Monday, 23 September 2019

Your letters...

Deserving of respect

Sir, — I was struck by your coverage of Lorraine Hillier’s alleged treatment by fellow Conservatives, especially at her unsuccessful selection interview as a candidate for the South Oxfordshire District Council elections in May (Standard, December 28).

As I was also a candidate passed at district level but rejected at the same Henley ward interview evening, to a certain extent I take issue with allegations that the evening was run in an unfair way by the South Oxfordshire Conservative Association.

The chairman was independent of Henley and certainly ran my interview to the book, so to speak.

Politics is clearly a tough game and candidates need to be tough-skinned.

However, for a lady (especially one who is well-loved in Henley) who has given nearly 20 years of public service to her local community and is the current chair of the district council, Lorraine deserved to be treated with at least a modicum of common decency and respect.

— Yours faithfully,

Geoff Walsh

Wyndale Close, Henley

Best people for the job

Sir, — I was very surprised to see your main front page article, headlined “Punished for my mayor vote”, regarding the non-selection of Lorraine Hillier by the Conservatives as a candidate for the South Oxfordshire District Council elections.

I attended the selection meeting and was impressed how well it was run.

Each candidate was given a strict five minutes to say why they should be chosen for the position.

After each presentation there was a set time for questions from the floor.

There can be no argument that Lorraine was on the receiving end of unpleasant questions — she stood up to them very well while the chairman was trying to calm the situation down.

After all the presentations from both male and female candidates had been heard, a secret vote was taken. The result was reached on the first ballot and three men were elected.

Like, I suspect, most of the attendees, I voted for the people who provided the best and most informative presentations on the day.

The “history” of the candidates did not come into the decision in any way.

I feel that your article dragging up past history and accusing members of sexism was misjudged and misplaced.

None of us likes to lose elections but in this case only three could win as there were only three potential places.

May I wish good luck to the successful candidates in the elections.

— Yours faithfully,

Leslie Plumb

Queen Street, Henley

Gripping episode

Sir, — How thoughtful of you to run a further episode of Game of Thrones on your front page. However, at times, it did appear to be a surprise variant of the space odyssey, Female Wars — the Empire Fights Back. Great entertainment.

We were treated to the latest adventure of the former blue Queen’s demise amid her protestations about being grievously wronged.

She had offended against the ancient laws of the Mighty Thatcher: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s mayoralty”.

Is this the end of her? I think not. If I know the wily wizard KA, she could yet appear in the black and white tribe to fight another day.

Having only just got over the murder of a Brown capo di capo at the Blue Barbecue in the autumn series, out from your pages steps a new paramount chieftain, Bausor the Blue, whose first act is to launch three fledglings into the world as potential princes.

Two of these pretenders are known to us from a long line of royal Wills but the third is yet to be implanted into our box set of series characters.

As to the May contest, will the black and white tribe respond with three hulky male contenders?

If so, we could have an epic gladiatorial contest in our very own coliseum, the Market Place.

Regretfully, it is more likely to be a simple battle of Wills, with the royal pretenders getting their just desserts.

Is this the end of the Game of Thrones? I think not — tune in next week/month/ year for further episodes.

— Yours faithfully,

Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

Lucky to have amenities

Sir, — Whatever one’s views on local planning issues, I was surprised by your article in which Shiplake Parish Council implied that the redevelopment of the former Wyevale garden centre site would “put excessive pressure on the villages shops, roads and services” (Standard, December 28).

In Shiplake we are fortunate to have such facilities. I find the supermarkets have a disappointing selection of greeting cards, have no banking facilities and will not deliver my papers at all, let alone before 8am.

And I have never been turned away from either of our pubs (although it may be advisable to book at peak times!) — Yours faithfully,

Denis Gilbert


Political ignorance

Sir, — Your correspondent Adrian Hill is either kidding or is breathtakingly politically ignorant when he says proudly that he doesn’t know who the MP for Henley is (Standard, December 28) Why then does he feel qualified to extol the virtues of the single transferable voting system?

The history of alternative voting systems around the world is quite complex but didn’t we have a referendum (that word again) on AV in 2011 or has Adrian forgotten that?

Then, two-thirds of UK voters (who bothered to vote) rejected the AV, preferring to continue with the “first past the post” system. There is your answer, Adrian.

Incidentally, I doubt if Australians would take kindly to being referred to as “those colonial former convicts”. Where have you been all this time?

I am not Australian but I am appalled, Adrian. By the way, in my experience, they are far more patriotic for our country than we are ourselves.

Adrian apparently hankers after the days when his hero Michael Heseltine was MP for Henley, perhaps because the latter is also a convinced Remainer.

Lord Heseltine is on record as saying that “Brexit gives Germany a chance to win the peace”.

I can only suppose that he was scraping the bottom of the Remainer barrel for an argument because I think anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Germany would grudgingly admit that the country “won the peace” many years ago.

He displays a woeful ignorance of “abroad” or perhaps he has allowed the Brexit issue to cloud his judgement? Either way, is that what you call “political leadership”, Adrian?

Theresa May and John Howell are still pushing for her EU withdrawal agreement on the basis that nothing better is available. Having given away all our negotiating cards in return for absolutely nothing, they are probably right. Our politicians are the laughing stock of the world. Pathetic, utterly pathetic.

Adrian asks rhetorically whether Remainers have given up writing to the Henley Standard.

Judging by the uniformly poor quality of their arguments, I would not be surprised if they have.

— Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common

You need to get out more

Sir, — I was disgusted to read Adrian Vanheem’s letter (Standard, December 21). To refer to a section of our community as “hordes of freeloaders” is not only untrue but both hurtful and inflammatory.

My disgust turned to pity when I realised that I should really be feeling sorry for this Little Englander who dreams of Fortress Britain and for whatever reason has developed such jaundiced and poisonous views.

Adrian, you need to expand your world view beyond the confines of the Right wing press and get out more. You’ll then realise that our NHS, construction and hospitality industries and farming owe a huge debt to these “freeloaders” who have come to this country to work and better themselves, often doing jobs that the rest of us refuse to do. — Yours faithfully,

John Morrow

Greys Road, Henley

Question of length

Sir, — I humbly accept Douglas Kedge’s admonishment (Standard, December 28) for an overlong letter in a previous issue.

However, I feel a little aggrieved that he did not include Edward Hallett in the little list of offenders. I was responding to the latter’s overlong letter the week before and felt that I had an equal entitlement to a detailed counter-argument.

The best solution, I suggest, would be to enforce the 300-word rule.

If a letter exceeds that limit by more than, say, half a dozen to finish off a sentence neatly then it should be returned to sender.

Others feel that the local newspaper should stick to local issues. That also would be okay in principle, though I suspect difficult to know how to define it.

If, for example, our MP’s opinions on a wider topic are reported on your pages, I feel it would be equitable for correspondents to comment for and against. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Twain’s tip was belated

Sir, — While I agree with the sentiment expressed by Douglas Kedge, Mark Twain (1835-1910) was about 200 years later than Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) who had written: “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Provincial Letters of 1657). — Yours faithfully,

K B Atkinson

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Brave rescue of swan

Sir, — My family and I were walking along the wooden bridge that leads to Marsh Lock in Henley on Christmas Eve when we witnessed the brave rescue of a young swan.

The swan had taken refuge in thick overhanging bushes on the opposite bank from two other swans that had been viciously attacking it.

A young man, also out walking on the Marsh Lock bridge, called the Swan Rescue centre. Help arrived and the rescuer tried to help the stricken swan by lying full length on the narrow towpath but it was just out of reach from her special swan- catching pole.

The young man who had phoned for help then rushed over to help by hanging on to the rescuer’s legs so that she could get closer to the swan.

After half an hour, the rescue was completed and the swan was safely carried off in a special bag.

This rescue was carried out while the River Thames was swollen and in full flow and I thought it very brave of both rescuers because they could have easily slipped into the river and been swept away. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Gittings

Sonning Common

Housing for those in need

Sir, — What a magnificent charity the Henley and District Housing Trust is, looking after the people of Henley who cannot afford accommodation (Standard, December 28).

It’s a pity that Henley Town Council doesn’t invest some money out of its bulging bank account (Tesco land sale etc) to help the young and needy of Henley.

Silly me, it is only interested in the rich.

Happy New Year all!

— Yours faithfully,

Mrs J Hadley

Leaver Road, Henley

Bring back our post box

Sir, — Shock, horror! I went to post a belated Christmas card but there was no post box at the junction of Old Copse Garden and Beech Rise, Sonning Common.

It had been on a nice rounded corner for as long as I have been here. The postman said it had been damaged, reported and all sign of it cleared away. It is too far to walk to the village post office from here when one is over 80 years.

Please, Royal Mail Reading, we want it back!

— Yours faithfully,

Betty Freeman

Beech Rise, Sonning Common

A Royal Mail spokeswoman responds: “The post box was removed after being knocked over at the end of November. We do intend to replace it early in the New Year.”

New awards for business

Sir, — Well done Henley’s River & Rowing museum for winning the prestigious Sandford Award for its educational work (Standard, December 7).

This is well-deserved recognition for the fantastic work it has done over many, many years.

Here in the Henley area we have many incredible businesses which benefit both our community and the wider public at large.

For this reason, we have decided to create the South and Vale Business Awards to recognise those businesses which have contributed so much.

There are eight categories of award: Large business of the year; Employer of the year; Early stage innovation award; Established innovation award; Social responsibility award; Business leader of the year; Business space of the year; SME of the year.

So if you know of any business in South Oxfordshire which you feel deserves to be nominated, then visit

Nominations need to be in by midnight on January 18.

Once announced, the finalists of each category will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at Williams F1 Conference Centre in Grove on March 15.

— Yours faithfully,

Paul Harrison

Cabinet member for development and regeneration, South Oxfordshire District Council

What’s the difference?

Sir, — With all the brouhaha about the forthcoming 20mph limit in Henley, I would be absolutely delighted if I could ever achieve that speed in the town centre!

— Yours faithfully,

Michael Colston


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