimed at a person, especially as a teacher in a comprehensive school with certain codes of conduct. People are individuals, they are not “common”.

Bad: disapproving of a low social class. Low social class — what is that exactly?

And, if you do feel the need to direct the word towards people, as the song says, ‘”Sing along with the common people, Sing along and it might just get you through!” — Yours faithfully,

Laila Meachin

Gainsborough Road, Henley

School must be kept open

Sir, — So a few Ofsted inspectors go into Chiltern Edge School and make judgements which results in Oxfordshire County Council promptly saying the school may have to be closed.

Well, I taught there for three years as head of drama before I retired in 2010.

The children were great to teach, staff were dedicated and hard-working and we were led by a supportive management team.

I returned there in March to do some examination invigilation, the day the inspectors were visiting.

I was impressed by the working atmosphere and how the year 11 students conducted themselves in the exams.

I taught for 40 years and Chiltern Edge was my favourite school to teach in.

Maybe the council is tempted by the money it will receive if it sells the land for housing.

Imagine how staff and students are feeling after this report.

This Conservative Government needs to review how Ofsted make judgements about schools.

No way should Chiltern Edge be closed. We must fight this ridiculous proposal. — Yours faithfully,

Stuart Jarvis


Support must be earned

Sir, — Am I alone in thinking that some recent developments in closing off public access are against the “spirit” of Henley, which is characterised by openness, friendliness and tolerance?

I refer here particularly to Gillotts School and The Henley College, where increasingly there are locked gates, fences and stern “keep out” notices.

I have attended many courses at the college and have enjoyed “public” access to both sites for nearly 40 years, with children and grandchildren, taking shortcuts, using safer routes, going for walks, playing games, blackberrying etc, as have others.

I have seen no evidence that there is any risk to children, students or property by allowing the public to continue with such activities. Indeed, the opposite may be true.

“Health and safety” is not always a discriminating instrument and the attitude of some bureaucrats seems to rest on a mix of paranoia and control-freakery.

While both sites are “private”, whatever that means, we know that they belong to and are funded by the community.

They need our support, financial and otherwise, which many Henleyites are happy to provide. Surely this has to be earned? — Yours faithfully,

John Thornley

Makins Road, Henley

More action, less bickering

Sir, — Some months ago a lamppost was knocked down on a sharp bend in the road close to my house in Blandy Road, Henley, opposite the junction with Manor Road.

On April 26 I made four telephone calls in an attempt to speak to someone responsible for replacing the lamppost. The people I spoke to on the first three numbers I called declared that they were not responsible for repairs.

Finally, I spoke to someone in the highways department at Oxfordshire County Council who said that there were no instructions on record to replace the lamppost.

I then called and spoke to Councillor David Nimmo Smith, who at the time was a county councillor and the cabinet member responsible for roads, but he knew nothing about the problem, the lamppost or the amount of greenery growing through the pavement, which was resurfaced only last summer.

On Thursday last week the highways department said that there were no instructions recorded to deal with either matter!

Do we need a council of action rather than a council which seems to bicker among themselves? — Yours faithfully,

Philip Moore

Blandy Road, Henley

Move the bin nearer shops

Sir, — I hope your correspondent Ian Forster was not suggesting that residents of Sherwood Gardens were responsible for that overflowing bin (Standard, May 5).

We have a sufficient number of bins so I cannot see why any resident would use a pubic one by the roadside.

Maybe it would benefit everyone if the bin could be placed nearer the shops so that, hopefully, members of the public would be encouraged to dispose of fish and chips, pizza and snack wrappers etc there. — Yours faithfully,

Jasmine Weaver

Sherwood Gardens, Henley

I don’t want club gym

Sir, — I was pleased to see another group of residents objecting to the sports pavilion at Phyllis Court Club in Henley.

The residents of Thames House and Connaught Houses in Phyllis Court Drive are dismayed and angry at the construction work for the pavilion proceeding on the ground known as the Old Shale Courts.

The central issue is the availability to non-members of the club. — Yours faithfully,

Derek Shirley

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley

Brexit was right decision

Sir, — Had we stayed in the EU, outside the Eurozone, increasingly decisions would have been made without our input and surely not with our welfare uppermost in the decision-makers’ minds.

The sad fact is the probability would have been that our strengths would have been rich pickings for the Eurozone members as they integrated.

As it is, with Brexit, we are now in the position of being able to protect and defend ourselves. — Yours faithfully,

Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Mental health issue ignored

Sir, — The British Medical Association recently revealed that 69 per cent of children and adolescents with mental health problems were admitted to places outside their area for care/treatment in 2016/17, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year.

So while schools et al are being asked to provide better mental health first aid and great mental (good) health education, while having their funding cut, would it not be better to increase the actual funding/provision of our NHS child and adolescent mental health services?

And is it not time that these same services became an election issue? — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Fox claiming our birds

Sir, — This is written with a heavy heart as we have lost, over the last three weeks, 10 chicken and three guinea fowl to Reynard.

Not at night, so we have not been negligent in shutting them in, but in the daytime, particularly first thing in the morning.

It has to be said that guinea fowl are generally not domesticated and roost in trees in the garden.

At 7.50am “he” or “she” was in a paddock near the house, swiftly running away after we shouted.

Two days later at 7.45am the guinea fowl, which have been here for so long that I cannot remember, were in a very distressed state — some in trees, some on electricity cables, one in long grass, all calling — until we found the dreaded heaps of feathers and the inevitable sank in.

They continued to call for those who were not there until eventually persuaded to come down for their corn breakfast.

Our chickens had been a lovely group of “happy hens” enjoying their relative retirement from egg-laying but again killed in the daytime and we were left with a sickening pile of feathers.

Sorry, I know that fox has to feed its young at this time of year but, as with the badger, they do not have predators so nature’s balance is out of control and many ground-nesting birds and hedgehogs also fall prey.

Some years ago we had a “rogue” badger who broke into a hen house, killing its inhabitants — we know as we saw it.

So we wait with bated breath to see what else may fall victim despite our best efforts in trying to protect what, in essence, are our pets.

All too often farming is blamed for the decline in British wildlife but perhaps we should look further afield or, rather, nearer home. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Jackson


Don’t be so judgemental

Sir, — What an extraordinarily mean-spirited letter from Vincent Ruane about Russell Brand reading to local children at the Henley May fayre (Standard, May 12).

Mr Brand did, without doubt, behave very foolishly in 2008 with the prank telephone call to Andrew Sachs and he was punished at the time.

That, however, was nine years ago and it was extremely generous of him to spend a bank holiday Monday entertaining local children.

We should be appreciative that a celebrity is willing to enter into local life and contribute to a community event and not be so judgemental and negative. — Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Every


Comedian’s growing up

Sir, — I was appalled by the tirade from Mr Ruane regarding the story-reading to children.

Most people are aware that Russell Brand may have behaved badly, in some of our opinions, in the past but so did John McEnroe and Rod Stewart, to name but a few, in their time.

Having settled locally and with a child of his own now may have grounded him. Give him a chance!

I know a neighbour of his who has mentioned what a delightful and friendly chap he is. Certainly the children appeared to be enjoying his company.

Perhaps Mr Ruane would rather have had a fellow in blazer and cravat read to them. — Yours faithfully,

Minnie Wilson

Nicholas Road, Henley

Beware cot’s missing part

Sir, — I am trying to contact some grandparents-to-be who collected a cot-bed from Shiplake.

Unfortunately, a piece was left behind and they will probably not find out until the arrival of their grandchild in the autumn.

They are originally from New Zealand but now live in Nettlebed. I can be reached on 0118 940 4316. Thank you for your help. — Yours faithfully,

B Gealy


Wonderful gardens

Sir, — I wish to sincerely thank all those kind residents and volunteers in Ferry Lane, Medmenham, for opening their wonderful gardens on the Sunday of the May bank holiday weekend in aid of Cancer Research. An asset to our society.

The dedicated care and hard work to make each garden unique was outstanding. Mrs Duck paraded her gorgeous family in the greenhouse and stream at the Mill.

A very enoyable, unforgettable afternoon. — Yours faithfully,

Heather Allwright

Wood Lane, Sonning Common

Here’s to Tony Lane

Sir, — With reference to the tea party in memory of former Henley mayor Tony Lane (Standard, May 5), hail to the chef for he’s a jolly fine fella, so say all of us who knew Tony, including my parents, many moons ago.

Talking of food, as a young man, I would enter father’s wartime lock-up in Greys Road and enjoy mum’s steak and kidney pie.

His comments were that her cooking was the best in town that kept her going until she was nearly 102 years old.

Thanks to our Tony, there was room at the inn that is a home on the hill for regatta week.

It was a long cycle ride from Hampshire, Tony, but it was worth the 70 miles I rode for the memories and the cuppa at the end.

Here’s to you, Tony. — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants

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