Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Your letters...

Keep our shops going

Sir, — With your headline bringing the sad news of another independent retailer closing and yet another coffee shop (chain) opening (Standard, January 19), isn’t it about time there was an exposé of the cost of the rents in our precious town?

Perhaps a report listing the most recent closures and openings, a list of all the town centre properties vacant and, more importantly, the rental and rate cost for a business to take up each of them.

I don’t believe the majority of our townsfolk are quite aware of how stratospherically high these costs actually are.

Such a report would shed light on the difficulty of retail in our town.

Perhaps it could be the start of a campaign to pass some form of law that would prevent owners leaving properties vacant for long periods of time instead of creating exciting, new and vibrant opportunities.

Owners should be penalised on a rising scale against time for not striving to rent out these properties.

The authorities responsible should also play their part in reassessing the costs of running a business in Henley, no matter how far south, out of the way and irrelevant (except for being a cash cow) they think our town is to the greater Oxfordshire scheme of things. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski


Builders are ruining lane

Sir, — South Oxfordshire District Council will be aware of the development in progress for a new McCarthy & Stone retirement building in the Reading Road/Mill Lane area of Henley.

It will also be aware of its recent inspection of Mill Lane regarding another development on the site of the old LA Fitness health club in Newtown Road which is to have a new entrance from Mill Lane into the site.

This development should never have been allowed due to the existing congestion in Mill Lane anyway.

The conditions since the council’s inspection have become very much worse.

The council must be made aware of the harm being caused by the contractors involved with the McCarthy & Stone development by use of Mill Lane as the parking place for contractors’ vehicles (whose drivers regularly ignore the parking restriction and double yellow lines).

The road is now decidedly dangerous for pedestrians and children using Mill Lane to access Mill Meadows and its car park.

It is virtually impossible for residents’ vehicles to access their properties in Mill Lane due to the severe congestion.

Serious accidents are to be expected if conditions are allowed to continue.

Vehicles are parking on both sides of a narrow lane and the pavements (where they exist) are being broken up.

Mud and debris is being mixed with litter and discarded food packaging left by the contractors’ operatives who not only use the road for parking but for rest breaks and meal times.

Various parts of the lane are being used as a tip and are attracting fly-tipping e.g. the entrance of Mill Lane is seen to have black bin bags, food container waste and a broken car wheel.

Please can something be done to look after this area for the public amenity and for the protection of the residents? — Yours faithfully,

Michael Paul

Mill Lane, Henley

On your bike, councillors

Sir — I wish to suggest a (tongue-in-cheek) solution to many of Henley’s problems:

1. Provide bicycles to all town councillors without such means of transport and tuition if needed.

2. Make all town councillor parking spaces available to the public.

3. Only allow councillors to vote at a meeting if they have not travelled by car to that meeting.

The benefits would be that councillors who cycled would be viscerally aware of potentially lethal problems facing cyclists in Henley and they would hopefully move and vote to get such problems fixed.

In addition, councillors’ health would improve, more parking would become available and air pollution would decrease.

At present, our councillors’ utterances seem to be “do as we say, not as we do”. That is no way to change people’s behaviour. Henley needs leadership by example, not exhortation.

It is rare indeed to see councillors cycling, walking or taking buses — I cannot recollect ever seeing such a phenomenon. — Yours faithfully,

John Thornley

Makins Road, Henley

How’s this for service?

Sir, — I am writing concerning potholes, which are a regular topic in your newspaper with both a letter and an article in last week’s edition.

I must be very fortunate to live in Wokingham borough, where positives do happen.

On Friday, January 5 at 3.45pm I noticed a very new pothole outside my property on a busy junction used by cyclists etc situated close to the kerb.

I immediately rang Wokingham Borough Council and a lady took the details and said she would email them to the highways department. Within minutes I had received an email to confirm this.

The next day, I left the house to walk to get my newspaper at 7.45am and the pothole had been repaired! How about that for service? Yours faithfully,

Tony Lehain

Park Lane, Charvil

Worse than Punch & Judy

Sir, — Just when I thought Henley town councillors could stoop no lower in their efforts to backstab or demean their fellow councillors, one posts a picture on social media of a colleague using a mobile telephone during a council meeting (Standard, January 12).

Councillor Ian Reissmann, for he was the photographer, is no dinosaur and must be aware that the mobile phone or tablet is a convenient and compact way to store, access and efficiently retrieve important information such as agendas, minutes, reports and, yes, relevant emails.

There is no suggestion, of course, that Councillor Sara Abey, the subject of the photograph, was using her phone for any other purpose than that.

What is self-evident is that Cllr Reissmann was using his for no useful purpose at all.

My assertion in these columns some months ago that town council meetings resemble a Punch & Judy show was an insult to Punch & Judy shows and I apologise unreservedly to Punchmen and Bottlers everywhere. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Luckett

Lime Court, Henley

More work, fewer insults

Sir, — Having read your Comment article (Standard, January 5), I feel that Donald Trump has a lot to answer for if he even has imitators swimming about in the tiny pool that is Henley Town Council.

Could we revert to some grown-up politics that makes councillors too busy with the job in hand to descend to personal insults in the council chamber or, worse still, via Twitter?

The result of the council by-election wil have been determined by the time most of your readers see this and if the voters of Henley North ward have not elected Jackie Walker they will have missed an opportunity to be represented by a thoughtful, hard-working and well-informed adult who is too courteous to descend to this kind of thing and whose principles and ideas for Henley were clearly stated in her literature.

However, I have to thank your correspondent Douglas Kedge for the best laugh I have had for a while with his veiled suggestion that, you never know, she might be planning to start a workers’ revolutionary movement in, of all places, Henley-on-Thames!

Being a middle class woman who supports the aspirations of the Labour Party for a fairer society and is against transferring large sums of public money into private pockets hardly makes her a Marxist.

If we are going to get into speculation about the wilder shores of political conviction we might as well suggest that a Conservative or member of Henley Residents’ Group could possibly be a supporter of the Alt Right (whatever that is). — Yours faithfully,

Leda Patten

Cromwell Road, Henley

Take care, dog owners

Sir, — I write to the dog owners of Henley. In the last month my wife has been bitten by a dog, unprovoked, and I’ve twice been tangled up with dogs that have run at me, again unprovoked.

The responses from their owners were:

1. “He’s just being friendly.”

2. “She has this thing about runners.”

3. “He doesn’t need to be on a lead.”

These were all from normal, Henley dog owners. You see your lovable pet just being friendly. Others see a large, slobbering carnivore running at them, barking. For many people, this is scary.

More than 200,000 people are estimated to be bitten by dogs every year, with a cost to the NHS of £3million.

Every year more than 1,000 children under 10 require hospital treatment after being bitten by dogs.

So if you own a dog, then before you let it off its lead in Mill Meadows or Gillotts Field ask yourself these three things:

1. Does my dog always comes when called?

2. Has my dog ever run at strangers unprovoked?

3. Do I pay complete attention to my dog (i.e. not talking on your phone as in two of the above incidents)?

If the answer to any of these is “no” then keep your dog on a lead.

Please show some respect to your dog and to the residents of Henley and consider a dog training course.

I love dogs and have had one but they can and do injure and kill. Be a responsible owner. Thank you. — Yours faithfully,

Andy Healey


Train times not in sync

Sir, — I am writing in response to the adapted train times between Twyford and Henley (Standard, January 12).

I use the Henley branch line regularly to get to work and even though it has been suggested that the train times have changed in the evening, I still don’t see any improvement made during the day.

The situation I often find myself in is that my train from Reading will arrive at Twyford just as the branch line train is leaving, or has already left.

This means that I and everyone else have to wait 30 minutes for the train from Henley to return. Some conductors do allow the train to wait but most don’t.

I do find that when the train from Henley does arrive it waits at Twyford for about five to 10 minutes. The only problem is that it still isn’t synced with the trains from Reading.

I have sent two additional complaints to Great Western Railway within the last year. — Yours faithfully.

Zoë Bull

Swanston Field, Whitchurch

Who will stop the speeding?

Sir, — I put digit to keyboard as I am now exasperated.

Drivers speeding in their cars in Henley has just reached such a terrible level.

As I was getting into my car at 7.15am on Tuesday, I witnessed a car coming down Harpsden Road at the best part of 60mph.

This is certainly not the first, second, third or fourth time I have witnessed this.

Helen Pitcher’s family, who live at the top of Harpsden Road, have had first-hand experience of drivers speeding up the road.

The lack of a police presence and the laissez-faire attitude of Oxfordshire County Council to putting full-length speed bumps along Harpsden Road and Reading Road seem to suggest to these selfish motorists that they will never be caught. Someone is going to be killed soon. Is there anybody in authority that can address and fix this issue?

Speed calming measures are needed now! — Yours faithfully,

Kevin Ridsdale

Harpsden Road, Henley

Why all the roadworks?

Sir, — What is it with all these “roadworks” in Henley?

Last week there were the roadworks outside the Red Lion Hotel in Thames Side, where a set of lights did a good job in holding up the traffic but there were no workers visible.

This week it is the turn of Lower Shiplake (A4155) and Nettlebed (A4130), where traffic lights have appeared but after two days there is absolutely no sign of any work being done.

This is very good for causing tailbacks though, especially at Nettlebed, from where it backs up beyond Bix.

Is it some form of Carillion revenge or just plain ineptitude? — Yours faithfully,

John Cameron

Thames Street, Wallingford

‘Weather’ is not ‘climate’

Sir, — Your correspondent Philip Collings made an error that seems to be common among climate change sceptics (Standard, January 12).

He confuses “climate” with “weather” when he implies that the appearance of cold conditions in the north of the UK somehow invalidates the evidence for climate change.

Weather refers to day-to-day atmospheric conditions while climate relates to average conditions over a longer period of time.

For the record, 2017 is likely to have been the third warmest year on record (138 years of data) with a mean temperature 0.8C above the 20th century average.

The warmest year on record was 2016 and the second warmest was 2015.

Still, why deal with the facts when you can distract people with irrelevant tittle tattle? — Yours faithfully.

Tim Dickson

Greys Hill, Henley

Sad demise of football club

Sir, — My husband Tony Kingston has devoted 35 years of his life to Henley Town Football Club, helping many boys enjoy their game of football.

He has fund-raised to build the clubhouse and stand, run the line at matches, washed the kits, cleared the ground and planted hedging.

He spent hours on the computer daily with fixtures, printed programmes etc. I could go on but I won’t.

Now he has resigned. The new committee seems to only want the club to be a social club and for Sunday football with no first team.

Why is it that Henley has a good level of other sports, such as rugby, rowing and cricket, but now no football?

It’s like Tony has been chucked on the rubbish heap, put out to pasture.

He says he is okay about everything that has happened but I have to live with him and know how he really feels about it all. — Yours faithfully,

June Kingston

Bird Hill Avenue, Reading

Atheists can be caring too

Sir, — Lt Col Peter Blaker’s Thought for the Week article (Standard, January 5) was timely and sensible.

The writer voices what all decent people must feel, that freedom of behaviour and speech need to be tempered by a duty of responsibility and respect for other people.

Human kindness, thoughtfulness and respect for others in the public domain seem to be sadly lacking these days.

There are, however, two points on which I feel the need to comment.

Firstly, I take issue with the assertion that standards are based not only on “good manners”, but also on “a firm faith” and “a general belief in the doctrines of the Christian Church”.

There are many people who, although they find much goodness in those who are Christian believers, are themselves non-believers because they cannot accept the doctrines and beliefs of Christianity.

It does not mean that they also abandon standards of good behaviour towards others. Humanitarianism is not the prerogative of Christianity.

Secondly, the “special treatment... gallantry, towards women” should neither be “special” nor only “towards women”.

Both men and women should be thoughtful and helpful toward each other. Why should it be gender-based? A woman can just as appropriately open a door for a man, or let a man go in front of her sometimes, as the other way round.

I welcome the fairer attitude towards gender which we have today. — Yours faithfully,

Rosemary Geake

Sonning Common

Wonderful woman

Sir, — I was shocked and saddened to read about Penny Aird’s death (Standard, January 5).

Penny and I were at college in Sussex at the same time before unexpectedly meeting up again at Highlands School, Peppard, where we both taught for 13 or more years until its closure in 1993.

Penny made a difference to the lives of countless children in her role as reception teacher at Highlands and again in her later role as a deputy headteacher.

Her love and care of children extended beyond bringing up her son and daughter as she and David fostered children too.

Penny had a remarkable ability to achieve so so much in her educational and political roles as well as being a wonderful wife and mother. Those of us who knew her were so privileged. Our thoughts and prayers are with all her family. — Yours faithfully,

Barbara Reid

London Road, Twyford

Truly warm gesture

Sir, — Maybe, like me, you are able to read the Henley Standard in a warm house, but people in fuel poverty are facing a very difficult time in this bitterly cold weather.

You may be able to help. The Government gives pensioners a winter fuel payment but not all of us need this and could perhaps afford to donate some, or all, to Henley Lions Club’s winter fuel project.

In November the Lions launched the project for a second year and we have received a generous response from pensioners donating all or some of their winter fuel payment.

This has enabled us to answer many requests for support from families in the Henley area who, with the onset of bitterly cold weather and very low finances, do not have the money to guarantee their heating and ability to cook.

On behalf of the recipients of this help, Henley Lions would like to thank all those who have donated to the fund.

However, the fund still needs donations. Requests for help continue and with more cold weather forecast and finances stretched for those unemployed, with carer responsibilities or less able themselves, it will be a difficult time.

All the people we help first seek advice and support from Henley Citizens Advice. We live in what is regarded as a wealthy area but our experience is that some people are struggling to make ends meet.

We can and do help those less fortunate to get back to a better quality of life and independence. bDonations can be made via www.henleylions.org.uk — click on “donate” and please identify your donation as “winter fuel project”. Donations can also be made by cheque or bank transfer. For more information, please call 0845 833 7387 or email donate@henleylions.org.uk

All monies raised will be deposited in the Henley Lions’ charity trust account and are ring-fenced for the winter fuel project.

Thank you so much for your support. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Tritton

Chairman, community services, Henley Lions Club

Story made us chuckle

Sir, — What a great story about Tony the spacehopper (Standard, January 12), a bit of fun and laughter.

The wife and I had a good chuckle over it at breakfast time.

With two grandchildren myself, I understand how distraught they become if one of their favourite toys goes missing.

A happy ending in this case, though, fortunately. Felix and Didi must have been “inflated” on Tony’s return!

A Paddington Bear story in the making. — Yours faithfully,

James Watkins

Grove Road, Sonning

Christian prayer week

Sir, — This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January is running from yesterday (Thursday) until next Thursday.

There will be a meeting of the Churches Together Forum at the Friends Meeting House in Northfield End, Henley, on Tuesday at 7.45pm for 8pm.

The speaker will be local resident and rower Debbie Flood, who will be talking about Christians in Sport.

All are very welcome to attend. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Hails

Secretary, Henley Churches Together

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