Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Your letters...

Prevent rat infestations

Sir, — Your paper has reported on the growing number of rats in Henley and now Wargrave. Discarded food and fallen fruit has been blamed.

Living on an estate, on the outskirts of Henley town centre, we’ve also had problems with rats nesting in gardens and getting into people’s lofts. Rats are both a health and fire risk, as they can gnaw through electric cables.

Each pest controller we’ve used has said that rats are unwittingly encouraged into residential areas by people, leaving food out for wild animals and birds, especially overnight, also by keeping chicken and other poultry.

Bird food is now a huge industry, people are leaving food out all year round and keeping chickens doesn’t require a licence and rules as to location, in relation to other residential properties.

Rats are extremely intelligent, more nimble than squirrels, and prolific breeders. In our experience, most baits and gadgets are expensive with no guarantees.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s environmental health department charges residents for pest control — more if chickens are involved.

However, if you have rats nesting in your garden, which is clean of food and standing water but a neighbour two doors down is encouraging rats, by keeping chickens, you would think the council would intervene.

However, rats don’t understand boundaries, so the council may visit each property, observe the rat holes under the boundary fences, but, unless they find signs of rats actually nesting, in the property with the food source then there is nothing they can do.

It’s impossible, stressful, hard physically work, removing tree stumps and expensive, especially for a pensioner.

Does anyone have an answer? — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

No ‘special measures’

Sir, — I notice that data, produced by the communities department last month, shows that South Oxfordshire appears in the blacklist of 10 local authorities which have failed the Government test that fewer than 10 per cent of major planning decisions should get overturned on appeal.

This test threatens councils with “special measures” designation whereby developers can bypass local authorities and submit planning applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate for determination.

Whilst the Government has said it will not intervene during 2017, the option remains on the table for next Spring under tighter criteria announced last November.

I would be saddened to see the hard working professional planning officers at the district council, some of whom I know through my past role as chairman of Henley Town Council’s planning committee, subject to the “special measures” designation.

Finally, a message from me to Councillor John Cotton, leader of the district council, taken from a general statement by Mike Kiely, chair of the Planning Officers Society who said: “If I was a council leader then a ‘special measures’ designation is politically the last thing I would want”.

The seemingly endless battle between professional planners and local politicians has to be resolved otherwise we could all suffer the consequences. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Be warned of shared space

Sir, — As a past visitor to Henley I was dismayed to read in your newspaper that a committee of the council were going to hear an advocate of the shared space concept/surfaces to advise on traffic problems (Standard, September 9).

I now live near Gloucester and would like to alert Henley citizens to the dangers of adopting this in the town.

The central concept is that pavement kerbs and pedestrian crossings of all kinds are removed from the streets and drivers and pedestrians are to negotiate who goes first by eye contact. But what about those with sight loss and those older and those of a young age or learning difficulties who cannot do this?

Readers should search the internet under “shared space concepts” and information will come up to tell them of the widespread danger to people all over Britain.

The average councillor has not the knowledge to question properly an experienced advocate of shared space /surfaces, so the intention to listen to proposals in secret is not wise.

What is decided in secret is later regretted in public. shared space/surfaces are costly to install and equally expensive to dismantle.

Lastly, on traffic problems, is it not best to consult qualified county council traffic engineers rather than anyone else? — Yours faithfully,

W Waddell

Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire

Caught on camera

Sir, — On seeing the photos of the “rogue rider” (Standard, September 22), my first thought was “how petty”.

Unfortunately we do not know the full circumstances, but the cyclist does seem to be taking some liberties, for which there is no excuse.

My second thought was: how did Mr Hoare take those photographs? As I said, we do not know the full circumstances. But he is driving his car, and stationary at the traffic lights.

Did he pick up his mobile phone to take the photographs? If so the much more serious offence has been that committed by Mr Hoare himself! — Yours faithfully,

Barry Taylor

Lauds Close, Henley

Train services affects all

Sir, — It was with real concern that I read the letter entitled “Stop Moaning about Trains” (Standard, September 15).

The downgrading of the service in both scheduling of through trains and the reduction in the number of carriages is a major issue for commuters from Henley to London.

To accuse passengers of “whingeing” and telling them to “put up and shut up” for complaining about an unacceptable reduction in a service for which they pay a hefty price, shows an insensitivity to, and lack of understanding of the real damage being caused to the lives of commuters.

To then go on to suggest “you do not need to work in London” only demonstrates the author’s tenuous grasp on reality. People work in London because they need to not because two to three hours commuting a day is fun.

Furthermore, the quality of service affects not only commuters but the whole community.

As Crossrail makes it more feasible and attractive to live in the Thames Valley, property values are affected positively. A reduction in rail services to Henley can only have the opposite effect on the value of properties in both the town and the surrounding hinterland.

This issue affects all of us. Let us support commuters and oppose any reductions in an already barely adequate service to London. Sign the online petition at www.you.38degrees.org.uk/
petitions/bring-back-the-direct-commuter-train-from-henley — Yours faithfully,

Kevin McCourt

Rotherfield Road, Henley

Happy to let children play

Sir, — Congratulations to Tom Potter of Church Street (Standard, September 15) for introducing the town council to the idea of temporarily closing some residential streets to allow children to play safely in them. What a great idea.

We also live in Church Street, and would be very happy to see it closed to traffic every now and then for the benefit of children and their parents.

Everyone along the street would benefit by being able to come out and talk to their neighbours in safety, without passing vehicles. Cars which really need to get by, could be allowed through with parental supervision, one would imagine.

How sad, though, that one town councillor thinks her car’s safety — “I don’t want my car damaged” — is more important than that of children. Towns like Henley are for people, not cars. Yes there are hurdles to cross, but Henley will be a better place if we can create traffic-free spaces from time to time. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sandars

Church Street, Henley

Complicated system

Sir, — In the old days Theo (I think his name was) used to stand at the entrance to the Waitrose car park handing out bits of paper with one’s time of entry to prevent parking abuse.

Then came the meters with the new store and cinema. The meters were fine and I have never experienced one that did not work. The bonus was that Waitrose would refund the basic fee if one spent £10. But now the technocrats have taken over and chaos reigns.

People now stand in front of these new machines trying to understand the procedure. There are fewer questions needed to program a nuclear bomb for detonation. If you get the car number wrong then you get a ‘Go to Gaol’ card. The reason? It is so you can’t give the ticket away if it has a load of time left on it.

How much did all this new high tech gear cost? I doubt that the cost will ever be recovered. What a waste of rate payers’ money! It would be better spent on providing more parking spaces.

Then of course there are the parking regulations in the hospital, the care home and the two surgeries. The Henley Standard has received numerous letters of complaint on this subject.

There could have been a much simpler system and that would be for a request for parking at the time of making an appointment. A code number would be issued for input into the entry barrier. Patients would then be given an exit code number on arrival registration to open the exit barrier. No supervision required no fines necessary.

Is the time now not well overdue for a Henley park and ride? — Yours faithfully,

Edward Harding

Lower Shiplake

Parking, patiently

Sir, — I have been attending Townlands Memorial Hospital for physio treatment following a double hip replacement, and received a parking charge from the (not so) Smart Parking Company.

I did enter a registration number in their system as required (I might have had all the right digits but possibly not in the right order). I appealed against the charge sending a copy of my appointment card, this is apparently not acceptable, as they pointed out “The parking is for patients only”!

I have since sent a letter from the physio department confirming the timing of my appointment — still not good enough, I must appeal via the independent appeals service, and should that fail (is this even possible?) I will be charged £100.

No common sense, no compassion, and prepared to waste everyone’s time. Who are these people? — Yours faithfully,

Dave Irwin

Sonning Common

Surprise refund

Sir, — I thought that you might be interested in what happened to us today when we went to park in the Greys Road car park.

Just wanting to stay an hour, we entered the car registration number and having thought we had pressed the right buttons, put in the 60p required. There was no ticket forthcoming and when we pressed the button to cancel, nothing happened, no ticket, no refund!

At this point, a couple who were using the next machine said that they had just lost £2 at the same machine, in exactly the same way.

Needing a ticket to park, we once again went through the motions and put in another 60p. Again no ticket. I can’t remember which button we pressed this time, but we certainly got a refund, to the tune of £26!

I must confess we took out the £1.20 that we had lost which left £24.80 which quite a few people had obviously lost without getting tickets.

The system to get a ticket is so much more complicated than the old system and perhaps we are not following the instructions correctly but it makes me wonder just how much over and above the parking charges the machines collect each day.

The money that came out has gone to Sue Ryder. — Yours faithfully,

Rosemary Appleby

Brocks Way, Shiplake

Skating past the story

Sir, — Great to see the coverage of the formal opening of the fantastic skate park that has been built in Henley (Standard, September 22).

Credit to Colin Brathwaite and all who campaigned to make it happen. They literally started with nothing and have achieved something remarkable. It was a really fun day and it was eye-opening to see so many kids (and adults) having fun in Henley.

The only gripe would be that surely the opening of the skatepark should have been front-page news and not on page 18.

The private members club who paid for the refurbishment of their tennis courts got coverage on page 5. If these courts were open to the public then it would seem appropriate to grant them prestige coverage, but they are not.

The skate park should have been the top story in the Standard, but alas Debbie McGee or another Henley ‘celebrity’ was busy on Strictly and couldn’t be seen on the halfpipe on the day of opening, thereby giving it the kudos to deserving top billing in the paper. Let’s get the priorities sorted out Henley Standard? — Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Mill End

The Editor responds: “The official opening of the new skate park was published on the front page of our August 4 edition, which featured a picture of Colin Brathwaite, who chairs the Skatepark Initiative, Mayor Kellie Hinton and other supporters.”

Alternative thoughts

Sir, — As one reaching the end of her life and only too well aware of her own mortality, I find Rev Thomas Brands’ Thought for the Week column (Standard, September 22) offers little in the way of comfort.

Depending on one’s choice of quotations the Bible can be used to support very different hypotheses as indeed can other religious texts.

For myself I prefer Ecclesiastes 3:2: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die”. No mention here of death being the consequence of rebellion against God but only of death as being in the natural order of things.

It is this that should give us hope: life is stronger than death and while there is life there will always be the chance of improving it, not just for ourselves but for others.

Our only personal experience is of this world. If we live our lives to the best of our ability what more can be asked of us? Far better for us to work now against injustice than to worry about any judgement made on us in a hypothetical afterlife. To do this we must try as far as we can to take responsibility for our own actions.

If you are to publish a column such as Thought for the Week then it should not be divisive but should reach out to all who are of good will. There is conflict enough on earth and it is this that we should try to resolve : what reason is there to look forward to parallel and conflicting “heavens” hereafter? — Yours faithfully,

Ann Law

Heathfield Avenue, Binfield Heath

Thank-you for support

Sir, — We would like to thank all those who filled the Great Hall at Shiplake College on Saturday night for the James Bond-themed dinner in aid of the Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed.

The evening was a great success and several thousands of pounds were raised for this most deserving charities.

It could not have happened with out the assistance and encouragement of so many. Thanks to our main sponsors, the Higgs Group, Aston Martin Mayfair and Shiplake College. Also to all the wonderful local business and individuals who donated raffle prizes and auction lots.

The college’s catering team provided wonderful food and service, Jonty Hearnden was a brilliant Master of Ceremonies and auctioneer, Wood’s Wines supplied fine wines and Henley’s very own Bond girl, Jenny Hanley, also helped with the proceedings.

However, the greatest thanks goes to those who bought a ticket and supported one of the area’s most-respected charities. — Yours faithfully,

Event organisers Rick White, Peter Webb and Richard Reed

Slippery when wet

Sir, — I got caught out by the misleadingly poetically named Thames Path — Thames ‘Path?’ Ha, that’s a laugh.

I used it as the Sonning to Henley road was blocked. I was expecting a concrete or shingle path but what I got was muddy, very muddy! My cycle and myself was covered in it, the whole length was a muddy quagmire.

I had to push the bike as it was too slippery to cycle. The last time I’d seen so much mud was when I was “fighting” in the trenches in the aptly named Bogsborough Beds in 1985 filming Biggles & Gunbus back to back!

I managed to get out via a massive hill at Shiplake College and spared myself the last two muddy miles. Why can’t there be warning signs at each end or, better still, pave it over. Ugh, even Peppa pig wouldn’t jump around in that dodgy mud. — Yours faithfully,

Danny Darcy

Piggotts Road, Caversham

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