Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Your letters

Park and you pay, simple

Sir, — It would appear that a large proportion of Henley residents is totally surprised that they have to pay when they park not just at Townlands Memorial Hospital but at pretty much all public car parks in our town.

And this despite the Henley Standard’s extensive coverage of this so important issue. Perhaps the average IQ has dropped sharply?

It is made very clear at the car parks what you have to do and what the fine is for not doing it.

A large number of readers have been ignoring the signage and they then blame the company which has a contract to do exactly what it is doing — and clearly doing it very well.

However, the excuses people have does make for excellent entertainment.

A midwife does not think she should pay because midwives are not paid all that well. A lady was fined three times for parking illegally three times.

The problem seems to be that she actually had to press “okay” after entering the license plate which “some people might miss”.

A mother had the horrible experience of having to take her daughter to the hospital because the girl had fallen and hurt her mouth.

Every sympathy for the family but why should that mean the woman should not enter her number plate and then Smart Parking is blamed for not having a heart! It has a P&L, dear lady — it is a company.

A man dropped his wife off for an appointment and waited in the car park in a disabled space displaying a disabled badge.

It is unclear if disabled spaces are included in the scheme but the gentleman couldn’t care less as “if you have a hospital appointment you shouldn’t have to pay”. Yes, sir, you should because the signs say so.

My favourite will have to be the elderly gentleman who doesn’t think he needs to pay because “the keypad system was confusing to use as letters and numbers can be mixed up”.

The staff at Townlands are only too happy to help and if that is too much to ask perhaps it is time to tear up that driver’s licence.

And everyone is equally surprised that they get a letter from a solicitor when they don’t pay. Really? Try not paying a speeding ticket and see what happens.

You park, you pay. Get over it. — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

Brought it on ourselves

Sir, — While the Smart Parking operation has been a problem for many, let us not forget that without some form of control it is us, the general public, that cause chaos.

The best example of our poor collective behaviour was when the contract for the Hart and Bell surgeries came to an end.

Soon after it ended, I parked in the main car park and walked up York Road to visit the doctor. Contrary to the leading doctors’ pleas, there was a queue of cars and double parking at the surgery. Many folks who were fighting for each space were youngsters in their 50s and 60s who are quite fit enough to walk the short way from the main carpark to let the folks who really need to park, have a space.

In the end we, the general public, get what we deserve, chaos! — Yours faithfully,

Michael James

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley



Sir, — I write this with tears in my eyes. On going outside to feed our chickens, geese and guinea fowl on what was a lovely summer morning, I was greeted with piles of white and brown feathers, the result of a visit from a fox having not long before let our five pet hens out of their cage in the garden. Needless to say we heard or saw nothing amiss.

There is no time of day or night when the fox does not strike, several friends have lost chickens recently in the daytime which were in runs and seemingly safe. We have had foxes and, dare I say, badgers excavate under chicken houses to get at the birds and any reinforcements are a waste of time against large animals with devastating claws and teeth. Foxes can also jump over electric fencing.

Two of the chickens had belonged to our grandchildren and being a small group had become real “characters”, one in particular guarding the back door and taking great exception to Bob Cat coming for his food so it was rather a battle of wills and wits between them, though Bob always got fed albeit by us hiding his bowl behind a flower pot!

Given half a chance they were indoors — many times we had to show them the door. Taken to laying eggs in a log basket in the shed, I have just picked up three eggs laid there yesterday.

In my youth I was an avid member of the League Against Cruel Sports but over the years realise that things have to be culled or else there is an unnatural balance of predators.

Having probably started a debate, I make no apologies and in the meantime we will be going outside, again in the sunshine, to pick up feathers strewn over the grass. Strangely still expecting to hear their clucking. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Jackson




Sir, — Further to my letter of April 27, I would like to add a few more comments.

Ask anyone in the street if they would rather die at home, the majority would automatically say “yes”. When the reality, however, kicks in, both for the patient and their caring relatives, the answer could be quite different.

The term “home hospice” sounds wonderful, but is it? A hospice has all the provisions on site, both staff and equipment, in order to cater for any eventuality — no way can that be replicated in a home environment.

When Sue Ryder first came to the help of my husband, he was put on a waiting list for a weekly day visit to the hospice, starting months ahead. (In fact he died long before his first appointment). Every week your newspaper comments on the building of new blocks of flats and housing developments, so increasing the number of potential new patients and of course the amount of traffic in the area.

Already the roads in and around Henley are choked most days, which delays the travel of carers trying to get from one household to the next — and the situation can only get worse.

One cannot dismiss the immeasurable service to the community, which is the hallmark of the present Sue Ryder hospice under the pretext of lack of demand or preference for home treatment — this is neither true, nor is it practical. — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

Build tiny houses

Sir, — Recently my adult daughter and I visited the new “affordable” housing build off Greys Road, intrigued as to what she might or might not be able to afford.

Asking about a one-bed apartment we discovered that it would be impossibly out of her reach to buy, even within the shared ownership scheme.

As someone else has already commented in these pages, it is a joke. There is no affordable housing in Henley for young people earning an average or below-average income.

The financial realities of being able to afford a mortgage are not going to change, so what is the answer? I suggest, a second time, that taking a serious look at the possibilities of using “tiny houses” would be an answer to this pressing need. Readers can Google “Tiny House Movement’ to learn more, including looking at the inspiring images.

Could whoever is responsible for making decisions over allocating land set aside a small area (even as an experiment, initially) on which a few tiny houses could be situated? No foundations are necessary and they can be made so as to be able to be moved on.

A peppercorn rent could be paid for use of the plot and an affordable mortgage obtained. Failing that, does anyone have at least an acre of unused land they would be willing to offer the use of?!

A lot of red tape would have to be swept aside and a pragmatic approach embraced by those that make these decisions. Surely it’s worth that if it gave a few young people a foothold on that elusive ladder — and it might just catch on!

Please don’t just dismiss this idea out of hand; not unless you have a genuinely better solution. — Yours faithfully,

Frances Williams

Gainsborough Crescent

Keep it


Sir, — At the start of work on the new phase of our neighbourhood plan, Chairman Ken Arlett formally requested that “party politics” should be entirely excluded and there were no dissenters from that guideline.

Recently, however, claims of “rapid progress”’ have been made in comparison to what was achieved in the original neighbourhood plan which has also, unjustifiably in my view, been bad-mouthed, mainly in informal conversations.

The current rash of euphoric press announcements about that recent “rapid progress” runs the risk of being perceived as electioneering, especially when the press is sometimes briefed before some working party members have been fully updated or informed on the topics concerned.

I could make much of the seven-plus elapsed months between my writing to the Henley Standard (at Councillor Kellie Hinton’s suggestion) to propose a minor but important bus route alteration and it will (hopefully) come to pass soon as a result of the bus working group efforts but I won’t, since obviously Cllr Hinton made her suggestion with the best of intentions.

For the sake of the many important issues now being addressed within the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan phase two work, let’s get back to the spirit of apolitical team working and desist from “grandstanding” in our local newspaper. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Our faith is restored

Sir, — On Wednesday last week my father and I were in the Greys Road car park. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell backwards, hitting and cutting his head on the car park surface.

We were immediately surrounded by a number of the public who, over the following one-and-a-half hours helped us while we waited for an ambulance.

To all those people — you know who you are — who helped and offered to help, we offer a big, big thank-you. I’m pleased to say that after having treatment and five stitches in his head wound, he is recovering well.

To all those who helped, you have restored our faith in humanity. Thank-you from Chris, Colin, Shirley and Sue Mather. — Yours faithfully,

Chris Mather

Knossington Close, Lower Earley



Sir, — Through your pages I wish to say a huge and very sincere thank-you to all the exceptionally kind people who were present at the time of my accident in Henley, on April 19, when I tripped and fell over one of the sunken manhole covers at the bottom of the slip road coming down from Waitrose car park to Bell Street.

My particular thanks go firstly to Carole, who stayed with me from the time I fell until the ambulance “took me away” — a period of over an hour. Carole was absolutely amazing — calm, reassuring, and supportive. Her loving presence made a big difference.

Secondly, I wish to publicly thank Roger Johns, whom I have subsequently learned was on holiday in the Henley area. Not only did he make the decision to call 999 very swiftly — but generously gave my friend the use of his mobile phone — and flatly refused her offer to pay for the lengthy conversations with the emergency services from the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Thirdly, a lovely care worker on her way to work and in uniform, who offered help and supported my weight (which is considerable) by kneeling down on the tarmac behind me – that must have been most uncomfortable. It was fortuitous that Dr Will Hearsey, from one of the local GP practices was off duty and passing by. He also gave his time and skill to “check me over” and reassure me that I’d live to see another day.

M&Co provided antiseptic wipes and the shop on the opposite corner brought a chair and a glass of water.

A further shop assistant brought a glass of juice and a member of staff from Waitrose came down the slip road to check how I was.

I am currently in the fourth week of healing, having been bedridden for 13 days — unable to move without severe pain and difficulty and unable to use the stairs. Now, with the walking aids provided by the NHS, I am “hop along Cassidy!”

Along with all the above-mentioned people, I also wish to thank each friend and acquaintance who has either sent an email message or a card or who has taken the time and trouble to visit me and brought gifts to aid my recovery. Every single one of these contacts has been very much appreciated.

Lastly — please watch out for those awful manhole covers in such a state of disrepair! I sincerely trust they will be mended very soon before yet another unsuspecting person is even more severely injured than I have been. — Yours faithfully,

Elaine M Williams,

Sedgefield Close, Sonning Common

Get well soon, Elaine

Sir, — We were sad to read the front page story about the accident which happened to Elaine Williams of Nottakwire.

We have been to their concerts and enjoyed them, the money raising funds for good causes. We hope that Elaine will make a good recovery.

We continue to enjoy the Henley Standard with the letters page and photos. Long may it continue. — Yours faithfully,

Keith and Eva Allen


Control their behaviour

Sir, — In response to Melanie White’s letter (Standard, May 11), where she wrote that dogs should always be kept on a lead, as a dog owner myself, I totally agree owners should be in control of their dogs, especially when walking near or through livestock.

It is upsetting to think sheep are being injured or worse, killed in this way, but to suggest there should be a law to keep dogs on a lead at all times is utterly ridiculous.

The highlight of my day is walking freely through the woods and countryside (dog off lead where appropriate) and I like to think I am courteous to cyclists, joggers, etc by calling my dog back to let them pass.

The countryside is there to be enjoyed by all (including dogs). Sadly it’s the minority of dog owners who need to recognise if their dog is aggressive towards livestock, keep them on the lead or avoid areas where livestock are grazing. — Yours faithfully,

W Stevenson


Give cafe another go

Sir, — The three “well-dressed and well-spoken” elderly ladies who walked out of the busy Herb Farm teashop in high dudgeon may now, sadly, regret losing a favourite rendezvous for their morning coffee.

What a pity for everyone that on that occasion the word “gracious” did not also apply.

Perhaps the staging of a replay would be a good idea. — Yours faithfully,

Jennifer Fellner

Cookley Green

Sad loss of pub garden

Sir, — I find it ironic that Brakspear took a full-page advert (Standard, May 4) in association with a lager company promoting its pubs in the region that have gardens, when the best garden it owns was at the Rose and Crown in New Street, Henlet, which is now closed!

Surely Brakspear must now be thinking that after several landlords at the Station House pub near the town hall, which does not have a garden, that the pub itself is unviable?

Why not convert the Station House into accommodation (as per the intention for The Rose and Crown) and re-open the lattter complete with the wonderful garden?

At least Henley does have the best pub garden with the wonderful Bird in Hand on Greys Road. — Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Mill End, Hambleden

Invaluable support

Sir, — As it’s mental health week this week, I wanted to say how much I appreciate a support group called Al-Anon which is for families and friends of problem drinkers.

I was desperately seeking something or someone to help quiet the incessant noise in my head when I walked into my first Al-Anon meeting four years ago.

I was like a washing machine stuck on the spin cycle, obsessing constantly about my husband’s heavy and destructive drinking habit, wondering what I was going to do about it, as if it were my job to fix him.

With a strong sense of shame and no one to confide in, I felt I was quietly going insane.

In Al-Anon I quickly learned about “The Three Cs” — that I did not Cause the alcoholic’s drinking, I cannot Control it and I can’t Cure it. This was a huge comfort to me as I let go of my false notion of responsibility for an unmanageable situation.

The helping agencies — from my GP to counsellors, to drug and alcohol services — all have their place when it comes to supporting families of drinkers or drug users.

But, for me, nothing has helped as much as sitting in a room with a group of people who really understand what I’m going through. I learn from them and, as everyone’s anonymity is respected, I can talk freely.

Proof of how far I’ve come is that I laugh and have a joke with my friends in the group, something I never imagined possible when I walked in for the first time as a crying heap.

The Henley meeting is every Thursday at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road at 8pm. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address



Sir, — I wanted to write publicly to voice how impressed I am with the quality of entertainment under the new programming directors of the Kenton Theatre, Tom Ryan and Paula Price Davies.

In such a relatively short space of time, there seems to have been a huge lift in the breadth of shows on offer. I’ve seen some brilliant comedy (and I’ve just bought my ticket to see Lee Nelson) as well as watched the more traditional shows.

I feel they should be applauded for their efforts in getting big names to appear and turning a much loved theatre into a thriving, modern business. Encore! — Yours faithfully,

Sophie Taylor

Lashbrook Road, Shiplake

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