Monday, 18 February 2019

Your letters...

Town needs more parking

Sir, — With 2019 nearly upon us, we will inevitably be turning our thoughts to the future.

It was “free parking day” in Henley on Tuesday last week, a great initiative before Christmas, but by 10.30am there was nowhere in town to park.

I eventually found a space out on Deanfield Road and walked in.

I expected to find the pavements and shops bustling but, unlike the car parks, you couldn't really call them busy.

Although I live outside RG9 now, I write as someone who grew up in Henley and views it still as my home.

I prefer to come to Henley rather than Marlow or Reading and, as it is for many visitors, that is inevitably by car.

Last Tuesday was unusual but come any Saturday, and, increasingly Sunday, you will struggle to find a space to park.

We are all aware that the high street in Britain is in serious trouble and I believe that we are now at a tipping point.

Henley needs more footfall but is locked under a ceiling that will only be raised if more parking provision is made.

Without increased footfall, more shops will fail; new shops may come to take their place and people may feel good for a while but those shops will struggle and fail too.

Henley has evolved hugely over the nearly five decades that I have known it (and not always for the better) but the factors driving this evolution today — online, rents, rates etc — now threaten the existence of the town as we know and love it.

Talk of additional parking has been around for as long as I can remember.

Henley needs more visitors and desperately needs a multi-storey car-park.

I believe now is the time to put the objections to one side and take action for the sake of the town. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Wills

Charvil


Extend nice new railings

Sir, — The new railings, flower boxes and trees in Thames Side, Henley, look lovely. The person responsible should be praised.

Surely the railings could be extended along to Singers Park, thereby getting rid of the untidy hedge, bringing the river more into view and, most importantly, ridding the area of the awful rat infestation! -— Yours faithfully,

Carol Lewis

Gillotts Lane, Harpsden


Seats fit for inmates

Sir, — The bus stop seats in Henley are prison seating standard. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Parsley

Mount View Court, Henley


Take more care yourself

Sir, — I was sorry to hear that Julie Plant was knocked over by a horse in a field (Standard, December 21). May I suggest that she and her husband read the Countryside Code, which is downloadable from www.gov.uk

It is very clearly stated that walkers must not interfere with farm machinery or animals — even if they think an animal is in distress.

I would also like to draw attention to the following excerpt from the code: “You’re responsible for your own safety and for others in your care, especially children, so be prepared for natural hazards, changes in weather and other events. Wild animals, farm animals and horses can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they’re with their young, so give them plenty of space.”

I hope that the Plants continue to enjoy the beautiful countryside in our village and take responsibility for themselves and their own safety in it rather than blaming others and complaining about the very people who own the countryside they are privileged to be able to walk through. — Yours faithfully,

B White

Sonning Common


Decision is vital but...

Sir, — During my absence in the Fatherland, numerous correspondents have written very effectively in reply to Edward Hallett’s letter (Standard, December 14)) in which he recited at great length the impenetrable delusions of a Leftie Remainiac which we have surely all read in these columns and elsewhere ad nauseam.

Leaving aside his piffle about immigration and Tory politicians, and in the interests of brevity, I would like to address a couple of his points:

He states that the public should be given the final say “now that the facts are coming to light”. These “facts” have been “coming to light” almost daily during the last 40-odd years of our EU membership, so I think it is not necessary to have them explained (by whom?) yet again prior to a second referendum, which is rather unlikely apparently.

We know a great deal more about the EU now than we did 40 years ago but I don’t recall any clamour then for another referendum. Do you, Edward, or are you too young to remember?

Please credit the voter with some intelligence, Edward. Your suggestion is, in reality, yet another transparent attempt to frustrate the will of the majority, which was the result of the biggest exercise in direct democracy ever undertaken in our country.

I agree with your paragraph “the decision whether to leave or remain is too important to be left to party politics. It requires logical reasoning and judgement based on the best evidence available”. Why then do you devote so many column inches to ritual “Tory-bashing”? Presumably you prefer your logical reasoning and your best evidence?

It is the result that you don’t like, Edward, but you have dressed it up in high-minded rhetoric, the more to impress your audience, as you seem to think.

According to you, “the most compelling reason for remaining in the EU” is the “more international outlook” you claim that “the young” display. How is that a reason? You then surmise, without any supporting argument, that “their future” lies within the EU yet a Brexiteer holds the opposite, but, I suggest, equally valid view. It is merely an unsupported opinion either way.

Unfortunately, neither the BBC nor the print media can claim to be a source of objective information. It is in the future after all. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common


Fair way to vote again

Sir, — Do I live in the same place as your correspondents? I am astonished by the universal Brexiteer tone. Perhaps Remainers have given up writing to the Standard.

What I do know is we are in the majority around Henley and most of us favour a second referendum. If Michael Heseltine was still our MP at least we would be represented by someone who represented the views of the overwhelming majority of this town.

I wrote last week asking who our MP was. What I do know is that he favours Mrs May’s fudge.

I think the best way out to ensure a peaceful outcome to the divisions of Brexit is to have a second referendum. It should have three questions. It needs to use a single transferable vote system. This is used in elections in Australia for the equivalent of our House of Commons and Senate.

It works like this. You choose your preferred option of the three. Then you choose the option you would prefer if your first option has the least votes. These second preferences are added to the votes of the remaining two. Whichever option now gets the most votes wins. It’s thought to be a fair system. Those Colonial former convicts seem to have got their heads round it. Sure we can’t!

The three choices are now clear:

• Pretend leave, as supported by John Howell, where we say we have left but actually haven’t as we still have to obey the rules without a veto.

• Hard Brexit, where we leave whatever the consequences.

• Remain.

I think the people should decide. Haven’t we been punished enough without the nightmare of actually leaving?

My own view is that Brexit has precious little to do with leaving the EU but a lot to do with the fact that lots of people have paid for the last recession with austerity and no pay rises and there is a perception that successful people have not had to pay their fair share. I rather agree.

They also feel that there has been too much immigration, too quickly. That’s a worry they share with the population of every other member of the EU… do you think we could sort it together?

Since the Brexit vote we have gone from being the fastest-growing economy in Europe to the slowest. Most people in Henley are materially worse off. Holidays are ruinously expensive.

Some of your correspondents seem to be nostalgic for the Seventies. I must admit that mocking politicians on the TV was an art form then, since much missed and forgotten, but it was a miserable time after we lost our own common market (the Empire) before we managed to get into the EEC.

But since we joined the EEC/EU we have prospered. It has been lovely and peaceful too.

The chances of prospering in the event of hard Brexit must be close to zero but, as Michael Heseltine points out, most of the most ardent Brexiteers who favour this daft idea won’t be around to have to pick up the pieces.

Oh for the political leadership Henley had in the Seventies when Lord Heseltine was our MP. That is real nostalgia! — Yours faithfully,

Adrian Hill

Badgemore, Henley


Lighten up, everybody

Sir, — Dear, oh dear! Apart from Dr Ralph Drury’s enthusiastic appreciation of The Henley College’s production of Cabaret, what a litany of woe filled the first page of the two letters pages last week.

Yes, there are parking problems and thoughtless driving. Yes, there are too many new-build houses that few want, apart from developers or those successfully gaining planning permission.

And, to crown it all, we have the seemingly never-ending Brexit confusion.

Sure, it’s not an ideal situation, but does it really necessitate writing lengthy, tortuous letters to the local paper?

These are hardly local issues. Some of these letters run to well over the suggested 300 words. Either the editor has relaxed this request, or he is in need of “fillers”.

Lighten up, folks! Henley may not be perfect, but many living elsewhere view the town as Shangri-La. — Yours faithfully,

William Fitzhugh

Caversham


Take advice from Twain

Sir, — I suggest that it would be a great relief to most of your readers if Messrs Barker, Stevens and Hill (Standard, December 21) took note of Mark Twain’s apology to a friend: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common


Thank you for support

Sir — As this year draws to a close, I would like to thank the local community for the outstanding support that they have given to the Chiltern Centre for disabled children over the past 12 months.

This has helped us to attain our fund-raising target for only the second time since we opened our doors for care in 2004.

At the same time, I wish to thank your newspaper for reporting many of these fund-raising efforts by the local community, many of them involving astonishing efforts of physical endurance like the Children’s Challenge walks, the charity golf days and the Oxford to Henley swim.

Next year Henley town councillor Will Hamilton will be running the London Marathon and 12 individuals will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for us.

Fund-raisers have also enhanced the cultural life of Henley with wonderful performances of Shakespeare and opera at Peel Fold in the summer, Opera Prelude at the Kenton Theatre in the autumn and, more recently, Jeux d’esprit at King’s Arms Barn and young musicians at Magoos for the Living Advent Calendar.

We have also received wonderful support for the events we have conducted, including the ladies’ lunch at Phyllis Court Club in May and the Bollywood ball at the town hall in November.

Meanwhile, our list of Friends of the Chiltern Centre continues to grow.

May we take this opportunity of wishing all those who have helped us in any way in 2018 a healthy and prosperous New Year. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Barrett

Chairman of trustees,
Chiltern Centre for disabled children, Henley


In need of storage space

Sir, — Henley Lions Club are having to vacate their current storage facility on January 5.

We are therefore looking for a new place to store our fund-raising equipment and require about 20 square feet of space for our boxes of equipment, gazebo, Swimarathon and regatta parking signs etc., so could really use somewhere to move to urgently.

If you can help, please get in touch by calling 08458 337387 or email secretary@henleylionsorg.uk — Yours faithfully,

John Moore

Henley Lions Club

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