Saturday, 13 August 2022

Letters to the Editor...

Mother with wrong idea

Sir, — I recently had the (dis)pleasure of meeting my niece from the school gates, not something I do often since becoming a new mother.

Occasionally, when I get the chance, I love to see her little face light up when she sees me in the playground.

Why have I stated this as a displeasure, I hear you ask?

I found myself alone on this occasion without my son to distract me.

I walked in and smiled at you, you tall, immaculately dressed blonde lady, only to be met with a stony-faced stare.

Unfazed, I walked into the playground and waited in the spot my niece would greet me.

As I waited, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of isolation. I looked around to see all those stereotypical mum groups that make you feel like you need a Mafia initiation just to say hello.

The longer I waited the more I started to feel that it was my first day at school with those judging looks because I didn’t have the latest fashion item or because my hair was scraped into a top knot and my face wasn’t made up.

I shook this thought out of my head. “You’re being silly,” I told myself.

Then my niece came out, smiling and happy to see me.

We proceeded to walk to the gate when your daughter dropped her glove.

We picked it up and called her name, only to be unacknowledged so we called again and you both turned round.

No thank you or friendly smile was received, instead a snatch of the glove and a hurried walk.

I looked down at my niece. “She said her mummy told her not to speak to me.”

My heart sank for a six-year-old to come out with something as disheartening as that. I asked her why. She didn’t know.

What could a six-year-old possibly have done to you for you to tell your daughter not to speak with her?

This got me thinking. Surely you realise your behaviour has an effect on your children. Think about the message this is sending to your daughter.

Our kids pick up on everything and their behaviour often mirrors ours. Do you want your daughter to be a bully?

What was so hard about saying thank you? Why was it so hard for you to smile back? Is it because I don’t dress the same as you and other mums in your clique? Is it all because of hearsay?

Lead by example and stop shaming women because they don’t “fit in” with what you think makes a good parent.

It is so often women that make other women feel bad. Stop. Now. Stop judging women by what they are wearing. Stop judging by what you’ve heard and make a decision for yourself.

Be the one that isn’t drawn into the conversation. Smile at someone new or make conversation, you don’t have to suddenly become best friends and make play dates but a smile can go a long way. Mothers have it hard enough as it is without having to face a daily battle in the playground against women that should be empowering them and not making them feel uncomfortable.

Together, we are raising the future and teaching our kids that judging someone purely on how they dress, their family circle or what pram they have is definitely not making for a bright one. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address

Welcome the coach parties

Sir, — The reason that shops in Henley are closing (Standard, January 19) is there are insufficient people going into them. This is the meaning of lack of footfall.

You cannot force landlords to charge lower rents — after all, they can sell up and go elsewhere if they cannot charge the rents that they feel they need.

You can get more people into the town by contacting coach companies that bring in tourists. It is not rocket science.

Tourists with pocket money brought into town for a couple of hours to have a cup of coffee and a memento of Henley will transform the town but Henley has a tourist office and town manager unable to see this obvious fact. — Yours faithfully,

Gloria Wright


Plenty to do in town (not)

Sir, — Well, there you are then, a day out in Henley town…

We can have our nails done and eyebrows plucked at a selection of several beauty salons.

Next is a new outfit from one of the five or six charity shops or we could read one of their books while we have a coffee at a choice of (is it 15?) coffee shops.

And all before lunch. Humph. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Vivian-Wright

Greys Road, Henley

We need this office block

Sir, — Recently, there has been national concern regarding collateral damage which is occurring as a result of a government ruling, some years ago, that planning permission for converting offices into flats would be granted automatically.

This seemed a good idea at the time when there was, as now, great concern about the need for new housing.

The concern about the offices-to-flats conversions follows from the temptation of office owners to sell the offices at inflated prices without concern for a local amenity, which provides employment and accommodation for local businesses, being lost.

The loss of offices, particularly in small towns, is having serious consequences.

The owner of The Hub office block, adjacent to Henley station, is applying for conversion to flats.

One office block in Station Crescent is already being converted and another, also in Station Crescent, has applied for planning permission to convert into flats. If The Hub is also converted into flats they would not be included in the neighbourhood plan and there would be no requirement that 40 per cent are “affordable”.

This is yet another way of developers avoiding the provision of affordable homes as well as bypassing the neighbourhood plan.

The Hub office block is in an ideal position, convenient for rail and other transport, and contains a viable number of offices equipped to modern standards and which are, apparently, occupied.

It is an important business amenity and Henley should not lose it.

If The Hub goes, there might be no block of offices at the region of the station — and maybe nowhere else in Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Hollas

Queen Close, Henley

Conditions must be met

Sir, — South Oxfordshire District Council has now given permission for the development of a further 241 dwellings in Benson.

It comes with the promise of 40 per cent affordable housing and a number of other community provisions.

We have seen in the past that developers have easily avoided conditions placed upon their original ideas, not least with the previous scheme (170+ dwellings) that will be adjoining this development. We look to our councillors and planning officers to ensure that all the provisions promised are provided in a timely fashion and not just traded off in the phrase “viability of the scheme” to the benefit solely of the developers.

After all, the number of new dwellings agreed in South Oxfordshire already far exceeds the earlier plans for the villages and towns. — Yours faithfully,

Tony Winters

Old Barn Close, Benson

Nothing ever gets done

Sir, — It saddens me but bolsters me at the same time and makes me feel vindicated that, not wanting to have to say “I told you so” so many years ago, now has actually come around (again).

Our independent shops can’t survive, builders disregard the beauty of our highways and byways in pursuit of profit and there is a negative comparison between South Oxfordshire district and Wokingham borough councils.

The behaviour of our councillors and dog owners, the abysmal train scheduling (both misbehaving and barking mad), the pitfalls of potholes and excessive speeding (you can just pray that the one will teach the other a lesson!) Parking (still!) and the repetitive roadworks which seem to be abandoned, waiting to catch unwary passers-by and attract tumbleweed.

All have been churned over time and again ad nauseam in our local paper.

All yes. All is the remit of our councillors, our local authority, our local elected representatives.

Obviously we’ve been shouting too loud and they have gone deaf.

Time to fix that problem. Don’t fix their hearing, fix their income! No results? No pay! Not getting to grips with the needs and problems of the electorate and council taxpayers? Get rid of them and employ people who will.

Thousands spent on leafleting how Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage have been revitalised. Ever wonder where our money is going?

Look north to those towns, look to scrutinising the council expenditure more in depth. Because there is little or no evidence of any of our council tax money ever being spent on what Henley actually really needs. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

Tories on the way back

Sir, — May I take this opportunity to congratulate Donna Crook on her successful election to Henley Town Council and thank everyone that participated and voted in the election.

The result is quite unusual. Henley Conservatives haven’t won or retained a town council by-election seat for 13 years and have only had a majority on the council for six of the last 27 years.

I have no doubt that Donna’s qualities and track record are a substantial reason for last week’s result but I believe it’s also positive acknowledgement that the Henley Conservatives are changing.

Over the last seven months, we’ve been carefully reflecting on the lessons of the council by-elections last May.

We have distributed a comprehensive survey called Henley Matters to every house in the town to identify the issues and priorities residents want us to concentrate on.

We are now starting to use that valuable feedback to inform our activities and initiatives.

On the town council we are keen to work on a cross- party basis when appropriate and where there is consensus but we are also taking our duty very seriously to carefully scrutinise the controlling group, Henley Residents Group, on issues where we think their approach is letting down the town.

When appropriate, we are also challenging and campaigning against district and county council and other proposals which run counter to the best interests of the town.

The current petition calling for a fairer share of police resources for Henley is the most recent.

We recognise we have a way to go but we will continue to listen and learn and keep Henley at the heart of everything that we do. — Yours faithfully,

Frank Browne

Chairman, Henley Conservatives, Remenham

Thanks for electing me

Sir, — May I thank everyone who voted for me on Thursday week in the Henley North ward by-election for the town council.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Paula Isaac and Jackie Walker for being fellow candidates and to thank my friends and family for supporting me throughout the campaign.

I am really looking forward to working with all the councillors and promise to serve the whole community.

I have already made a start on my election pledges and have launched a petition for a fairer allocation of police resources in Henley.

If there is an issue I can help with, don’t hesitate to contact me at — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Donna Crook

Henley Town Council, Abrahams Road, Henley

Getting on with the job

Sir, — Henley Residents Group would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who turned out on a cold January day to vote for our outstanding candidate Paula Isaac. We are sure that it is only a matter of time before she will be able to bring her energy, commitment and proven talents to the town council.

Remember that in May last year HRG won two town council by-elections when Ken Arlett and Glen Lambert both had huge majorities and Stefan Gawrysiak won the Oxfordshire County Council election, again with a large majority.

It is only eight months since HRG gained control of and revitalised the work of the town council.

HRG will press on, working for the Henley community.

Last year we brought the May Fair back to life in the market square, finally delivered the skate park and presided over some wonderful Christmas celebrations.

We have cleaned up the commercial waste from the streets and have tenders out for a new ecobus with improved service in the town.

Major improvements to the Makins recreation ground and Freeman’s Meadow playgrounds are planned and under consultation.

We are also taking a responsible approach to the town budget. The additional 12p per week per household just maintains the value of the council’s precept but provides £37,500 to allow us to maintain necessary services.

We will look for sources of additional income and ways to cut expenses. We will listen to any suggestions made.

Meanwhile, Councillor Gawrysiak has started to get to grips with the potholes in Henley and King’s Road and Harpsden Road have had major resurfacing work done.

This is all in less than a year. There is so much more that we can and want to do for the town. We trust that the Henley electorate will continue to back us when the time comes. — Yours faithfully,

David Feary

Treasurer, Henley
Residents Group, Walton Avenue, Henley

Worringly naive mayor

Sir, — I note Henley Mayor Kellie Hinton’s comments regarding Rev Canon Martyn Griffiths, our wonderful outgoing rector, being “possibly the only person who could get away with having a dig at councillors...” (Standard, January 19).

Given the unbecoming conduct of so many of our councillors (often played out in the letters section of this esteemed paper), I feel I should point out to our worryingly naive Mayor that many more of us frequently have digs at our councillors and do get away with it. — Yours faithfully,

Ed Horner


We’ve got our own tapestry

Sir, — There is current media excitement about the prospect of the Bayeux Tapestry coming to England within the next few years.

However, we in Henley are privileged as we can see it now.

One hundred and thirty years ago Elizabeth Wardle enthused 35 of her friends from the embroiders’ group in Leek, Staffordshire, to create a full-size, identical replica (apart from the exclusion of a few naked male members that were rather too shocking for the ladies) of the original.

After touring the country, it was bought by a mayor of Reading and can be seen in a specially designed display area at Reading Museum. — Yours faithfully,

Kaye McArthur

Ancastle Green, Henley

Old pubs look disgraceful

Sir, — I was interested to read Let’s Talk About Business with Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies (Standard, January 12).

He stated that he loves pubs and people.

In which case, could he explain to villagers why pubs in Highmoor, Nuffield and Checkendon have been allowed to get into such a mess that they are an eyesore and disgrace? — Yours faithfully,

Mrs N W Evans

Main Street, Stoke Row

Keep giving foreign aid...

Sir, — I’m proud of the impact UK aid has made to millions of children and their families.

Our community supports the UK’s commitment to helping the poorest help themselves.

We are big enough to help those in need both here and abroad. This means our doctors and nurses assisting in communities and training local staff in times of disaster or disease.

During the ebola crisis in Sierra Leone NHS staff and UK military personnel trained 4,000 health workers alongside hundreds of British charity workers.

UK aid shows us at our best. It’s why I’m supporting organisations like Save the Children to encourage the public to have conversations about UK aid.

We can and should move the debate away from why we spend aid to how we best spend it.

Please help shine a spotlight on this issue and the pride we can all take in UK aid. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Lohman

Wheatley Road, Stanton St John, the NHS needs it more

Sir, — I am extremely concerned about the NHS and I strongly disagree about giving hard-earned taxpayers’ money to foreign aid.

Charity begins at home here in the UK. How can the UK give money away when the NHS is in crisis?

Give the money to the NHS, not to foreign aid. — Yours faithfully,

Pauline Cruise

Ledger Lane, Maidenhead

Young have opinions too

Sir, — After reading your Take Five item “Are mobile phones a distraction?” (Standard, January 19), I am feeling disappointed.

All I see is that the people spoken to are all over the age of 40, the (I hate to say it) older generation.

I never seem to see the opinions of younger people and I think this is a real shame.

Henley is a town full of people of all ages and I wish more opinions of the younger generation were seen and heard.

I hope to see more of a mix of opinions and ages in the future. — Yours faithfully,

Tenisha Manning

Don’t fool yourself...

Sir, — Somehow Tim Dickson read a great deal more into my jocular letter about the appearance of snow negating a so-called expert’s forecast than was actually in it.

Like many “baby boomers”, my school science education in the late Fifties was very clear about the difference between weather and climate; I need no lessons from whippersnappers.

Looking out at Sunday’s snow cover, I recall that we were also taught about about what is now known as the Medieval Warm Period (c.800 to c.1250 AD), when grapes and other soft fruits were grown in what is now Yorkshire and the Vikings grew wheat and raised cattle in Greenland (there is a clue in the name), all of which was well described by contemporary historians.

All the evidence shows that the climate then was at least as warm if not warmer than it is now.

Anyone then considering future climate would surely have believed that there was no reason to expect any change.

Yet by 1300AD the world was plunging into 500 years of the Little Ice Age.

The history of the world’s climate shows that periods of glaciation far exceed those of moderate climates so it is almost certain that we are are now living through an interglacial period awaiting another freeze.

One has to accept that in most recent years the world’s climate has warmed by fractions of a degree and that this appears and only appears to correlate with increased carbon dioxide emissions which may or may not therefore be causing the change.

I would hope that Mr Dickson’s studies of the “dismal science” of economics would have taught him that correlation and causality are not the same thing. He seems deeply concerned by an annual change of 0.8C which most of us would be unable to detect.

Note that the UK record diurnal range was set in Altnaharra, where that range was 29.3C on December 30 1995 — now that would be detectable!

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and the 2008 Climate Change Act that I mentioned have stimulated the development of huge “green” industries that we are all subsidising through our fuel bills and which now exert considerable financial and political muscle.

They and their acolytes stand poised to attack as heretical anyone questioning the warmist religion.

Finally, can I point Mr Dickson and other “warmists” to the immortal words of Professor Richard Feynman on science: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Yours faithfully,

Philip M Collings

Peppard Common

Having fun getting fit

Sir, — It’s at this time of year that many people turn to focus on their health and wellbeing.

I want to commend to Henley Standard readers a great activity that my husband and I took up this time last year — and we really haven’t looked back.

We’ve enjoyed great results, feel genuinely fitter for life and have met some fun new local people. Fast Track Fitcamp is an interval training group that takes place in Henley three times per week (Mon, Wednesday and Friday) at 6.30am for 45 minutes, whatever the weather and every week of the year, on the artificial pitches at Jubilee Park opposite Tesco.

It is run by qualified trainers who inject great enthusiasm and humour into these morning workouts.

It’s attended by a sociable bunch of locals and it really is a lot of fun. It also fits in perfectly pre-work or pre the school run.

We’re about to embark on year two and, as Fitcamp converts and now addicts, we wanted to spread the word.

Anyone interested can also do some trial sessions to see if it’s for them — all details at www.fasttrack- — Yours faithfully,

Jill Grinsted

Sonning Common

Wonderful contribution

Sir, — The Shiplake and Dunsden branch of the Royal British Legion would like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s Poppy Appeal, which raised a wonderful total of £6,989.77.

The branch would also like to thank the door-to-door collectors in Shiplake, Dunsden and Binfield Heath who all did such a brilliant job.

Roger Head, chairman of the branch, says how grateful we are to all those who give up their time and money in aid of the Poppy Appeal. — Yours faithfully,

Rosemary Jones

Honorary Poppy Appeal organiser, Shiplake and Dunsden branch of the Royal British Legion

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