Thursday, 29 July 2021

Your letters...

Time for that speed camera

Sir, — I was shocked to hear about the death of Daniel James on Saturday, March 17 in Marlow Road, Henley, by Swiss Farm (Standard, March 23).

Some years ago I was involved in the campaign to get a proper speed camera (to no avail) and then a road crossing, which was objected to.

We eventually secured two traffic speed warning sensors for either side of the road.

We were told over the years that we could not have a proper speed camera until a fatality occurred.

Now please, in memory of Daniel, surely this must be installed.

I have moved away but still worry about this dangerous road. The residents of the Swiss Farm homes say that the speed sensors have little effect as drivers still ignore the 30mph limit.

With elderly residents and many tourists and children from the holiday park, who are not familiar with the danger of walking along this road, there are going to be more accidents.

Unless we protect them and put in the best deterrent to slow down the traffic, which has got to be the proper speed camera, we are not caring for our vulnerable residents and visitors. — Yours faithfully,

Susan Phillips

Queen’s Avenue, Wallingford

UK spending unsustainable

Sir, — I am glad your correspondent Peter Inness agrees with me that Oxfordshire County Council’s budget is inadequate and also that we do not have the money to do everything (Standard, March 30).

However, I resent his gross misrepresentation of my views when he quotes me as writing that “(I) would rather the council spent its limited funds on pothole repairs than on welfare”.

I never wrote anything remotely like that, Peter. Read my letter again. An apology would seem appropriate: my number is in the phone book.

I think that, on the contrary, it is Dr Inness whose letter contains an obvious contradiction and a worrying set of priorities.

It is simplistic and offers no solutions. He has apparently still not accepted the problem.

It is also hardly helpful to apportion blame between the Tory government and the hard-pressed council, as he does, as if that were the end of the matter — unless, of course. he wishes to make a party political point.

I reiterate the view that it is the primary duty of any government to ensure that the country lives within its means. Hence the disagreeable belt-tightening.

Not praiseworthy, Peter, but essential. Surely this is not rocket science or is “balancing the books” old hat nowadays? Perhaps we should we just print some more money?

I have seen two reports on BBC News recently to the effect that welfare spending is rising at such a rate that by the end of the decade it will account for some 80 to 90 per cent of some councils’ budgets. The big picture, I understand, is that the UK education and defence budgets are currently each about £50billion annually, while the budget for welfare, including the NHS, is around £140 billion per annum.

I suggest that the above is unsustainable in any foreseeable scenario and is one of the many issues the Conservative government is seeking to address.

Against the backdrop of weak national finances, at the root of which lies sluggish productivity, more unpalatable choices surely lie ahead. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common

Illusion of NHS funding

Sir, — Recently even the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Rob Behrens has joined the growing number of high-profile professionals criticising the Government for its chronic lack of NHS mental health funding, saying patients are “being failed by appalling care on a daily basis”.

Mr Behrens went on to say: “The Government says the right thing but having a plan is not enough.”

At the same time, NHS Providers’ Saffron Cordery said: “Funding commitments, polices and promises must be met with action.” Based on my long experiences, she could have added that pigs might fly. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Shortsighted councillors

Sir, — I cannot believe how shortsighted Benson Parish Council seems to be in refusing to allocate money to assist local toddler and baby groups in the village (Standard, March 30).

It means many Benson children have to go further afield and, although there are excellent facilities in neighbouring villages (whose councils have recognised the need), even these cannot take the already burgeoning demand for a children’s centre in Benson.

And what about those young mothers without transport? If the situation is bad now, what on earth is going to happen when hundreds of families move into the new houses and where are their children going to go? — Yours faithfully,

Ann Spicer

Gallowstree Common

Blighted by bridge lights

Sir, — Indeed, Henley is not Las Vegas, Clive Hemsley (Standard, March 30).

The lights strung along our beautiful bridge should be removed as soon as practicable and Mr Hemsley should be called to legal account for tampering with and causing potential damage to public property of historical interest.

In their lack of subtlety, his lights look gaudy, tacky and overly bright.

Tony Taylor’s photographs of the floodlighting in 2015 and the lamps show just how elegant appropriate floodlighting and lamps can be.

Henley Bridge is an old, rather delicate and very elegant structure which does not benefit from this harsh “strip-lighting”, which blots out the loveliness of moonlight and starlight reflected in the water.

If Mr Hemsley is permitted to get away with this, it could set a precedent for other people to try to “improve” Henley by inflicting their dubious taste on other public buildings.

Far better to reserve such decoration for your own home. — Yours faithfully,

N Robinson

Sonning Common

Relieved at kindness

Sirs — I am simply thrilled and greatly relieved at the kindness of some Henley folk.

I dropped a family heirloom of huge sentimental value in Henley town centre and, through the generosity of Gavin McDonald, who picked it up, along with the sharp eye of Samantha Carradine, who spotted my plea on Facebook, it has been safely returned to me.

The piece was on its way to the jewellers to be made into a few pairs of earrings as gifts to my bridesmaids (who are also family) for my impending June wedding. Losing it would have hung over me forever but finding it emphasises the kindness and goodwill that sits resiliently in our society today. — Yours faithfully,

Olivia Saunders

Greys Hill, Henley

Happy village for everyone

Sir, — This is a “thank-you” to Oxfordshire Age UK.

I recently attended a film show at Sonning Common village hall.

It was excellent, with comfortable chairs, lots of friends around and tea or coffee and cake to begin with — all for a small charge. Transport was provided for those otherwise unable to reach the hall.

Thanks also to the volunteers from Sonning Common WI who served the refreshments, cleared up and generally looked after the audience.

This was all a far cry from the film shows given by a young lad in the road next to where I lived as a child. This budding entrepreneur obtained some old reels of film, usually Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy (remember them?).

We children trooped into his father’s shed, paid our penny entrance fee and the show began.

Unfortunately, the shed was very old and the knots in the wood had fallen out, which meant that frequently there were little bursts of sunlight to spoil the darkness.

On more than one occasion, we had to swiftly flee as something would become overheated and burst into flames.

This having been dealt with, we went back in to get our money’s worth. No health and safety regulations in those days.

Sonning Common has become a very happy and united village with plenty for us slightly older persons to participate in and enjoy. — Yours faithfully,

Phyllis Colin

Peppard Road, Sonning Common

Vanishing hostelries

Sir, — With reference to Vincent Ruane’s letter headlined “Remember this old pub?” (Standard, March 30),

I have a cutting of the newspaper from the Seventies headlined “You’ll get a sore head counting these hostelries”.

I also have a Brakspear pamphlet from the same time which shows there were then 129 pubs in the company’s estate. How many are there now? — Yours faithfully,

P Jacobs

Tilehurst

Good history of old pubs

Sir, — With reference to Vincent Ruane’s letter I would recommend he picks up a copy of the publication The Hostelries of Henley by Ann Cottingham (2000) should he care to reminisce about pubs long-gone.

The history of the Red Cross Inn he mentioned is covered in detail and its closure noted as happening in October 1977 (covered in the Henley Standard at the time).

There are also details of more than 100 other inns, public houses, alehouses, beerhouses etc.

Although several remain, many are now private houses, offices or shops but still incorporating the name or a plaque, or some ironwork for an old sign. Some have been cleared for new developments.

Happy reading... and perhaps a walk round the town to explore one aspect of our town’s heritage. — Yours faithfully,

Simon Blake

Henley

Opportunity for young

Sir, — I would be grateful if I could, through your paper, ask if there are any young people aged between 18 and 25 who may be interested in talking part in the Rotary Club Youth Leadership Award? RYLA is a Rotary International programme for young people.

It offers a special opportunity to take part in developing qualities of leadership, team-working, initiative and problem-solving at the start of their careers.

Two days are spent team-building followed by two days learning new skills, for example, orienteering, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing and slate mine exploration.

These skills are applied in a 30-hour group exercise in locations around the Snowdonia National Park, including a night in the open.

This develops a more complete personality and the new-found confidence and skills are brought back into the community and demonstrated to their sponsoring clubs by way of a short presentation on their experiences as a precursor to receiving a certificate.

The week-long course takes place at Rhos-y-Gwaliau, a small hamlet near Lake Bala in the national park in North Wales.

The centre is staffed by a small group of dedicated and talented course leaders, professionally qualified in the specialised field of outdoor leisure pursuits.

As to who is selected, the short answer is that there is no particular type of person. Indeed, the success of the course depends on there being a good mix of both sexes of different ages, backgrounds and experience, all with leadership potential.

The course is also designed to develop the latent talents of anyone held back by lack of confidence.

Candidates must be prepared to contribute to as well as benefit from the course and preference will be given to those who would not otherwise get the opportunity to take part in such an award scheme. It will be an alcohol-free week.

There is no cost to the candidates selected. They are sponsored by a Rotary club. We are looking for two candidates. It may be that there are local businesses that have a member of staff that they would wish to nominate as part of their development training programme.

The next course will take place from July 21 to 28. You must be 18 by the first day of the course.

Anyone wishing to apply should email me at mark.harling@hotmail.com with a brief explanation as to why they wish to take part and their contact details. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Harling

Henley Rotary Club

Hidden gem in Henley

Sir, — I wonder how many of your readers over the age of 70 face the same frustrations with our new technology as I do?

While I consider myself a “semi-literate” computer and mobile phone user, I seem to be forever confronting “gremlins” in the systems of these devices which prevent me from using them effectively.

Well, I recently discovered a hidden gem in Henley — a man who can fix anything for me and I really mean anything, from phones to laptops to printers.

I suppose it is hardly surprising as with two MScs in engineering and robotics and 27 years of experience in this field, this man has been a real find for me.

He runs his shop, Cartridge Zone in Greys Road, and I cannot speak highly enough about him.

I would like to assure your readers that I am only a happy customer and I have absolutely no commercial interest in his business.

As his shop never seems to be that busy, I just hope that he stays around in Henley for a while. — Yours faithfully,

David Doodson

Middle Assendon

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