Saturday, 20 April 2019

Your letters...

Your letters...

Attraction or Alcatraz?

Sir, — Following your article concerning the National Trust and fencing at Greys Court (Standard, September 28), I would like to add the following.

The tragic death of the deer caught in the barbed wire fence put around the bluebell wood next to the lower car park is the direct consequence of a plethora of fences and barriers which have appeared all over the beautiful grounds and gardens of our much-loved attaction.

Apparently some is to keep out the cows but it is doing a good job of keeping visitors out too.

Apart from the bluebell wood barbed wire fences, the other barriers within the grounds, which can only be reached after one has shown your National Trust ccard, are yet more difficult to comprehend.

I had a lengthy telephone conversation with the friendly head gardener but even he could not explain to me why a tall fence had been erected across a much-used path which runs at the back between the fruit and vegetable walled garden and the ditch of the ha-ha.

This is, or rather was, a very pleasant and short walk from the walled gardens and the nearby maze back to the oval lawn.

My photograph shows this ugly obstruction. Maybe one of your readers has discovered the real reason for its existence or for the barrier across the entrance to the lovely little knot garden which lies behind the Cromwellian Stables or for the long, tunnel-like picket fence which leads to the very shaded children’s play area, the latter also being surrounded by the same tall fence. More Alcatraz than an inviting playground in the woods.

While yards of fences have been put up, the formerly very inviting benches at the southern end of the oval lawn were removed.

From these one was able to enjoy the great view over the park landscape of the Herne Valley while taking a welcome rest.

This loss, together with that of the direct access for a visit to the bluebell wood from the lower car park, has meant that many long-standing National Trust member can no longer enjoy the Greys Court grounds.

Apparently both benches have been vandalised and there are no funds to replace them as they have to be “bespoke” (clearly no cheap flat packs!).

I suggested that the Henley Archaeological & Historical Group and other people the area might be able to help with donations but no response to this idea has been received from the National Trust.

— Yours faithfully,

Ruth Gibson

Secretary, Henley Archaeological & Historical Group, Vicarage Road, Henley

P.S. We have just been offered funds for a replacement bench by one of the group’s members. All we need now is to hear from the trust about where to find the right “bespoke” bench to solve at least one of the problems which seem to give out such negative messages to elderly visitors.

Rewriting history...

Sir, — Thank you for cheering me up after a long hard day in the City with your article about Jane Foddy headlined “Fireworks are lovely to look at but I never really liked the loud bangs” (Standard, October 12).

Reading between the lines Ms Foddy is banging on (no pun intended) for the second year in a row because, as a responsible dog owner, she let her puppy out into the garden on bonfire night.

Dogs are very intelligent (or so I’ve heard — ours is as thick as two planks of wood) creatures who, as pack animals, pick up on their owners’ moods instantly.

I can just imagine Ms Foddy saying, “Teddy! Teddy! Be calm, my love” and, funnily enough, Teddy does the opposite.

I particularly loved the “war veterans” bit. Well, actually, there’s nothing in the British press about this but, if you Google hard enough, you can find something in America to back you up.

Guess what, I’ve just Googled “Wombles in Wargrave” and got 350 hits!

I don’t appear to be alone either. Your Take Five interviewees seemed rather non-plussed with rewriting British history too.

If only Guy Fawkes had plotted to destroy Parliament in a giant pillow-fight, we’d all be happier now.

I look forward to next year’s campaign with bated breath. Keep the fire burning, Ms Foddy. — Yours faithfully,

Kevin James

Luker Avenue, Henley

Please take litter home

Sir, — I would like to add my voice to that of John Halsall regarding the litter and dog poo problem in Remenham (Standard, October 12).

I live at the eastern end of Remenham (at the top of Remenham Hill, on the A4130), where the main problem is litter rather than dog poo.

At least three times a week, I collect litter along both sides of the stretch of road between Culham Lane and the turning to Middle Culham cottages.

All the litter is unnecessary and some of it is downright dangerous. Almost all of it has been thrown from vehicle windows.

I have collected more than my fair share of bottles containing an unidentifiable yellow liquid (that doesn’t fit the description on the label) as well as dirty nappies, complete with the wipes used to clean a baby’s bottom.

There are sheets of soiled loo paper, glass bottles of all descriptions — some of which are broken — as well as squashed and unsquashed tins of fizzy drinks, plastic cups and bags, packaging from all kinds of foods and foils of pills.

But one of the most commonplace items is cigarette butts that have clearly been thrown from car windows while still smouldering.

As you might imagine, this caused a great deal of alarm during the recent drought and heatwave.

I was collecting dozens of cigarette butts that had been thrown, still alight, on to tinder-dry grass and loose hay.

These grass verges are right next to flammable hedges, beyond which are fields. During the heatwave, these fields were huge areas of tinder-dry stubble, surrounded by houses and cottages, one of which is mine.

It is a miracle that Henley and Remenham didn’t make national headlines for all the wrong reasons, and that no lives or property were lost, because it is just this sort of carelessness that causes major tragedies.

I appeal to all drivers, travelling both in and out of Henley, to take their litter home and to encourage their visitors to do the same.

This is such a beautiful part of England. Let’s keep it beautiful — and safe. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Frances Cookson

Remenham Parish Council, Remenham Hill

Dog owners to blame

Sir, — Further to Councillor John Halsall’s letter regarding thoughtless dog owners, I totally sympathize with the residents of Remenham.

As a responsible dog owner, with four dachshunds which I walk daily, I would never in a million years leave home without my dog walking bag, which contains poo-bags (which, I might add, are biodegradable), treats, an extra lead, water bottle etc.

I am appalled at how some dog owners are so irresponsible and inconsiderate.

Anyone who has a dog can be assured that on a walk their dogs are bound to do something, so why go unprepared?

I have personally seen dog owners leave poo bags in the fields beside Leander Club.

When I approached them, I was told there are no dog bins so what should they do? Well, take them home. It is also appalling when walking through the town that dog mess is not picked up and on some occasions this is not from a small dog!

Unfortunately, this behaviour gives us responsible dog owners a bad reputation.

Hopefully, the selfish, irresponsible and thoughtless dog owners are in the minority. — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Havenga

Albert Road, Henley

Thoughtless dog walker

Sir, — Last week I was walking my dog in New Copse, Peppard, when I saw a dog walker’s large van parked with the engine running and the driver smoking.

I walk slowly and was coming back through the field about half an hour later when I saw the dog walker on his own enter the field with about 15 dogs of all sizes.

Immediately two Alsatians, two rottweilers, two large Labradors and two or three other large dogs raced across the field to me.

My small dog was terrified and so was I. I shouted to the man to control them and eventually the dogs returned to him, leaving me and my dog very shaken.

My two concerns are that, firstly, dog walkers should only be in charge of, at the most, five dogs each and should keep them under control and, secondly, 15 dogs were shut in the van for more than half an hour, which can’t have been good for them.

On many occasions I have seen the same dog walker letting the dogs loose in the field, which has turned it into a dogs’ lavatory. The dogs are then put back in the van with no walk. I wonder if the dogs’ owners realise what short shrift they are getting and would be interested if other dog owners have had the same experience? — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Oldridge

Sonning Common

Misuse of litter bins

Sir, — Too many people in Henley see landfill bins as being tailor-made for newspapers, cans and plastic. These bins are also very badly designed. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Parsley

Mount View Court, Henley

New housing opportunity

Sir, — Your article regarding the housing site in Peppard that my company is promoting (Standard, October 12) brings into focus the challenges but also the opportunities that exist in accommodating the increased housing supply that will be required under South Oxfordshire District Council’s new local plan.

The “smaller villages” will be required to accommodate an increase in dwellings of between five and 10 per cent over the plan period.

Where will these houses go? While most “larger villages” such as Sonning Common and Goring are dealing with the allocation of sites through a neighbourhood plan, most smaller villages are understandably shying away from the cost and complexities of preparing what is becoming an increasingly time-consuming document.

Instead it is believed by many that the smaller villages’ allocation can be met from unplanned “infill” sites over the course of the plan period. In other words, keep your head down and the problem will go away!

Even if this is the case, it will result in no new “affordable” housing being delivered.

The vast majority of infill sites are five dwellings or less where the district council’s policy of 40 per cent affordable does not apply. Is that what people want?

By engaging with developers on larger sites at an early stage not only will 40 per cent affordable housing be provided but there is also an opportunity to deliver other community benefits through the Community Infrastructure Levy and section 106 agreements.

The alternative of infill will lead to a substantial uplift in land value that planning permission brings for the lucky few householders who have a large garden capable of accommodating two or three new houses tax-free.

Many will say that’s not fair. Planning consent should benefit the community.

It is only by looking at larger sites in the smaller villages that this can be achieved and this should be looked at as an opportunity rather than a threat. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Neville

Managing director, Elegant Homes, Reading

Astounding assertion

Sir, — So Caversham developer John Neville has floated the notion that his company could help our local primary school if he was given permission to build an estate of 27 houses in the wonderful, undeveloped countryside of Rotherfield Peppard (Standard, October 12). Wow!

Now I understand the fundamentals that drive developers but the temerity in his suggestion that our rural community could in any way be better off — by being deprived of these fields and cramming them instead with housing stock — is astounding and the assertion that the school needs his money, slightly threatening.

Peppard is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I hope that everyone in South Oxfordshire will unite to fight this and any other opportunistic developments plus reject attempts to buy planning permission with short-term offers of cash.

Peppard Primary School should be able to grow and rebuild but it will find ways to do this without selling its soul to commerce.

If you want to build houses — elegant or otherwise — do so in the brownfield sites of Berkshire and leave the countryside alone for the long-term pleasure of future generations.

That is something that will truly benefit children in the village. — Yours faithfully,

Hugh Lawton

Rotherfield Peppard

No need for planning law

Sir, — I see that once again Clive Hemsley, the renowned artist, has benefited the local populace with another of his creations, this time a massive wall hanging (Standard, October 12).

I feel the urge to create an artwork of my own at the Grade II listed property that I live in.

It will be entitled Massive Garden Shed, be decorated with strings of LED lights and it will have a “green” roof planted with sedums and other suitable plants.

As a bonus, it will be open to visitors on Sundays in the summer.

That should get me past even a sniff of having to abide by planning law. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Hoare


Bollywood ball success

Sir, — I would like to congratulate Harriet Barcella and Liz Deacon for organising the Bollywood Ball in aid of the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley, which took place at the town hall on Friday.

This fantastic evening was supported by a great many local businesses, including the Spice Merchant restaurant, Laithwaites Wines and Newtown Car Services, which made generous donations towards the meal, the silent auction and the auction which Jonty Hearnden kindly oversaw.

The centre continues to provide much-needed respite care for local children and young adults with severe learning disabilities and physical disabilities.

Often the care they require is full-time and the only break the parents and their siblings get is when their child is being cared for at the Chiltern Centre.

Thank you once again to everyone who attended or contributed to the ball. — Yours faithfully,

Lisa Drage

Trustee, the Chiltern Centre for disabled children, Deanfield Avenue, Henley

Support for supper

Sir, — Those of us who helped organise the Sonning Common autumn celebration supper in the village hall on October 5 would like to thank all those who participated, contributed or volunteered.

A sum of £1,228.40 was raised in support of two important charities, the Stroke Association and Cancer Research UK.

A delicious four-course autumn meal was prepared and served by a team of fantastic local volunteers and a lot of fun was had by all who attended.

A special thank-you should also be extended to a number of local businesses which kindly donated some very generous raffle prizes.

These included the Greyhound pub in Peppard, Brambles Florists and the Co-op in Sonning Common, Kimberley’s Hair and Beauty Studio in Woodcote and Nubodi Pilates and Cook in Henley.

Other raffle prizes were generously donated by a number of local residents.

BB Wines and Occasions in Sonning Common also kindly supported the event.

Thanks one and all. — Yours faithfully,

Jill Grinsted

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

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