Monday, 18 February 2019

Your letters...

Community care, my foot

Sir, — As the full-time carer of a disabled senior citizen, I must concur with Barry Wood’s letter headlined “Madness or what?’ (Standard, September 17).

While the NHS has a plethora of skills and commitment at ground level, the management of it has removed the authority of doctors and consultants to refer or prescribe treatments in the timely manner they would wish for their patients.

What was the National Health Service has become a county health service and woe betide any patient who straddles county borders and opposing teams of bean counters who effectively ration cross-border treatments. What happened to the word “National” in the title?

We live in the deep south of Oxfordshire, 2,000 yards from Berkshire. We have a Berkshire postcode and Berkshire bus service but an Oxfordshire health service which refuses point-blank to authorise any aftercare treatments prescribed by a doctor/consultant unless within its county’s borders.

And this is only available (with a three-month waiting list) five days aweek with Oxford an hour’s drive away unless you have a blue light.

With a wheelchair patient, this requires both a driver and a separate hospital escort as there is nowhere for the driver to park, even with a blue badge.

Care in the community? No wonder hospital beds are cluttered with patients who can’t or are too scared to go home where the only help available is at the end of another 999 call.

As a former paramedic, I think there is no point in me calling 111 and arguing my case against a computerised flow chart which doesn’t have my patient’s medical records to hand.

Doctor on call? Sorry, we don’t do call-outs. The mountain must move to Muhammad so please phone Monday morning and make a booking for next week or go to accident and emergency now. — Yours faithfully,

Dirk Jones

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

Social care needs more

Sir, — Your readers may have heard about the extra £240million being allocated to the social care system to ease pressure on the NHS this winter.

We now know this will mean that more than £2.2 million will be made available in Oxfordshire.

While it’s important that the Government has recognised that social care underfunding lies at the heart of our hospitals’ winter pressures, the amount committed is a let-down — less than 10 per cent of what’s needed to fix the social care crisis now.

The social care system is “not just for Christmas” and people with dementia, as its biggest recipients, are experiencing the emotional and economic cost all year round.

To actually turn the tide for the 8,400 people with dementia in Oxfordshire we need to plug the current funding gap and offer them the chance to access the good quality social care they have a right to. — Yours faithfully,

Linda Goddard

Operations manager for Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, the Alzheimer’s Society

Land ‘gift’ is Trojan horse

Sir, — Reading Golf Club has been guardian of this beautiful park and ancient woodland extending across the boundaries of Berkshireand South Oxfordshire for more than 100 years but its future and that of the precious habitat on the land on which it stands will soon hang in the balance.

Its fate and the fate of the surrounding villages are in the hands of two planning authorities, Reading
Borough Council and South Oxfordshire District Council.

What greatly concerns me are the methods which have been employed to include this land in Reading Borough Council’s local plan.

The communities of both councils need to pay close attention to what happens next before another development is allowed to creep ever further across county boundaries with developers tactically playing one planning authority off against another.

At a recent hearing by an planning inspector of the borough council’s draft local plan, the golf club and its chosen developer Wates requested (post-submission deadline) that the wording be changed in order to free them of conditions, such as finding alternative land for two holes being lost to development and building a replacement clubhouse.

These conditions they declared, “held them to ransom” and would prevent them embarking on their intended future development of the “entire site”.

They have submitted to the inspector an 84-page document detailing their initial and future plans. These are to develop land on the Berkshire site with 90- to 130 houses, using the enticement of 42 per cent of the land being returned to the community for an adventure golf offering and a nine-hole course.

But, when reading the document fully, it emerges that the golf club and Wates make no pretence that this would only be in place while they are working with both authorities to achieve permission for a development of 700 houses spanning the county boundaries, referred to as their “masterplan”.

It appears to me that this is yet another Trojan horse being blatantly wheeled out by the developer and club shareholders to stand gloriously at the edges of a county boundary, waiting for its development army to be deployed.

We must not become ambivalent when land previously hidden from the sight of the public appears to be being “gifted” back to the local community.

Make no mistake, this green lung and habitat of a diverse and irreplaceable wildlife is being neither gifted nor protected.

Its fate and that of the surrounding villages bordering Berkshire and South Oxfordshire are in all our hands. — Yours faithfully,

Jane Lawson

Emmer Green

Don’t move tennis club

Sir, — The plan by Caversham Lawn Tennis Club to relocate to land on the Mapledurham Estate will, if approved by members at their general meeting on Wednesday, almost certainly result in the building of houses on the vacated land in Caversham.

The loss of this valuable recreational facility in our neighbourhood would inevitably result in increased traffic and congestion on our already overloaded roads. Additionally, as there is no access to public transport to and from the courts from Caversham, there would be further pollution in the area which is already above the minimum levels set by the government.

The absence of public transport to the new site would surely prove to be a deterrent to youngsters to participate in tennis, not something that we would willingly choose for the next generation.

Recent indications are that there is a groundswell of opinion, both local and political, against building on school playing fields, parks and similar land.

Let us hope that the potential loss of this urban facility is rejected by the members of the club. — Yours faithfully,

Julian Ansell

Brooklyn Drive, Emmer Green

Let me shed light on this

Sir, — I write in response to Edward Sierpowski’s letter headlined “Waste of our money” (Standard, November 2).

One of our hockey club members had also noticed the lights being on at Jubilee Park on his way to work around 5.30am, so I duly asked the question of GLL/Better, who are responsible for this facility, as I too had concerns about this.

To my surprise, they informed me that an organisation called Fitcamp use this facility three times a week from 6am.

It would be true to say that I am not the most avid supporter of GLL/Better but on this occasion I can only praise them for selling this facility at such an unusual time of day.

So in fact, Mr Sierpowski, we have nothing to worry about and one might argue that they are saving us money by hiring out this pitch at that time. — Yours faithfully,

Chris Baker

President, Henley Hockey Club

Not really listening

Sir, — Henley town councillors Ian Reissmann and Sarah Miller stated that Henley Residents Group listens to what Henley residents do and don’t want for the town (Standard, October 26).

The problem is, councllors, you may listen but you don’t take any notice of what’s being said. You do just what you want.

There are council elections in May and I think it’s about time for a change.

HRG has run this town for almost the whole of the last 27 years and what a mess it has made of Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Clark

Cromwell Road, Henley

Love Europe, hate the EU

Sir, — Why oh why does D Cole of Whitchurch trot out the weary old mantra about the EU having largely maintained peace in Europe since the Second World War (Standard, November 2).

It makes the unsupported presumption that we would have been at each other’s throats again had the EU not existed.

Aside from whether there was any appetite or ability for an exhausted western Europe to have done so, the unifying factor was the then perceived threat from the Soviet Bloc.

This unity was achieved by means of NATO, in which the US bears the major share of cost and military presence.

On the one occasion that there has been intra-European conflict — in the former Yugoslavia — it was NATO doing the work, not the EU.

I’m a committed Brexiteer on the basis of love Europe/hate EU.

My demonstrated life background from early age is of great affection for mainland Europe, so I don’t want to pull up the drawbridge against them pesky furriners working and living here.

What I don’t want is to continue along “ever closer union” to an eventual United States of Europe, which would be the consequence of remaining (the grumpy status quo is not an option), as the nucleus of a democratic framework is simply not there.

The EU is in practical effect run by the European Commission, i.e. the EU’s civil servants.

That is why we see Messrs Juncker and Barnier posed with our ministers.

If the UK was run day-to-day by our very capable civil service, with our elected representatives just meeting them every so often in a steering committee, would we regard that as sufficiently democratic?

If our Parliament were only allowed to debate legal proposals as submitted to it by our civil service, would we regard that as acceptable?

If, like me, you want to retain the principle of monarchy, would you not want to know how on earth this could continue under a Republican United States of Europe?

I greatly resent the Remainers’ apparent wish to overturn the result of a democratic referendum on the basis that they didn’t like the outcome and we simple-minded Leavers were too stupid to understand the implications, poor things.

As to the economic aspects, I would describe people who regard these as overriding sovereignty and democracy as knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing (hat-tip to Oscar Wilde) — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Change for the better

Sir, — I would remind Remainers that although the EU is a rules-based system, these rules are widely ignored, except by Muggins UK.

And there is not a shred of evidence that the EU has “largely kept the peace” since the Second World War. What might have happened without the EU is unknowable.

As for the hysteria about migrant workers and trade, no one is suggesting we cut ourselves off from Europe.

We are a trading nation, ready to do business with anyone. If the EU makes difficulties we take our business elsewhere, which would cause uproar across the Channel because we buy more from them than they do from us.

The Leave case is simple: we want to be governed by our own MPs, not unelected Brussels bureaucrats we can’t get rid of.

The EU itself is clearly in crisis, the Mediterranean economies reeling because of the euro and political extremism growing. Time to leave the sinking ship.

With centenary of the Armistice approaching, we should take a lesson from history. Britain avoided the Thirty Years War in the 17th century which devastated Europe.

Then in 1914, when an obscure royal was shot in Sarajevo, the British cabinet at first voted NOT to become embroiled in Europe.

Unfortunately, they changed their minds, an act which left millions of our men dead, bankrupted the nation and destroyed the empire.

I have been to every country in Europe bar about two and love the place, but it pays to keep your distance. Their periodic bloodletting and dictators are best avoided.

Next year we will regain our independence. Change is never easy but if man had not been a species willing to try change, we would still be living in caves while hitting our wives with clubs. — Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road, Henley

Stop the ‘PC’ bandwagon

Sir, — Rev Glyn Millington is to be congratulated on his reminder in Thought for the Week (Standard, November 2) that we best honour those who died in the First World War by our deserving the basic freedoms they fought to preserve.

It is particularly apposite today when in various areas of our national life we find an alarming and growing tendency to undermine freedom of speech by limiting it to what is regarded as being “inoffensive” or “politically correct”. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning
Common

Protect us from conmen

Sir, — I read with dismay but not surprise about the criminal activities of conmen who prey on the vulnerable (Standard, October 19).

What in practical terms can be done to deal with these people? Should we call 101 if they refuse to take “no” for an answer and refuse to leave the premises?

The Citizens Advice line 0345 404 0506 is open only on weekdays during the day and even if you get through, what can be done?

There is a general feeling that we householders have no rights, no protection and that if we complain there is the risk of a brick through the window.

It is also assumed, rightly or wrongly, that the police cannot or will not do anything.

A neighbour of mine buys things from traders simply because she is frightened of what they might do, which of course makes her even more of a target.

You rightly highlighted this antisocial, criminal behaviour. If we cannot turn to the appropriate authorities for help who can we turn to?— Yours faithfully,

Miguel Herrero

Put off by parking fine

Sir, — Recently we stopped briefly in Thames Side, Henley, to watch a rowing event.

An aggressive man jumped out of a car and took a photograph of us in our car. We believe a £100 fine will be sent to us.

We thought your local residents should be made aware of what is going on in Henley.

We live in France and won’t be coming back to Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Pierre

Rue Mandar, 75002 Paris

Rethink on recycling

Sir, — The Daily Mail’s consumer affairs editor Sean Poulter recently highlighted the sorry state of what was supposed to be a new dawn for recycling.

With China refusing any more of our plastic waste, many local councils have admitted to having it burned or buried in landfill.

Despite every household’s efforts to get it right in each separate and disparate region, recycling has become an embarrassment to councils and government alike.

They have thrown up their hands in desperation and, like trapped spiders in a bath, scurry about unable to find a way out.

Yet all the knowledge to help them exists — the same technology that allows me to check my spelling, historical or political facts, sizes of populations or lengths of rivers, names of forgotten actors or songs. It’s all there if you only care (or perhaps want) to look.

Dave Hakkens, a Dutchman, has been for some time pushing, pointing and motivating people around the world to recycle “precious plastic”.

Oscar Mendez of Conceptos Plasticos is repurposing all sorts of plastic to create much-needed cheap and durable housing in Bogotá, improving the living conditions of many families that once had to endure slum living.

All over the world there is a recourse that can be re-used with ingenuity for very little capital outlay and save the environment, the planet and money too.

Roman Sebekin, a Russian planetary ecologist, has been making roof and pavement tiles by recycling plastic for nearly a decade.

There are so many examples of this ingenuity that can inspire entrepreneurial efforts in our country. This is not new technology. These are not new ideas. The machinery used is not some fancy futuristic technology.

Most of it is home-made, scratch-built, made from recycled and repurposed parts. Recycling to the nth degree. All and more can be easily found on YouTube.

In Newcastle, architect Ralph Erskin incorporated an incinerator to produce heat and power for the new housing complex the Byker Wall, which was conceived and created as part of a huge slum clearance in the late Sixties.

So making use of rubbish is nothing new. Councils could utilise the growing mountains of plastic to create jobs, reduce deforestation, replace short-lived wooden elements with cheaper, stronger, resilient and long-lasting plastic substitutes.

Incinerators could produce power to supply our community needs and, of course, save money in the long run. Turbines on a lock could supply many kilowatts of power for very little comparative investment.

All it takes is a bit of knowhow, willpower and effort. Oh and, of course, the political support to help it get going.

Our grandparents knew and some of our parents know about “reuse, recycle” and “make do and mend”, so why don’t we? — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Henley

Help save rainforests

Sir, — Humans are destroying the rainforests. If we don’t stop now, our great green rainforests won’t be there anymore.

We are deforesting the rainforests for timber and to grow crops like bio fuels and palm oil. There are many different species of plants in the rainforest. Many are used to make lifesaving drugs. For example, rosy periwinkle, from Madagascar, helps children recover from blood diseases such as leukaemia.

Unfortunately, about 50 species a day are becoming extinct. Some of these could have saved lives.

Every tree we cut down is destroying animals’ habitats. We need to think about the animals which could become extinct.

The indigenous people’s lives depend on the rainforest for food, medicine and shelter.

Deforestation is causing global warming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

Humans breathe in oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide. So the more trees we lose, the more carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

Check your fridges and cupboards to see if you have any food with palm oil, which comes from trees that need to be cut down to produce it.

You can use products made from certified sustainable palm oil, or those with a green palm oil symbol.

Would you like to live in a world with no animals? No?

Well then, you could do the following:

• Check your products to see if they have palm oil in.

• Think about how worried and scared the indigenous peoples feel.

• Think of those plants that have been destroyed and could of saved the life of a child with leukaemia.

• Join a rainforest protection campaign. — Yours faithfully,

Lily

Year 5, the Oratory Preparatory School, Goring Heath

Have respect for animals

Sir, — I have lived with animals most of my life and, fortunately, none of them has been unduly concerned by fireworks. However, when I was growing up, we always ensured our cat was indoors and remained so well before darkness fell.

But then back in those days fireworks were only celebrated on November 5, not for every other possible excuse!

We had our first Labrador puppy when our sons were younger and while my husband set off the fireworks at the end of our garden, the puppy (wide-eyed and fascinated) and I cuddled up to watch from the warmth and safety of indoors.

Our next Labrador was quite unconcerned and just went to sleep, oblivious of it all.

Our current “failed” guide dog, a Labrador-retriever cross, is much more sound sensitive, disliking unusual noises/objects and barking at loud bangers.

Once indoors with the curtains drawn so he’s unable to see the flashes, he’s usually comforted by our verbal reassurances.

I realise how lucky we’ve been when recalling the traumatic story of a friend whose German shepherd crawled into the bath shaking with fear and ultimately needed heavy sedation every fireworks night or when thunderstorms were predicted.

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone whose animals suffer during firework celebrations.

We should curtail the excuse for randomly lighting up and concentrate solely on organised displays.

Our furry friends really deserve more respect. — Yours faithfully,

Judith MacBeth

Highdown Avenue, Emmer Green

Now save the worms...

Sir, — The Standard’s hugely successful “The people of Henley are so thick that they cannot read signs or operate a keyboard at the hospital” campaign and the newly launched “I bought a dog knowing full well they don’t like fireworks so let’s take it out on the children of Henley” campaign promise to help maintain a healthy level of insanity in our lovely town.

I hope more campaigns will follow.

May I suggest a “Stop bow side rowing at the regatta” campaign?

We have all seen how ducks and geese land on the river during the regatta. The poor creatures are frightened by the fierce blades of the rowers and we must therefore stop this cruelty to animals.

We naturally need the regatta to continue so a campaign to allow the boats to only use the stroke side blades during racing will solve the problem.

I would also really like to see a “Stop decapitation of grass straws every Saturday morning” campaign.

Grass is a live plant but every week the cruel, sadistic, racist misogynistic lawn mower people mow the poor grass straws down in their millions. This is genocide. Spare a thought also for the poor flobberworms in the lawn.

Compared with the horrible noise of a lawn mower just above their homes, the problem we have with the noise from the planes coming from Heathrow airport seems like a picnic. — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

Wonderful exhibition

Sir, — We would like to congratulate Mike Willoughby, his wife Lesley, Tim Corbishley and all the other members of the Checkendon History Group for the wonderful exhibition they prepared for us with reference to the First World War held at the village hall. — Yours faithfully,

Peter and Frieda Entwisle

Nicholas Road, Henley

Successful village lunch

Sir, — On Wednesday last week, a small team of us put on a jacket potato lunch in Sonning Common village hall to raise funds for our local Community First Responders.

We were overwhelmed by the success of the event, which raised an amazing £2,247 through sale of tickets for the lunch, a raffle, sale of wood-turned items and some very generous donations.

I would like to thank all those kind people who contributed to make this such a success.

They include the Occasions shop for selling tickets for us and Beville estate agents for their advertising boards. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Nickson

Peppard Common

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