Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Your letters...

Inspector got it wrong

Sir, — I have read much in print about the Nimbys of Shiplake and how good/bad it is that the application for 95 homes at Thames Farm was approved on appeal by the appointed inspector John Braithwaite.

As chairman of the Shiplake neighbourhood plan steering group, yes, I agree, we do have some Nimbys in the two villages of Lower Shiplake and Shiplake Cross.

I see it every day in taking forwards a very difficult balancing act between what the residents would like to see happen, what South Oxfordshire District Council wants and what the Government wants in terms of housing in the UK.

That said, we have identified numerous potential sites which will be put to the residents in time.

However, I have seen very little but bluff and bluster and uninformed comment on this particular matter so my purpose in writing is simply to put forward a perspective.

Readers might agree or disagree ultimately with the inspector’s decision but at least do so from an informed perspective. I also declare my position openly to begin with and that is that I think the inspector got it wrong.

I am not a Nimby but I am a pragmatic property professional who has experienced dozens of planning issues over the years and this one makes no sense at all.

So why do I say that?

Firstly, the principle of democracy has been severely undermined by this decision. The entire current thrust of government policy is one of allowing local areas to identify where new housing should go. That is the entire essence of neighbourhood planning and quite rightly so in my view.

It is a form of contract or pact with the Government that says if local residents tell us where they want the new housing then, providing the target numbers are met, we are happy to accept that.

This is desperately important for us non-city dwellers who choose to live in rural surroundings and a huge proportion of the UK who do not live in major conurbations.

In the two villages in Shiplake, we have two shops, two pubs, a nursery school and a small primary school. We are very much dormitory villages.

A development of an extra 17 per cent housing in Lower Shiplake will dwarf the village and change at a stroke the character of the villages, the countryside and the rural nature of the area.

This is where the planning wheels start to fall off when you take a district as wide and diverse as South Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire is a very large county and has a policy, on the whole, of directing new housing to the major conurbations.

However, Oxford has a fundamental problem because of its historic nature and lack of available space to build.

Places like Henley are also quite limited in potential because of the river, the limited options for crossing it, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the open countryside etc. They do, however, have the necessary infrastructure to support the addition of quite large blocks of new housing whereas small villages simply do not.

The inspector was, in my opinion, wrong, misinformed and adopted his own novel methodology for justifying the housing statistics and even then only found the district council wanting against “the standard” by a single unit of accommodation over a three-year horizon.

Is that really acceptable for a decision of this magnitude? Maybe he should have granted permission for a single unit!

His figures for new and affordable housing are patently and factually incorrect and must be challenged.

Even if he were right, we have a place as large as Henley with about 11,000 residents compared with two tiny villages of about 550 and 100 houses respectively.

Henley has schools, shops, restaurants and doctors’ surgeries and many other facilities necessary for people to be able to live in an area.

The small villages do not and that is in part why they are protected against large scale development by the Local Plan.

Where then does it make any sense for 95 new homes to be planted in open countryside next door to a village of 550 houses?

Where are the estimated 228 new children going to go to school — Shiplake primary? It simply does not have the capacity, nor has it the potential to sensibly expand.

These people will also need nursery schools, doctors’ surgeries etc, and they will all be forced to get around in cars due to the unsustainable nature of the site where it is.

The two Shiplake villages are rural in character. They are not Henley nor do the residents want to live in Henley or Oxford or anywhere else for that matter.

Like everyone else, they have chosen where they want to live and the type of environment they want around them. How, therefore, can such a draconian decision be in any way acceptable?

The district council has targeted “small villages” with growth of five per cent over the Local Plan period. The reason for that is, firstly, because of the limited infrastructure of a small village and, secondly, to avoid changing small villages or their surroundings into something wholly different.

The district council, Oxfordshire County Council, Henley Town Council and Shiplake and Harpsden parish councils all objected to this development for very valid reasons.

Are we all wrong and barking mad or do we actually understand something about the area which Mr Braithwaite, parachuted in for three or four days, does not?

Whether you agree with it or not, five per cent for Lower Shiplake is about 28 new units, plus a further five for Shiplake Cross, making 33 altogether as the target for the plan period. The parish is ahead of target, having already provided 13 of those 33 units in just the first few years of the plan period.

Thames Farm is not even in Shiplake parish, so the irony is that it won’t be able to count the 95 units as they are actually in Harpsden parish. Shiplake has the burden but not the benefit.

Is that sensible, logical, fair, or what? Oxford is short of its target, Henley is said to be short, as is Bicester, so let’s just graft 100 new houses on to a place that only has 550 to start with.

I live on the A4155, opposite Thames Farm, in fact. It is a very fast, very dangerous road for pedestrians and cyclists. There are no footpaths, nor indeed many cyclists as everyone knows how dangerous a road it is (N.B. the overturned car that was on your front page last week).

We have had cars through our front fence, as have my neighbours, and yet people say the road danger is not a problem.

The real problem, of course, is not enough deaths, as the vast majority of incidents go unreported or are dealt with at a very local level.

The county council, as the highways authority, should take steps to ensure that traffic cannot fly around the bend at the Station Road junction at speeds of up to 50mph, which is not unusual.

Cars are often on the wrong side of the road, such as the one that came close to hitting me a couple of weekends ago while I was tending the frontage.

More young children and cyclists will be exposed to an incredibly dangerous section of road because we are bringing them to the dangers.

However, I chose to live where I am and accept it for what it is. The road is rural, which I accept.

Once Thames Farm is built on, it will no longer be rural in the slightest as there will be a pavement, street furniture, traffic islands, possibly street lights and the rest.

Yet here we are in a village that is achieving its housing target but has all this dumped upon us when the vast majority of Shiplake residents strenuously objected and indeed managed to prevent the development for many years after previous public inquiries. What has changed since the last inspector?

Is it any wonder that neighbourhood planning groups up and down the country are asking ‘why bother?’ when in the final analysis the big guns of developers believe they will get their way if they throw enough cash at it and stay at it long enough?

Is it any wonder why the residents are objecting so vociferously and why a judicial challenge to this inspector’s decision is more than likely? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Boros

Chairman, Shiplake neighbourhood plan steering group, Reading Road,
Lower Shiplake

Evidence of road danger

Sir, — Your dramatic photograph on the front page of the accident at the war memorial junction in Lower Shiplake (Standard, August 18) illustrated clearly that this is a very dangerous section of the A4155.

It was most fortunate that there was no serious injury to the occupants of the cars involved.

The collision happened at the exact place where up to 250 persons from the proposed housing scheme at Thames Farm will be expected to cross the road if they wish to visit the village centre.

Surely this makes a mockery of the claim by the appeal inspector who saw no dangers in this uncontrolled pedestrian crossing.

Most local residents have had a bad experience at this junction. It is just one of the reasons why South Oxfordshire District Council should apply for a judicial review. Has it?

It was rather hypocritical of Barry Wood to write a song about the joys of a settlement at Thames Farm.

As soon as a housing scheme was proposed near his home in Henley he quickly decided to move, choosing to live in Peppard, and no doubt ruled out Lower Shiplake! — Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Leonard

Badgers Walk, Lower Shiplake

Assault on democracy

Sir, — Thanks to Barry Wood for his amazing contribution to your pages (Standard, August 18).

“With apologies to Bob Dylan” seriously understates the compensation due to the great singer-songwriter for this extraordinary lyrical massacre.

One can only speculate on what was blowing in the Peppard wind during its creation...

Unfortunately, this breathtaking piece provides only light relief from the dire reality of the Thames Farm situation.

The front page of your paper showed in graphic detail the road traffic risk associated with this plan.

Councillor David Bartholomew’s letter laid out the reality of its assault on local democracy. The recent spate of sponsored supporting letters for this development is simply a diversion from the main issue.

The people of Henley and Harpsden need to decide whether they are happy for their locally elected neighbourhood plan to be ripped up and a precedent created which creates open season for developers in our district.

The appeal decision has resonance way beyond this specific site. All your readers are affected. The whole of South Oxfordshire should insist the district council defends their democratic rights via a judicial review. — Yours faithfully,

Ben Watson

Woodlands Road, Harpsden

Ode to our opposition

Sir, — I have written the following poem in response to the one by Barry Wood.

Mr Wood is in favour of developing land at Thames Farm and is under the mistaken impression that we all agree with him.

(With apologies to Kipling)

If you can keep submitting applications to build on land unsuitable and green,
If you know you are living in a country where greed and self-interest are often seen,
If you don’t care how many you are hurting, under the guise of doing something good,
And let developers make private profits by filling land where once green fields stood,
If in the end each greedy application results in councils giving the okay,
There’ll be no field or village left in England and everyone will want to go away. —
Yours faithfully,

George Frinton

Henley

Our choice was banned

Sir, — The decision to allow development at Thames Farm is said by many residents, particularly those from Shiplake, to be undemocractic.

I must agree with your correspondent Dieter Hinke in suggesting that pressure was brought by South Oxfordshire District Council to exclude Thames Farm from the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

When decisions were being formulated as to the role of Harpsden parish in the neighbourhood plan, Harpsden Parish Council sent out a survey to all residents asking for their views and 76 per cent replied.

They voted to join Henley in a neighbourhood plan that covered the entire parish of Harpsden, including Thames Farm.

Prior to a memorandum being drawn up by Henley and Harpsden parish, Harpsden Parish Council held a meeting which was attended by a South Oxfordshire district councillor for the area who suggested that a better plan for Harpsden would be to reduce the number of sites for development to three, which would exclude Thames Farm in their parish.

This was contrary to the wishes of Harpsden residents but the number of sites was reduced and Thames Farm excluded.

This fact is recorded in the minutes of the Henley Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

I recall no further discussions, surveys, or meetings with villagers to discuss the change of plan.

The plan consultant from Nexus skilfully directed the working groups that the Thames Farm site was no longer viable.

Eventually, only two sites were allocated to Harpsden parish but many residents had hoped that some homes at Thames Farm, and a few less to the west of Henley, would alleviate the massive amount of traffic they expect to have a dramatic effect on their village and also help Greys Road and entrances to Henley.

The neighbourhood plan is now invalid and undemocratic as sites have been approved and allocated for eldery provision, which was not the working group’s decision. As for all the objections to the Thames Farm site, it is the only site with a good design, affordable housing and on target with the neighbourhood plan.

As for the objections as to the safety of the A4155, why designate the old garden centre, one-fifth of a mile from Thames Farm, as a centre for employment in the neighbourhood plan? That does not seem logical.

In comparison with other sites in the area, this site has the necessary infrastucture and amenities. — Yours faithfully,

Odette Moss

Former parish councillor, Harpsden

No room for more homes

Sir, — Your story about Clare Beavis’s search for an affordable home (Standard, May 26), made me ponder painfully.

Modern-day living and rising populations are a headache in themselves and moving house can be agony, as I found out when our father moved us out of Henley in the mid-Fifties.

My friends, school and surroundings meant a lot to me and losing them hurt.

I think most of us agree there must be more homes built but not in sensitive areas of the Chilterns.

Villages can take a few but the only real solution to the cry for thousands is to build further north of Oxfordshire. I value the beauty of South Oxfordshire.

Ms Beavis speaks of her days being numbered unless more homes are built but in my view if her wishes are granted our part of South Oxfordshire will no longer be the same place to live in. — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants

School move plan failings

Sir, — Jerry Unsworth’s letter headlined “Don’t ignore school idea” (Standard, August 18) seeks to suggest that this is what the Goring neighbourhood plan group has been doing.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When identifying the village priorities at an early stage of the plan process, it became clear that residents were concerned about the school’s capacity to cope with the anticipated additional numbers of children once the proposed new houses had been built. The plan group therefore took steps to establish the extent of that issue.

After extensive enquiries, it transpired that the objective evidence did not support this concern and the school’s current ability to accommodate all in-catchment children at the reception stage with space for others from outside the village, as confirmed by Oxfordshire County Council, demonstrates that capacity is not an issue.

Goring has a standard capacity of 30 reception children and the current forecast for the 2017/18 intake is just 23, meaning that seven will be taken from other villages around Goring.

When future figures are predicted using the county council model, they indicate that a 30-child intake will be sufficient to accommodate the additional children likely to seek places at the school from the predicted new housing.

Part way through the neighbourhood plan’s assessment process, it became apparent that options might exist to improve the current school facilities.

The plan steering group was instrumental in setting up the first meetings involving all stakeholders (school governors, the Oxford Diocese, country council and Goring Parish Council) in an attempt to encourage them to co-operate in a professional process to evaluate the various options.

Notwithstanding the group’s efforts, the meetings and surrounding discussions simply demonstrated that there was no clear consensus among the key participants either as to the fundamental issues or as to the way ahead.

In particular, there was significant opposition to Mr Unsworth’s proposal by the county council, in part because of the impact that a new school in Goring would have on other schools in the area.

This opposition is of great importance because it means that it was and remains unlikely that a new school would actually be built, even if it were to be included in the current neighbourhood plan.

Without all the key partners pulling in the same direction, a new school cannot happen and the plan cannot consider anything short of a formal deliverable proposal in which all the stakeholders concur and to which they are committed.

Before there is any chance of this stage being reached, this would require the county council to have been provided with an adequately detailed proposal (which the school governors have not yet done) and then to have undertaken a lengthy internal process in which that proposal and any alternative options, together with the future implications of each, have been scrutinised, costed and compared.

Clearly, that is not going to happen before the current neighbourhood plan is finished and published.

This is not a case of seeking “further clarification” as Mr Unsworth suggests; at this time, no actionable and evidenced proposal has been submitted by the key participants, so there is nothing which the plan could properly consider including.

Mr Unsworth’s frustration arises from the fact that he has not been able to manipulate the process so as to obtain what he wants for his clients, which is to build a very significant number of additional new houses.

He proposes to build nearly double the number included in the plan and on a plot of land which will not be allocated in the plan and was also not recommended previously by a South Oxfordshire District Council landscape study because of its substantial impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

On the clear advice of the district council, and because it was obviously the right thing to do, the plan set out to treat all developers and landowners fairly and equally.

It would therefore not have been appropriate to meet the school representatives and this individual developer together.

This was particularly true because at the time when Mr Unsworth was seeking such meetings he and his client had not even discussed the principle of their proposal with the county council, which is ultimately responsible both for the Goring school and for the overall school strategy in Oxfordshire, and without whose support a proposal for a new school cannot be delivered.

Other developers have also expressed interest in offering land for the benefit of the community as part of their wish to gain approval for new housing developments around Goring.

In fact, about 80 hectares of beautiful AONB land around Goring has already been offered to the district council for housing.

Without the protection of the neighbourhood plan, this could result in about 2,000 new houses — more than doubling the size of Goring.

Given the clear wish of the community to avoid large-scale development and to protect our unique environment, it is vital that the plan is finalised and brought into force as soon as possible so that the planning authority is required to act in accordance with those community principles.

However, the current plan does not represent the “once and for all” barrier which Mr Unsworth and others imply.

On the contrary, it is simply the first iteration of Goring’s principles and priorities and it will be reviewed at regular intervals in the future to ensure that it is kept up to date.

If and when the options for a new or enhanced school have been properly, thoroughly and professionally considered by all relevant stakeholders and all, especially the county council, have concluded that a particular option should be supported, it is absolutely right that this option should be assessed as part of a future neighbourhood plan.

However, as stated above, even just the county council element of that process is complex, has still not been begun and is likely to take a significant length of time.

There can be absolutely no justification for delaying the finalisation of the first plan for an open-ended period and thus delaying the ability of this community to protect itself and the surrounding countryside from unwanted and uncontrolled development while waiting for something that may never happen, namely a decision by the county council to support some unknown form of redevelopment of the school in Goring.

The plans supports, and always has supported, the desire for Goring’s children to have a first-class school facility and we who have devoted vast amounts of time to the production of the plan, like many others who live in the village, deplore the lack of care and maintenance applied to the existing school buildings over recent years which has allowed them to fall into their present state.

We very much hope that all interested parties and stakeholders will work together to produce a single coherent and deliverable strategy for the future to which they can all commit so that this can be properly submitted to and addressed by another iteration of the plan in the near future. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Stares

Co-chairman, on behalf of the Goring neighbourhood plan steering group

Elderly being badly treated

Sir, — The Bluebells Community Club, held at the Christ Church Centre in Henley, has been run by Age UK for four days per week from 10am to 2pm.

Participants pay a very small amount for this great service, which includes lunch.

It is a vital service for older people, especially those suffering with dementia.

It is also of tremendous benefit to the carers of the participants as many are tied 24/7 to their duties and this gives them a few hours of “me time”.

Sadly, Oxfordshire County Council has seen fit to cut its contribution to this vital service, forcing Age UK to cut the service down to just two days per week from four and to raise the price by 50 per cent (albeit it’s still a very low cost for such a service).

The numbers attending the two days will be increased but due to the number of staff available it will be necessary to give notice to those participants who require a little more attention.

My wife has enjoyed attending this club on Wednesday and Friday mornings for a year but is one of those who will no longer be able to attend.

The next nearest centre that is able to offer a place is on the far side of Reading but this requires up to a total of three hours travelling a day to and from the centre, which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

We are now left with the only option of a one-to-one at home, which is not ideal as it lacks the all-important social and communal activity. As her 24/7 carer, I now lose the only support available.

The problem of catering for an aging population is increasing every year yet the Government and councils just turn a blind eye.

Executives of councils and charities all get their fat cat pay packets and for the children of one of the richest communities in the UK there are “free” school meals and a free bus service to and from schools (most of which run half empty).

National newspapers report that Age UK’s top executive, according to the charity’s annual report, was being paid in excess of £190,000 per year. The job advert quoted 35 hours per week, so that is around £104 per hour.

The ladies of Age UK, who perform the tasks of “angels of mercy” for the aging population, are paid the minimum basic hourly rate of £7.50.

It is said that charity begins at home, a proverb that expresses the overriding demands of taking care of one’s family before caring for others.

The amount of money withdrawn by the council was in the region of £60,000 a year.

With a population in Henley of around 12,000 this amounts to just £5 per year, per person.

How much do free school meals cost? How much do the school buses cost? What was the total cost of pay rises to senior staff in the council? We know that the people who actually do the work do not get it.

The cost of full-time residential care is now in excess of £60,000 a year and the state won’t help until nearly all savings and nest eggs are exhausted.

The Government recently tried to slip in another assault on inheritance tax but backed off under huge public pressure.

What a sad and sorry situation. Lonely old people who have given their best and paid years of taxes are being treated very badly.

Even if they could afford the cost of a private day centre, there is not one available. — Yours faithfully,

Edward P Harding

Crowsley Road, Lower Shiplake

What were police doing?

Sir, — As you reported (Standard, August 4), during the night of August 1 a number of people:

1. Broke into the golf buggy store at Caversham Heath Golf Club and stole four buggies, leaving behind some bicycles;

2. Drove said buggies on roads and lanes through Kidmore End (where one buggy was abandoned and torched) and continued to the Bishopswood recreation ground in Sonning Common where they broke through the hedge;

3. Drove around the football pitches, smashing up goalposts and then smashed down 19 panels of expensive welded mesh fence around our skate park and smashed two substantial litter bins;

4. Placed the three buggies on the concrete of the skate park and set them on fire at around 2am, causing a massive blaze and much damage to the concrete.

The offences committed seem to include breaking and entering, theft of four buggies, driving them without insurance and, probably, licences on public roads, illegal entry on to the football field and criminal damage there, criminal damage to our skate park and then arson — quite a good charge list.

The total cost of replacement and repair is in the region of £35,000, excluding all the time taken to administer the aftermath.

The culprits also deprived young people of the use of the skate park for three weeks during the summer holidays.

Naively, we assumed that Thames Valley Police had swung into action, especially given the possibility of evidence offered by the bicycles, so we just pursued getting repairs effected.

We heard nothing until last Friday when a Thames Valley Alert email arrived — prompted, we now know, by the return from sick leave of our excellent police community support officer.

Fearing that the matter had fallen out of sight within the police, on Monday morning I emailed Insp Mark Harling under the heading “Skate park criminal damage”, saying: “We are somewhat concerned that we have had no information about how enquiries into this are proceeding and were surprised that it took 16 days for the neighbourhood alert to appear. Can we please be advised of any progress?”

His response was to copy me in on an email to two subordinates which said: “Could someone make contact with the clerk and let him know the answers to his points please.” Not encouraging.

Early on Monday afternoon our Pcso came in and confirmed that he had been off sick and that he knew nothing about any progress.

Later Sgt [Steve] Bobbett rang and, seemingly annoyed, said that he would task the PCSO to make house-to-house enquiries along the route used by the miscreants (how would he know it?) to see if any residents had seen/heard anything on the night or had any CCTV from that night (now three weeks old!).

He also gave us the impression that he was unaware of the number of crimes involved or the cost of the damage.

After all this I thought I should contact Caversham Heath Golf Club to find out what their experience had been.

The estate manager, Robert Wytchard, told me about the bicycles and also that, apart from a single phone call to give him a crime number, they had had no visit at all, even on August 2, from anyone in the police.

He had been told to secure the bicycles using rubber gloves when handling them as they likely had fingerprints — they are still there!

So we have a situation where one of the largest crimes not involving injury to persons to happen in this area has gone completely uninvestigated by anyone with a scintilla of training in criminal investigation and with no managerial concern for the outcome.

This parish council has always bent over backwards to assist Thames Valley Police, including setting up a significant CCTV system in the village centre and providing the force with technical support, using it and now preparing to supply, gratis, storage space for police cycles.

Thus this fiasco comes as a complete betrayal and leaves people wondering if there is any point in being so supportive when it is clearly a one-way street.

I must add that we regard our current PCSO as exemplary and in no way at fault in what is clearly a criminal investigation matter that should have been diligently addressed as such. — Yours faithfully,

Philip Collings

Clerk to Sonning Common Parish Council

Where did officers go?

Sir, — So when a lone PCSO becomes unavailable, is the deepest south bush country of South Oxfordshire below the Kidlington radar to become entirely bereft of police cover for two weeks?

No wandering lone star sheriff from a neighbouring state to call on then?

Do Thames Valley Police think this £35,000 multiple buggy theft, gross vandalism and arson of a skate park was a mere squabble over a packet of funny cigarettes and who can drive a golf cart better?

Their Criminal Intelligence Management Unit should have been all over this within a matter of minutes, or is this considered a petty crime and not worthy of response?

They seem to think that handing out crime reference numbers like confetti passes the buck over to insurance companies to investigate.

The Reading CIMU has its eye on this ball but then again Berkshire and Oxforshire police don’t talk to each other even though we are only 2,000 yards from the Berkshire border.

I would like to know how Thames Valley Police managed to rustle up circa 150 police officers to monitor the Henley Royal Regatta Pimm’s party (and how much that cost the taxpayer), when they seem incapable of responding to biodegradable forensic evidence of a major community crime in a timely manner due to nil staff. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Dirk Jones

Sonning Commong Parish Council

Save us from extinction

Sir, — After yet more shop closures in Henley and the opening of what feels like the 300th nail bar, Market Place is now going to blessed with what the town needs, a Superdrug store to replace the outgoing Benson Beds.

Marlow gets Tom Kerridge and the Ivy and we get Benson Beds or Superdrug to grace the showpiece centre of our town.

Can anyone explain to me what our MP John Howell, councillors, town manager (whoever that is and whatever they do) and the Mayor are doing to try to bring some vitality and life back to this ageing ghost town?

Our town square should be full of life — a meeting place for people with great restaurants like The Square, otherwise what is the point? With pub closures too, the whole pulse of the town seems to be fading.

I notice that the development of no doubt more empty retail units is now being built adjacent to the Waitrose car park.

Can somebody take the lead and get a grip on this town? Have a look at Marlow for inspiration/ideas. Soon Henley will be extinct. — Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Mill End

Think about the future

Sir, — On Monday, there was a very important solar eclipse called the Big American One, or the Big Shift.

It will affect us all in one way or another.

It is very important during these next few days to picture how you want your life to be in the future.

Picture what you truly desire for your greatest good and this is what you can expect to happen.Make sure that you don’t have any negative thoughts.

It is said that the big change on this planet (which happens every 26,000 years), which we call home will take maybe up to 40 days. Some people won’t notice the change to begin with, others will.

It is also very important to think big and know that we are all very powerful human beings.

Sent with love, the greatest energy. — Yours faithfully,

Val Stoner

Wyndale Close, Henley

How about
a donation?

Sir, — I see that 32,000 people attended the Rewind Festival at the weekend.

This is another 32,000 visitors arriving in the tiny hamlet of Remenham with all the associated disruption and traffic problems during the festival itself in addition to the large number of huge lorries used in putting up and taking down the site in the preceding and following days.

The village has already hosted Henley Women’s Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta and the Henley Festival.

In previous years, the organisers of the festival had, upon being asked, made a donation of £250 to St Nicholas Church in Remenham to make up for the loss of our collection, bookings of the parish hall etc.

This year, the new organisers of Rewind have refused point blank to make any donation to the village whatsoever.

Considering the inconvenience caused to the community and the amount of money Rewind makes, this seems to me incredibly mean-spirited. — Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Every

Churchwarden, St Nicholas Church, Remenham

Editor’s note: “We asked the Rewind organisers to respond but they chose not to.”

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