Thursday, 24 June 2021

Your letters...

Local food is best... use it!

Sir, — Anyone who knows Paul Clerehugh knows he is a true gentleman with a wicked sense of humour and a heart of gold.

However, for a publican/restauranteur to write an entire column praising his competitors (Standard, October 6) is an act of generosity that must not pass without applause.

I read it with an increasingly broad grin. We need more of such generosity of spirit in this world. We also need more awareness of the amazing food suppliers we have in this area.

Ten years ago, when my husband was president of the Henley Show, we protested that the only local food to be had on the showground was Paul’s if you were eating in the members’ enclosure or the Culden Faw venison burgers.

Despite, as one committee member puts it, “banging on” at every available opportunity, nothing has changed.

We are now patrons of the show and are seriously considering standing down because we are embarrassed by the lack of local produce in the fast food stands.

There IS local produce in the food tent but the sausages on offer outside this year proudly announced that they were from Shropshire. None of the other food outlets was local.

For a local agricultural show this is nonsense. When I organise an event at Fawley Hill, or the Traditional Boat Festival I politely decline advances from food outlets that are not local or are not prepared to use local produce.

As Paul has pointed out, we have great food all around us — pork, lamb, beef from local farms, venison, rabbits, pheasants... just ask! Veg, doughnuts and sourdough from Bosley Patch?

I won’t go on, you get the picture. Let’s celebrate it and use it! — Yours faithfully,

Lady McAlpine

Fawley Hill

Threat from globalisation

Sir, — At a time when many of us are feeling under the cosh of government austerity and insecure employment, the “gig economy” and of measly pay rises or worse, it is understandable that people are increasingly fed up.

The natural temptation is then to look for someone or something to blame — the European Union, “immigrants”? — despite strong measurable reasons to think, overwhelmingly, both contribute to our wellbeing as a nation.

But looking around at headlines about very large international companies who make eye-watering profits but do not pay their fair share of tax, there is a clue to something which really isn’t working.

These large companies, the so-called transnational corporations, exist partly in the voids between national jurisdictions and operate according to the rules of the World Trade Organisation and other trade agreements.

This allows them to engage in regulatory arbitrage between countries, whereby firms capitalise on loopholes in regulatory systems in order to circumvent unfavourable regulation, such as proper tax, employment, health and safety and environmental laws. They shop around between countries to get, in their terms, “the best laws”.

All this is a result of agreements that our government has come to with others as part of a little discussed economic and political process called globalisation.

With a constant stream of hype but no serious public discussion — and justified simply as free trade, a “good thing”, over the last 40 years — it is the elephant in the room.

Its failings have caused grave discontent, perhaps encouraging people to look to UKIP and to vote for Brexit, or for Donald Trump, to find answers.

On Monday evening, as part of the Reading International Festival, Dr Graham Dunkley is coming to the Reading International Solidarity Centre at 35-39 London Street, Reading, to take us through the evidence in a talk called “Globalisation: the dark side”.

Refreshments will be available from 7pm at the RISC Global Café. — Yours faithfully,

Chris Burden

For Global Justice Reading, Cromwell Road, Reading

Tough being PM? I’d do it

Sir, — I’ll do it — and for less!

What am I talking about? For quite some time, politicians and their minions haven’t used the words “it’s a tough job and you wouldn’t want to do it” in support of the Prime Minister or other cabinet ministers.

Well, surprisingly, it popped up again last week in support of Theresa May following the Conservative Party conference and the Brexit negotiations.

I immediately screamed: “Yes I would! I’ll do it — and for less!”

Unfortunately, the radio didn’t answer back.

The thing is, if you look carefully, education is no longer involved in politics. The only education there is, is that of elitism, money and the old boy network. It’s the new divine right of kings and the right of succession.

And, yes, call me big- headed, but I’ve been around the block a few times to see that those who represent (what a joke!) us actually don’t! They are all money- grubbers.

Altruism in politics is a dead horse that was never even an “also ran”. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

Cheap words, Mrs May

Sir, — Yet again the Prime Minister has pledged to improve NHS child and adolescent mental health funding and commissioning and to encourage “early intervention” in colleges, schools and pre-schools.

Theresa May said: “Mental [ill] health has a devastating effect on young lives… early intervention is the key.”

And yet, once again, in real terms (due to inflation etc), many local schools like Gillotts in Henley are facing funding cuts (Standard, October 6).

Mrs May should be reminded that though words are cheap, the education and mental wellbeing of our young are not. For the PM to expect schools and colleges to provide mental health first aid and improve their early intervention while reducing funding (and when more than half of local NHS bodies are having to cut their spending in this area) is an insult.

Surely our depressed, disillusioned and distressed under-16s deserve better than empty words and promises.

These under-funded services aim to provide them with the appropriate confidence et al to face adulthood. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Where will homes be?

Sir, — As more homes may be allocated to Henley (depending on which set of figures are used, the new government planning consultation or the Strategic Housing Market Assessment) will these homes only be allocated to within the Henley boundaries or allocated to the existing Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan?

It’s an important point and no clear guidance seems to be available. The current neighbourhood plan was based on figures from South Oxfordshire District Council’s 2012 core strategy and that plan has been completed.

It’s also important as most of the available sites (it seems) are either in Harpsden parish or could affect Harpsden village.

Perhaps the district council could confirm whether any future plan revisions would involve the original recipients? — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Shops need more visitors

Sir, — Further to Clive Hemsley’s letter (Standard, October 6), Marlow has a thriving business park with multiple trading companies and hundreds of staff between them, not to mention its residents.

This all adds up to a good footfall to enable the retailers/cafés etc to make a profit.

Henley has to rely on a tourism office which seems incapable of bringing in the numbers of visitors needed to make the town’s shops profitable.

Any person or company opening a shop would want to be sure that the footfall was sufficient for them to make a profit.

At the moment there is nowhere in Henley which would give that assurance and until the town manager and the tourism office equate profit with people, sales success and therefore more shops being opened, Henley will continue its slow decline to being just somewhere to meet friends for coffee/lunch etc. — Yours faithfully,

Gloria Wright

Twyford

Coffee shops everywhere

Sir, — Traders in Clifton are evidently as mindful as those in Henley of the requirements of their caffeine-loving customers.

On a recent visit, I spotted an apologetic warning displayed — as I recall — by a butcher that read: “This shop does not sell coffee.” — Yours faithfully,

John Allen

Binfield Heath

Learn some manners

Sir, — Perhaps the Henley College students could take on board the fact that they are NOT joined at the hip, forcing people to walk in the road to get past.

You wouldn’t treat your own family like this (or would you?) Manners maketh man!

And before the usual twits get their knickers in a twist, I do realise that not all the college students are like this, just a large percentage of them. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs J Hadley

Leaver Road, Henley

I don’t want to be fleeced

Sir, — I was surprised to see my letter about the muddy Thames Path provoke so many ill-informed critics (Standard, October 6).

I can clearly recall the massive publicity and fanfare when the Thames Path was completed.

It was clearly stated in the media at the time that the path was open to walkers and cyclists.

It was great cycling along it in the Eighties and Nineties when I lived close by. What’s happened for it to deteriorate so badly?

I’ve never read anywhere else since that it had been downgraded to just walkers as the critics claim.

If this is the case, then I’m guessing that it’s due to a lack of funds, or interest, in maintaining the path by councils.

As for your reader who suggested that I stump up £3,000 in insurance, where did they get that figure from? Who pays £3,000 to be on the road? The only one to be stung for that would be a 16-year-old learner driving a new Rolls Royce.

I chose a bike to travel so I don’t have to be fleeced for outrageous insurance costs. — Yours faithfully,

Danny Darcy

Piggotts Road, Caversham

Don’t spoil countryside

Sir, — I was walking along a public footpath through a local wood last Friday when I spotted a plastic bag tidily placed behind a post bearing the sign: “Welcome! By agreement of the owner, you are welcome to walk in these woodlands.” The bag contained dog faeces.

Can I suggest to this dog owner that if they have taken the trouble to pick up their dog’s faeces they take it home to dispose of it?

Alternatively, why not just use a stick to push the faeces off the path into the adjacent vegetation where it can naturally rot away.

If you have chosen to walk in the beautiful countryside around Henley please do not spoil it by depositing litter. — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road, Henley

Now you can tell the owner

Sir, — Next time Deenagh Reynolds is troubled by aircraft noise (Standard, October 6), I suggest that she complains directly to the pilot or operator.

All she needs is a pair of good binoculars or a telescope and access to the internet.

She should read the registration letters of the aircraft and make a note of the time and direction of flight.

Enter the code “G-INFO” in a browser or search engine and she can read about the aircraft in the registration database of the Civil Aviation Authority.

The name and address of the owner of the aircraft are given. — Yours faithfully,

Tom Geake

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Terrible train service

Sir, — I sent the following email to Great Western Railway on September 25.

“I’m very sorry to have to send this message. In my six years of commuting to London from Shiplake and Wargrave I have never complained and I had thought your service had improved a great deal over the last year.

“Unfortunately, your service has been so appalling in just the last week that I feel I don’t have a choice and would like you to reimburse me and look to fix these issues.

“As a disabled railcard holder, I have little transport alternatives and have to rely heavily on the train service.

“Unfortunately, you have left me stranded twice in the last week and once with my young child.

“You have also left me £50 out of pocket after having to pay for taxis (not to mention the initial cost of the train ticket!). I feel extremely let down.

“On Wednesday, September 20 no driver turned up for an evening service from Twyford to Wargrave. There were no station staff and no announcements nor updates whatsoever. I had no choice but to take a taxi home at a cost of £30.

“On Sunday, September 23, after walking half an hour with my toddler to Wargrave station, we were greeted yet again with no train.

“I was not alone, a number of other passengers were expecting the morning service — I had checked the app just moments before and all appeared to be running as it should be.

“On arrival at the station the board showed the next train wouldn’t be until 1.30pm for some reason.

“We called the assistance team and were advised there was a bus replacement, which wasn’t true. There was no sign of one.

“They then helpfully advised it was actually picking up on the high street... a good 15-minute walk away. Again, a little note somewhere would have helped.

“And why, may I ask, couldn’t the bus actually come to the station? Again I had to call a taxi and was £20 out of pocket.

“We are also having to deal with the horrendous new service on the Henley line. As I’m sure the many, many commuters have let you know there is not enough space on the morning shuttle into Twyford.

“I don’t understand why we can’t go back to having three carriages. The one good thing about this awful commute is we used to at least get a seat. Now, there’s not a chance.

“Looking forward to hearing your response and my refund.”

On October 3, I emailed again, saying: “I have received no response to my enquiry. Yet again we are experiencing an awful service from Henley. There is barely room to get on to the service from Wargrave now you have shortened the train to two carriages.

“I would suggest you also look into declassifying first class on the connection from Twyford to Paddington... again no seats for anyone getting on this train.

“Truly the worst I have seen the train service in my six years of commuting.

“I’d be very happy to discuss further if you would like to send me a survey or have a customer service rep call me. Look forward to your response and my refund from my initial email on the 25th.”

On Tuesday this week, I emailed again as follows: “Still no response. This morning our connection didn’t even make the London train. The control room let it go early so all Henley passengers are currently left at Twyford. All going to be late to our jobs.

“ Unacceptable and unreliable service yet again. I’m embarrassed to be late to work yet again.

“I have copied in the Henley Standard as they have been covering this story lately.

“Perhaps Great Western would like to respond to them as they don’t seem to be coming back to their customers.” — Yours faithfully,

Lorna Baker

Victoria Road, Wargrave

A Great Western Railway spokesman responds: “I can confirm that we have received the complaint from Ms Baker and have responded to her by requesting more details (the trains times and her tickets for both journeys) in order to be able to investigate more fully.

“Unfortunately, there is not much more we can say until we have had the opportunity to investigate.”

Popularity of humanism

Sir, — In his Thought for the Week column last week, the Rev Duncan Carter wrote about two humanist funerals he had attended.

I infer from what he says that he found it strange that at neither were thanks given to God for the life of the bereaved.

I would have found it strange if such thanks had been given. After all, humanists believe that the world is a natural phenomenon and that there is no God.

They believe that they can lead ethical lives by putting human welfare along with reason and evidence at the centre of their decision-making. Another type of ceremony that is proving popular is humanist weddings.

In Scotland, where these are now legally recognised, they are the most popular form of belief-based wedding, ahead of the Church of Scotland ceremony.

In England, humanist wedding ceremonies are also popular but the law requires that to be legally recognised, a civil marriage also needs to take place. People would find it strange if the law said that people who believe in God should have a civil wedding first.

It’s equally strange that humanists who have ethical beliefs and believe there is no God should be required to do this in England. It’s time for a change in the law. — Yours faithfully,

Robert Thompson

Henley

With God, it’s all win-win

Sir, — In response to Bernard Redway’s letter about fibromyalgia (Standard, October 6), this is our testimony.

My husband became almost bedbound and was in great pain with this horrible affliction.

The doctors were very kind but no drugs nor alternative medicines helped.

During this time, we prayed, the church prayed and friends near and far prayed too.

By faith, we believed what the Bible says and what Jesus promised when He died and rose again for us all.

We continued to keep close to the Lord each day and he is faithful.

My husband is now able to function again and get out and about and appreciate life we have been given for however long.

We give God all the glory because not only is He with us in this life but we have His promise of eternal life to all who believe.

It’s win-win and we are very grateful — Yours faithfully,

R C and G M Radley

Vicarage Road, Henley

Shocking discovery...

Sir, — It was with great surprise that I read the article headined “Construction lorries putting us in danger” (Standard, October 6).

I recently moved away from Rotherfield Greys but can concur that the lorries do drive through the narrow roads of the village and round blind corners at ridiculously high speeds.

This was not the surprise. What caused the shock was that the reporter could tell me, not only had my parents moved (within the last week) to Badgemore, where the family used to live more than 100 years ago, but that also my father had changed his name to Roger.

Would James Burton, (I assume he does know his own name) like to brush up on his research “skills”?

I would hate to think the Henley Standard reportage standards were slipping. — Yours faithfully,

Clare Brown

Hopton, Suffolk

The editor responds: “These mistakes were careless for which I apologise to Richard Ovey and his family specifically and to readers generally.”

Thank you for support

Sir, — I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped make our Henley half marathon on Sunday a success, particularly our sponsors Invesco Perpetual and the Henley Standard, Aida Hersham for allowing us to race through Fawley Court, the Borlase family for allowing us to use their fields and Henley Rugby Club and Corner 81 for the use of their facilities.

I’d also like to thank the police for all their support, Grundon for the free use of their bins, Active Services for their cyclists and massages of racers, the army and air cadets for their work and commitment on the day and our sister Rotary clubs of Henley and Marlow.

Without their support and that of so many others, we would not be able to put on such an event.

I’d also like to thank all those who took part in the races, those who came along to support and the residents of Henley for their patience during the temporary road closures.

The proceeds from this event will be used to support Rotary club’s work in funding and supporting local good causes. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Harrison

Senior vice-president, Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

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