Sunday, 11 April 2021

Your letters...

Your letters...

Disgusted by detritus

Sir, — We walk by the river every day. We were completely shocked by the amount of litter left by visitors to Mill Meadows on Saturday — the first day of sunny weather for some time.

It was totally disgusting. Litter, although mostly disposed of in black bags, had been torn open overnight by the wildlife.

We met a couple walking their black Labrador who had picked up chicken bones, which could have been fatal if the owners had not caught the situation in time.

The owner of the house at the end of Mill Lane had been inundated with people peeing in her garden and leaving even more litter.

It seems that there had been some kind of festival held by families visiting Henley and they had deemed it okay to leave all their litter, ground sheets and blankets behind for the council park staff to collect the following day.

There should be some supervision of Mill Meadows during the summer in order to prevent this kind of detritus.

Charges should be made for this amount of litter collection and people should be made to realise that someone has to pay for all this extra work.

It is fine to enjoy everything that Henley has to offer and visitors are to be welcomed, but this should not incur extra work for our public services which are under great financial pressures, notwithstanding the dangers of pollution to wildlife and dog owners who live/walk in this area every day. — Yours faithfully,

Maureen Dougall

Station Road, Henley

Regulate the riverside

Sir, — As a local resident, I’m stunned that the town council allows the number of people that were in Mill Meadows on Saturday — there must have been 1,000.

This caused traffic chaos and meant I was unable to access my property.

People were shouting and had brought large speakers, which were blasting out until 10pm.

People were urinating and worse in bushes and at the edge of my garden, throwing their toilet paper around.

On Sunday morning the place looked like a bomb site with excrement and rubbish scattered everywhere.

There was broken glass, which causes a hazard for people and animals using the area. I also had people trespassing in big groups in my garden with no regards for private property.

Speaking to other walkers on Sunday, people were shocked at the state of the site.

This, I believe, has gone too far and even though myself and others have contacted the council several times, there seems to be no understanding of the extent of the problem.

I believe this area has to be regulated and monitored and I would appreciate it if the Henley Standard could highlight the problem. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address
supplied

Mess will put off visitors

Sir, — As a visitor to Henley, we love to walk our dogs on Sunday mornings in Mill Meadows.

We park in the Mill Lane car park and walk along to Henley, stopping on our return at the Rowing & River Museum café for coffee.

Last Sunday, we were appalled by the terrible mess along the river.

Obviously there had been some sort of picnic/barbecue festival there on Saturday as there were literally more than 100 black bags of rubbish lying around, many of which were overflowing with food remnants and chicken bones.

It was unsafe to let a dog off the lead and everyone there was disgusted.

There really should be better controls to prevent this problem.

I do not blame the regular rubbish patrol man as he could not possibly have got all that rubbish on to his small pick-up truck.

I expect Henley Town Council has, by now, visited the site and cleaned up but this should not happen as it will put off visitors from visiting your lovely town. — Yours faithfully,

Kate Verran

They should know better

Sir, — I walked my dogs along the river bank in Henley on Saturday evening and again early on Sunday morning.

On the Saturday there were about 1,000 people from the Sikh community enjoying the good weather, celebrating the festival of Vaisakhi or Sikh new year (I asked a Sikh gentleman what the festival was in aid of).

On Sunday morning the meadows were like a battlefield with piles of rubbish and litter strewn about.

Apart from the fact that Henley taxpayers have to pay for the collection and disposal of the rubbish, it is also a major health hazard, encouraging rats.

The Sikh community should know better. — Yours faithfully,

Chris Spencer

Henley

How to stop it happening

Sir, — I haven’t got time to moan as I have my own business to run but, as Henley Town Council seems to have been completely ineffectual about the way Mill and Marsh Meadows have been treated over the last few years, resulting in a total p***take on Saturday, here are some suggestions:

• Pay a park ranger to work at weekends with a radio to the police. This could be funded by charging all picnickers at the weekends and bank holidays — £3 per adult in Marsh Meadows (not Mill Meadows). Card payments can be made using a mobile phone now.

• Charge for parking and parking management at Mill Lane at weekends.

• Have Biffa bins at Mill Lane and the River & Rowing Museum, also funded by the picnic charge.

• Put up some large information signs which, rather than bark orders, inform park users about the benefits of looking after it and its occupants.

• Reiterate this information with A5 leaflets that the park rangers or myself can hand out — local businesses will be happy to sponsor the signs and the leaflets as they can promote themselves, for example, the River & Rowing Museum, the Henley Piazza café, Hobbs of Henley, the Angel on the Bridge, Heritage Trees, Higgs Group.

The information could include:

•Why ducks prefer lettuce to bread (duck food available from the museum and café).

• Why dogs and wildlife would appreciate all food being disposed of in bins (chocolate and chicken bones can kill dogs).

• Why using the public toilets and disposing of nappies in a responsible manner is much appreciated by the park staff. (We need toilet attendants on at the weekend and better changing facilities.)

• Why barbecues must be on stands — these could be made available to buy from the museum or café.

• All rubbish must be put in the recycling bins in the car parks. (Bin bags available to buy from the museum or café.)

• Anyone leaving rubbish next to the small bins will be fined on the spot by the ranger (put signs on the bins warning of this).

• Dogs must be kept on leads in Mill Meadows (the bandstand grassed area to the Hobbs boatyard) from April to October.

• Dog owners must have at least two dog poo bags on their person at any time.

If you want me to approach businesses in sponsoring the signs and leaflets give me a shout. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Wood

Director, Silent Customer, Boston Road, Henley

Just political point-scoring

Sir, — Our attention is drawn to another Conservative town councillor resignation by your Henley Residents Group correspondents Councillor Jane Smewing and treasurer David Feary (Standard, April 13).

Their letters demonstrate precisely just the kind of political point scoring which is so out of place at local government level.

Both are fully aware of the reasons for Councillor Helen Chandler-Wilde’s resignation.

For those who don’t know, her business career has taken a new and upward path which keeps her away from Henley for long periods, resulting in missed council and committee meetings.

She invariably arranges a substitute for the committees but this is not allowed for full council and the Conservatives lose one vote in the chamber. Miss Chandler-Wilde has made the correct decision.

Mr Feary says that HRG would be content to leave the seat vacant, thus saving about £4,000 to run an election. Of course they would, their majority in council is automatically increased in this event.

Dieter Hinke’s suggestion to have the council choose co-optees who are independent seems, on the face of it, to be a good idea.

Sadly, I fear that will never come to fruition simply because the two parties would find it hard to agree a mutually acceptable candidate. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Luckett

Lime Court, Henley

Insulting and untrue

Sir, — It would be irresponsible not to respond to the claims made by the senior members of Henley Residents Group, commenting on town councillor resignations. It is insulting to suggest that these resignations show unreliability or irresponsibility.

In two cases new career commitments meant the councillors were no longer able to devote sufficient time to fulfil the role of a councillor as conscientiously as they wished. A third was due to a serious illness.

None decided to hang around doing the minimum required to keep the political seat, as one HRG councillor did in the last civic term.

HRG’s offer of co-option under their control, rather than face an election, does suggest that they are not confident defending their record.

And their protestation about costs is hypocritical considering their strident demand that I should resign and trigger a by-election just two years ago.

HRG has been in control of the town council for 21 of the last 27 years and an occasional positive force but core issues have been neglected.

Henley is now faced with major issues that need urgent attention: roads, traffic, antisocial behaviour, policing, infrastructure for new housing developments, a struggling town centre, waste collection and so on.

To tackle these, we need competent councillors to develop smart political policies and effectively lobby for Henley.

A vacant seat is an opportunity for Henley residents to elect a councillor with the necessary clear values and expertise.

HRG should support the essential democratic process instead of trying to score political points by insulting well-meaning residents whose circumstances have changed. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Sara Abey

Henley Town Council

Democracy before cost

Sir, — Is Henley Residents Group trying to suppress democracy in Henley?

I write, of course, in response to your article about a possible by-election and the various letters from HRG supporters advocating a co-option instead of an election.

HRG seems to have forgotten that it’s not in their gift, nor for the local Labour branch or Henley Conservatives, to choose how a council vacancy is filled but rather the electorate.

At a time when Henley is facing a number of significant and fundamental political challenges, surely now it is more important than ever for the electorate to have a clear choice with the ability to make an informed choice as to who represents them.

To me this would be without question a better and more rigorous process than having an “independent” co-opted councillor chosen for them by HRG, the controlling group on the council.

It is also worth highlighting that by proposing the co-option of an independent to replace a former Conservative councillor, HRG is effectively seeking to change the political composition of our council without an election.

While the issue of cost is a significant one, it is also important to bear in mind that the cost of a by-election works out at a little over a pound for each elector.

I think it was Churchill who described democracy as “the worst form of government except for all the others”. We need to guard it carefully. — Yours faithfully,

Frank Browne

Chairman, Henley Conservatives, Remenham

Questionable actions

Sir, — An increasing number of your readers are suffering financial hardship when they seek the excellent services provided by Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley. They suffer from the questionable actions of Smart Parking.

According to Companies House, Smart Parking is registered in Perth in Scotland but the firm’s largest shareholder, owning 75 per cent of the shares, is another firm also called Smart Parking, located in Perth, Western Australia. Curious.

The accounts suggest Smart Parking in Scotland is making a loss of £480,000 despite making an operating profit of £1.9million in 2017. Is this why 23 of the firm’s 27 directors have resigned?

Smart Parking’s policy is forcing Henley’s invalids and old age pensioners, many of whom are innocent, to not only pay parking fines of £60 and upwards but also face bailiffs. This is unreasonable.

Could John Howell MP refer the behaviour of this firm to Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, and ask his department to investigate why Smart Parking can refuse to respond to reasonable challenges to its questionable actions? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Binfield Heath

Roads as bad as in Zaire

Sir, — As I was travelling through Woodcote the other day, I found the state of the roads reminded of my travels in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).

One morning, as we bounced along the Zairian equivalent of the M4 (an unmetalled track bulldozed through the jungle in a loosely easterly/westerly direction), we came across a man standing in the middle of the “road” up to his knees in a puddle. He waved us down.

It turned out he was actually standing on the roof of his truck, which was at the bottom of an enormous pothole.

I foresee this also happening in Woodcote in the very near future.

The majority of the damage to the roads there appears to be from shoddy work carried out by one, or possibly more, utilities company(s).

I’d have thought it would be a fairly simple matter for the highways authority to trace which particular companies are at fault here and persuade them to make good their utterly appalling attempts to fill in their own trenches. One wonders why they don’t.

At least Zaire had some excuses for the state of its roads (isolation, poverty, lack of governmental structure, war lords, ebola, thick jungle, etc).

Is Woodcote being prepared to be twinned with Yalgimba, DRC?

And whatever happened to that “dragon” machine that was supposed to make our roads usable again? — Yours faithfully,

Simon Brickhill

Goring Heath

Why leave crash debris?

Sir, — Am I the only person puzzled by this?

When a crashed vehicle is removed it seems to be compulsory to leave behind at the scene all the bits of trim, bumpers, wing mirrors etc that fell off in the crash. Are these supposed to be for some sort of shrine in memory of the injured vehicle or is it just a cynical act of littering for which the owner or tow company should be fined? — Yours faithfully,

Paul Fairweather

Rotherfield Greys

Homes will harm wildlife

Sir, — I refer to your article in relation to a Mr Davy Snowden, who is to be penalised for building a house purported to be too big by South Oxfordshire District Council (Standard, March 30).

One of the reasons given is that the house verges, not stands on, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I would be interested to know on what criteria the council and the body representing designated AONB land base their decisions as to whether or not to permit development on such land.

As part of the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan, swaths of AONB land have been allocated at Bishopswood Farm for the development of 50 houses and a massive sports and recreation centre.

This development will be built immediately facing houses in Reades Lane only 20m from the perimeter.

I understand the builders developing the site have gifted the land for the sports complex, which is clearly on AONB land.

Are the residents of Reades Lane to be subjected, being so close to the sports complex, to suffer sporting cheers and the coming and going of cars at all times of the day, evenings and weekends and no doubt when the clubhouse is up and running the sound of music drifting on the night air?

In addition to the Bishopswood Farm development facing the houses in Reades Lane, another 37 homes are to be built immediately to the rear of those houses on the playing field situated at Chiltern Edge School.

This land also verges immediately on to AONB land.

How generous of Kidmore End to transfer this patch to enable Sonning Common to incorporate it in its neighbourhood plan!

It’s our Crimean moment: houses to the front of us, houses to the back of us!

Reades Lane residents have been allocated an unfair proportion of development — as much, in fact, as the rest distributed across the village.

There are other non- AONB sites, such as off Kennylands Road, which could be extended and developed, albeit not for 95 homes but for considerably more than the 26 council-approved dwellings in the neighbourhood plan.

The National Planning Policy Framework’s clause 115 states: “Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in national parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.

“The conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage are important considerations in all these areas and should be given great weight in national parks and the Broads”.

Yes, I for one will miss the hooting of owls at night when these proposed developments come to fruition. — Yours faithfully,

Clive Bates

Reades Lane, Sonning Common

Catering for our children

Sir, — I agree with your correspondent Katy Brizell about the lack of facilities in Benson for mothers and young children (Standard, April 13).

Throughout my six months of maternity leave and because I had a caesarian section, I found it very difficult to get to children’s centres outside the village.

Had we had some local facilities, it would have made things so much easier.

The local connections and friends you make at these groups is a great help for mothers and children.

Benson is a fast-growing population and it seems short-sighted that such a facility is not being established now. — Yours faithfully,

Jane Fryatt

Blacklands Road, Benson

Pay attention to our bridge

Sir, — Further to my friend Clive Hemsley’s efforts to brighten up our fine Henley Bridge, I would like to add the following thoughts.

Many years ago, I was sitting with a member of the Henley Society in Tony Lane’s garden, watching the traffic parked on the upstream side of the bridge.

There were three heavy lorries there. I was concerned about all that stationary weight on only one half of a structure devised to carry moving weight across open water. Why is this necessary?

Since the bridge has recently been hit several times — both at water level and on the surface, which is not wide enough to take large, modern vehicles — we have been through a royal regatta with a badly damaged balustrade.

Surely, by now, emergency permission could have been obtained to repair the damage? I remember when a former mayor actually hand-weeded the structure with the help of her family — I wonder, do we give this fine structure enough attention?

Would not the good Lady Damer, whose work adorns it, be warning us not to “dance over my Lady Lee”? and for how long can our bridge be “strong enough”? — Yours faithfully,

Lynda Clayden

Trinity Close, Henley

Light it up for George

Sir, — With the support for illuminating Henley Bridge, could I suggest that this is a fitting way to remember George Harrison in perpetuity?

As the darkness approaches, the lights come on and we think of Here Comes The Sun perhaps?

It would be interesting to know what Olivia Harrison thinks about this. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Scott

Thoughtless film-goers

Sir, — On Monday last my husband and I were thrilled to see the film of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the Regal cinema in Henley.

However, the moment the curtain opened, some people four rows in front of us settled back comfortably in their seats and started and then continued eating sweets to the accompaniment of much rustling of sweet papers and packets.

Presumably, their insensitivity was such that they did not realise that others within earshot wanted to listen to the superb performance without this intrusive background, or they were indifferent. Either way, I suggest that they were culturally well out of their depth and should try other areas of entertainment. — Yours faithfully,

Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Top venue for indoor sport

Sir, — The Salisbury Conservative Club would like the people of Henley to know that the club has re-opened its skittle alley, which is available for hire by the public.

Skittles is a good old English pastime — come and try it!

The club has also recently re-opened its snooker and billiards room and is in the process of adding more pool tables. This is to encourage young people to join the club and enjoy themselves.

It really is a fine place to come to for indoor sport. — Yours faithfully,

John Grout

President, Salisbury Club, Queen Street, Henley

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