Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Your letters...

No cycling on Thames Path

Sir, — I write in response to Danny Darcy’s letter headlined “Slippery when wet” (Standard, September 29), which requires a response.

He wrongly finds fault with the Thames Path when he chose to cycle from Sonning to Henley where it was, to quote his words, “muddy, very muddy, and I had to push the bike because it was too slippery to cycle”.

Unfortunately, Mr Darcy, like many recreational cyclists, is unaware that the Thames Path is a public footpath where cycling is neither permitted nor encouraged.

For any persons who may doubt this, please look at the information on the Thames Path website.

Perhaps next time Mr Darcy will take notice of the signage where a yellow marker on the signpost indicates a public footpath and a blue marker indicates a bridleway where cycling is permitted. Pretty simple really.

If one chooses to cycle off-road it’s best to keep to the marked bridleways.

As regards those of us who do walk in the countryside after wet weather, we readily accept the occasional muddy footpath — that’s life. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Dudley

Remenham Lane, Remenham

You could always walk

Sir, — When the River Thames Society proposed the setting up of the Thames Path in the Sixties, it anticipated a pleasant, mostly rural, stroll from source to estuary along a recognisable path.

It did not propose a concreted cycling superhighway as envisaged by Mr Darcy.

In rural areas there is an earth-covered path and earth plus rain means mud and is anticipated by most Thames Path users. Some heavily used areas are being gravelled but concrete — no.

Hose down your bike as the rest of us hose down our Wellington boots.

I cannot comment about the frolics of Peppa Pig since I do not know the young lady well enough for detailed conversation but perhaps my granddaughter could be of help. — Yours faithfully,

John Skuse

Middle Thames chairman, River Thames Society, Pinkneys Green

Riverside is muddy? No...

Sir, — What is Danny Darcy moaning about? When cyclists move they believe they are gods.

Our towpaths were created for shire horsemen and bargemen in heavy leather boots moving goods from London to Oxford and back on barges.

When Mr Darcy contributes, say, £3,000 per year in a cycle tax maybe he will have a right to determine what gets spent on roads and anything left over on towpaths.

Heaven forbid there might be mud by a river — who would have thought it?

It is of note that the towpath between Henley and Medmenham is a “no cycling” pathway according to local bylaws.

At least 50 rowing coaches fly up and down 20 times a day on mountain bikes shouting at their crews and expecting the public just to leap for safety. Nobody is enforcing the existing law. — Yours faithfully,

K C Bushnell

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley

Just what did you expect?

Sir, — In reply to Danny Darcy, may I offer a few points for him to consider:

1 The path in question is in the countryside, not the town.

2 It is by a river.

3 We have had a lot of rain over the past months.

4 As he says, it is a path, i.e. a footpath, so he should not have been cycling on it anyway. — Yours faithfully,

Liz Beddows


It’s me who’s responsible

Sir, — In reply to Barry Taylor, my sending a video to the Standard of a cyclist behaving dangerously is hardly petty and an irresponsible cyclist riding at speed on the footpath and ignoring a red traffic signal is not taking some liberties, he is breaking the law.

Additionally, ignoring the painted cycle lane and waiting area that other road users have paid for is selfish.

The photographs were taken from a video and were cropped, I assume for clarity.

I have a video camera recording at all times when driving, as do many other drivers.

Hopefully, Mr Taylor will now sleep better, knowing that I am not taking photographs while driving. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Hoare


Shops that I’d like to see

Sir, — The article by David White outlining town manager Helen Barnett’s wish to have more control over what shops open in Henley (Standard, September 29) concerned me.

We already have too many fashion stores. We desperately need another central supermarket in town. Marks & Spencer or Iceland, Aldi or Lidl would be a blessing.

Sainsbury’s in Duke Street is a local store where many prices are higher than in other shops.

I also would value a Do It Yourself store. Another newsagent in the centre of town would also be useful. Is it too much to hope for greengrocers as well? Dare I say a Poundland shop, especially as they now sell items for over £1?

At the end of the day shops will only open if they find it commercially viable to do so. It is a pity that Cargo had to close but not Bensons for Beds that shut recently.

I hope the Ms Barnett does not get control of what shops open and lumbers us with yet more boutiques and clothing shops. Surely there is more fruitful work for our town manager to do? — Yours faithfully,

Keith Knight

Swiss Farm, Henley

We should be like Marlow

Sir, — With the greatest respect, Henley town manager Helen Barnett is completely wrong about what shops we need.

We do need more restaurants and coffee shops and more visitors — competition creates more choice and better quality and is good for the town.

The retailers and boutiques will follow naturally but let’s get the visitors in first.

Just look at Marlow and all the award-winning restaurants and bistros there. It’s a growing hub of young people wanting different cuisine experiences.

You don’t need to be a marketing expert to see how Marlow is succeeding.

While on my soap box , stop the lorries coming over Henley Bridge.

Everybody should plant a tree outside their house.

My daughter lives in Fulham where residents clubbed together to place some 15ft silver birch trees, which absorb pollution, on the pavements outside every other house on both sides of her street. It completely transforms the street — and the environment.

It also give pooches somewhere to relieve themselves!

Now let’s make our town a lot greener. The Fulham scheme cost £350 per household but if everybody just put in what they could afford we could enhance all the main streets in Henley. I will gladly cough up the first £1,000.

All we need now is a grown-up to organise it.

Incidentally, my “living wall” goes up this month.

Big hugs to all the dog owners. — Yours faithfully,

Clive Hemsley

The dog portrait artist of Henley (self-appointed), Hart Street, Henley

Make car park bigger

Sir, — Haven’t we got enough empty shops in Henley without building more shops, coffee shops, restaurants and flats in King’s Road car park (Standard, September 15)?

The car park should be made bigger so deliveries can be made at the back of Boots, Sainsbury’s and properties in Market Place instead of in Falaise Square and do the same in Greys Road.

Make it one lane either side of Falaise Square, make Duke Street two-way so the fire brigade, ambulance service and police can respond more quickly than going through Greys Road car park.

Henley Town Council would surely welcome any local resident opinion on this matter, or let’s have a public meeting at the town hall and let residents voice their opinion on the matter. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Clark

Cromwell Road, Henley

P.S. I would like to thank Dieter Hinke for his letter telling us about South Oxfordshire District Council leader John Cotton spending £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on legal fees over the Thames Farm appeal.

This money would be better spent painting white lines on our roads and new signs around Henley, filling all the potholes and mending the pavements.

I would like to point outthat I’ve been waiting 15 years for our road to be done... and am still waiting.

Parking fine was cancelled

Sir, — Thank you for publishing my letter concerning the fixed penalty notice that I received for parking in a “marked bay” at King’s Road car park in Henley (Standard, September 22).

I received a reply to my complaint to South Oxfordshire District Council and the ticket was cancelled.

The council stated: “In view of the situation in this car park, with the works that are being done and the fenced-off bays, even though under the car park regulations parking should never be allowed in a hatched area, under these circumstances an exception will be made.

“While these bays are fenced off, and the hatched area effectively redundant, our inspectors will be instructed not to issue in this area.

“Therefore I can confirm that this notice will be cancelled and no further action taken in this matter. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused.”

I thought your readers might be interested in this outcome. — Yours faithfully,

Dr Rachel Beswick

Satwell Close, Henley

Distribution road needed

Sir, — Oh dear, ring the alarm bells, they’re discussing Third Bridge ideas that don’t include a new distribution road, an aspect that was part of the original proposals many years ago when traffic levels were lower than nowadays.

I’m disappointed that one option appears to have been dropped, that of having a Sonning eastern bypass running between the Wee Waif roundabout on the A4 and the Playhatch roundabout. Might that not be cheaper than spanning Caversham Lakes?

Has anyone else noticed a change in local traffic patterns recently, presumably arising from the temporary closure of the Henley road at the Flowing Spring pub? Although in this instance the reason would be diversion of existing traffic levels, I suggest it would be indicative of the consequences of additional traffic attracted by a new bridge in either location, affecting Caversham, Henley and South Oxfordshire villages. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

What news of roadworks?

Sir, — What’s happing regarding the Reading Road closure at Playhatch? Indeed, is anything happening?

I was on Reading Road last week and saw a couple of ladders propped up against the Flowing Spring pub but that seemed to be the extent of activity.

I cross the Playhatch roundabout regularly and nothing can be discerned from that end either.

Can our Henley Standard enlighten us as to progress? — Yours faithfully,

Andrew French

Reades Lane, Sonning Common

The editor responds: “The first 10-week phase of the work is due to finish on November 6, allowing one lane of the road to re-open.”

Diversions are a mess

Sir, — When the closure of the Henley-Reading road near the Flowing Spring pub at Playhatch was announced the only diversion mentioned was via Crowmarsh Gifford.

I was told by a Henley town councillor that this huge diversion was necessary because of a highways rule that a diversion from an A road must be along other A roads.

But surely this rule must apply only to HGVs and similar? I have been diverted many times along B roads. The Henley Standard was very helpful in publishing various (short) routes for cars etc to bypass the roadworks. One of these was via Binfield Heath and this is now much used.

But one major problem is at the Tesco roundabout. The yellow diversion sign tells ALL traffic to turn back into Henley — and then go to Crowmarsh Gifford, I suppose.

There is no sign at the Tesco roundabout saying cars etc are free to drive into Shiplake, Sonning and Binfield Heath nor any indication that cars, vans etc can take the Binfield Heath diversion to Playhatch.

Locals know this but for any non-local motorist driving from Henley to Reading, it must be a nightmare.

It should have been made clear that the diversion signs from Henley Bridge onwards apply only to HGVs and there should be separate diversion signs into Binfield Heath at Memorial Avenue and Plough Lane.

In future, much more thought and research should go into any road diversion. The present diversions are a mess. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Hollas

Queen Close, Henley

Train service has got worse

Sir, — Many people, including the commuters groups, naively thought that any change Greater Western Railway would make to the Henley-London train timetable would benefit the commuters.

The 7.42am service, on which one could always get a seat, has been replaced with a 7.37am service on which most people have to stand to Twyford and then participate in a stampede to get on to the train they are changing to .

The idea was to have fewer delayed trains into Paddington. I have yet to be on a train into Paddington that was not delayed — a 100 per cent fail rate.

We are now five minutes earlier delayed, so to speak, and we have a much more stressful commute. — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

Denounce this doctrine

Sir, — I write to support Ann Law’s letter replying to Pastor Brand’s Thought for the Week contribution the previous week (Standard, September 29).

Presumably the list of contributors to the column has run full circle and we are once again subjected to Pastor Brand’s contention that we should believe, as he does, or be “justly” condemned to eternal punishment in the next life.

It is clear that nearly all committed Christian leaders do not accept this medieval version of their faith, but they appear very reluctant to challenge it in public and to tell us what they believe is the truth about our state in the hereafter.

Why is this? By any spiritual standard it is a crucially important issue. It can hardly be a matter of preserving “unity” when the God they worship and their understanding of the Bible message in this area are so radically different from Pastor Brand’s .

Surely they have a duty to speak out and not by their silence help give credence to an appalling doctrine. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Comforting thoughts

Sir, — For the many people who have come or are coming to know God in their personal experience through Christ Jesus, your Thought for the Week column is both encouraging and uplifting, for example Pastor Thomas Brand’s article.

Ann Law’s response finds little comfort, preferring the ideas in Ecclesiastes 3:2. Further reading of this book discovers the writer (King Solomon) pondering his long life.

He has found that worldly wisdom, wealth, pleasure and toil all come to nothing; are ultimately meaningless and there is no point in any of it. However, he states that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” and at the end of the book, after all his deliberations, he concludes that our times are in God’s hands and advises that we should “fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man”.

In this surely is comfort and peace. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs K Pinder

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley

School places grown fairly

Sir, — I wish to address some points made by your correspondent David Maynerd (Standard, September 22).

He recounts a conversation in which the process undertaken by Reading Borough Council to address a shortfall in primary school places was questioned and the actual need for any more primary school places was called into doubt.

The council conducted a lengthy consultation regarding the expansion of schools in the borough.

This included a primary school place planning summit with headteachers in June 2012 and the launch of the Let’s Talk Education consultation in October 2012.

A series of discussion events was held across the borough in which the council put forward its needs and communities were invited to have their say.

Detailed conversations were held with headteachers and governing bodies of schools.

All the schools were assessed for viability in order to achieve best value from the capital available. As a result, Caversham Primary School was not included in the recommendations for the expansion programme.

A major expansion programme involving 13 primary schools was agreed. The council won £19.1million funding from the Government and embarked on a £64million primary school expansion programme which was completed this year, having delivered more than 2,500 extra primary school places.

Over the next 10 years the demand for primary school places in Caversham will increase slightly.

The Heights free school has been at its capacity in its first three years and we predict it will remain so in the foreseeable future.

Only one school in the Caversham area has places available — with just seven places. I hope that these details demonstrate the robust process undertaken by the council in its school expansion programme and clarifies the current situation regarding demand for primary school places. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Tony Jones

Lead councillor for
education, Reading Borough Council

Bring back P.O. services

Sir, — I read your article on the closure of Post Office services in Woodcote (Standard, September 29) with a great sense or sorrow and of loss. I have lived in the village for more than 40 years.

One sentence really stood out for me and that was parish council vice-chairman Geoff Botting saying he remembered when people “used to” collect their pensions in cash. Has no one yet appreciated that a large number of elderly and disabled people still do collect pensions and other benefits in cash? It isn’t just parcels that are a problem.

This vital service is now unavailable in a very large village. If you don’t drive, or don’t have access to a car, services in Pangbourne, Goring or Ipsden are impossible to get to independently.

Currently the bus to Wallingford, Caversham or Reading helps but with winter closing in and the potential for bad weather,

I sincerely hope that services can be resumed soon. With a bit of creative thinking, I’m sure that there are viable options. Awaiting developments with interest. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Udell

The Close, Woodcote

Why are there more planes?

Sir, — Living in the centre of Henley, I have been aware in the last few weeks of a marked increase in the number of aircraft flights and, of course, an increase in the noise they make.

From exactly 6am to 7am on Monday last week, 23 aircraft flew over Henley.

I have tried waving to them in an aggressive manner to no avail — suggestions please?

I do hope that you print this letter despite the fact that it is not very long. — Yours faithfully,

Deenagh Reynolds

Badgemore Lane, Henley

Don’t litter, cigar smoker

Sir, — Would the “gentleperson” who so enjoys a Hamlet Fine Cigar on their daily walk through the Wootton Manor estate in Henley kindly take the related daily dropped rubbish (packet, Cellophane wrappers etc) home with them?

In case of interest, the estate is well equipped with CCTV. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address

Self-help can go long way

Sir, — Two friends have asked me — as a self-helper who, when in a high-risk job, used to stitch up his own deeper cuts — what I would do to combat fibromyalgia?

They had learned that Lady Gaga is sorely affected by this complaint and has found herself in a doctor-dependent situation.

Always anxious to avoid calling upon drugs for help — with its twin risks of side effects and bodily addiction — this is my top suggestion:

We must note that natural response to any threat is to tense up. Quite recently, when I suffered a freak home accident which left me with a hip injury, I looked upon relaxation and not tensing up as my better choice of friend.

So, whenever I’m on the move, I focus on relaxation vocally (but only to myself).

What helps me then is to say “nape” with every footplant , this word sounding a bit like “pain” when spoken backwards. I find this to be of great advantage.

See it how you will but in my own repeated experience, a little self-help can go a long way. I can still walk for miles, even at night, and without a single doctor in sight. — Yours faithfully,

Bernard Redway

Liebenrood Road, Reading

Station looks beautiful

Sir, — Congratulations and thanks to the Shiplake station gardening team.

Throughout summer and even now the station garden is lovely and brings pleasure every time I go there.

For those who haven’t seen it yet — give yourselves a treat! — Yours faithfully,

Monica Collings

Crowsley Road, Shiplake

I loved doing Bhangra

Sir, — If someone had told me — a confirmed non-dancer — a year ago that I would be Bhangra dancing in Henley and that it would be one of my highlights of 2017, I would have said that person had been drinking straight from the Thames.

But such was the power of the River & Rowing Museum’s excellent Sikh season.

An engaging and enjoyable glimpse into a different culture, it was a reminder that it isn’t just one of the very best family destinations around, but a place that continues to innovate.

Thanks to all involved (and, sadly, no footage of my Bhangra dancing exists...) — Yours faithfully,

Tom Ryan

River Terrace, Henley

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