Monday, 14 June 2021

Your Letters...

We’ve heard all this before

Sir, — There must have been a revelation for many councillors on Henley’s traffic problems at their recent meeting (Standard, October 27).

A modern-day Moses came cycling into town bearing tablets of wisdom from the mountain top at a rate of £850 per day. I suspect the final bill will be £3,000 or £4,000.

What did he tell everyone? Precisely what we have known for the past 20 years!

Namely, that Henley needs to reduce the levels of traffic accessing the centre of town but without limiting the sustainability of commerce and retail. That’s easier said than done.

Yes, we can agree that we need to persuade drivers to use the out-of-town car parks but before that can happen all car parking needs to be under the responsibility of one authority and not spread over three councils — Henley town, South Oxfordshire district and Oxfordshire county.

Until this happens there will be no progress in persuading residents and visitors of the potency of the strategy.

Only then could sensible differential pricing be introduced at our car parks, plus a park and ride system, to help our aged residents and visitors.

Remember that the district council takes almost £1million per annum from Henley’s car parking, the county council a further £300,000 and Henley Town Council £200,000. So with a total of £1.5million per annum in the kitty, we could make car parking work for Henley and help congestion.

The problem could be solved but it is not a technical exercise. It is one of political will by the town council.

However, what an opportunity to affect the town positively.

As to the other “Moses” ideas, all were discussed in the period from 2000 to 2005.

Let us not dismantle any traffic lights but use them in their original intelligent mode of keeping the traffic outside the central square mile until it can proceed smoothly through the town centre.

Mini roundabouts and street furniture are all déjà vu — discussed, argued and discarded.

I find the tablets that he did not find on the mountain, but remain there, more interesting.

Why no mention of asking The Henley College to embark and disembark students at the two out-of-town car parks, thereby saving 92 bus journeys in and out of the town daily? An old chestnut requiring political will.

What about the potential of asking Henley’s schools to persuade 20 per cent more pupils to walk to school daily? This was achieved in 2005 by councillors talking to the headteachers but has since lacked any focus. Yes, we can.

There are even more ideas in the archives of the town council but since the erosion of its “corporate memory” for new councillors, the council will continue to pay a heavy price in reinventing the wheel for modern times.

But we are all going to pay a heavy price in the future as the neighbourhood plan inflicts hundreds of houses annually.

Our beautiful Henley will simply be more congested and less desirable as a place to live with an increasing air pollution problem.

The latest research shows that the UK suffers 40,000 premature deaths annually due to poor air quality and particulates.

Pro-rata, Henley’s air problem has the potential to inflict approximately seven premature deaths per annum on residents.

The profound question is: Do you feel lucky or are you about to be one of the unlucky seven for a premature death?

I think the more vulnerable need to make a doctor’s appointment for an opinion but firstly one must gain a space in the congested car park for the two surgeries. — Yours faithfully,

Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

No excuse for bad driving

Sir, — I was appalled to read about Georgina Hitchen’s experience with a driver of an Arriva 800/850 service (Standard, October 27).

There is no excuse for bad driving and providing the person complaining has the time and date of the incident that driver involved can be taken to task as the operator will know exactly where and what each bus is doing.

Should anyone else experience this sort of action a dash-camera is vital.

However, the Highway Code says that buses do have the right of way, when safe to do so, to be let out in front of other traffic.

If a bus is winking/indicating to leave a bus stop, a driver behind must let the bus out.

When it comes to parked cars on the opposite side of the road from where one is driving, so many drivers carry on regardless, never thinking that their duty is to wait for oncoming traffic to either give way or wait for a gap.

If a bus is in the queue, I will normally let it come through as it is almost impossible now with the volume of traffic for them to get through on time.

You must record the vehicle registration number. The 800/850 is operated by Arriva of High Wycombe as part of Arriva The Shires, controlled from Luton. The other operators around Henley are more local.

I was similarly appalled to read about the changes proposed by Reading Buses to services 22, 23, 24 and 25.

With the consultation, it is not just about changing the route and where they serve.

Objectors need to press Reading Buses on the timetable too, for example, how many buses per hour are on each route (usually show as bph on official documents).

So if route 24 currently has four buses per hour off-peak, what will be the proposed timetable for rush-hour, off peak weekday, evenings, Saturdays and Sundays? You must press Reading Buses for this information.

The company is one of the better area operators, operated at arm’s-length by Reading Borough Council, and their information and maps are good but it needs to be kept on its toes.

The company has expanded out of its normal operating area with services to the south and to Newbury.

Another good place to protest to is the local traffic commissioner. The operating references for these routes are: Route 22 PH0005856/103; Route 23 PH0005856/86; Route 24 PH0005856/141.

If an operator wishes to withdraw a service it has to give 42 days’ notice, so there is little time to act.

If these changes are planned to take effect in February, what other changes are they making at the same time and have not made public? — Yours faithfully,

Mark Jameson


Fantastic new bus service...

Sir, — I live in Elizabeth Road, Henley, and recently noticed red buses with “Oxford” on the front floating past.

Naturally, they didn’t stop because nobody was waiting at the stops as nobody at all had been informed.

It took a telephone call to the council for me to find out that there is a new service. Thanks to Debbie, who was very helpful.

The X38 is an hourly service from Henley, leaving Hart Street at 10.10am and running until 7.16pm, including Saturdays.

I haven’t seen the timetable as yet, so these timings may not be exact.

The bus stops at The Henley College, goes up Valley Road, round Elizabeth Road and Nicholas Road, back down Greys Road into Henley, then to Nettlebed and Wallingford to Oxford. This is a fantastic new service for us in Henley and we should be shouting it from the rooftops. Please could you publicise this new system in your next edition? — Yours faithfully,

Merryl Roberts

Elizabeth Road, Henley

...but why is it a secret?

Sir, — We are often, quite rightly, encouraged to use buses in Henley but it would help if there was more publicity about them.

Last week a new service started — the X38 running from Henley to Oxford, giving us the first direct link between the town and city for some time.

There are additional local journeys made between Henley town centre and the Greys Road shops.

However, I have not seen any mention of the new service in the Henley Standard.

A few weeks ago Arriva increased the frequency of its 800 service between Henley and Reading, giving us four buses an hour via Shiplake plus one via Wargrave, but again no mention. What can be done to improve publicity and communication?

It would also help to know the exact route of the local Henley loop on the X38.

The timetable says it goes via The Henley College in Deanfield Avenue and the Greys Road shops. Does it follow the same route as the existing 151 Whites service going up Deanfield Road and round Elizabeth Road or does it use a different route?

If the former then the timings means that in the mornings it goes just 10 minutes after the 151. Were the routings discussed with anyone in Henley before the service was implemented?

The Henley loop should be particularly useful on weekday afternoons and Saturdays when the Whites services have been withdrawn but one has to wonder whether the Henley loop will survive or whether it will suffer in the same way as the now aborted Saturday service operated by Carousel, which lasted only a few months until the company found a more profitable way of using the bus.

It also raises the issue of whether the new loop service will take business away from Whites and thus affect the finances of its routes. which are subsidised by Henley Town Council. — Yours faithfully,

Peter C Stone

Blandy Road, Henley

Trust should think again

Sir, — I was astonished to read a notice at the car parking space in Broadplat Lane, stating that “due to antisocial behavior [sic] and fly-tipping … this area will be closed from the 6th November” — a notice issued by the National Trust at Greys Court.

This small open space is used mainly by local people exercising themselves and their dogs in the woodland; it is an ideal spot for friends to meet and often is the starting point for walking groups to begin and end their expeditions.

To deprive us of its use is to pour blame on those who are, in general, the most responsible guardians of the area.

We don’t fly-tip and many of us collect any drinks tins and fag packets we find, taking them home to be recycled in the usual way.

Litter attracts more litter, so to remove what is dropped reduces the problem.

As to fly-tipping, yes, it does happen in the car park from time to time but this is an endemic problem everywhere and, by closing off this area, rubbish will simply be dumped elsewhere in the woods.

To offer alternative parking at Greys Court “with free parking for NT members” at limited hours is no substitute.

Furthermore, vehicles will now park in the narrow lane’s passing places, making it more hazardous.

The National Trust is gaining a reputation for coming up with ill-considered edicts. This one, which affects a large number of regular users, is yet another. If anyone is being antisocial, it is the National Trust.

I hope they will swiftly reconsider. If they do not, I will seriously think about cancelling my membership of many years — and will encourage others to do the same. — Yours faithfully,

Ginny Batchelor-Smith

Lower Assendon

What about access ethos?

Sir, — I was dismayed to see that the National Trust will be closing their parking area in Lambridge Woods from Monday.

Their sign states that it is due to antisocial behaviour and fly-tipping.

In many years of parking there, I have seen evidence of the former but never the latter.

This parking area is used primarily by dog walkers with many being of advanced years. It is convenient and keeps cars safely off the verges along the Broadplat lane.

Closure will impact many people and is directly against the supposed ethos of the National Trust, i.e. greater access to the countryside.

In recent years I have noticed similar moves by other landowners (Crocker End springs to mind).

While the aim might be to reduce rubbish, it creates no-go zones for those wishing to walk in our local countryside. Such moves are by definition exclusive. — Yours faithfully,

Graham Wheal


Dangerous invader

Sir, — The threat to our river from floating pennywort is an extremely serious one, as your correspondents Tom Berman and John Skuse explained (Standard, October 27).

This dangerous invader needs to be dealt with at once.

Please can someone from the Environment Agency reply to this, telling us if work has already started to remove it from the Hennerton Backwater and elsewhere and, if not, explaining why

I think we all need reassurance. — Yours faithfully,

D Etherington


Destructive and heartless

Sir, — Years ago, the nationally renowned Henley brewery was destroyed by a “property developer”.

It seems that nothing changes with the threat to Lovibonds brewery (Standard, October 27). Brakspear was a trusty and reliable employer in Henley. Jeff Rosenmeier has tried, and very well, to reinvigorate this local tradition.

I implore every Henley resident to oppose this heartless plan to destroy his premises which will hurt the local economy.

I would be pleased to hear what the town manager has to say on this subject. — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Grove Road, Emmer Green

Deserved punishment

Sir, — A village pub can be a key location where residents can come together to socialise and foster a real community spirit.

It’s therefore vital that individuals are not able to just come in and take this important facility away.

Satwinder Sandhu changed the White Lion in Crays Pond into his home without permission and without any regard to the local community (Standard, October 27).

The planning inspector agreed with us that he had been wrong to do this and now, on two separate occasions, magistrates have punished his failure to comply with the enforcement notice.

I hope that Mr Sandhu will now comply with the notice and that further action will not be required. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Felix

Cabinet member for development management and building control, South Oxfordshire District Council

Effort going to waste

Sir, — In New Street, Henley, we know our food waste is collected early on a Wednesday morning so I was puzzled that the collection was late four weeks in a row.

Then the week before last it wasn’t collected at all.

Two emails (no response) and a phone call later (message said leave bin out) and on Monday last week, after a 15-minute call in which I said the bin was full and probably festering, I was told to just place the contents in the green recycling bag!

If this is the answer then why do I carefully separate food waste each week? — Yours faithfully,

Judi-Ann Roscoe

New Street, Henley

Lost and found service

Sir, — On Monday last week I lost a hearing aid in central Henley and realised that, since the front desk at the Henley police station is now permanently closed, there was no obvious place for a found item to be deposited.

I emailed Thames Valley Police to see if they had an alternative solution and I am still waiting for a reply.

In my case, a thoughtful person might well leave a hearing aid at Townlands Memorial Hospital who service hearing aids. However, where does the person who lost a laptop this week go to recover it?

Would it make sense for the information desk at Henley town hall to offer a lost/found service and would the council/staff be willing to do so? What do you think?

Fortunately, the Henley Standard offers a “lost and found” section. — Yours faithfully,

David Booth

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Nuisance posters

Sir, — On Monday last week, when wishing to cross Bell Street, Henley, at the controlled crossing, my view was obstructed by a poster advertising an event at the River & Rowing Museum.

Surely another position could be found, though it appears most pedestrian crossings in the town were adorned with advertising for the same event, except for the Station Road/Reading Road crossing, which displayed an event by which also obstructed the view of traffic while I waited to cross. — Yours faithfully,

David Cook


No proof required

Sir, — I must say I rather enjoyed Morris Clegg’s Thought for the Week (Standard, October 27). By the standards of some of the contributions to this column, his piece was thoughtful and reasoned.

However, I do need to point out a logical inaccuracy in his argument.

He states that “the atheist cannot prove his belief that God doesn’t exist”.

Atheism is based around an absence of belief that God exists; it is not a belief that He doesn’t.

The onus to prove the existence of something must be placed on the person claiming it.

If I claim that we are all governed by a great cosmic carrot in the sky, it is for me to prove it, not for others to disprove it.

In the same way, the onus is on the religious to prove their claims, not atheists to disprove them. — Yours faithfully,

Tim Dickson

Greys Hill, Henley

Don’t forget the children

Sir, — Although there has been controversy about the proposed location of the Heights School in Caversham, what seems to be forgotten is the needs and best interest of the children of the area, who are in their formative years of development.

Surely having a wonderful school in the heart of their community benefits everyone?

A significant proportion of children can walk to school, the logistics of the school run becomes easier for already time-pressed parents and traffic is reduced in the centre of Caversham.

Every year that a permanent site is delayed affects them (especially those with extra needs) as the temporary site becomes more crowded, noisy and difficult.

It is a thriving school living its philosophy that every child matters and that no one fails in the face of perpetual difficulties.

Surely children are the lifeblood and priority of the community and have a right to be educated in their own neighbourhood? Why would anyone deny them this?

I wrote on behalf of Isaac, eight, and Zia Higham, six. — Yours faithfully,

Claire Higham

Sheridan Avenue, Caversham

Tories must respect party

Sir, — As a card carrying member of the Conservative Party, I received an email from the Henley association’s branch secretary Chris Baker notifying me of his resignation.

This follows the rather unfair attack on Councillor Lorraine Hillier in the Henley Standard, doubtlessly on the back of a barrage of negative briefing to the newspaper by local officers of the association.

I am personally proud to be a member of the national Conservative Party but at local level I got so sick of my head being bitten off by the blue rinsers when attending local meetings that I no longer attend them.

The honorable thing to do by this bunch of arrogant people at branch committees level will be to resign en masse and bring the local party back into a state of discipline and respect for traditional party values, not forgetting respect for the electorate of Henley in support of our MP John Howell. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Walsh

Wyndale Close, Henley

NHS doesn’t want patients

Sir, — There was an excellent article in Saturday’s Daily Mail by Max Pemberton, an NHS psychiatrist, headlined “The plain truth is that NHS bosses would prefer it if patients didn’t exist”. So apt for our present problems at Townlands. — Yours faithfully,

Audrey Richardson

Retired physiotherapist, Wootton Road, Henley

No need for bottles at all

Sir, — I hate to be a spoilsport but there is an answer to the water bottles issue (Standard, October 27) — don’t use them.

It would be extremely rare for anybody to need such a frequent intake of water. Ask your GP.

Maybe it’s just a remarkable success for the sellers of bottled water who are perhaps not primarily known for their care for our health.

So no waste of water using the planet’s resources and no plastic bottles or refills necessary. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Jones

Reading Road, Henley

Wonderful family games

Sir, — Did you survive Halloween? And now it’s coming up to that time when Christmas weighs heavily on our minds and stretches our pockets.

Many millions of children everywhere will be anticipating that gadget, console, game or even just a loaded gift card.

Socks don’t even feature any more and the traditional sweater has become a commercial comical distraction.

Even books, CDs and DVDs have declined in favour under the onslaught of downloadable media. I would like to assist in choosing something different yet traditional, a variety of games to bring the family together, laugh and compete. And no, not like Monopoly!

These are all introductions into an experience that brings people together, taxes the mind and stimulates the brain cells. They are usually called “gateway games”.

The first is a card collecting, set arranging game about linking cities by train. There are many map versions, the original, Ticket To Ride, being a map of the USA.

Other map versions are available as is a junior edition if your children are of a younger age — Ticket To Ride: First Journey.

My second is a purely competitive game of dice rolling, card buying and opponent bashing using classic monsters (in a cartoony form) called King of Tokyo, a super-quick, super-fun game for three to five players.

My third suggestion for your Christmas stocking is a tile buying and laying game called Alhambra.

It’s so easy to learn and also of a reasonable length so you can get two or three games in of an evening.

If you are after something vexing but less taxing then try any theme from the Time Line series of games.

All are simplified versions of Trivial Pursuit but without the frustration of the length, unlucky die roll and exactitude needed.

I hope these help or inspire you to find out more but be warned that this could be a very deep rabbit hole you will be going down and if you do find these interesting, the friendly staff at Eclectic Games in Conduit Street, Reading, will be more than happy to hold your hand and guide you on the type and style of the many games they have at their emporium of gaming wonder. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski


Thanks for helping mum

Sir, — I would like to convey my very grateful thanks to members of the community who helped my elderly mother when her purse was stolen in Henley last week.

Staff at Cook, Hot Gossip and the National Westminster Bank all showed her great concern and were very supportive.

A lady called Claire overheard my mother’s plight and gave her money to tide her over until she got home safely, refusing to give her contact details so that she could be reimbursed.

Although she was understandably shaken up by the whole episode, Mum’s faith in humanity was certainly restored by the kindness of strangers she experienced in Henley that day.

Thank you so much if you were one of those who helped her. — Yours faithfully,

Mary McWhinnie


Appeal needs old £1 coins

Sir, — This is a very important time of year when we remember those who have fallen and it’s a good time to buy a poppy and show your respects.

With the recent changes at the Royal Mint, the old round £1 coin has ceased to be legal tender.

However, it may still be used for this year’s Poppy Appeal collection.

I was reading that there could be as much as £450 million in old £1 coins left in circulation. What a huge difference that could make.

Please dig out your pounds and pop them in a Poppy Appeal collection box.

I will be collecting in Henley Market Place once again tomorrow (Saturday).

I would like to thank all those who buy a poppy and all those volunteer collectors who do such a great job every year for such a good cause. — Yours faithfully,

Will Hamilton

Greys Road, Henley

Valuable historian

Sir, — Aren’t we lucky to have such a local historian as Elizabeth Hazeldine to take us through from the Romans to the Forties, hearing of the fascinating history of Henley’s ghostly past?

Did I hear galloping horses or see Mary Blandy as I walked home that evening? — Yours faithfully,

Jill Irwin

Singer’s Close, Henley

More News:

POLL: Have your say