Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Your letters...

Don’t close this hospice

Sir, — Having previously written to the Henley Standard, I want to reiterate my and our family’s concern about the closure of the Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed.

It is quite possible that there are sometimes empty beds — who knows when the demand will come but I can only say that when my husband needed a bed in September 2017, we had to wait for two days, which was very stressful.

My husband always said he wanted to be at home when he died but people change their minds and after being in the hospice for two weeks he said he didn’t want to come home.

He was able to have a very peaceful death there, surrounded by caring people looking after him.

He obviously felt that it was the best place to be and we are forever grateful for the kindness of all the staff there.

In our view, a purpose- built hospice in the vast grounds would be ideal with the present very able team available.

My husband would agree with Lesley Maynerd and others (Standard, August 31) that he always felt at peace as soon as he entered the door at Sue Ryder.

He really looked forward to his Wednesday day centre and I’m sure that it helped prolong his life for many months.

Thanks once again to all staff at this wonderful hospice. — Yours faithfully,

Joan Selman

Goring

Now this is independence

Sir, — Dieter Hinke argues that party politics should play no part in the formation of Henley Town Council (Standard, September 21) and he is right.

However, while he criticises Henley Conservatives for politicising the council, he fails to recognise that Henley Residents Group, although not party political, is equally responsible for the problems.

HRG has its own agenda and membership and acts as a “party”. The result is the group conflict that has blighted the town council for some years.

A town council has much the same responsibilities and powers as a parish council that holds the certificate of General Powers of Competence, as Sonning Common Parish Council does.

Our council consists of 12 members elected solely by virtue of their known value as individual village residents, not on the basis of membership of any external party or group. Co-opted councillors are appointed/elected on the same basis.

Over the past eight years councillors have worked well together in the interests of the village.

Where there is disagreement on an issue it is settled by a vote in accordance with our standing orders and then we all get behind the decision.

With this non-party approach, the council has done much for the village and this is widely recognised by the residents.

Our excellent neighbourhood development plan involved working closely with residents and is proving very effective in defending the village against harmful development.

Our plan is regarded by experts as an exemplar of good practice.

We have built a skate park, are currently planning the construction of a sports and recreation complex and are working on the development of the village centre.

We manage and largely finance Club SC for local youngsters and are improving and renovating the three play areas in the village.

A part of Old Copse has been purchased for recreational use and we have organised the planting of numerous extra trees and shrubs around the village.

The village centre and recreation areas are kept clean, tidy and safe.

New bus shelters have been erected and park benches for the use of residents have been installed in different parts of the village.

Numerous other improvements have been made.

We have good, positive relationships with our county and district councillors and neighbouring parishes.

Last, but not least, we work well with our expert and committed parish office.

I wonder how much of this would have been achieved if a significant portion of our time and energy had focused on party infighting and inter-group power struggles.

Next May, perhaps Henley residents should consider voting only for town council candidates who present themselves as individuals with something to offer rather than as nominees of an external party or group. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Douglas Kedge

Sonning Common Parish Council, Lea Road, Sonning Common

So this time let’s talk

Sir, — We were pleased to read that the new chairman of the Henley Conservatives would like everyone to work together towards the good of the town (Standard, September 21).

We in Henley Residents Group agree that the interests of the town always come first and that national party politics has no part to play in the bread and butter issues such as children’s playgrounds, sports clubs and keeping the town attractive for residents and visitors.

We welcome Daniel Bausor’s approach of treating each other with respect, listening to each other and working together.

We would like to suggest that we meet up in order to promote this positive and constructive approach.

We tried this six months ago but it was not reciprocated. We look forward to a more positive response this time.

With South Oxfordshire District Council’s draft local plan due by March and the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan review due to be completed by the middle of next year, Henley Town Council needs all the support necessary to make sure we promote the best interests of Henley as we finalise these important documents.

All of us in HRG are ordinary residents who joined in order to make sure that decisions about Henley are made by independent Henley residents, accountable to residents only, sharing our core principles.

HRG is a distinctive independent group comprising residents of all political persuasions (and none) who support us, join us and work with us.

We have been doing this for 27 years and believe it’s clear that this approach works well for Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann (chairman, Henley Residents Group and Councillor Sarah Miller (vice-chair)

Henley Town Council

In defence of college

Sir, — As we all know, there are always two sides to every story, so I was saddened to read the one-sided, misinformed and, frankly, rude letter by G W Bayliss, from Canada (Standard, September 21). He wrote to express his non-local view regarding the application for playing fields by Shiplake College.

He wrongly suggested that the college had made a pretence of consulting the local community and also made an insulting reference to the “foolish leaders”, an unfair attack on the school governors, I assume.

Mr Bayliss went on to dismiss the importance of sport, claim that land will be destroyed and remind us how “every speck of arable land was needed in production” in times of war.

As it happens, I am a local resident and I feel that the school has indeed reached out and made every effort to consult with the community.

It is beyond reason that the college should need to consult with overseas former local residents!

I believe that the headmaster and the management team at the college are trying their best to find a solution for their need to replace its riverside rugby pitches which regularly become unplayable due to flooding. The college deserves more local support and praise for its active participation in the community and for its role as one of the biggest employers in the area.

I believe Shiplake College is an asset to the village and clearly takes great pride in ensuring the grounds and buildings are kept in immaculate condition.

The past building works the college has undertaken demonstrate the great sympathy and sensitivity it has for the local environment.

The current playing fields are on the flood plain and simply cannot be drained.

The college wants to exchange these fields with the new ones on higher ground, so there is no net loss of land to the farmer.

There has been a lot of misrepresentation of the facts and many people have objected to the laying of artificial grass, the building of changing rooms with a car park and the fitting of floodlights. None of these things is in the college’s application and therefore the concerns should be dismissed.

The pitches will be natural grass and accessed via a track from the school where existing facilities and parking will be used.

If war does break out again I am sure the college would be the first to volunteer the land back to the Ministry of Land or Women’s Land Army to be easily ploughed into arable use.

One final point: G W Bayliss asked what kind of education children will get from such “foolish leaders”. As it happens, I have two children at the college and they are getting an excellent education, thank you. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Lynskey

Lower Shiplake

Keeping us all safe

Sir, — If you travel around Henley, certain streets and areas are marked with Neighbourhood Watch signs.

Neighbourhood Watch has been running in the UK since 1982 and there is a number of groups in various forms across Henley.

For example, the Wootton Manor group has well over 100 members out of 200 houses across five streets, who are alerted to local crime issues and warnings of how to keep safe in a world of doorstep callers, telephone scammers and online fraud.

However, coverage varies and we’re keen to extend it.

Any individual resident may sign up to the Thames Valley Alert scheme but local group feedback is that having a community hub to share this and other information can be helpful.

Our co-ordinators are not net-curtain twitchers but the type of people who feel the safety of their community is important.

Local familiarity and awareness is important in spotting things that may be out of the ordinary.

Many of our co-ordinators have now been doing this for up to 30 years and we are looking to refresh and extend Neighbourhood Watch across Henley, both within and across our local communities. If you’re the sort of person who likes street parties, for example, then you’ll know how life is better when we work with one another.

We will be meeting with Thames Valley Police in the near future to discuss how best we can support them, so if you would like to share ideas or find out more to help connect and keep your community safe, please drop an email to Henley Neighbourhood Watch on nhwhenley@gmail.com — Yours faithfully,

Neil Gunnell

Blandy Road, Henley

We’re not recycling

Sir, — A recent newspaper headline read “It’s time to get drastic over plastic”.

Henley residents have taken not a blind bit of notice. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Parsley

Mount View Court, Henley

Thank you for flowers

Sir, — I would like to say thank you to Erica Cunningham, of Brambles florists in Sonning Common, for the lovely gift of flowers.

While saying goodbye to a neighbour, this surprise gift was found on my doorstep.

My thanks also to anyone who felt I was worthy to receive such a lovely gift. With thanks to all. — Yours faithfully,

Elaine Lauks

Wood Lane Close, Sonning Common

P.S, To those who know me well, I am having an enforced break from fostering. My pram will be in use again soon.

Helping the homeless

Sir, — This poem was inspired by the Reading homelessness charity Launchpad, which received £23,000 as a result of the Big Sleep Out event in Caversham earlier this month that I and 94 other “rough sleepers” took part in (Standard, September 7). — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road, Reading

Here in our shop doorways they sleep
Countless, faceless and nameless strangers —
Each night a living nightmare for them,
Full of fear and dangers.
Shunned by society, forced to roam the streets alone
With only a few belongings to their names.
No homes to go to, no tears left to cry,
Left with no voices and, too often, no choices.
Surely this is not how it should be,
So many folk relying on others’ charity?
They might never have had that much (or might have)
Yet what they had no doubt they cherished
All gone with the wind, every dream vanished
And replaced by a living nightmare.
We cannot change the world
But we can change our small corner of it,
It is at least a start.
So show some compassion, open your hearts,
Help the homeless to make a new start,
Support a charity like Launchpad
And help to heal our local homeless folk
And their loves ones, broken lives and broken hearts.

Fantastic farewell

Sir, — It was a truly memorable “farewell-but-I-ain’t leavin” performance from Vince Hill (aged 84!) and his faithful three-piece band at the Kenton Theatre. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

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