Sunday, 14 August 2022

Your letters...

Blinkered view of bridge

Sir, — Is the Reading third bridge proposal a case of covert planning?

Past correspondents have variously portrayed the good folk of South Oxfordshire as nasty Nimbys set on derailing the bridge project.

Well, we have all suffered morning and evening congestion through Sonning and Reading and can only sympathise with the residents there.

Clearly, something has to be done and a third bridge might ultimately be the answer.

However, we have legitimate concerns.

We are being kept in the dark and our concerns are largely being ignored. Our representatives are excluded from key meetings and the strategic outline business case is currently only accessible via the Freedom of Information process.

We just want answers to the following:

⚫ Has there been independent verification of the traffic modelling?

⚫ What is the design year for the project and what are the predicted traffic flows in South Oxfordshire and across the bridges in Reading and Sonning (in the design year)?

⚫ Has the increased through-traffic that is likely to be attracted by a new north-south link been taken into account?

⚫ Will traffic relief measures be commissioned at the same time as the bridge?

⚫ A relief road is rumoured around the north of Caversham and Emmer Green. Are we dreaming?

⚫ We learn that the bridge may cost £110million (up to £150million when built). Has any additional estimate been provided for this new relief road?

⚫ Would this new relief road be dual carriageway and what would be the route?

⚫ Will South Oxfordshire’s residents be consulted on the need for traffic control measures and any proposed traffic relief measures?

⚫ Who would pay for relief road measures located in South Oxfordshire?

⚫ Is an environmental impact assessment being undertaken in potentially affected areas of South Oxfordshire, particularly areas designated as Areas of Outstanding Natureal Beauty?

⚫ Are there plans to limit hevay goods vehciles (as suggested by Reading East Labour Matt Rodda MP)?

If this bridge is being planned as a serious project, then it would be expected that such matters would be addressed.

At the moment it seems that the project sponsors are blinkered, not only to the impact on folk in South Oxfordshire, but also on their own residents in Caversham Park and Emmer Green.

We suppose this would be one way of losing our sympathy. — Yours faithfully,

Simon J Crouch

Chairman, Rotherfield
Peppard Parish Council

Hospital car parking farce

Sir, — The whole car park scenario at the Henley GP surgeries and Townlands Memorial Hospital seems to be escalating into almost farcical proportions (Standard, October 13), Is this perhaps yet another symptom of life today, when nothing can be done without legions of consultants, experts and stakeholder involvement groups called in to solve what to many of us seem the most basic of issues?

The fundamental premise would seem to be: no hospital visit = no ticket = fine, a glaringly simple system!

One parks, checks in at reception to obtain permission/a ticket (which is displayed), receives the treatment or whatever, then leaves. A system (either human or number plate recognition) clocks those who shouldn’t be there and fines them.

This is surely not the only car park in the land which operates in such a way, so why is it so difficult to implement?

However, Henley would not be Henley without some different quirk in the system.

Here it would seem to be the fact that residents use the car park as a cut-through, presumably because a) they should not do it and b) possibly something the owners and system implementers failed to spot might happen.

So “not so smart” would seem to apply to all parties in this case; a system which cannot cope with the complexities and drivers who naively think that driving through a car park fitted with number plate recognition cameras will ignore them! — Yours faithfully,

Simon Haynes

Watcombe Road, Watlington

Don’t give in to enforcers

Sir, — With reference to your front page story about the Townlands Memorial Hospital parking issue, we have the same thing in Twyford.

It’s just a big con and I advise people not to pay nor respond to any correspondence — I am on my third letter threatening debt collection.

Like these complainants, I am completely innocent and will not pay these sad people a penny.

Let’s all just stick together and these fraudsters will go back down the drain they came from. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Willoughby


Patient views are welcome

Sir, — Further to your article asking readers to submit letters on how to fix parking problems at the Henley surgeries (Standard, October 13), can I ask that patients communicate with the surgeries directly to offer ideas so that we can work together?

I am not a fan of playing out ideas via a newspaper when the staff at the surgeries need to seek views from patients and then agree a system which will operate after the Smart Parking contract expires.

The Bell surgery patient participation group, which I chair, is also keen to hear your ideas so that the few spaces that are available are used in the best way for those patients that need one.

Many patients are suggesting we can use the parking areas for the Townlands Memorial Hospital or the Chilterns Court care home. That is not possible.

The surgeries have discussed this with NHS Property Services and it is not willing to release spaces for overflow parking for staff or patients. Therefore we need to think creatively about the use of the limited spaces there are on the surgeries’ site.

Please send any ideas to Louise West, practice manager for the Bell surgery, by email at or to me at jwatersassociates@ before November 3.

I am also seeking new members to join the Bell surgery patient participation group.

You can either be involved or come along to an occasional meeting to share your views as a patient voice member. Again, please email me or call to discuss via the surgery. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Waters

Western Road, Henley

Unwarranted criticisms

Sir, — I am a little puzzled by your correspondent Andrew Huyton’s complaint (Standard, October 6) about the “appalling parking of council vehicles”.

In the first of his two accompanying photographs, there appear to be three Oxfordshire County Council vans parked very neatly, tight to the kerb.

The second picture shows the back of the largest van, emblazoned with those rather conspicuous red and yellow chevrons.

This looks like perfectly responsible and legal parking to me. I must be missing something here.

Last week (“Just when will bin contractor learn?) it was the turn of the district council to endure a rather unfair tirade over a few wheelie bins not being returned to their correct position after they have been emptied.

As Ian Gillott, operations manager for Biffa, pointed out in his perfectly reasonable reply to Mark Davies’s complaint about this, Biffa makes 459,200 collections from one depot (Culham) each week, the vast majority of which are problem-free.

So in my opinion (not Mr Gillott’s) if a few bins end up slightly out of place each week, does it really matter?

I would like to congratulate Mr Gillott and his cheery workers for what is generally, an excellent service. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Sargeantson

Britwell Salome

Do robots run council?

Sir, — I recently hit a very deep pothole when driving through Lambridge Woods in Henley and split a tyre.

I informed the council on Fixmystreet. I also noticed that they were aware of the pothole, which I am pleased to say was repaired the next day.

I have just received an email response saying: “We only fix roads and pavements and not woods so no further action required.”

Am I dealing with a robot or a person? I was not sure whether to laugh or cry at the incompetence.

Should I have stipulated the road through Lambridge Woods? A phone call would have been so much easier and saved a misunderstanding. — Yours faithfully,

Rosemary Duckett

Marlow Road, Henley

Complicated guidelines

Sir, — I have just read the detailed guidelines from South Oxfordshire District Council for recycling.

A lot of the information is just common sense, I think, but with regard to the do’s and don’ts of food wrapping it is just too complicated.

No wonder mistakes are made by irritated but well-meaning recyclers.

It is surely not beyond the wit of food manufacturers to source and wrap their products in nothing that is not recyclable, thus solving the problem at a stroke. — Yours faithfully,

Rhona Mogridge

Makins Road, Henley

Path cycling IS forbidden

Sir, — Having been incorrectly branded by Danny Darcy as “an ill-informed critic” (Standard, October 13), I consider it is essential to refute his comments and bring this matter to a close.

The following is an extract from the website of the Thames Path National Trail found under the sub-heading “Can I ride or cycle on the trail?”, which states: “The Thames Path National Trail is not a long distance route for cyclists. Most of the Thames Path is a public footpath on which cyclists have no legal right to ride unless they have permission from the landowners — cycling without permission is a trespass offence against the landowners.”

I respectfully ask Mr Darcy and anyone else doubting this statement to visit the website to confirm this truthfulness and consequently accept that cycling on a public footpath without permission is unlawful. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Dudley

Remenham Lane, Remenham

Keep control of your dog

Sir, — While walking my border terrier in Harpsden Woods on Thursday last week, I had the misfortune to run into two black Labradors (wearing electric collars), one of which showed obvious signs of aggression towards my dog.

The aggressive one approached us growling, baring its teeth as some dogs do as they are about to attack.

My instinct was to shout at it before the owner called it off and eventually it ran off. Just before I’d finished the walk, I spotted the same dogs coming towards me once again.

I wasn’t unduly worried as I could see they were walking quite close to their owner, although off the lead so I presumed he would keep them under control.

But no, the same dog, without any warning, launched into an unprovoked attack on my terrier, pinned him down and grabbed him by the throat. To my amazement, the owner carried on walking. My dog is no spring chicken and spent the rest of the day quite subdued.

It’s a case of know your dog. Owners know if their dogs are aggressive and how they behave to other dogs.

Aggressive dogs, especially large ones, should be muzzled or walked on the lead. They should not be running free, attacking anything that dares cross their path.

I suspect this owner is very aware of his dog’s behaviour. This will surely have not been the first time this dog has attacked and unless the owner adopts a more responsible attitude it won’t be the last. — Yours faithfully,

Kay Parton

Mill Road, Shiplake

Barbecue must remain

Sir, — I read that Henley Town Council is proposing to site all food stalls at this year’s Christmas Festival, including Machin’s traditional barbecue, in Bell Street (Standard, October 13).

Mayor Kellie Hinton is concerned about the bottleneck the Machin’s barbecue creates in the market place.

I agree but isn’t it wonderful that a business that has been trading in Henley for more than 100 years is still able to attract crowds of discerning shoppers to its premises and the town? Henley is a wealthy place and Machin’s contributes to that wealth every week of the year — they don’t come to plunder one day every December.

So, Councillor Hinton, I understand your thinking but I think it is flawed. The Machin’s barbecue is part of the shop, not some pop-up stall.

I suppose you may want them to have a turkey pick-up point somewhere outside town, so that the queue does not block the pavement?

No, leave Machin’s and their barbecue where it is, in the wide open space of the market place and let them carry on doing a wonderful job for themselves and Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Terry Colby

Peppard Lane, Henley

Overcrowded, late trains

Sir, — Thankfully, I’ve been travelling recently and doing well on airlines which generally run services on time.

Last week, I was back and “enjoying” Great Western Railway’s “service” again.

I avoided GWR on Monday, thankfully, and Tuesday was promisingly normal until I was greeted by a “smaller” train connecting at Twyford from the 7.45am from Wargrave.

It was like sardines in a tin for our 30-minute journey. The 6.05pm home worked normally.

On Wednesday, the 7.45am was busy but normal but the evening was a mess. Aiming to get the 8.22pm “fast” connector service to Twyford, it left 18 minutes late due to a lack of people to crew it.

It arrived at Twyford 15 minutes late with the next branch line train a whole 40 minutes later. The taxi drivers at Twyford station were rubbing their hands.

On Thursday morning the chaos continued with the 6.53am from Twyford cancelled due to a train fault, leaving us all to scrum down to get on the packed 7.05am.

My rugby days are long gone but maybe I should get back in training if this continues!

I know GWR are trying hard but we all have busy lives (thankfully only periodically for me) and rely on its service to get our jobs done.

GWR has to be better than this. — Yours faithfully,

Will Rowson

High Street, Wargrave

Cheap homes means votes

Sir, — In his latest “In Touch” newsletter, Henley MP John Howell states that he and some colleagues had influenced the recent Government consultation regarding housing figures.

He goes on to say that if these figures are accepted, South Oxfordshire will have its housing quotas reduced by up to 200 houses per year.

Of course the country’s bottom line figure stays the same, so some other lucky district gets more housing.

We can now all sit safely in our leafy suburbs knowing that our children and grandchildren will have even less chance of getting affordable homes where they live or work.

The performance of South Oxfordshire District Council has particularly underperformed in supplying affordable homes (such as approving care homes in Henley instead of affordable homes) and may now have even less chance to rectify the balance.

Leafy suburbs need affordable homes, as stated recently by the the Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.

In a speech to council leaders in July, he said: “Where housing is particularly unaffordable, local leaders need to take a long, hard, honest look to see if they are planning for the right number of homes.”

Is that what Mr Howell and district council leader John Cotton are doing?

For a Government now determined to capture the younger vote, affordable housing reduction in our area will not play well to the 18- to 40-year-old section of the electorate.

On another matter, Mr Howell’s newsletter states that the challenge to the government planning inspector’s decision regarding Thames Farm was about the three-year land supply figures and not about neighbourhood plans.

Yet I understand that the legal documents prepared by the district council, and sent to the High Court, do not expressly challenge the calculated three-year land supply figures but merely refer to the conclusion reached by the figures.

If it’s not about the land supply calculation then I’m sure it would be of interest to many as to what this £100,000-plus legal challenge funded by the taxpayers is really about. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Never mind neighbours

Sir, — I would like to congratulate the person in the Kidmore Lane/Kennylands Road area of Sonning Common who celebrated their birthday with a party on Saturday night.

You and your guests achieved all of your objectives — to party for nearly 12 hours non-stop, to play music as loud as you could, to talk and shout as loud as you could, to keep the locals awake until 5am and to have no consideration for the neighbours.

The only thing missing was loud fireworks in the middle of the night. Well done!

I am not against a party, but not to tone it down a bit after midnight is just thoughtless and unneighbourly.

We could hear it above our TV with all windows shut and the party was not in the immediate area but was some way away. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address

Building a new economy

Sir, — Chris Burden is correct to point out that we should examine carefully the effects of globalisation and the effect it is having on our wellbeing (Standard, October 13).

Decades of being guided by the philosophy that the “market knows best” has created almost unimaginable levels of inequality and is fuelling climate change.

As a reaction to this, racism and nationalism are growing. This will make life even worse for those who have suffered most from our deeply unfair global economy.

Sadly, we can easily see the results of this in our towns, with the terrible increase in the number of homeless people.

We cannot even find hope on the horizon as the global economy seems to be lurching from crisis to crisis.

On Wednesday (October 25) at 7.30pm, as part of the Reading International Festival, Nick Dearden, director of UK Global Justice Now, will give a talk entitled “Putting people before profit — building a new global economy” at RISC, 35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS.

Nick, who will explore the alternatives to a world of free markets and corporate controlled trade, is an inspiring and insightful speaker. — Yours faithfully,

Jackie Oversby

Co-ordinator, Global Justice Reading, The Mount, Reading

Politeness works best

Sir, — I appreciate that, in replying to Mrs Hadley’s letter (Standard, October 13), it makes me a “twit” but I think that her use of the term nicely illustrates my point.

My son, a year two student at The Henley College, was leaving the college one afternoon last week to get his bus home when he passed by a lady who said in a loud voice: “School’s out, it’s witching hour.”

Needless to say, he was a little shocked by this. I have two sons, now young men, and in the years bringing them up I have learnt that, when it comes to encouraging good behaviour, setting a good example works a treat.

Yes, I set boundaries but I have found that if I treat them, and the people I interact with in front of them, politely and with respect they pick up on that and it comes back to me, from them, tenfold.

Teenagers, bless them, often seem to be in a world of their own. Their brains are developing still and it can lead them to appear thoughtless.

The next time Mrs Hadley is being approached by a gaggle of students, she may find that a brisk “Excuse me” or “Coming through” would alert said students to her presence and induce a swift parting of the ways. — Yours faithfully,

Juliet Legg

Lambourne Road, Sonning Common

Keeping love of books alive

Sir, — The Henley Literary Festival got me thinking... the time has come round once more to celebrate the written word.

On previous occasions I have (re)introduced the work of my childhood favourite Jean Craighead George and the Scottish-American diarist, letter writer and early 20th century conservationist John (of the mountains) Muir.

This time, with the political landscape being what it is and the troubled sea we are navigating, I would like to introduce a now lesser-known author, pedagogue and teacher from early 1900s Poland.

Janusz Korczak was a Jew, a writer and storyteller and a teacher who ran an orphanage refuge and school in Warsaw for Jewish children.

He is/was most famous for his children’s coming-of-age classic, King Matt the First (Król Maciu Pierwszy), which is available in English.

It has many plaudits by modern authors, such as Michael Morpurgo, Maurice Sendak, Yann Martel, among others, even though the translation barely does the language and message justice.

My association with this book and, indirectly, the author goes back through my mother.

As a young woman, she trained to be a teacher in that very school and orphanage. She knew Janusz Korczak and in the months preceding the Warsaw Ghetto uprising she hid him and her younger brother, my uncle Witold, at a family home a few miles outside the city. In one of many close calls, Korczak and my uncle hid in an outside latrine covered by a dirty canvas sheet, hardly even breathing when a German from a local garrison, during an inspection, unknowingly relieved himself over them.

All this was to no avail for when Korczak got word that his orphans were to be marched into the ghetto he gave himself up.

Even then he could have avoided the death sentence that was to be Treblinka, for even Germans knew his work and books and tried to keep him from accompanying the children into the ghetto.

To which his, perhaps last recorded, words were “but how could I just abandon my children?”

So, as a recommendation of triumph of spirit and a coming-of-age novel, I wholeheartedly recommend King Matt The First by Janusz Korczak.

Keep the love of books alive. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski


Honour is well-deserved

Sir, — It was very good to see your article about Stephanie Bridle being awarded the freedom of Goring (Standard, October 13).

I was disappointed, though, by the sub-heading “Woman to receive honour seven years after her husband”.

I felt saddened that this honour was somehow diminished; somehow compared to her husband’s award years earlier as if it was seemingly some sort of a competition.

Stephanie has earned this honour by her own hard work and her own willingness to step up and get involved to provide solutions for the benefit of our community.

That Stephanie’s husband was awarded the freedom of Goring is perhaps casually interesting and might be worth a mention but is not necessarily relevant, especially as a headline.

I mention this not to insist on some form of political correctness but to highlight that sometimes we casually and probably unintentionally are too easy to minimise efforts of women in our society.

We should be better than that and should work to ensure we don’t promulgate any sense that somehow a woman is in the shadow of a man.

I highlight this out of decency and respect for the time and effort that Stephanie has given in service to Goring.

She has sometimes had views that I haven’t always agreed with but I have never doubted that her intent was to promote the best for the parish.

Neither my fellow councillors nor I had any hesitation in awarding Stephanie the freedom of Goring based solely on her own merit, recognising that it is a small honour compared with the years and years of contribution.

I could easily make the argument that this recognition is long overdue, so perhaps the sub-heading should have reflected that fact instead of connecting Stephanie’s award to Ron’s award those seven years ago. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Bryan Urbick

Goring Parish Council

Much more deserving

Sir, — It is a terrible shame that Headway Thames Valley was awarded only a £5,0000 grant by the town council while the River & Rowing Museum will receive £7,500 and its car park reimbursement (Standard, October 13). The government funding for Headway has been cut and now their local council cannot be bothered.

It makes you wonder what’s going on in Henley when a museum can get a better grant than a brain injury charity. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs J Hadley

Leaver Road, Henley

It’s ‘win-win’ with God

Sir, — In response to the Radleys’ “win-win” letter last (Standard, October 13), I would like to testify that I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 42 years ago.

At the time I was absolutely devastated.

Through the prayers of friends and family, I have found the strength and determination to live a fulfilling life, despite my disability.

I really agree that forging a relationship with God is truly a “win-win” situation. — Yours faithfully,

Inez Challis

Wyndale Close, Henley

Thanks for rescuing me

Sir, — I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to the two young ladies and two gentlemen who looked after me when I had a nasty fall while crossing the road in Gravel Hill, Henley.

They were so very kind as I was in a bit of a mess.

One young lady (from Marlow) even drove me home and came in to make sure my husband knew what had happened.

Unfortunately, I was too dazed to get their names but I hope they will read this letter and know how grateful I am.

It’s wonderful to know there are still such Good Samaritans around. — Yours faithfully,

Sally Jones

Ancastle Green, Henley

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