Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Your letters...

Don’t cycle on pavement

Sir, — I was not surprised to read that a woman was knocked over and injured by a cyclist on the pavement in Henley (Standard, July 21).

Reportedly she was standing on the pavement outside her home in Fair Mile and suffered cuts to her head and grazes to both elbows.

In recent weeks I have witnessed increasing numbers of cyclists riding on town centre pavements, particularly those at the side of Station Road, Reading Road, Hart Street, Falaise Square, Bell Street and Northfield End.

I have also seen them further afield on Greys Road and Blandy Road.

While one or two were cycling at a very slow speed with due regard to pedestrians, most were not. Either way, the practice is illegal.

Cycling on footways (i.e. a path at the side of a carriageway) is prohibited under the law and is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30. (Up to £500 if it goes to court).

The increasing number of irresponsible cyclists, who seem to assume that they have a right to cycle on the pavements at whatever speed and with complete disregard for pedestrians, is extremely worrying, especially for the very young, the elderly and the partially sighted.

That is why, about 18 months ago, Thames Valley Police began issuing fixed penalty notices to those caught cycling on the pavements over Caversham Bridge.

I will be urging the police and the local authority to start taking similar action here before anyone else is seriously injured. I would encourage others who agree with me to do the same.

I am not anti-cyclist and although I have been a member of Living Streets, formerly the Pedestrians Association, for more than 40 years, I regard the increasing popularity of cycling as a welcome thing.

I believe that our towns and cities should be made as safe as possible for cyclists but this should not be at the expense of pedestrian safety.

With a few minor exceptions, such as wheelchair users, pavements are for pedestrians and cycling on them is antisocial, dangerous and illegal — it’s as simple as that. — Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Barnett

St Katherine’s Road, Henley

Appreciate path rules

Sir, — The public footpath that runs along the river from Henley Bridge, joining Remenham Lane at Old Blades, is known as Remenham 4.

After the introduction of the Definitive Maps in 1949 the following Definitive Statement was incorporated into Remenham 4: “The right of way shall be exercised only on days other than days upon which regattas sponsored by the stewards of Henley Royal Regatta are held upon the River Thames.”

This has allowed the stewards of Henley Royal Regatta to implement this statement on the land, which is in their ownership, and for many years they have set up a diversion of the public footpath away from the river during the regatta and, as I am led to believe, only permit riverside access for members of the stewards’ enclosure and their badge-holding guests.

However, while this stretch of the footpath is not much over half a mile in length, there are six other landowners to whom this condition would seem to apply and this year Upper Thames Rowing Club chose to introduce a similar scheme.

Not surprisingly, this upset many people including, rather ironically, some members of the stewards’ enclosure. Although it was lawful, it could possibly have been handled with greater sensitivity.

Regrettably, Upper Thames will now have to contend with the well-known parable which says “that which is regularly given as a favour is so often assumed to be a right” but perhaps with further consultation a compromise alternative can be put in place for next year.

While on the subject of the towpath, I should also point out that the public footpath which continues along the riverside from Old Blades to Hambleden Lock and on to Ferry Lane in Aston, known as Remenham 15, has no restrictions.

Furthermore, the temporary diversion of Remenham 4 during Henley Festival, to which many people object, is a totally separate matter and is subject to the annual renewal permission which is invariably granted by Wokingham Borough Council.

Finally, I would like to stress that this entire section of the Thames Path from Henley Bridge through to Ferry Lane is a designated public footpath where the rights of the pedestrian have precedence and, unlike a bridleway, anyone cycling without the landowner’s permission is committing a civil trespass.

The local rowing coaches are very observant of this fact but unfortunately some visiting rowing coaches and many recreational cyclists have little regard or knowledge of the walkers’ rights and when informed often become abusive.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I’m not a member of the stewards’ enclosure and have no connection with Upper Thames Rowing Club but, having lived in Remenham for the last 20 years, I would like to think that presenting these facts will help everyone to better appreciate this rather complex situation. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Dudley

Remenham Lane, Remenham

Our parish can’t cope

Sir, — As near-neighbours of your correspondents Ron and Angie Emerson it is not surprising that we are in total agreement with the views they have expressed (Standard, July 21).

It will be said that we are just “Nimbys” but we deny this; it is just that “the back yard” is not big enough, nor are the traffic arrangements adequate, to host so many different events in our small parish during the summer months.

As were are among the many people who have become wholly disillusioned by the fare served up by the Henley Festival (whose origins were in the production of classical music), it strikes us that the festival should be discontinued and its activities merged with the Rewind Festival which occurs (also in our parish) only about a month later.

This, at least, would eliminate one week of disruption and hopelessly inept traffic management. — Yours faithfully,

Anthony and Sarah West

Remenham Lane, Remenham

Fields must be protected

Sir, — Like the Football Association, Sport England, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Fields in Trust, Caversham Trents Football Club is opposing the proposal to build on Mapledurham playing fields.

We have been involved with the Education Funding Agency’s proposal from the beginning and our committee, which represents 450-plus players ranging from under-fives to under-21s, has previously taken a neutral stance, just like the ward councillor for Mapledurham.

But we can no longer do that.

In the beginning this proposal promised to be a community build but our committee has come to the conclusion that the agency’s plans are of no real use to the community of volunteers that use the playing fields and are only about the school.

Caversham Trents FC has had a three-year lease on the playing fields for the last six years and we have looked after the football pitches in tandem with Reading Borough Council’s parks department, which is very pleased at the way we have done this.

We have always wanted a longer lease (25 years) so that we can work towards funding from the FA, which thinks of us as a model grassroots club and is keen to invest.

With this in mind, it is simply wrong to use land that is protected and set aside for recreation use only for a build that lacks any imagination and breaches the trust, putting the rest of the playing fields at risk of expansion and further builds.

The FA and the borough council have concluded that the land is at capacity and rated as “good” (the highest rating for public parks) so we fail to see how losing at least three five-a-side pitches that are used during the football season for training is improving the playing fields.

We would like to make one thing clear though — it is not about the school and never has been as Caversham Trents FC has very close ties to all the schools in Caversham and Emmer Green. This is simply not an appropriate community plan and will not enhance life for the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of users of the playing fields.

As a community at the playing fields, we have never needed to lose land for the sake of new funds and, yes, it might take a little longer to achieve our goals, especially if the borough council continues to fail as trustees, without the agency’s (taxpayers’) money, but we feel it is imperative that we preserve our free, open space for generations to come.

In conclusion, Caversham Trents FC believes the way forward is to work with the FA, Sport England on the Fit4all proposal as we will not lose any precious parkland from our borough.

Better thought through use of land must be given to site the school that meets the needs of the community. — Yours faithfully,

Daniel Mander

Chairman, Caversham Trents Football Club

Benefits of school move

Sir, — I fully endorse the proposal to site the Heights Primary School on Mapledurham playing fields. The whole site is woefully under-used apart from the football teams in the evenings and at weekends.

I walk my dogs there regularly, usually in the mornings, and see very few people.

The dog walkers and joggers mostly do not encroach on the area of the proposed school but keep to the right of the tennis club on our way to the wooded area and back through the middle or far side of the playing fields.

What better amenity can there be than an outstanding local primary school where our local children can be encouraged to contribute to the community?

The arguments (pros and cons) have been running for long enough.

There was a democratic vote whereby the majority voted for the school to be put in the middle of the catchment area that is Mapledurham playing fields. This democratic majority vote should be accepted.

On a much more serious subject, I voted to remain in the EU but have had to accept the majority decision to leave. However small that majority was, surely our very vocal minority detractors should do the same with the school decision.

Headteacher Karen Edwards and her dedicated staff are running a wonderful school despite being in temporary accommodation.

It would be a privilege to relocate the school here rather than in Lower Caversham where there are other schools available, albeit they are oversubscribed.

Despite comments to the contrary, the vast majority of children live within walking distance of the playing fields and they would benefit from the space and stimulation the area provides. — Yours faithfully,

Anne Smith

Upper Warren Avenue, Caversham

Everyone is given a say

Sir, — Thank you for informing your readers of another consultation about Mapledurham playing fields and the proposal for the Heights Primary School and of the link to that consultation
mapledurhamplayingfields (Standard, July 21).

I urge those wanting to respond to follow the link which not only sets out the rules of this online-only consultation but gives detailed information.

In your article you have used the word “resident” with reference to those whose views are being sought.

Some have the misconception that residents are those who live near the playing fields.

But it is quite clear in section 11 of the consultation document that it is the views only of those who are beneficiaries of the trust that will be considered.

The beneficiaries are residents of the whole of Reading borough and the civil parish of Mapledurham, approximately 163,000 persons.

It is right that they should be consulted because it is they who, through council tax payments, will pick up any bills payable by the trustee and should take this into account in considering the options.

It is not clear whether there will have to be a further consultation by the Charity Commission with the beneficiaries to accept or reject any deal agreed upon. The document on the website says that the current consultation is the “final” one whereas the consultation document, while saying that the current consultation document has been subject to Charity Commission input, is silent on the matter, as is

The differing definitions of “resident” set out above might explain the interpretation by David Maynerd in his letter headlined “Courting controversy” about the results of the May 2015 survey.

In his numbered paragraph 9 he suggests that the results were skewed because the true feelings of residents were hidden by the feelings of nearly 3,000 others (responses) from outside the local area of whom 268 were not even in the Reading area.

Presumably, therefore, there were 2,732 others/beneficiaries who would not oppose the Heights Primary School being located on the playing fields.

In his numbered paragraph 10, he expresses his concern about the renewal of Mapledurham Lawn Tennis Club’s lease.

The trustees might consider that a renewal of a lease to a private members’ club with 260 members with almost exclusive use of their four courts/clubhouse is not in the best interests of the trust. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Bale

Upper Warren Avenue, Caversham

No designs on tennis club

Sir, — I refer to the letter from David Maynerd, chairman of the Mapledurham Lawn Tennis Club (Standard, July 21).

I disagree with most of this letter but I particularly wish to address the absurd and unfounded implication in the final paragraph that the Heights Primary School has designs on the club’s tennis courts.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that, should the school be sited at Mapledurham playing fields (as I hope it will be), it has no such intention.

The school would be a good and understanding neighbour to all and I would hope that we would be able to work together with all the current users, including the tennis club, to encourage participation in sport and recreation. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Walden

Chairman of governors, the Heights Primary School, Gosbrook Road, Caversham

Night ban is nonsense

Sir, — Am I missing something? Why would a night time ban on heavy goods vehicles reduce air pollution (Standard, July 21)?

Assuming the likes of Tesco, Waitrose and all the other merchants in Henley still require HGV deliveries, surely the council should be encouraging night-time deliveries to reduce air pollution, not be considering banning them?

My understanding of the science is that all vehicles are at their most polluting when sitting in traffic, not when moving at night when there is little congestion.

If there is a different agenda then Henley Town Council should say what it is, but stopping night-time HGV traffic will not reduce air pollution and neither will fewer cracks appear in Henley homes if HGVs only move through the day. — Yours faithfully,

Terry James

Station Road, Shiplake

Beautiful building...

Sir, — A much more well-travelled man than I am once told me he had seen the “moonlight on the Ganges” and the “sunrise over the Pyramids” (and somewhere else I can’t think of for the moment).

Yet he had never seen anywhere to surpass Henley Bridge and the view from it.

With this in mind, let us hope that those involved in the development of Thames Bridge House, between the lovely Bird Place and the Henley Royal Regatta headquarters, are setting their sights high and it might even become — steady now, wait for it… beautiful. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Willson

Pound Lane, Sonning

Can’t forget maintenance

Sir, — I was puzzled by your article headlined “Life-savers out of date” (Standard, July 21).

If the Millie’s Dream charity has not made any arrangements for maintenance then it is hardly surprising that the defibrillators are not being maintained.

Are defibrillators always supplied on a “fit-and-forget” basis?

I am surprised by the £100 cost of replacing a defibrillator’s pads and battery. Are charities being overcharged?

I see that type 123a lithium batteries for defibrillators cost about £70 for 10 while type 123 lithium batteries for cameras cost about £20 for 10. How much difference does the “a” make? — Yours faithfully,

Rex Hora

Erleigh Court Gardens,

Celebrating contribution

Sir, — In decrying the hoisting of the gay rights’ flag over Henley town hall, Allen “Mr Grumpy” Rout, of Ancastle Green, has got the wrong end of the stick (Standard, July 21).

Henley Town Council is not promoting the gay community over others. It is celebrating the positive contribution of a significant minority to the Henley community (though obviously not in parts of Ancastle Green).

The Mayor, Kellie “let’s-break-a-few-moulds” Hinton, should encourage the flying of lots of flags — different flags on different days of course.

For example, let’s fly the Polish flag, not only in support of the wonderful community of Polish people in Henley, but also in celebration of their valiant support in the Second World War, not to mention their eventual gift to the world shortly after said war of Stefan “let’s-get-things-done” Gawrysiak.

Other examples could include the Hart and Bell surgeries, Grundon “let’s-keep-the-streets-clean” Waste Management, the Henley Educational Trust and Henley’s twins towns — Bled, Borama, Falaise and Leichlingen.

There are probably 360 worthy organisations but let’s hope not all of them have flags.

In closing, it may be appropriate to remind councillors of the impending retirement of Cliff Austin, the town sergeant, who makes the perilous journey to hoist and lower the flag on the roof of the town hall morning and evening.

Apart from giving him a pair of cuff links (I know of a second-hand pair which will never be used again), perhaps a flag could be flown in his honour — the town flag, or a pair of golf clubs couchant, probably not the gay pride flag though... — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Mill End, Hambleden

Don’t forget us Danes

Sir, — I, too, find it odd that Henley Town Council thinks it should raise a rainbow flag to celebrate people who spend so much time campaigning against being treated differently due to their sexuality but at the same time want to tell the world how different they are!

I am sure the council will treat all minority groups with the same kindness...

As a member of the Viking minority of this country, I have felt that my culture has been trampled on by the ridiculous English law against raping and pillaging and everything that comes with it! We can’t even demand Danegeld anymore.

I will expect the council to wave the Danish flag on June 5 next year to celebrate the national day of my empire and, naturally, arrange a Viking Pride march as well.

If not, I will call the lot of them a bunch of bigoted, insensitive racists! — Yours faithfully,

Soren “Erik the Viking” Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

We don’t charge more

Sir, — With reference to Paul Fairweather’s letter (Standard, July 7), not all taxis operating in Henley feel the need to overcharge during regatta and festival weeks.

We at Harris Taxis have been operating in the town since 1982 and in those 35 years have never charged any extra.

We like to stay loyal to our customers that use us 52 weeks of the year by keeping the prices the same. It’s not their fault that it’s regatta time, so why should they pay more? — Yours faithfully,

Carl Harris

Owner/driver, Harris Taxis, Henley

Disgusting cinema goers

Sir, — My husband and I went to the Regal Picturehouse in Henley to see Dunkirk (the 8.30pm screening).

Usually, going to the cinema is a friendly, clean and enjoyable night out.

So what a shock — no, not the film but the state in which people had left the venue with popcorn and the paper containers, bottles and rubbish all over the floor.

How can people like us of a certain age (no little children) not take out their rubbish and put it in the bin outside the door? The staff then have to clean up yet again.

People should be ashamed. We were disgusted. — Yours faithfully,

Pam Vines

Springfield Close, Watlington

Alternative thoughts

Sir, — The Rev Glyn Millington defines “total depravity” (the state of sin) as being “tainted by selfishness” and our “capacity to mess things up” even “with the best of intentions” (Standard, July 14).

If this is “total depravity” I wonder what words he would use to describe the conduct of the commandant of Belsen, for example.

The Rev Glyn Millington is among too many Thought for the Week contributors who stand language, common sense and morality on their heads in their Christian exegesis, including those who complacently believe and assert that their God is totally justified in condemning unbelievers (the great majority of people) to an eternity of suffering.

The Rev Glyn Millington goes even further. He states that he is a Calvinist, “taking his cue” from St Augustine.

He presumably believes, therefore, in the appalling doctrine of “double predestination” in which his God actively decrees damnation for some and salvation for others before we were born.

It is surely time for Thought for the Week to be extended to include the wisdom and humanity of non-religious contributors. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Wasteful and forgetful

Sir, — Your correspondent David Winchester has either a very short memory or remains in denial (Standard, July 21).

The last Labour Treasury team left a message for the incoming Tory-led administration in 2010 stating “there is no money left”.

Just how much more does the Labour Party expect us all to pay to cover their tax and spend ambitions?

It is time they were reminded, again, it is our money and there is not a never-ending money tree. — Yours faithfully,

David Orpwood


Real priority for BBC

Sir, — Not mentioned in last week’s remuneration discussions was the BBC’s obvious number one priority for a safe and consistent pair of hands, if necessary to the point of dullness! — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Beautiful day in the country

Sir, — It was a real treat to spend the day at Henley Showground on Sunday for the sheepdog trials.

It’s a great venue in the countryside with the river close at hand, red kites circling and the sound of sheep baaing in the distance.

There were so many young families enjoying a day out together in the fresh air, picnicking on the excellent food and non-alcoholic drinks provided by visiting stalls.

Plus interesting displays of plants and country crafts, including beekeeping.

Best of all — absolutely NO pop music blaring out! — Yours faithfully,

Betty Freeman

Beech Rise, Sonning Common

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