Friday, 19 August 2022

Your letters...

College must work with us

Sir, — I would like to comment on the letter from Satwant Deol, the principal and chief executive of The Henley College (Standard, March 23).

I do accept that anyone in such a position should show pride in the college but I think she is missing the wider community issue that some students are creating which is showing a deal of disquiet.

To detail these would take too much space but a list would include bad and dangerous driving, foul language, excessive littering, offensive and threatening behaviour and parking across drives. I could go on.

When I was being educated we were taught to value our surroundings — and that included our neighbours — and the educating authorities applied strong rules that were equally applicable, be they on the educational site or outside.

It appears those values are not applied by The Henley College to the few students who are causing such disharmony. Why do we think this is? Because nothing is done about it and year on year it gets worse.

In a recent letter, Mike Phelan commented that there used to be meetings throughout the year between the college staff who were represented by both staff and pupils and a range of people from the community, including the police.

Both Mike and myself (plus many others) were on this committee.

From memory, a meeting was held, chaired by the new principal, and since then absolutely nothing.

Mike and I both wrote to the college to ask about this and neither of us received either an acknowledgement or a reply, which shows a distinct lack of care or interest.

I now understand that Oxfordshire County Council is evaluating changes to its home to school travel policies, presumably as a cost cutting measure.

This may save some cost but what about the effect on the community in terms of an increase in the use of cars by students and, just out of interest, where will they park?

Sooner or later the local residents will get so fed up with this issue that it will force the introduction of residents’ parking.

That in turn will make the students park even further away from the college, thereby widening the acrimony between students and residents.

I am, of course, forgetting the apparent intention of the college to build on the playing fields and they will undoubtedly use all the remaining space to build a huge car park.

Perhaps it is time for the college to come clean with the community about this project rather than it be left to speculation but then this college doesn’t do community... time to talk methinks? — Yours faithfully,

Chris Baker

Lauds Close, Henley

Don’t blame all students

Sir, — Coming to The Henley College has genuinely been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The independent atmosphere and caring staff have made for a learning environment in which I can take responsibility for myself and become a motivated and driven student, resulting in high prospects for my future and that of thousands of others.

However, there are more than 2,000 pupils here and, unfortunately, a small minority have abused the freedom given to us, which has translated into potentially dangerous driving affecting the local residents.

The college has acknowledged this issue and we as the student leadership team are working closely with the staff to come up with solutions to educate the minority of students who are being reckless through the means of:

• A safe driving course continuously offered.

• New, clear guidance on where students may park in Henley.

• Future neighbourhood meetings between the residents and the Student Union.

The college and the student body are working collectively to put into action some strategies to ensure that the students are better educated and informed of speeding. — Yours faithfully,

Amy-Jane Bill


We need more space to park

Sir, — I have been at Henley College for nearly two full terms now and would like to say that I am extremely happy with my choice. I was welcomed by the college, which has built my confidence, and am very happy with the wide range of subjects and career paths.

Through the staff and Student Union, I am supported in all aspects of college life, including advice on my subject areas and any personal help necessary.

I would also like to address the issue of driving around college and say that we have clearly communicated on what we can and cannot do, having been informed on quite a few ways to stay safe, including tutorials on safe driving and the student parking area.

As part of the student leadership group, we have been discussing further ways to improve, including a more detailed plan to show where students are allowed to park their cars to avoid residential areas and possibly looking even further into getting more parking permits for the students as the student car parking lot alone is too small for the large number of driving students. — Yours faithfully,

Aleksandra Kmieciak


Put road tax on cyclists

Sir, — Last year you published a letter from a reader who wished to moan about the state of the towpath not being maintained suitably for cyclists.

I recall a bit of a ping-pong match when I suggested that the towpath was not for cyclists and that he could pay some cycle tax and have third party insurance it did not go down too well, as I recall.

Since then a cyclist has killed a young mother in London and is in prison for 18 months and, with a strong guess, I assume no insurance to compensate her husband or three children.

Last week I learned that a cyclist claimed £18,000 after falling off his bike when he hit a pothole and it was paid by a local authority.

I have had two tyres on my car smashed by potholes and had my claims rejected yet I pay road tax of about £1,400 per year on three vehicles yet cyclists pay nothing. Where is the logic or justice?

As a small aside, a tax could be managed in the way the Environment Agency administers fishing licences for the rivers of England.

Not too difficult and any cyclist without some form of third party insurance could be sent straight to prison. — Yours faithfully,

Mr K C Bushnell

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley

Winning way to ride bike

Sir, — It’s 1.45pm on Sunday and I’m exhausted.

I was up at 5.30am and then cycled 20 miles in the Sonning Common On Your Bike event faster than anyone else (76 minutes) because I used my electric Volt bike.

I started off in the middle of the cyclists and then realised I was passing everyone.

I was so fast that I arrived ahead of all the 20-mile participants, most of the 12-mile competitors and many of the others.

My point is that any elderly person who is hesitant about cycling again could easily cycle with assistance from a modern British electric bike, such as the Volt bike. It’s so much more fun going up hills with a little help from an electric motor.

I think a few other elderly cyclists might consider using an electric bike. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Chairman, Sonning Common Health Centre’s patient participation group, Binfield Heath

Are we all in this together?

Sir, — The bickering around Thames Farm continues with Councillor David Bartholomew’s letter (Standard, March 23).

He is a county councillor and is well aware of the government pressure to build substantially more houses than were built in the last few years, particularly in the leafy suburbs where they are desperately needed.

In Henley, we have to find sites for (so far) 850 new homes (of which 340 should be at affordable rents, as per the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan).

Sites for 500 have already been found and the plan approved by referendum.

These homes are beginning to be built.

Of the balance of 350 homes, we can subtract about 100 from the approved Thames Farm project so that leaves 250 where sites need to be allocated.

I doubt we have, or should need, the sites within the town borders to build all these homes and therefore we will need to look carefully at the neighbourhood plan to find a sensible and fair allocation of these new-builds.

We could, of course, do nothing and allow South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to make the decision regarding sites for us.

I fought against Henley receiving hundreds of new homes at the district councouncil’s core strategy inspection in 2011 and again last year at its local plan submissions. But the decision has now been made with government support and the council will act.

Clearly a lot of work has to be done to improve the infrastructure to meet this plan. Whichever way we go, I do think it unfair to expect Henley town to meet the new government targets without the help of its surrounding neighbours.

Housing need is a national problem in which we all need to be involved. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Care before road repair

Sir, — Michael Emmett’s letter contained an obvious contradiction and a worrying set of priorities (Standard, March 23).

He states that Oxfordshire County Council’s budget is inadequate and I would agree with this.

He then goes on to praise the current government for its austerity policies, a major part of which has been a continued reduction to funding for local authorities, so if the council is strapped for cash it’s fairly clear where the blame lies.

He then says that he would rather the council spent its limited funds on pothole repairs than welfare. Welfare means looking after people.

I personally would prefer my elected local authority to spend its money on looking after vulnerable, ill, old and disadvantaged people, which I think is the hallmark of a civilised society, as a priority over repairing holes in the road.

Of course it would be good if they could do both but, as Mr Emmett says, we do not have the money to do everything. — Yours faithfully,

Dr Peter Inness

Orchard Avenue, Sonning Common

Art is what artist says

Sir, — I refer to Luke Butcher’s letter regards the lights on Henley Bridge (Standard, March 23).

Art is defined as any expression of human creativity so if some bloke wants to hang lights on a listed bridge and call it art then we can’t really argue.

We could say we don’t like it, say it breaks planning regulations, say it looks like a crass, cheap degradation of a beautiful bridge, but it’s art if the “artist” says it is.

Also, I had the pleasure of feasting my eyes upon Mr Butcher’s decorated Christmas tree last year and I can attest that it was truly a work of art! — Yours faithfully,

Jason French


Mercenary nonsense

Sir, — I refer to your article headlined “Council set to bail out football club” (Standard, March 23), which quoted a town councillor as saying: “Year after year, they [Henley Town Football Club] were running out of money... they were paying players coming from here, there and everywhere. Some of the players were mercenaries, being paid and then the money would run out and they would go.”

As the president of Henley Town FC since 2006, I should like to assure your readers that I believe that statement to be entirely without foundation. — Yours faithfully,

J F Bailey

St Andrew’s Road, Henley

Time for a quick Braxit

Sir, — I was heartened to see that my fellow readers Vincent Ruane, Richard Crane and James Lambert (Standard, March 2 and 9) are prepared to voice their concerns over the continuing decline of our local pubs under the management of Brakspear.

When we write in with an observation, rather than a complaint, about the state of our abandoned and deserted pubs, we are sometimes treated to a polite response from Brakspear explaining the plight of the British pub industry, how pubs are closing every five seconds or so, that nobody drinks beer any more, no one is willing to travel out of town to a pub, etc.

Meanwhile, the company steadfastly refuses to recognise there are pubs that are well-managed, sell good beer and represent good value money, for example, the Bird in Hand, the Greyhound and a dwindling number of its own pubs, such as the Three Horseshoes and the Three Tuns, and that this situation is ultimately its responsibility.

May I suggest then that the company opts for a hard “Braksit” and seeks a buyer that knows how to run pubs successfully in today’s modern market (Enterprise Inns, Greene King, JD Wetherspoon... anybody).

Or is it willing to consider a soft “Braksit” and sell the freehold of unwanted pubs to someone else to show how it’s done or to do a deal with the Rebellion Brewery or West Berkshire Brewery to sell their beer? — Yours faithfully,

Howard Poll

Stoke Row

Remember this old pub?

Sir, — Do any of your readers remember the Red Cross Inn in New Street, Henley?

I used to frequent it in the late Seventies. It was really quaint and you felt as if you had stepped back in time.

The pub has been closed for many years now and New Street, alas, has no pubs left.

Henley also had the Duke’s Head in Duke Street and the Old White Hart in Hart Street. The Old Bell in Bell Street is still going, of course.

How many old Henley pubs have been lost, closed or forgotten? — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Grove Road, Emmer Green

Pub raffle raised £650

Sir, —As the landlords of the Flower Pot in Aston, we would like to thank everybody who came and supported the pub’s grand raffle in aid of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. The magnificent sum of £650 was raised for this very worthy cause.

A buffet supper was supplied by the longest-serving couple in the pub trade locally. — Yurs faithfully,

Tony Read and Pat Thatcher

The Flower Pot, Aston

Helping more patients

Sir, — As one of the Sonning Common/Kidmore End community first responders I wish to publicly thank Sue Nickson, Ann Butler-Smith and Jenny MacGregor for organising the Lent lunches in Sonning Common this year.

The community first responders were the beneficiaries of the lunch held on March 19. The event was very well attended with more than 50 people present and a fantastic £442 was raised.

This money will go towards the purchase of a Mangar emergency lifting cushion, which will cost about £2,500.

This is a set of inflatable cushions and a pump that will enable us to attend people who have fallen and are unable to get themselves back into a chair or on to a bed.

Once we have purchased the kit (and have done the necessary training) we will be able to go to these patients, do all the initial assessments (temperature, blood pressure, oxygen levels etc) and, using new phone technology, speak directly with paramedics in the ambulance control room who will confirm if the patient’s injuries allow us to use the lifting cushion to get them up off the floor.

If the paramedic decides the injuries require additional treatment we will stay until the ambulance arrives.

Although part of the South Central Ambulance Charity, community first responders are responsible for raising all the funds needed to equip their schemes.

If anyone can help us with this fund-raising, please contact us through our website, www.sonningcommonfirst — Yours faithfully,

Chris Brook

Coopers Pightle, Kidmore End

Successful Lent lunches

Sir, — I would like to express my thanks to all the generous people who supported us at the three bread and soup Lent lunches at Christ the King Church Hall in Sonning Common.

A small team of us have run these lunches for three years now and the attendance and donations to the chosen charities this year were the highest ever.

A total of £263 went to Parents and Children Together, £390 to Launchpad and an amazing £442 to our local community first responders.

We were fully booked and unable to offer a place to everyone who wanted to come to the last lunch as we just could not fit anyone else in, so apologies to those we had to disappoint. We will be running another lunchtime event to support the first responders in Sonning Common village hall on Wednesday, October 31.

Chris and Sue, our first responders, will again be explaining what they do so I hope that event will prove as popular.

More details will be available nearer the time. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Nickson

Member, Christ the King Church, Sonning Common

Celebrating our young

Sir, — On behalf of Henley Youth Festival, we would like to thank Henley for celebrating our 25th anniversary in fantastic style.

We had more than 100 school workshops led by 17 different groups providing more than 130 hours of workshops to 12 schools in the Henley area, eight performing arts events, including six at the Kenton Theatre, an inter-school cross-country run and writing and art competitions and exhibitions.

There was also the Young Reporter competition run by the Henley Standard and who could forget the guest appearance by Mary Berry at the gala on the Saturday night?

There is a large team of volunteers that works throughout the year to plan and then run the festival and without them it would not be possible.

Many thanks to everyone for all your hard work and dedication. We are very grateful to the local companies and organisations who are our sponsors. They include Invesco Perpetual, the Henley Educational Trust, Henley Town Council, Henley Royal Regatta, Henley Lions Club, The Arts Society Henley, GoKids, Thamesfield Youth Association, Harpsden Wealth Management, South Oxfordshire District Council, Hofmann’s, the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, Henley Information Systems, Penningtons Manches, Waitrose, Philip Booth Esq., Shiplake College, St Mary’s School, Rupert House House, Lambrook School, Higgs Group and many more.

In addition, local companies including Lovibonds, the Bell Bookshop, Swiss Farm, the Kenton Theatre, JenKat Digital and the River & Rowing Museum gave their time, facilities and support.

We feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful team who enable the young people of Henley to demonstrate their skills, build their confidence and show what a wonderful group of young people we have in Henley.

Thank you also to the Henley Standard for your support throughout the year and in particular for your coverage of the festival in recent editions.

We look forward to celebrating all that the young people have to offer again in 2019! — Yours faithfully,

Kate Swinburne-Johnson and Jo Dickson

Co-chairs, Henley Youth Festival 2018

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