Friday, 12 August 2022

Your Letters

Last chance to fill floor

Sir, — In 2011 we worked as chairman and vice-chairman of the Townlands Steering Group with the then NHS Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust on the structure of the new Townlands Hospital as part of the redevelopment of the site.

The main goal was the reprovision of the ambulatory care services (minor injuries and the 18 beds in Peppard ward).

We were delighted when Sue Ryder came on board the project with a proposal to move its hospice from Joyce Grove in Nettlebed to a new state-of-the-art, 12-bed unit as an integral part of the redevelopment.

This enabled a viable financial model for the development (also comprising a new care home run by the Orders of St John).

We were both shocked and saddened when Sue Ryder dropped out of the project very late on — in December 2014 when the new hospital was already half built. Fortunately, the development had progressed too far to prevent the hospital being built.

However, the top floor with its 12-bed unit had to be built as contracted and still remains empty today.

We were also very surprised that (despite assurances to the contrary) no contract had been signed before the build started.

We are aware of the latest Sue Ryder strategy to offer people the choice of dying at home but there remain many people who do not choose to do this.

It is important that the needs of all patients and families are able to be respected. We know that the contractual arrangements for Sue Ryder and the NHS bodies were complicated but the sale of Joyce Grove provides a last chance for the expensively built 12-bed unit to be used for its intended purpose rather than continuing to sit idle. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian
Reissmann and Dr Peter Ashby

Firms taking advantage

Sir, — I have followed the news of the continuing problems with parking at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley. The residents of Henley are not alone; the same thing is happening all over the country.

At Amersham Hospital there is a notice saying that receptionists cannot deal with parking problems. I have also read complaints in the Lymington newspaper.

There are more if one searches the internet for “hospital parking fines”.

Smart Parking is not the only company preying on vulnerable people. It appears that when an appeal contesting the parking charge is received, instead of “carefully considering” it, the paperwork is automatically passed on to a debt collecting agency.

The parking companies are exploiting the health trusts’ need to make money.

Their tenders for the work must be based on being able to enhance their profits by taking advantage of vulnerable people. — Yours faithfully,

M C Dawson


Must redress this injustice

Sir, — The number of people claiming to have been unfairly treated by Smart Parking grows distressingly ever larger.

It seems all imprecations are met with silence.

Henley’s MP has not heard a word from them. Even the valiant representations of the district’s favourite newspaper have been ignored.

It is time for NHS Property Services, which employed Smart Parking in the first place, to explain what is to be done to redress the injustices. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Representative of the Hart Surgery patient participation group on the Townlands Stakeholder Reference Group

Here’s how to complain

Sir, — In your coverage of the disgraceful situation at Townlands Memorial Hospital over parking,

I thought it would be useful to provide the contact details at NHS Property Services with whom I have been corresponding on this issue as they give details of whom people should make complaints to.

NHS Property Services have said that they recognise that there has been inconvenience and distress for patients and are willing to intercede on behalf of patients to get penalty notices rescinded.

They also agree that the current situation is unacceptable and urgent changes are expected to improve the experience of patients and their families.

The contact number for the customer service team is 0800 085 3015 or email them at customer.service@

I have also sent a notice to be displayed at the hospital to provide these details. — Yours faithfully,

John Howell MP

House of Commons

Best check the figures

Sir, — It is good news that South Oxfordshire District Council has announced that it has a 5.4-year land supply but we need to be cautious.

When the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan began we were assured that the district council had in excess of a five-year land supply (the statutory minimum requirement).

This was found to be markedly over-optimistic by a planning inspector at appeal.

The statutory requirement was then reduced to three years and once again the district council informed us that it had in excess of this figure.

Yet again a planning inspector found that it actually had less than three years and the owner of Thames Farm won her case in the High Court only a few months ago.

In view of these facts, I would like to ask the following questions:

How has the land supply figure changed from less than three years to 5.4 years in the space of a few months, particularly as it has struggled to reach five years over a long period of time? Which new sites have come forward to make this remarkable change?

What is the baseline to make this land supply calculation — the new local plan has not been adopted yet so are these baseline housing figures speculative or are they based on the core strategy projections made in 2012?

Before we spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on reviewing the neighbourhood plan let’s be absolutely sure we are protected from reversals by the planning inspectorate on speculative developments. —Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Don’t pick and mix

Sir, — You reported that Henley Town Council opposed the change of land use from employment to residential housing at The Hub in Station Road, Henley, but supported the change in land use from employment to housing at the former Wyevale garden centre site, near Shiplake (Standard, May 4).

This “pick ‘n’ mix” approach to the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan will concern many Shiplake and Harpsden residents who are already reeling at the decision to allow 99 homes at Thames Farm and certainly don’t want that urban island expanded by adding another 40 homes next door.

Henley residents along Reading Road and Duke Street won’t be delighted about all that extra traffic either. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor David Bartholomew

Sonning Common division, Oxfordshire County Council

Ruining the Chilterns

Sir, — You must have noticed that the developers are now busy concreting over the Chilterns, thanks to the Government having trashed the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty restrictions.

There’s an obscene rush to get infill planning.

Most seem untroubled by this but the nature and character of the Chilterns is being changed for the worse — and permanently.

As an example, down this little dead-end track of ours, about 200m long, a second existing house will soon get the wrecking ball treatment. Three houses in place of two will be built.

Repeat this over all the AONB and you’ll get the picture. — Yours faithfully,

David Wood


Always keep dogs on lead

Sir, — Another three incidents of dogs injuring and killing sheep (Standard, May 4).

It is not enough to suggest that dog owners keep their animals on a lead, there must be a change in the law.

All dogs should be on a lead at all times, except on the owner’s property. The dogs are only acting on instinct so must be controlled by their owner.

The countryside would be a happier and safer place for livestock, cyclists, runners and walkers with this simple arrangement. — Yours faithfully,

Melanie White

Emmer Green

Owners, be warned

Sir, — With reference to sheep worrying, it is well worth pointing out that a farmer is legally entitled to (and will) shoot any dog on sight if it is near his/her sheep.

The dog owner is also legally liable to compensate the farmer for expenses and losses, but nothing compensates for the emotional distress caused by thoughtless dog owners.

Keep your dog on a lead near livestock or have it shot on sight — no quibbles, that’s the law. — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser


Thrown out

for no reason

Sir, — For at least 15 years I have been meeting up with a small group of friends at the tearooms at the Herb Farm in Sonning Common for morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and Christmas lunches.

On Tuesday, April 24 I joined two friends for coffee and toasted teacakes at about 11.30am.

At 12.30pm the waitress brought us the bill. We hadn’t asked for it as we usually have another cup of coffee but we paid it.

She then came back and asked us to leave. We were horrified — we had not been using bad language nor dancing on the table.

Three elderly ladies, one in her seventies and two of us in our eighties, well-dressed and well-spoken enjoying their coffee and a chat.

We were told that there were two ladies with baby buggies who needed our table “and you have been here since 11.30am”.

None of us has ever been asked to leave a premises before and it was a very humiliating experience. Needless to say, we will not be returning there.

Perhaps they should display a notice informing customers that they should not occupy a table for more than one hour. — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Hughes

Sheridan Avenue,

The Herb Farm management responds: “We are very sorry to hear of the aforementioned negative experience in our café.

“We take complaints very seriously and endeavour to learn from problems and to work with our staff to ensure that a similar situation does not arise again.

“On the day in question, we had a large group booking occupying half of our café, which meant that customers were having to wait for tables to become available, particularly when our lunch service began at midday.

“Our waiting staff were instructed to explain this to the customers as they arrived to ensure that they understood the reduction in seating.

“The table in question was seen by our staff to have moved their empty cups to one side, so they cleared the table and asked if the customers would like any more drinks.

“No order was placed, so our staff took the bill to the table and asked the customers to pay at the till when they were ready.

“The bill was paid but the customers continued to sit at the table and once again declined the offer of any further drinks.

“The customers were asked whether they would mind moving to another smaller table, so we could accommodate two mothers with pushchairs, which they declined. The customers then left the café.

“We apologise for the inadvertent offence caused towards the customers.

“After having been made aware of this complaint, our staff were upset that their attempt to accommodate all our customers on a very busy day had led to such a reaction.”

Fly-tipping in woods

Sir, — You don’t have to be a Met Office boffin or Ian McCaskill to know when spring is here; it’s when Lambridge Wood becomes littered with fly-tipped rubbish.

The most recent addition, piled up 10ft from the edge of the Broadplat lane, is comprised of the packing that came with a king-size Mountrose bed (originally delivered around Christmas 2016), a cardboard box that contained a stackable shoe rack (30 pairs) and what could be the old carpet from a revamped bedroom.

Charitably, I can almost hear the Man With A Van say to the lady (let’s call her Miss C S): “Only £20, luv, we’ll get rid of it for you. Where in Crisp Road are you?”

I might add that I have photos — not only of the rubbish but also of the address label (ending with RG9 2EP) that was unwisely left with it.

But in these troubled times, when you can be locked up for saying too much, that’s enough! — Yours faithfully,

Robin Batchelor-Smith

Lower Assendon

Support the classics

Sir, — Along with many friends, I have regretted the lack of a serious classical element in recent Henley Festival programmes but, following a survey carried out by the festival last year, it is clear that it has listened.

The inclusion of the English National Opera in this year’s programme is a very welcome addition and one that I look forward to immensely.

However, I was shocked to hear that while most nights are heavily booked already, the Sunday night bookings are very disappointing.

If this situation continues it is highly likely that the festival will not look favourably on classical inclusion in future years and this would be a tragedy.

Many have complained in the past and the festival has listened, so it is now up to us to support their initiative. — Yours faithfully,

David E Winter

Belle Vue Road, Henley

Improved bus service

Sir, — May I thank the Henley Standard for a very full report detailing the new local bus service for Henley (Standard, April 27).

When I became the chairman of the town council’s working group I was determined to make progress on this vital community service.

Thanks to members of the working group for all their hard work. Thanks to Councillor Lorraine Hillier who is vice-chairman of the group and helped me bring this to fruition.

Many Henley residents rely on the bus service to get to and from the town and it is also a social hub for people to have a chat with each other. Details of the new service will be published soon.

The new gas-powered bus will also help towards our aim for a reduction in pollution and an improvement in air quality. The gas is from carbon neutral bio-methane sources.

The bus will be cleaned every day inside and the outside washed.

Reading Buses’ drivers are people-friendly and will get to know their customers and, I believe, will supply an efficient, friendly and reliable service.

Thanks to Reading Buses for engagement with the bus working group and the town of Henley to get this new service up and running. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak

Chairman, bus working group, Henley Town Council

Thanks for great fayre

Sir, — Thank you all for coming to the May Fayre on Monday. What a wonderful community event it was.

A year ago I set out to bring the fayre back into the centre of the town.

I grew up in Henley and can remember as a child the fayre taking place in the town centre with bunting up and all the shops and cafés joining in.

When the event moved to Mill Meadows the retailers lost the footfall, which didn’t seem fair to me.

For those who know me, I’m passionate about ways in which we can bring more footfall into the town, not just during the summer but throughout the year.

So, here we are, in the second year of the relocated May Fayre, which I thought was a huge success.

The sun shone (for the first time ever) and we had a market place full of voluntary organisations, “local” food and beverage stalls and countless other stalls.

The traditional Maypole dancing was perfect to kick- start the proceedings and huge thanks to Anne Garrison and Steph’s Divas and Dudes. Felix and Didi Richardson rocked the town and I can’t wait to have them perform next year. (That’s if they’ve not got a recording contract!)

The beautiful Katie Moberly sang a selection of her own songs and Lucy Porda overcame her nerves and belted out three toe-tapping covers. The Rupert House School choir stunned us all into silence as they sang so beautifully.

To end the day the amazing Jamie Bruce got us all dancing around our handbags in the square. We have such brilliant musical talent in Henley. Thanks also to the Eddington Morris Dancers who brought bells, music and colour to our event. And, of course, thanks to the ever youthful Angie Best for judging our brilliant May King and Queen competition.

Thank you, too, to Floral Circus, which kindly made the most beautiful crowns for the winners, and the Kenton Theatre for its prizes.

Thanks to Maggie Atkinson for giving us the stage and Hugh Legh for making everybody sound fabulous. A big thank-you to our air cadets who manned all of the vintage stalls for me.

Lastly, a massive thank-you to Stefan Gawrysiak who was my MC for the day. His booming voice could be heard throughout Henley, ensuring that everybody knew what was happening and when. We ended the day with the tug of war contest betweenthe Saracen’s Head, the Argyll, the Row Barge and the Tweed Pullers. The winners were the Row Barge.

Before I go and put my aching feet in the children’s paddling pool, I would also like to thank our parks staff and town hall staff, especially Nicci Taylor and Councillor David Eggleton.

It has been a huge privilege and pleasure to have had the chance to bring the May Fayre back to the town centre.

Finally, it has been a delight to have been able to work with all these individuals and community groups as well as other Henley Residents Group councillors to make the May Fayre a day to remember for residents and retailers. Thanks for coming and making it such a success. See you next year! — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Sarah Miller

Henley Town Council, Reading Road, Henley

Impressive poll result

Sir, — I noticed that the Henley Standard online poll “Are police neglecting their job to tackle crime” resulted in 52 per cent saying “Yes” and 49 per cent saying “no”.

A response rate of 101 per cent is very impressive indeed! — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

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