Friday, 12 August 2022

Your letters...

Scrub the pavements

Sir, — I was out of town for Henley Royal Regatta on purpose, as I live in the town centre and I am appalled at the way people behave in the evenings when they are inebriated.

When I walked into town on my return I could not believe the filthy pavements. They are stained everywhere and the town looked absolutely disgusting.

Forget about all your lovely hanging baskets and flowers all around. The first thing anyone can see when they walk into town is the filthy state of the pavements. When you visit someone’s house and they have dirty floors/carpets that is all you will see, not the furniture and belongings.

Henley Town Council should purchase a pavement washing machine with some urgency. Why should residents put up with all this mess when it is the businesses that gain from the footfall/customers?

I see you have a poll asking whether shopkeepers should keep their frontages clean at all times. Yes — this should happen as well. The council should wash the pavements regularly — particularly after all the events that are held in the town all through the year.

Then, the shopkeepers should wash their pavements every morning (as happens in many countries). A quick bucket of water with cleaning fluid thrown over the slabs and then brushed off would take about five minutes each day and the result would be amazing.

As a child I remember that all families I knew washed their front door steps, front pathways etc as it was thought that you were judged as a family by the way you kept the front of your house. The same applies to the Town Centre, particularly now with all the cleaning aids that are available to all.

At present Henley town centre looks filthy and needs a really good scrub. — Yours faithfully,

Maureen Dougall

Station Road, Henley

Not fit for walking on

Sir, — Full marks to Helen Barnett and Louise Hastings for donning their rubber gloves and scrubbing pavements. I am just wondering where they did this? I don’t think it could have been Bell Street, Duke Street or Market Place.

I walked though Henley yesterday, one week on from Regatta, and I can honestly say I have never seen the pavements in such a bad state in all the 50 years I have been here.

Most of the retail businesses obviously did not comply with the request to wash outside their properties. That is a shame. It wouldn't take them long and I think it would make all the difference.

I agree with Mrs Moola, (Standard letters, July 13). I was also very reluctant to walk on the pavements and had to change shoes when I got home. At the moment I would not walk my dog through Henley. I feel ashamed that visitors should see our lovely town in this state. — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Knights

Fair Mile, Henley

Turn shops into homes

Sir, — We have been told that work will begin on Market Place Mews after Henley Royal Regatta. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The beginnings of this development, after being told repeatedly that it was going ahead, are now lost in the mists of time.

Now we are told, yet again, that there will be nine shops in addition to 14 flats.

The construction of nine new shops is unbelievable when Henley is plagued with far too many empty shops. Is it too late for these shops to become nine extra flats? And are 40 per cent of these flats to be affordable?

Comments are often made that Henley has too many coffee shops/cafés and too many charity shops. But coffee shops seem to be well used — if there really are too many then one or two will go out of business.

Neither coffee shops nor charity shops are keeping out other shop owners as evidenced by the large number of empty shops.

Many small shops, particularly on the fringes of Henley, used to be houses. Long ago, these houses were converted into shops when the demand for shops exceeded the supply.

Perhaps some of these shops could be converted back into houses when they become empty. This has happened already to many redundant pubs. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Hollas

Queen Close, Henley

Please keep the classics

Sir, — Thank you so much to the organisers for bringing back the classics to the Henley Festival. What a wonderful way to enjoy the English National Opera on a such a beautiful summer’s evening.

The host for the evening, Richard Stuart, was especially applauded when he topped the evening off with a topical adaptation of “I’ve got a little list”, the audience were roaring with laughter. At the end of the concert the audience gave the ENO a standing ovation.

Even though the concert was billed for the main event on the stage, there was a wide range of activities going on. A jazz band, several other musical groups and the Card Ninja, who was amazing, and the art exhibitions. The fireworks were amazing as well.

I hope the classics are going to be included in the future festivals. — Yours faithfully,

Sandra and Peter Clee

Kidmore End

Event well orchestrated

Sir, — When my wife and I saw the Henley Festival programme earlier this year we were attracted by the classical concerts to be given by the Henley Symphony Orchestra and the English National Opera and booked tickets for ourselves and two guests for both. We were not disappointed.

The Henley Symphony Orchestra concert was very enjoyable. A nicely balanced programme well executed and with a superb guest violinist — Min Kym.

On the following evening the ENO performance by both the orchestra and singers was magnificent — emotionally moving, exhilarating and through the evening’s host, Richard Suart, at times lighthearted, particularly when he performed the Mikado’s I’ve Got a Little List. Both concerts enjoyed rapturous applause and, deservedly, standing ovations.

Very many thanks to the festival organisers for arranging these classical music events which I hope will be repeated. If they are then the festival can definitely count on our support. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Bennett

Deanfield Road, Henley

It was just like old times

Sir, — I felt compelled to write to express my thanks and support for the Sunday evening programme of this year’s Henley Festival.

In the past I was an avid attendee and for many years we would be there every evening.

The original attraction was naturally the river venue and the added attraction of an outdoor black-tie occasion, alongside the sideshows like “The Barber’s Quartet”, unusual wandering troupes, the Trinity Band and the fringe comedy acts. It was certainly a very British, quirky event.

Recent years have seen many changes and the inevitable commercial drive that has taken things into an evening that provides big names, both on the “floating stage” and in the surrounding tents — attracting an audience from as far away as London.

With the help of social media Henley Festival has become a part of the nationwide “festival scene”. Sadly, this has changed both the atmosphere and the ethos of the original concept.

I am the first to acknowledge that we need to move with the times but Sunday’s event was more reminiscent of the event many of us locals loved and supported.

The English National Opera put on a much appreciated collection of old favourites from well-known operas and I, for one, would like to see more of the same.

It is rumoured that the evening was deemed a failure due to lack of support. If this is the case then I am delighted that I was lucky enough to have gone to the last classical concert of the Henley Festival.

Perhaps the lack of support for last night’s event indicates that it is time to hand over to another generation to make it “their” event. — Yours faithfully,

Jennie Brown


Fantastic fun for families

Sir, — We were only able to attend the Henley Festival once this year, on Sunday evening, the English National Opera.

What a superb evening. It was just perfect in every way, weather, music, singing, food and fireworks — excellent.

Sadly, many of the seats (lawn and grandstand) were empty but on the plus side it meant that we could actually get into all the venues and see the fireworks without jostling with dozens of people.

Many thanks for the classical evening, it was lovely.

We also took the grandchildren to the Sunday Family Festival. This, too, was really good — glitter tattoos, balloon unicorns and swords. Brilliant. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Vivian-Wright

Greys Road, Henley

Productive partnership

Sir, — I was delighted to read (Standard, July 13) that a partnership had been formed between the Henley Festival and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which helps young folk with depression.

Sadly depression, particularly amongst children, teenagers and young adults, and especially among the male of our species is rampant and the biggest killer within these groups.

So any partnership et al that helps sufferers and avoids anyone taking their own life has to be supported.

So well done Henley Festival and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. May your partnership be productive. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

More care for more people

Sir, — The Sue Ryder South Oxfordshire palliative care hub will be a change from how our services are currently provided at the Nettlebed hospice and we understand that any change can be unsettling.

We are committed to keeping patients, volunteers, colleagues and our local community informed, as and when we have any updates to share.

We are currently undertaking a considered scoping exercise, examining in-depth analysis of Nettlebed’s patients over the past three years as well as further evidence which is being produced via our current pilot and from our consultation work with the South Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

We are confident that by changing our model of service to better meet the needs of the local community, we can extend the excellent care that we are so well known for to more members of the South Oxfordshire community.

Our priority is to avoid undue alarm to our patients, both present and future.

So please let us reassure your readers that it is our intention to continue providing all of our services, both in the near future and after the sale of the Nettlebed hospice.

We are expanding our care in South Oxfordshire so that we can provide more care for more people, not fewer. We understand that there will always be a need for some patients to be cared for in a hospice setting and we know that for some it will remain their preferred choice.

We are therefore committed to providing alternative inpatient beds, managed by Sue Ryder, before the sale of Nettlebed completes.

We will absolutely not move out of Nettlebed until the new beds are operational and there will be no gap in the delivery of our services to the local community.

Once we have news to share regarding the progress of our future plans, we will communicate with all our different stakeholders via the most appropriate channels.

I would like to thank your readers on behalf of myself and all my staff for their ongoing support.

Together, we will succeed in supporting more members of our local community when they really need it most. — Yours faithfully,

Holly Spiers

Director of hospices and fund-raising, Sue Ryder

Disastrous for trade

Sir, — Theresa May’s Chequers White Paper is a disastrous body blow to our future ability to trade freely with the rest of the world.

The acceptance that the UK will sign up to the EU “rule book” and all future rules covering product standards, the rules of origin and state aid in all sectors makes us nothing more than a rule-accepting vassal of the EU, in perpetuity.

This “negotiating position” is made even worse by the obvious fact that the EU will now demand and probably get further “concessions”, trampling over even more red lines.

We were once the world’s greatest trading nation and have all the potential to be up among the front runners in the future, but not under the Chequers conditions.

Sadly, the only possible way to make our weak, vacillating Prime Minister reconsider her position is for those Conservative Party members who voted for Brexit, on the basis that “Brexit means Brexit”, to resign their memberships, as we have done. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas and Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road,
Sonning Common

Continental friendships

Sir, — One of the more unpleasant mantras of the so-called Brexiters is that those who do not back their fossilised ideology are undermining the UK.

The simple fact is that it isn’t the strength and ability of the British people that those who voted to remain doubt but the sheer and utter incompetence and tomfoolery of those who are trying to drag our country out of the EU.

The lies they told during the referendum are now evident in the government’s inability to get close to a workable formula.

Hardly a day goes by without a minister resigning — some of whom, like our former MP and Foreign Secretary, were an international embarrassment, but the governing party is now being itself governed by a small extreme right wing clique who would appear to be happier if we were the 51st state of America under the control of its President.

And, to cap it all, the government is trying to get away for an early summer holiday. Let’s return to sanity and harmony with our closest allies, partners and friends just 22 miles across the sea. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Luff


Taxi fares are fair

Sir, — With regards to your correspondent JW Evans complaining about the cost of a taxi during Henley Royal Regatta (Standard, July 13), the reason for the increased cost is at that time Henley would be gridlocked with traffic and the journey would take much longer than at other times.

If you think they are making a fortune I suggest you get yourself a taxi and do their work.

You asked for a taxi to come from Henley to collect you then take you to the centre of Henley. I estimate the round trip would take about one hour.

The cost of running the taxi, vehicle tax and insurance, test licence and maintenance then the fuel would be at least £15 per hour so it does not leave much profit.

Do not forget the point of hire is the office where you hired it from. — Yours faithfully,

Dave Avery


Keeping it neutral

Sir, — On one of the demonstrations against President Trump’s recent visit there was a little girl holding a placard, almost as big as herself, saying “I hate you”.

It is to be hoped that most people would agree that little girls and boys should be allowed to play, carefree, for as long as possible unburdened by the political views of their parents whatever they may be. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Willson

Pound Lane, Sonning

Don’t forget about us

Sir, — In the last five months our MP, John Howell, has been to the USA, Israel, Lisbon, Nigeria and Aberdeen.

When he has time to be in parliament most of his questions are geared to his great support for Israel. Not surprising then he has had for the last four years, two paid trips per year to Israel.

Locally, with shops and pubs closing, a dire need for affordable housing and our third world roads with potholes, could he just give us some consideration? I feel unrepresented. — Yours faithfully,

Bill Jackson


Fireworks need support

Sir, — Phew! What rowing, what cheering. Our Thames full of boats, the blue sky, the green ground and beyond the familiar landmarks and flowers, everywhere you look, darting insects and birds, flowing ice cream and fine food and drink.

But wait. I’ve forgotten our fireworks. We can’t lose out on those fireworks in future. Those cash collections came just in time.

Lest we forget those who raised funds I, too, did my bit. It was stated in your pages that I raised £50, actually I contributed £500 and, unfortunately, was unable to be at the party to enjoy the evening show. — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Petersfield, Hampshire

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