Monday, 14 June 2021

Your letters...

Where was compassion?

Sir, — On visiting the market in Henley on Friday morning I was appalled to see a senior lady on a mobility scooter being told by a person in apparent authority that she could not travel along the alleyway link between King’s Road car park and Market Place as a plastic barrier placed around some paving repairs could not be moved by just 50mm, which would have allowed her to pass.

As a building surveyor, I saw absolutely no practical or safety reason why this could not be done.

The problem appeared to be simply stubbornness on the part of this man who told the lady that she would have to go the long way round, presumably out into King’s Road and around past the old police station and the town hall to the market, or down the Waitrose exit on to Bell Street which on a mobility scooter would have been a safety issue.

On commenting that the temporary barrier was actually obstructing this lady, I was told that the alleyway was private property and he could close the gates each end if he wanted to and prevent even able-bodied members of the public from entering Market Place from that route.

I do not know whether this is the case but why would anyone with any moral conscience wish to do that?

I do not know which route this lady eventually had to take but I see the situation not only as one of obstruction to this woman but as able-bodied people were allowed to pass I also see it as one of disability discrimination.

On returning from the market a while later, I noticed that the temporary barrier had in fact been moved back at least 50mm but the officious “Jobsworth” had removed his hi-vis jacket, presumably to remove the identification of his employer.

With much upheaval in prospect over many months of the new Market Place Mews development, I hope this is not a sign of attitudes to come from the developers.

In my opinion, this man should at the very least be put through a Starbucks-style training session by his employer to improve his communication skills with the public but also to be made aware of his moral duty to treat those less fortunate than himself with care and compassion. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Freeman

Ibstone

Closure is premature

Sir, — My husband went into the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed when his home carers, myself included, could no longer cope with his needs.

The wonderful care he received was second to none but he was not allowed to die there.

For the last week of his life he was sent to a nursing home, again well-equipped medically and with caring staff who could not be faulted.

By this time he had absolutely no quality of life and I prayed every day that he would die. The policy seems to have been that patients are admitted for five to 10 days only and then sent either home or to a nursing home. I always thought you went to a hospice to die when there was no hope of a cure.

Holly Spiers, Sue Ryder’s executive director of hospices and fund-raising, states (Standard, March 30) that under-use of the beds is one of the key reasons for the charity to sell the building and that end-of-life patients would rather die at home. I do question that.

It would seem that fear of over-use has created under-use and so made the Nettlebed hospice vulnerable.

Mrs Spiers oversees seven Sue Ryder hospices, so cannot be aware of the minutiae of running each individual one.

I certainly never saw her and I have not been approached since for my views. (Questionnaires flood in usually on a regular basis when some service has been performed but not when it is most needed!)

More consultation is needed and I endorse Alfred Waller’s call (Standard, April 13) for Mrs Spiers to address a public meeting. — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

Sue Ryder said that it did not wish to respond to this letter.


Litterbugs should pay

Sir, — With reference to your front page story headlined “Disgusting” (Standard, April 20), I was appalled.

There should be no “next year” for this event (Sikh new year festival).

Any similar event should be police patrolled with visiting car numbers noted and the resultant cost, including waste clearance, paid for by the organisers of the event or someone held to be responsible for its instigation/promotion.

With all due respect to your correspondent Janet Wood, these vandals will not bother to read signs, nor would they put rubbish in Biffa bins.

I fear not even the proposed informative leaflets would have the slightest effect, so save your money, Henley Town Council. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs P Bird

Hambleden


Time for a park warden

Sir, — Regarding the horrific amount of rubbish dumped in Marsh Meadows the weekend before last, this is becoming a problem on any fine day.

I was there on Friday morning and, although not quite as disgusting as on the previous Monday, it was bad enough.

I have two suggestions. First, it is no good burying our heads in the sand any longer. We need a park warden, properly labelled as such, who can police the area and make sure all litter is removed.

It’s no good ordinary members of the public remonstrating with these people; all one gets in return is abuse. I’ve tried and it can be pretty scary.

An official park “minder” will no doubt cost a bit but I would be prepared to pay a little extra to keep Henley in a civilised condition.

The second point is that any organisation using Marsh and Mill Meadows must be held responsible. I believe the main culprits of that weekend’s mess are well known. Why have they not been fined under our litter laws? — Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road, Henley


How to stop the problem

Sir, — I write in support of both your front page article and also the many letters regarding the appalling behaviour of people using Marsh Meadows.

I believe the solution to this problem is fairly obvious and relatively inexpensive:

1. Parking: Charge for parking and limit the length of stay in the car park in Mill Lane, especially at weekends (with substantial fines for non-payment).

It is probably necessary also to put in double yellow lines along Mill Lane otherwise these people, who obviously have absolutely no consideration for others, will simply park in the road and will potentially obstruct access (including for emergency vehicles).

2. Vehicles: Use of the car park should be restricted to vehicles below a certain size/length. I have often seen parties of people arriving in minibuses, complete with their barbecues and trolleys to transport their food etc.

3. Barbecues: If we must allow barbecues at all, which I believe most local people would not want, then fence off a small area (preferably at the back of the meadows, well away from the river) within which barbecues would be allowed and charged for. Prohibit barbecues anywhere else on the fields.

4. Picnics: I am not sure if it’s possible to charge all picnickers. This would be very difficult to enforce and what about people who live in the town and just want to walk down there and perhaps enjoy a sandwich — where do you draw the line?

5. Alcohol: Make the consumption of alcohol illegal everywhere on the meadows. After all, this is a public place and it’s certainly possible to do this in a designated public place.

6. Litter bins: Provide additional litter bins around the edges of the meadows and particularly in the barbecue area.

7. Toilets: If possible, it would be ideal to have additional toilets in or near the car park.

8. Signs: Put up plenty of signs (perhaps sponsored by local businesses, as suggested by Janet Wood) explaining all of the above.

9. Control: Employ a “ranger” or in some other way “police” the whole area — presumably this could be funded from the charges for parking and barbecues.

I would point out that this “picnicking” used to be a problem in Hurley and has now been stopped, mostly by charging for/restricting parking and, I believe, also prohibiting barbecues. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Shankland

Paradise Road, Henley


Prepare for more visitors

Sir, — Your headline and the excessive comments from our mayor last week do nothing for our beautiful town.

While the Sikh new year event was not an organised affair, the town council needs to be more proactive in managing this sort of gathering, especially at Marsh Meadows.

I agree with some of the suggestions from Janet Wood — it’s time the town council took a real look at the facilities around the town rather than just blame certain types of visitor.

All the bins around the town are far too small for the number of people now using them; I am sure bin technology has moved on, making them bigger and easier to manage. If the bin collections were made in the evening then the wildlife would not be able to rip open the bin bags.

“Bin bags next to small bins” is not a one-off, it happens most weekends throughout the summer months.

Parks in France and Amercia that I have visited have designated barbecue areas complete with outdoor barbecues, making it easier for visitors.

Finally, toilets need to be considered for Marsh Meadows. I would like to see anyone get from Marsh Lock to the toilets in five minutes on a quiet day let alone when the towpath is busy!

The town council needs to plan for managing more visitors, so that Henley maintains its uniqueness and beauty. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Heath

St Mark’s Road, Henley


How about park & ride?

Sir, — Further to my suggestions about the Marsh Meadows litter, has anyone investigated the possibilities of having a park and ride at the top of Remenham Hill?

Is the road wide enough to have a single bus lane in the middle to take buses down into Henley?

If so, this service could:

• Provide a very attractive, extra income for the farmer that owns the field.

• Help with school runs, in the morning, for parents who live in Aston.

• Prevent cars from turning around in the road and mowing down cyclists that speed down the middle.

• Encourage more people to come into Henley as currently it’s too much hassle due to traffic congestion and gridlocked car parks.

• Encourage higher-end restaurant and retail groups to rent spaces (Marlow seems to have some lovely shops and restaurants).

• Reduce traffic and associated pollution in the town,

• Ease congestion for key events such as the royal regatta and festivals.

As it stands, there is now genuine concern that house prices in Henley will begin to fall as the town loses its aesthetic appeal with its empty units, charity shops and inaccessible, littered green spaces. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Wood

Boston Road, Henley


Affordable my foot!

Sir, — Regarding the new building schemes in Henley (Standard, April 20), yet again they are missing the point.

Young people in Henley need housing but when you say that Highlands Park etc have “affordable” housing, it is a load of codswallop.

With the eye-watering starting prices, the reduction needed to make them “affordable” is, I believe, 20 per cent below the market rate.

That is not going to make any difference in affordability for low-paid youngsters, even with “help to buy”.

The youngsters just haven’t got a hope in hell. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs J Hadley

Leaver Road, Henley

Roads like in third world

Sir, — I should like to congratulate your correspondent Simon Brickhill for succinctly expressing my feelings that our roads are as you would expect to find in a third world banana republic, something I have had in mind for a long time now.

Even down to the root cause being laid at the door of whichever utility is responsible, or should the county council be more stringent enforcing proper reinstatement following their works?

Frankly, I would relish the opportunity to be joined by a council representative and drive them across the very area to which Mr Brickhill alluded and dare them to try to tell me, once over it, that the problem is fixed, as reported on the Fix My Street website. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Amos

Woodcote

Questions to ponder

Sir, — Questions:

1. What is the point of the four-way temporary traffic lights on Greys Road, Henley? Traffic-calming or health and safety gone mad?

2. Litter? What litter? On Monday afternoon I picked up five discarded drink cartons between the end of Green Lane and half way along St Katherine’s Road. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Hails

Blandy Road, Henley


Very special little girl

Sir, — I really needed to share my recent experience with your readers about visiting Henley for a few days. We were staying at Swiss Farm in our motor home. We visit your beautiful town five or six times a year.

Whilst staying this time my daughter joined us with our three granddaughters for a day.

While walking back from town having had lunch we stopped (I was hijacked) by my granddaughters at the lovely little toy shop.

While my partner was inside with the girls my daughter, who was stood outside with me, noticed a large and lovely painted large pebble/rock on the window ledge.

My daughter recognised this as being a rock that children paint then leave in strategic places for other children to find and so the rock goes on a journey for others to find elsewhere.

My daughter took a photograph of my eldest granddaughter and posted this on the Facebook page written on the underside of the rock. It has originated from a little girl from Henley called Caitlin.

My daughter sent on to me your story about how this little girl paints these rocks in-between treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She is 10 years old.

How this family found the strength and clear mind to think of such a fantastic hobby at this time is beyond me and such a credit to them.

Well done, especially to Caitlin herself for sharing her hobby with others. It is fantastic.

Caitlin has an online page (www.justgiving.com/Caitlin-Rocks), which is raising much-needed funds for CLIC Sargent. We were very happy to support her.

So if, like me, you notice any of these lovely little painted rocks and didn’t realise what they are, I hope this will help in some small way to explain the idea behind them and in this case being a wonderful way of turning a negative into a fantastic positive.

Caitlin (and family) you really are an inspiration and from our family to yours we wish you a speedy recovery. You are a special little girl. — Yours faithfully,

John Lea

Stratford-upon-Avon


Natural order of things

Sir, — I am pleased to see that you have extended the scope of Thought for the Week.

That said, although I am in agreement with Douglas Kedge with regard to there being an afterlife as it is generally understood (Standard, April 13), I do feel that his concluding statement is too stark.

At the moment of our conception we do not come into this world with a blank sheet but are genetically the product of our forebears.

When we die we do not simply cease to exist but live on whether through our children or the memories of those who have known us.

Most of all, we live on through those whose lives we have affected whether for good or ill: a thought which should give us all pause.

I see my own life not as a thing apart but as part of a stream into which I will have dipped for a while.

I do not regard my life as a chance gift from fate but rather as part of the natural order of things.

Indeed, for many, being consciously alive is neither a gift nor good luck.

My own hope is that by ceasing to be concerned with a hypothetical hereafter — and which of the numerous parallel hereafters, you may well ask — we will address the problems of the world we live in.

It is this that we can influence and which should unite us all. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Law

Binfield Heath


Not helping homeless

Sir, — Given that many parts of even the relatively affluent Thames Valley have a higher number of homeless and rough-sleeping folk than the national average, I welcome the new Homelessness Reduction Act.

This came into force on April 3 and forces local authorities, prisons, hospitals (general and, perhaps especially, psychiatric) and even job centres to work together to prevent homelessness rather than waiting until individuals are actually homeless.

The aim is to help single adults, without children, rather than targeting them as having “non-priority needs” as hitherto.

So far so good but how can these extra (if vital) duties be funded (both locally and nationally) when:

(a) The Local Government Association says that councils are currently having to house the equivalent of an average secondary school’s worth of homeless children every month

(b) The number of homeless families living in temporary accommodation has risen by 60 per cent since 2011 and the “official” number of actually homeless folk has risen by a scandalous 169 per cent since 2010 and

(c) Most local authorities are facing cutbacks and the supply of affordable social housing is at an all-time low? — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading


Please leave off the lights

Sir, — The headline on Clive Hemsley’s letter (“Leave off my lights”, Standard, April 13) perfectly encapsulated the thrust of my letter (April 6) — please do leave them off and remove them.

I understand that Oxfordshire County Council is of the same opinion. I found it rather strange that Mr Hemsley decried what he sees as “old” — in the art world, the Old Masters and “old” artists of long ago are considered to be rather magnificent.

Nor was I suggesting the floodlighting of Henley Bridge, but merely pointing out the attractiveness of the flooding (as shown in Tony Taylor’s photographs) as opposed to the garishness of the Hemsley Fairy Lights.

Henley is not a “brand” — it is an attractive riverside market town, where I moved to in 1965 and have seen many changes and very few of them attractive or positive. Despite these changes, Henley is still a lovely place in which to live.

Commercial fairy lights glued to a beautiful bridge do not enhance Henley in any way. Rather, they highlight the self-aggrandisement and confused thinking of the installer, which is amply reflected in his verbose, pompous epistle.

Mr Hemsley is the one who should be respecting democratic wishes because the vast majority of people who live in and around Henley have not signed the petition to keep the lights. Perhaps he should be encouraged to develop his artistic nature in other directions.

Finally, a small point which highlights Mr Hemsley’s somewhat arrogant attitude — where in the letter from “N Robinson” did he read that the writer was a male and not a female doctor or professor, or indeed lives in “Peppard Road”? Nowhere was that stated. — Yours faithfully,

N Robinson

Sonning Common


Thanks for clearing up

Sir, — Through your newspaper, Rotherfield Peppard Parish Council would like to thank all those councillors and residents, who love their village, and the kind people from neighbouring villages who volunteered to work on a Saturday morning in our village clean-up — the Battle of the Commons.

We were blessed with a bright, warm day, cheery workers and an amazing sense of community.

At the end of their two-hour stint of hard work, everyone was invited to the newly refurbished memorial hall to partake of a welcome drink and cakes.

In the debrief, there was incredulity at the number of larger items that had been collected from the side of the road along the B481 Bolts Cross to Peppard Road, for example, the whole front bumper and registration plate of a Mini, several tyres, an inner tube and a can of paint.

We would like to thank the environmental team at Suth Oxfordshire District Council for their support, good advice and supply of high visibility vests, litter- pickers, plastic gloves and large rubbish bags without which we could not have worked so safely.

May we also use this space to plead with drivers to keep to the speed limit of 30mph as they pass through Rotherfield Peppard and to always take ALL their litter — large and small — home. Keep Britain Tidy! — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Jeni Wood

Peppard Parish Council


Pocket money goes on plane

Sir, — In case any of your readers might know who Master J Payne is or was, a copy of an official reply to him for his donation of £1.4.6 (in old money) towards the cost of a Spitfire is contained within the very large Anthology of the RAF 1918-2018, just published.

It seems that “Master J” lived at Hazel Cottage, Kingwood, near Henley. I suspect that he had pretty well wiped out his savings. A worthy effort.

However, the letter goes on to talk about the possibility of publicity from the BBC and I’m not sure how that will have worked out...

Incidentally, it’s my understanding that the full cost of one Spitfire back then was around £500. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley


Thank you for recitals

Sir, — Henley pianist Anita D’Attellis organised four lovely recitals at St Mary’s Church, Wallingford, where she plays every week as accompanist to Benson Choral Society.

These took place between January and March and were a bold venture on her part as nothing quite like it had been undertaken before. In the event they were a great success, well attended and critically acclaimed, and Anita has now donated £3,000 from the proceeds to the St Mary’s Church Tower Fund.

This is a huge boost for us and I would like to thank Anita most warmly for it.

Henley Youth Choir with their conductor Peter Asprey featured in one of the concerts and our thanks go to them and their supporters too for venturing in our direction and entertaining us.

Thank you, too, to the team at the Henley Standard for some great advance publicity. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Morgan

Churchwarden, Wallingford Parochial Church Council, Reading Road, Wallingford


Characters to remember

Sir, — I would like to thank your correspondents P Jacobs and Simon Blake for their responses to my letter regarding the now defunct Red Cross Inn (Standard, April 6).

I shall certainly try to get hold of a copy of The Hostelries of Henley by Ann Cottingham.

I have wonderful memories of Henley’s pubs years ago. Of course there are still some lovely places to relax over a pint and a copy of the Standard. Do any other readers remember some of the local characters to be found within these premises like “Chalky” White? I knew him from the Three Tuns. — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Grove Road, Emmer Green

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