Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Your letters...

Not so good neighbours

Sir, — After months of speculation, Shiplake has announced that Lower Shiplake has been allocated the 95 homes at Thames Farm and probably 40 more at the former Wyevale garden centre, even though they sit in Harpsden parish (Standard, October 19).

This was agreed to in principle, according to Shiplake, by South Oxfordshire District Council policy makers. (As a point of interest, where will these homeowners vote — Harpsden or Shiplake?)

Shiplake is now in the process of rewriting its neighbourhood plan and this “gift” means that it no longer has to worry about much development on sites in its own village as we have done that for them. Lucky them.

However, Henley and Harpsden will now have to find new sites to reach the number of the extra houses they are allocated in the district council’s new local plan.

So the situation is that these 135 new homes are built in our plan area and then allocated to Shiplake.

Then we will probably have to find room for another 350 homes on top of the 500 allocated space in the original Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

Even if 200 “windfalls” are allowed to be deducted, which is not certain, that’s about 800 to 1,000 new homes within the neighbourhood plan area. Did we sign up to that?

Interestingly, some years ago, a very senior planning inspector capped Henley at 450 new homes due to its unique geographical position and resulting obstacles.

That report is still available to read on the district council’s website. The results are still valid today.

In this age of referendums, let me remind everyone that just a few years ago Henley and Harpsden held a referendum to approve their joint neighbourhood plan — and not just its content, but the plan area. A large majority voted yes.

Therefore local people voted, by referendum, for which area they wanted houses for Henley to be built. How can this be so readily overturned?

If the district council policy makers had any doubts at that time that building on the plan boundaries would cause difficulties, why did they approve and support the plan and send it to independent inspection?

Why did they not amend the area boundaries at that stage (pre-referendum)?

In fact, they fought to include the whole of Harpsden within the boundaries rather than split it, as Harpsden wanted.

The government inspector of our plan also raised no questions as to the boundaries.

I think these policy makers should explain the detailed rationale for this decision as it sets a precedent for neighbourhood plans around the country. Something for our MP John Howell to ponder on.

Perhaps Mr Howell, a great defender and champion on the strength of neighbourhood plans, could also explain why Shiplake village, with its disproportionate political clout, can so readily crack open a neighbourhood plan area which took two years, hundreds of local people, a professional planner and a referendum to complete.

I wrote to the Henley Standard last year suggesting how we should all be good parish neighbours and share the pain to meet the housing need in our area. I had hoped for a better outcome. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

We’ve been forgotten

Sir, — I read with amazement the disagreement between Henley Town Council and Shiplake Parish Council over who should receive levy monies as a result of the development of Thames Farm.

I suppose I should have expected this as parish councils seem to be only concerned with gaining as much money as possible for their respective inhabitants.

The Times has described Shiplake parish as one of the richest areas in the United Kingdom.

Harpsden parish, in which Thames Farm is situated, is a rather poorer village with endless traffic problems on its narrow roads, which were built for agricultural vehicles.

When is someone going to recognise the gross impact on the environment?

People are struggling to stop the impact of erosion on their land and suffering daily abuse from drivers who use Gillotts Lane and the village as a short cut.

Cyclists using Gillotts Lane are at risk and the collection of rubbish and deliveries by large lorries are a nightmare, closing the lane for some time.

Shiplake parish has 20mph white lines on the roads and now Henley town centre is to have a 20mph limit, so why not our village as we have been requesting since 2012?

We would also like white lines in Gillotts Lane and the rest of the village to distinguish where the road is so everyone benefits.

Villagers have accepted all the major developments allocated to Henley, so why can’t we have these simple measures installed before it is too late? — Yours faithfully,

Odette Moss


Tell us what you want

Sir, — As Thomas Octavius noted in his Diary (Standard, October 19), Henley Residents Group hosted an open meeting for residents to discuss what we’d like to see for Henley in the future.

This wasn’t a political meeting. We wanted to hear as many different points of view as possible to help us understand what residents like and want to see more of as well as telling us what they don’t want.

Many interesting subjects were raised, including the green agenda, pollution, traffic and parking, economic regeneration, tourism, leisure facilities, open spaces and support for youth, among others.

As ever, HRG welcomes all points of view and we’ll be continuing to listen to as many residents as we can. As Thomas also noted, we welcomed Conservative and Labour members as well as HRG (and probably others too).

We welcome views from anyone who cares about Henley and don’t worry about any national political views they may have as we believe that’s not relevant at town level.

We will be holding another open event soon. Once again all residents are welcome to come and give us their views. We can also be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, by email and at www.hrg.org.uk

Please tell us what you think. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann and Councillor Sarah Miller

Henley Residents Group, Henley Town Council

EU is enemy of democracy

Sir, — I have written and quoted many times the adage that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat mistakes made”.

What it doesn’t mean is that we look at history and cut and paste from it the stupidity and rhetoric we find spread there like a thick layer of sticky jam.

I can’t believe anyone still has the gall to use the phrase “have to be in it to change it”. That notion died when Margaret Thatcher left office.

The battles she had to improve our standing in Europe by just a fraction are the stuff of legend. The Eurocracy has never ever put forward any options in negotiations. Their answer has always been no.

A good deal for England was always going to need to be prised from their cold dead hands, which ironically would have been the case if Britain had not made every effort for freedom during the Second World War.

What options have they put forward? Look back through all our time as members and major contributors and the answer is none.

Any sane person can see that the Eurocracy will never give up any ground that will undermine their unchecked gravy train. A gravy train that predominantly relies on money (£39billion of it) from the British taxpayer, to fund their deplorably extravagant and irrelevant existence.

The structure of the EU, designed and formulated by the Fascists and industrialists in the Thirties to provide high profits by suppressing wages in other areas of the community (look at Greece’s predicament for an example) is still a prime motivating directive.

Think why Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to all-comers — cheap labour for their factories, blue collar jobs and service sector. It is all designed to maximise profits, a legal way to suppress wages and side-step slave labour legislation.

It’s a way of sitting outside the system all honest people live by in order to manipulate and abuse the economy and politics for pure, selfish gain.

Many people thought fascism had been defeated in 1945 but now we can see that all that happened was a rebranding. A paper thin veneer. A whitewash any enemy of democracy would be proud of.

Is there anyone out there who will fight to support my right to a true democracy? — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski


Compassion for children

Sir, — This November marks 80 years since Britain demonstrated its great humanitarian spirit by helping 10,000 child refugees escape Nazi persecution through the Kindertransport while other countries just stood by.

Today, tens of thousands of child refugees in Europe and across the world still need safe passage. Children continue to live in horrendous conditions, where death, disease and people trafficking are ever-present risks.

Our country has a proud record of helping those in desperate need and I believe we must continue that record, not turn our back on vulnerable children.

Today’s government has a responsibility to offer child refugees sanctuary, just as it did 80 years ago.

I am asking our local councillors to get behind the Our Turn campaign, run by the charity Safe Passage and Lord Dubs, himself a child of the Kindertransport.

The campaign hopes to convince the Government to resettle 10,000 children over the next 10 years and is asking councils to make pledges to provide places for the children, if the Government provides the funding.

We can rescue 10,000 children if every council takes just three children a year.

Our country has a proud tradition of welcoming child refugees fleeing persecution. The Kindertransport efforts were driven by a huge amount of public goodwill and I believe we still have that same public support today.

Eighty years on, it’s our turn to show the humanitarian compassion of the Kindertransport to today’s child refugees. — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Styles

Green Road, Earley

The return of slavery

Sir, — Maybe someone in Henley wants action on the big rise in modern slavery and on the rise in man-made extinctions too.

I won’t hold my breath, though. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Parsley

Mount View Court, Henley

Let’s fell this fence

Sir, — The developers who built the houses on the Vine Lodge/Broadlands site on the corner of Stoke Row Road and Peppard Hill in Rotherfield Peppard put up a fence in contravention of planning consent, which was for post and rail and hedging.

There have been various planning applications which have been withdrawn over about two years or more.

There was concern about the fence obscuring the view up towards Peppard Common when driving out along Stoke Row Road.

This has now been addressed by the latest planning application.

The developers now plan hedging at that point set further back than the existing fence.

Despite many objections from local residents, this latest plan does not address the issue of the fence on Stoke Row Road which is 1.8m high and an eyesore.

It was erected without planning consent and is totally out of keeping in this rural area where all the other properties in the road are bounded by hedges or low brick and flint walls.

We are being given very little time by South Oxfordshire District Council to object. Comments have to be in by October 31. Please, if you value our village, I urge you to make your feelings about this clear.

The planning consultation document is P18/S1399/FUL and can be accessed on the council’s website. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Nickson

Don’t forget about deaf

Sir, — Once again Sue Ryan and her team ran a high-quality Henley Literary Festival this year, an event that is now an important occasion in the town’s calendar.

I attended talks at Phyllis Court Club, the Kenton Theatre and the town hall.

In only one of these locations (Phyllis Court Club) was the loop system working at all and even here it was very patchy, working primarily on the edges of the auditorium.

For Mark Austin’s talk I sat right at the back and got reasonable reception as I was aware that this was a good place to sit.

I am severely deaf and I rely on loop systems to enjoy the festival, as do many people. Nearly all people over 60 suffer from hearing loss that increases with age and the Henley Literary Festival has large numbers of attendees in this age bracket.

The festival may say “but our audience never complains” — this is because it doesn’t tell them that the venues are looped (perhaps with good reason!) and it loses the opportunity to be known as the festival that does the most to help the hearing impaired.

Under the Equality Act 2010, the festival has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people are not placed at a significant disadvantage from their disability compared with non-disabled people.

For the hearing impaired this includes loop systems that should be calibrated to the European Harmonised Code 60118-4.

The Act also requires the festival to display correct signage so that those with impaired hearing know that the loops are available in each location. There were no signs that I could see at any of the venues.

The only mention of access was in a very small paragraph at the end of the programme and I could see no mention of any method of complaint.

I am truly dismayed at the festival’s lack of interest in the challenges that we face.

I am minded to raise this with the Equality Advisory Support Service as an event where help to the disabled was totally inadequate. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Turnill

Blandy Road, Henley

Sue Ryan, director and founder of the Henley Literary Festival, responds: “Far from being dismissive of the hard of hearing, the festival makes every effort to do what we can to make the experience better.

“The venue supervisors are given names of anyone with hearing difficulties and reserve seats near the front for them. This year, as in the past, several audience members took up this offer.

“The loop systems are installed by the venues, not by the literary festival.

“Phyllis Court Club spent a lot of money on installing a new system which was tested and found to be effective.

“I was not made aware during the festival of any problems with the Kenton Theatre, which widely advertises the existence of its loops so I am dismayed to hear Mr Turnill had problems at the event he went to.

“I understand Henley Town Council is working to improve the sound system at the town hall and we are hoping that that will be vastly improved next year.”

Finally, hero recognised

Sir, — Only now, 77 years on, have the remains of F/O David Stein DFC been identified using DNA testing and his final resting place at the Kerfautras Cemetery in Brest, France, rededicated with family members present.

Wartime letters he sent to his mother and father reveal that he had planned to join my own father at the aircraft gun mounting establishment at Duxford but, sadly, fate intervened.

F/O Stein’s RAF Whirlwind was still top secret and had been the fastest most heavily armed warplane in the world but is now forgotten in the RAF’s centenary year. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Honouring local hero

Sir, — Members of Sonning Common Women’s Institute have made a wreath of knitted poppies to remember Paratrooper Francis Slough who lost his life in the Falklands War when he was only 19.

Francis, known to his friends as Fred, was a former pupil of Chiltern Edge School and grew up in Sonning Common.

Family and friends of Fred are warmly invited to join us at our coffee morning at the village hall on Wednesday, November 7 at 10.30am when the wreath will be unveiled.

It will be hung inside the hall around the plaque commemorating the loss of Fred. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Hedges

Secretary, Sonning Common WI

Look out for deer, drivers

Sir, — On Tuesday, October 9 at 7am on the Nettlebed to Highmoor road a car had hit a young deer.

I stopped to check it. It seemed stunned as it would not get up or move for me.

As it was in the road, I was worried that it would be hit again, so I tried to pick it up but it was too heavy.

At that moment a white van stopped and the driver got out to help me.

He picked the deer up and was going to put it into my car but it came round and jumped out and into the woods.

I would very much like to thank him for helping me and an animal in danger of being killed as I’m sure it would have been as it was dark.

I was only doing 30mph/35mph — any faster and I would not have been able to stop.

Please drive carefully through Nettlebed/Highmoor woods. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs L M O’Connor


Woodland wonders

Sir, — I was interested to read Vincent Ruane’s Nature Notes column (Standard, October 19) about his trip through Lambridge Wood in Henley.

It partly caught my eye because I am currently reading a book about Lambridge Wood called The Wood for the Trees by Professor Richard Fortey and had just read a chapter about the different fungi that can be found there at this time of year.

Prof Fortey bought a small part of Lambridge Wood in order to observe throughout the year the different species that live there and found many rare plants and wildlife.

It is a book Vincent and many other local people might be interested in as it explores not just the flora and fauna found in Lambridge Wood but also delves into its connection, past and present, to Greys Court, Peppard, Henley and other surrounding areas.

I’ve lived in Henley for a long time but am finding it an enlightening and interesting read. — Yours faithfully,

Victoria Heriot

Valley Road, Henley

P.S. The book is available on Amazon.

Such sweet memories

Sir, — It brought back memories seeing the photo of Laura Ashley in Reading Road, Henley, which used to be a garage and then a sweet shop (Standard, October 5).

I remember, as a small child, just before the Second World War was announced, looking in the sweet shop window and seeing all the wonderful Easter eggs decorated with little brides and bridegrooms and others with beautiful sugared flowers.

These were far too expensive for my mother to buy but after Easter the owner of the shop would break up the unsold eggs and sell the broken pieces for a penny a bag. Oh, the joy of finding pieces with sugar flowers on them! I also remember being told by an old Henley resident about a crowd of people gathered in the road, outside the garage, looking up at the small window because it was the first time they’d heard a radio.

These old buildings hold so many memories. — Yours faithfully,



Thanks for witticisms

Sir, — I recently experienced two highly amusing pieces of wit and repartee, both in the Henley area.

For many days afterwards, whenever I recalled them, they made me chuckle, sometimes rather embarrassingly, out loud.

The first occurred at the National Trust property Greys Court. When my friends and I arrived at the admission kiosk, we were greeted with a notice that read, “There is a large queque (sic) for entrance to the house.” I was very unfair. “Excuse me,” I said to the volunteer at the kiosk — and this is my own pronunciation — “but what exactly is a kwee-kwee?”

The young chap looked at me, looked at the notice and then turned back to me.

Very politely, he said, “I have absolutely no idea but, whatever it is, we’ve got a large one.”

My second amusing experience was at one of Henley’s supermarkets. To avoid any embarrassment, I shall refrain from saying which one.

I was in the dairy aisle that displayed, among other things, an assortment of milk jugs and flagons.

A lady assistant saw me looking a trifle perplexed and asked, “Can I help you, sir?”

“That’s good of you,” I replied. “I’m looking for some dried milk.”

“No problem,” said the young lady, “you’ll find it down in aisle 14 (or whatever).”

“It’s nowhere near the milk, then?” I asked.

The assistant looked at me and, in the politest way possible, replied, “Don’t be silly, sir…”

Before long, I think this young lady will either get the sack, or will finish up as chief executive of her company. I sincerely hope it is the latter.

The young staff mentioned really brightened up two of my days and, if they happen to read this letter, I should like them to know that they made one old pensioner really happy.

I wish there were more such fun and wit in today’s sad world. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Woolven-Allen

Caversham Park

Thank you for flowers

Sir, — To the lovely gentleman who gave me a bunch of flowers when I was on the checkout at our local supermarket, a big thank-you. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Beautiful baskets

Sir, — Many congratulations to Henley in Bloom, your Buy a Basket campaign and WindowFlowers of Burnham for the stunning display of beautiful hanging baskets all over Henley this summer.

Despite the challenging weather conditions, they always looked amazing and were a joy for us all to see! — Yours faithfully,

Rhona Mogridge

Makins Road, Henley

Relieved by phone find

Sir, — I would like to say a huge thank-you to the very kind person who found and handed in my phone to W H Smith in Henley on October 12.

I was so relieved, I can’t tell you. Thank you. — Yours faithfully

M Huggins


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