Friday, 26 April 2019

Your letters...

Your letters...

Town needs new strategy

Sir, — The opening paragraph of your story about the King’s Road car park in Henley loosely paraphrased as “sometime never for the extra level”, looks ominously true. (Standard, March 6).

How absolutely wonderful that South Oxfordshire District Council carried out a survey in 2015 which enabled the top brass to covertly rule out an extension to this car park.

The trouble is that they forgot to tell anybody about it, including the then neighbourhood planning group, which in 2016 gained an 82 per cent “yes” vote for the car park extension.

As importantly, they didn’t tell our Henley district councillors for four years!

However, were our district councillors asleep at the wheel when, with a little digging in their annual budget paper forecasts, they could have unearthed that any proposed Henley car park expenditure for subsequent years had been deleted?

Why doesn’t the electorate now hold these same district councillors accountable for their poor awareness on your behalf at the ballot box in May?

The district council currently takes approximately £12,000 per week from Henley’s car parks, which is more than 60 per cent of its total income from car parks across South Oxfordshire.

A nice little earner and one they could develop further with an enlightened vision for the greater good of Henley.

Using the council’s own building costs of £770,000 for 90 extra car spaces, it looks like a return on investment for the extended car park of seven years or 15 per cent per annum. Where is the council going to get that return on its money in the present day?

But our beloved council went further in planning our future without our knowledge — its environmental services department determined “that air pollution may worsen with increased journeys into the town centre”.

With a failed strategy, they have taken no account of the electric car revolution and it is having major implications for the town.

The latest confidential transport survey commissioned by Henley Town Council clearly shows that in the last four years, car traffic into the town has reduced by a minimum 30 per cent while heavy goods vehicle traffic has increased by more overall. A disastrous trend.

During this period, the impact on air pollution has been zero but the impact on the town has been enormous as our retail offer has declined due to reduced footfall.

The future decline in the town’s banking establishments — the Halifax and Santander closing later this year — should be a wake-up call.

Henley’s commercial outlets find it difficult to recruit. Our night-time economy is unexciting and without quality. The vibrancy of the town is less spectacular than previously and this can only have an outcome of less tourism.

Why are both our district and town councils not engaged in joined-up thinking to try to solve Henley’s economic and environmental problems holistically?

Instead they are surprising each other continually by working independently. Why not work together to give Henley a proper car parking strategy, maximise the town’s retail and commercial offer, produce a vibrant town centre for residents as well as making a welcoming town for all South Oxfordshire residents, employees and visitors from far afield who all spend and make everyone feel richer economically, culturally and spiritually.

Regretfully, the district council’s number one priority appears to be slavishly responding to government building targets and not the sustainable wellbeing of the communities in which we all live.

We need to change their minds through sustained arguments and definitely at the ballot box. — Yours faithfully,

Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

More parking space please

I am writing in response to your article on the number of heavy goods vehicles passing through Henley (Standard, March 15).

The question that has not been answered is why they pass through the town.

There is some speculation that Henley is being used as a “rat run” but little evidence is being shown for this.

I suspect that any through traffic is a result of using the bridge and we are stuck with this type of traffic until another bridge is built.

Henley’s other issue is the parking facilities. Frankly, these are awful.

We want people to visit the town and spend their money but we make it difficult for them, and the people who work in Henley, to park.

As a result many park on the streets, causing long traffic queues as vehicles cannot pass each other on the major roads in and out of the town.

During busy periods we see the King’s Road car park merry-go-round as customers try to find a place to park.

I find it strange that our councillors are even considering the construction of a hotel in the station car park, reducing the number of spaces there. I assume the guests will want somewhere to park.

Greys Road is now almost single file as there are many cars parked during the day.

We need to offer visitors and employees a solution to this problem. You cannot expect people to come and spend their money if they can’t park anywhere.

Our councillors really need to start thinking seriously about these issues and perhaps could consider:

•Offering affordable parking for people working in Henley so that they do not park on the roads.

• Ensuring that any new housing development comes with enough parking.

• Putting double yellow lines on the main arteries to ensure the traffic flows safely and efficiently.

• Keeping existing parking facilities and not building on them.

• Giving rail users a discount when parking at the station.

The parking problem was highlighted in a Henley Standard article in June 2015. What has been done about it?

It seems evident that our two main car parks — Greys Road and Kings Road — are not sufficient during the day and, surprisingly, they also seem very busy at night.

I am only assuming that local residents use them overnight. We have a parking area at the station but this might go.

Henley’s parking problems are not only causing a major headache to residents, they are also putting people off visiting our town.

In these difficult times for the retail sector, surely priority should be given to finding a solution to a problem which is not going to go away. — Yours faithfully,

Muriel Quinsac

Greys Road, Henley

Introduce weight limit

I was alarmed by your front page article saying that the number of heavy goods vehicles coming through Henley between 8am and 9am has increased by 111.5 per cent.

I was also alarmed that town and district council money would go towards new cycle routes, signs, planters and charging points. How does this address the headline problem of a huge increase in HGVs exactly?

They are all worthy causes but if the problem is one of HGVs then this is what should be addressed.

Now the new quarry road at Playhatch is open, HGVs heading for the motorway will not just go via Reading, but they will also head through Henley to the M40.

Traffic through the town centre will become even worse when building starts at Thames Farm and the old Wyevale site near Shiplake.

This will involve HGVs during the construction period and then an increase in cars thereafter, which is the reason I objected to the development. Please bring in a 7.5-tonne weight limit in order to mitigate some of the projected increase in HGVs from here on in.

The narrow streets in the town centre are not suitable for both HGVs and pedestrians. — Yours faithfully,

Sally Greenfield


Some truths about trucks

Your article headlined “Big increase in rush hour HGVs” mixed two separate, albeit related, issues: truck movements through Henley and the emissions that they create.

Movements first. What on earth makes our councillors think that trucks use Henley as a short cut? From where to where?

From many years of driving trucks, I can assure you there is nothing to be gained by coming off major roads and motorways to negotiate busy town centres in the hope of a “short cut”. Narrower roads, stop-start traffic, pedestrians — forget it.

There’s more. Most trucks are routed every step of the way these days, to maximise efficiency and minimise fuel usage.

Owners monitor them by satellite to ensure they go where they’re meant to — after all, trucks cost far more in terms of fuel and wear and tear running on urban and inter-urban A-roads.

Operators want them to stay running at higher constant speeds on motorways and trunk roads because that’s where they’re most efficient and cost least. Your car is the same — try it!

Remember, too, drivers’ hours are limited by law and monitored by tachograph. Why would any driver want to come off a main trunk route and risk any delays, meaning they might not make their delivery or even get home that day?

And weights: what is an HGV anyway and how did the Brett report define it — 12 tonnes, 18 tonnes, 44 tonnes or anything over 3.5 tonnes? That has a huge bearing on the interpretation of the report. They’re all very different and do different types of work, on different types of routes, delivering to different types of places.

And maybe that’s the answer as to why “rush hour” HGV numbers have increased in Henley. Perhaps they’re collecting or delivering in the local area!

Larger trucks operate around the clock, so prefer to get there early, deliver and go, hence a higher increase in Brett-measured 8am to 9am movements.

Smaller trucks, on construction and building, for example, as most are mainly used these days, get there early in the morning but then stay all day.

They carry all the tools and equipment needed for the jo so stay on site and leave late in the afternoon to take the crew home, hence a Brett-measured increase of 50 per cent between 5pm and 6pm.

Now emissions. Trucks were well ahead of cars and vans in reducing particulate and NOx emissions. Indeed in many towns and cities, the exhaust coming out of today’s Euro VI trucks is cleaner than the air going into the engine in the first place — and that’s a fact.

Estimates confirm that by the end of 2020, 61 per cent of all the trucks registered to operate in the UK will be Euro VI, a standard acknowledged by the likes of Transport for London as clean enough to enter low/ultra low emission zones freely.

Trucks are embracing alternative fuels and drivelines enthusiastically with early adopters such as Ocado and John Lewis already operating top weight trucks fuelled by gas.

Electric is a longer-term project, however. At 3.5 tonnes, it is available already, albeit hugely expensive. At 7.5 tonnes, it is moving into a trial phase. Above this weight, we are looking at a decade or so limited by the development of battery technology.

You were kind enough to publish my letter on trucks and emissions in December. Although that addressed Councillors Gawrysiak and Hamilton specifically, I was delighted to be contacted by David Dickie of Clean Air for Henley with whom I met and had an informative afternoon.

I appeal again to Cllr Gawrysiak, Dave McEwen, of Henley in Transition, and any others — come and find out the facts about trucks (HGVs), what they do and why before making any further pronouncements.

Everything we eat, wear, use and have comes on a truck after all. They are a fact of life. As a consultant to the industry for more than 20 years, I’d be delighted to help. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Symons

Bell Street, Henley

Research was flawed

Sir, — Once again, with no proof at all, a statement was made by a well-known councillor that HGV drivers are using Henley as a “rat run” to and from the M40 to the M4.

Yes, the route between the two motorways is about a mile or so shorter but it would take an HGV 45 to 60 minutes longer.

I really wish that these intelligent people would think about what they are stating by doing a bit of research or holding a proper census on traffic i.e. controlled stop and ask where the HGVs are coming from and going to.

Not by following the herd of “Let’s ban all HGVs from Henley-on-Thames”. — Yours faithfully,

Ernie Povey

Shiplake Cross

Recipe for traffic chaos

Sir, — I read with incredulity the recent letters advocating a return of two-way traffic in Falaise Square in Henley.

Were this to happen the consequences would be:

• The destruction of Falaise Square as a vital and well-loved public space in the town centre.

• The demise of the weekly market and all other events in the square.

• The loss of trees and other plants which currently help to beautify the square.

• A significant increase in pollution from the extra vehicles using the route from the town hall to Hart Street. There would have to be traffic lights at the junction with Hart Street/Bell Street at which vehicles would have to stop when the lights were red and drivers would be unlikely to turn off their engines.

If your correspondents feel strongly about this, they should stand for election to the district and/or town council in May in order to pursue their objectives. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Clayden

Church Street, Henley

Ban the polluters

Sir, — With the announcement that there are now almost 2,000 towns and cities in the UK breaching air quality standards, it is time for even more urgent action to give our young children better health.

Public Health England has given the lead and recommends that cars should be banned from roads outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times. Cities are banning vehicles from their centres to drastically reduce air pollution.

The most recent result was in Madrid where there was a 75 per cent reduction in air pollution but a 15 per cent growth in shop sales as it has become a nicer place to shop.

Others are giving reduced car parking charges and electric charge points for low emission vehicles and higher charges to polluting vehicles.

The legislation to stop the habit of engine idling is weak. The cost in NHS terms is growing all the time. The number of inhalers in our local primary schools is a disgrace.

In my view extra car parking space is contrary to better air quality. We need to increase shop sales too.

Henley needs a creative plan and the funds to achieve it. In the meantime the short-term measures must be acted upon. — Yours faithfully,

David Dickie

Clean Air for Henley, St Katherine’s Road, Henley

Government clowning

Sir, — The new polarity in the present political turmoil seems to be not Labour versus Conservative, Left versus Right etc, but monarchist versus republican.

Realise it or not, those wishing to stay in the EU are republicans because the only logical outcome for ever-closer union is a United States of Europe and that is incompatible with continuation of national monarchies, ours and in some other EU nations.

The ready example of a western union is the United States of America. Imagine that there had once been a king or queen of, say, Massachusetts. Can you visualise that such an institution could have continued to exist after full union, being subordinate to an overall president? Such a situation would eventually be no different within the USE.

Regretfully, I am forced to acknowledge that the minority view of staying in the EU seems to be gaining the upper hand, despite the Conservative general election manifesto and Mrs May’s repeated assurances about leaving, deal or no deal.

However, it should not be an occasion for rejoicing. The abject lack of leadership and negotiating skills would leave us in a worse position than before the referendum.

We have lost credibility and respect and I reckon it will not be overlong before our humiliated nation loses its opt-outs and has to join the Schengen area and adopt the euro.

On the plus side, I’m beginning to feel strangely attracted to firm, confident, autocratic rule by an unelected EU Commission in comparison to the parliamentary and governmental clownfest that we’ve been experiencing lately. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Incompetent and divided

Sir, — It is hard to know where to begin. In living memory there has never been a government quite so incompetent and divided as this one.

Not only is it set on destroying the economic future of this country and wrecking our children’s and grandchildren’s futures but it has also turned our country into a global laughing stock.

To say the referendum result represents the “people’s will” and that those who oppose Brexit are undemocratic is arrogant nonsense.

As has been pointed out before but deserves repetition, only 72.21 per cent of eligible voters took part in the referendum and just over half voted to leave Europe.

Even ignoring the lies, corruption and illegality of the Leave campaign, the idea that a vote representing 37 per cent of the population is an example of democracy and must not be challenged is manifestly nonsense and dishonest.

What is more, for the Prime Minister to oppose asking the British people whether they want her hopeless and hapless deal while insisting that parliament keeps voting until it returns the result she wants is breathtaking hypocrisy.

Many commentators refer to the anger that Leave voters may feel if a new referendum is called. That may be the case (although why anyone should be displeased at being asked their opinion again once the facts are better known makes little sense) but there are many others who will be just as angry if this shabby deal is forced through without returning to the British people for their approval.

If the Prime Minister truly believes she has done her best (and given the general incompetence of her government perhaps she has) then let her put it before the British people and try to defend it. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Luff

St Mark’s Road, Henley

Time to think again

Three years gone and now deadlock. Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal, with no majority support, is being sold as the only deal in town.

If accepted, the UK leaves the EU without any agreement for our future trading.

The Prime Minister’s promise that her deal gives us certainty is a total lie. With no consensus within the Government, we would enter negotiations as a supplicant not knowing the deal we want.

The withdrawal agreement is only the first round in a fight for our future that will last for years.

Parliament must decide — now — what it wants from any new arrangement.

Our membership, or not, of the customs union and single market must be settled. Only when this is decided can we move to a negotiation with the EU.

Leaving without a deal and trading under World Trade Organisation terms is only supported by the idealalogues and those optimistic enough to believe them.

The Government has never believed in no deal, borne out by the complete lack of preparation for such an event.

Any deal which does not include membership of a customs union could mean the Irish border problem is never resolved including the backstop.

Any deal not aligned to the single market undermines an integrated industrial base which has been created over 40 years with our largest trading partner. Trading with the EU requires compliance with its rules. This would not be compatible with any new trade deals, for example, America.

The Government doesn’t want to trade on WTO terms, doesn’t want to be in a customs union, doesn’t want to be in the single market.

It wants to keep the benefits of free trade without paying a contribution and without accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and freedom of movement.

These aspirations make no more sense now than when laid out in Mrs May’s Lancaster House speech.

We cannot have our cake and eat it. The easiest deal in history is an illusion. If the Government refuses to compromise there can be no deal.

The parliamentary arithmetic probably means that the only leave option that can succeed is Norway-plus. We stay in the single market and customs union and accept free movement. We do not take part in the EU institutions but we accept their rules. Job done. We’re out.

We accept our place in history with the great nations of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

However pragmatic, the Norway option would satisfy no one. Would anyone have voted for this option in 2016? After all the drama, the UK would be left diminished — a medium-sized power used to punching above its weight reduced to being a rule taker from its biggest trading partner.

If the most likely version of leaving makes us poorer, less influential and more vulnerable in a dangerous world then why not change our minds?

If a good deal is not possible surely parliament must gives us the opportunity to think again.

The choice could be May’s deal or remain or another arrangement, approved by parliament, or remain.

If the conflict between the referendum result and representative democracy is not resolved in parliament we must allow the people to end this mess. — Yours faithfully,

Stuart Fox

Berkshire Road, Henley

Democracy undermined

Editor, — In July last year the Electoral Commission found that the Vote Leave campaign broke electoral law during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. It has not found that the Remain campaign broke electoral law.

At the Court of Appeal on February 21 it was stated that had the result of the referendum been binding, it would have been voided because of the law-breaking.

However, as the Prime Minister’s own QC said, the result cannot be voided because the referendum was merely advisory.

You could hardly make it up. Yes, we’ve had manifestos, a general election and various Acts of Parliament since then. But these have been based on the false premise that the original referendum was conducted according to electoral law.

Our democracy not only gives us the right to vote but also that the process and campaigns are legal.

Are the Prime Minister and many MPs choosing to ignore all this? Perhaps they think that the result wouldn’t have been different. How do they know? To use an analogy, should Olympic drug cheats keep their medals because their drug-taking might not have made a difference?

Meanwhile, the PM says there shouldn’t be a second referendum because of the risk of civil disorder. Has our democracy been taken over by those who break the law and threaten violence? If so, that’s a terrible thing.

Wake up, Britain. Our democracy has been undermined. — Yous faithfully,

Robert Thompson


Our system is broken

There can be few people in the United Kingdom who think that our political system is working well. Some people even say that it is broken.

It is true that it has functioned well enough for most people for a very long time and that, by and large, it has produced a society which has delivered well enough for the vast majority of the population.

How our government got into such a muddle is hard to understand.

The really bad idea of holding a referendum on such a complex matter as membership of the EU followed by such careless and meaningless language as “Brexit means Brexit” simply set up a situation which could not help but end in tears.

This unsatisfactory situation was further compounded by certain elements’ largely successful insistence that expert opinion on the likely outcome of a crudely executed Brexit would inevitably be wrong.

The opinions of people who understand economics, employment opportunities, foreign trade, international regulations etc have been ridiculed as though they have no value at all.

The energy driving Brexit at any cost, despite the informed opinion that it will harm many people in this country, is as spectacular as it is astonishing.

How has the Prime Minister the cheek to continue to peddle her mostly unwelcome deal? If nothing else, Mrs May must be the most determined person this country has seen, at least in modern times.

But beneath all the excitement in Westminster and Brussels or Strasbourg, there is one great elephant in the room.

Our political arrangements are not suitable for the 21st century. First past the post may have been great in former times. but today it does not produce a government which reflects the political attitudes and aspirations of the population.

Then there is the issue that around 150 Parliamentarians are in the direct employ of the government of the day and cannot be expected, when it comes to voting, to deviate much from the party line. (And wouldn’t it be nice if MPs didn’t heckle and sometimes jeer and snigger at each other.)

How about some technology to avoid the dreadful waste of time which takes place when it comes to a parliamentary vote? Is it too much to ask for our system of government to come into the 21st century?

I do not like the idea that our political system is broken as this is still a great country for most of the people who live in it but I do think it is time to seriously ask ourselves, can we not do better? — Yours faithfully,

Professor Dan Remenyi

Kidmore End

Now time for second vote

Sir, — It is encouraging to see that John Bercow has the guts not to be pushed around by the executive of a minority government.

Let us now hope that parliament will offer the country a People’s Vote which will give our recently enfranchised next generation (18- to 20-year-olds) an opportunity to decide their own future.

For us all, this would be with a much clearer knowledge of what the EU options are than we had three years ago. — Yours faithfully,

Alastair Morris

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

Supporting the college

Sir, — Your correspondent Sarah Price (Standard, March 15) might like to bear in mind that I am already organising an event for Henley College to meet local businesses who may be interested in apprenticeships the college can offer in June.

In addition, I have already secured agreement from Ann Milton, minister for apprenticeships, that she is very willing to meet the college to discuss opportunities for the future.

I am supporting the college in a fundamental way. — Yours faithfully,

John Howell

MP for Henley, House of Commons

Kids will be kids...

Sir, — Credit to Councillor David Eggleton for being the only one with perspective when commenting on the “attack” on the 10-year-old at the Henley skate park and not overreacting (Standard, March 15).

Kids will be kids, whether it’s at the skate park, the playground, wherever kids meet. Perhaps we should bring back national service to solve the problem? By the way, if the “spokespeople” for Henley really want to see evidence of disgraceful, illegal child-like behaviour, they should just go and have a look at the graffiti in the Mill Meadows playground — that would certainly require an independent commission, more CCTV and definitely martial arts training. — Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Mill End, Hambleden

Rubbish suggestion

Sir ,— Councillor Joan Bland’s counter-intuitive suggestion that the removal of litter bins in Henley will somehow improve the situation (Standard, March 15) is illogical and naive.

Full and overflowing litter bins are a clear sign that there are either insufficient bins, that the existing bins are of inadequate capacity, or that they are not emptied frequently enough to keep up with demand.

Cllr Bland’s fatuous contention that people will take their litter home because this is what happened during extenuating circumstances three decades ago fails to acknowledge that the casual disposal of litter is more prevalent now than was the case in the Eighties.

Our litter-strewn verges and piles of fast food containers left next to cars in our car parks are a clear testament to this.

To remove resources which are currently available to those who still have a social conscience will simply exacerbate the situation.

South Oxfordshire deserves better than to be represented by such misguided thinking. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Edwards

Howe Hill, Watlington

Finally, a like mind

Sir, — I would like to write in support of Joan Bland’s suggestion that litter bins should be removed from Henley town centre.

I quote from my letter published in the Standard on August 10, 1990: “I would like to propose that instead of providing more bins, which only seem to generate litter, the council should put up signs urging people to take their litter home.”

Perhaps now is the time to adopt this approach. — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road, Henley

Why waste their time?

Sir, — How sad that when South Oxfordshire District Council has one of the best recycling schemes in the country, there is a problem with the compostable wrappers now being used by National Trust, NFU and others for magazines sold at the Co-op etc.

According to the last council newspaper sent out recently, these compostable wrappers are different from the ones they sell to put in food caddys.

Apparently, they should not be put in the food waste (they don’t break down anaerobically), green waste (look like plastic), or recycling bins (can’t be recycled).

I assume the ones that can be put in food waste cost more, or are not suitable for wrapping and bags.

But how sad that when organisations try to do the right thing, they actually achieve nothing. — Yours faithfully,

Jon Hatt

Goring Heath

Unavoidable booking fee

Sir. — I love the Henley Festival and thoroughly look forward to going each year, but (there always is a but) this year I bought several tickets, going to the box office at the River & Rowing Museum and sitting beside the young lady at the computer screen.

The business was quickly and efficiently completed and then I was informed there was a six per cent booking fee!

Why? If I go to Waitrose, I’m not charged by the assistant to ring up my bill at the till after paying for my shopping yet this is exactly the same procedure — I have not asked for tickets to be posted or anything.

I didn’t even get a printed receipt for my £36+ charge. So what does this huge fee cover? — Yours faithfully,



Scourge of bogus calls

Sir, — I feel I ought to inform everyone about the very frightening telephone call I have now received twice.

I blocked the first number but that didn’t stop them.

I had a lady phone saying the police were coming to arrest me for default with the Inland Revenue. She was very aggressive and unpleasant. I told her to get lost.

At the time of the call I was very unwell and the call really upset me. I phoned Thames Valley Police and reported the call plus the number she had called from.

The police did follow it up and they said the number had been withdrawn by the perpetrator.

It was great to hear the police took it seriously as at my age I feel vulnerable from scam calls and cold callers at my front door.

My blocked call list is enormous but it just doesn’t seem to work. BT informs me that unavailable, withheld and international calls cannot be stopped.

Fortunately, I have a dog that barks every time someone steps on our drive, so at least I can go to the window and see who’s calling.

I feel there must some way this scourge can be stopped. Why should I be wary of my telephone or a knock at my front door. Any suggestions? — Yours faithfully,

Ann Dayton

Sonning Common

Bulbs, beer and biscuits

Sir, — Without being a pedant, I would just like to point out that Roger Seward’s assertion that Reading was known as the three “Bs” due to bricks, bulbs and beer (Standard March 8) was incorrect. Reading was known and famous for its biscuits (Huntley and Palmer’s), bulbs (Sutton’s Seeds) and beer (Simmonds) that were all shipped around the world.

Otherwise it was a really good and informative read, so thanks, Roger. — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Grove Road, Emmer Green

Colourful centrepiece

Editor, — One of Henley’s great strengths is its market place.

The regular markets are a backbone, encouraging residents and visitors to come to our town centre.

But the Market Place’s real colour comes to the fore when special events are held there and in surrounding venues.

The recent Henley House and Garden Show, which was extremely well-organised by Niki Schäfer, was a crowd-puller to the market place and it was good to see other venues being used as part of the event, including the 60+ Club and the town hall.

But the show is not the only one to bring that colour to life. Coming up are RIBA’s Design Day and the May Fayre, both organised by Sarah Miller, and the Food Festival, organised by Philippa Ratcliffe.

These events are special to Henley, unmatched anywhere else in the Thames Valley. Come and enjoy a splash of colour! — Yours faithfully,

Gill Dodds

Leader, Henley Residents Group, Greys Road, Henley

Supportive and social

Sir, — With reference to the letter from Paul Farmer (Standard, March 15), I am pleased to advise him that there are in fact two memory cafés currently running in Henley.

The Chilterns Court Care Centre hosts a dementia café every first Thursday of the month and at the Christ Church Centre we run a weekly memory café from 10.30am every Wednesday

The Christ Church Memory Café is a supportive, social gathering place for anyone with memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, early Alzheimer’s, or other dementia, and their family and friends.

With the support of Henley Town Council, it has gone from strength to strength and we will soon be celebrating the café’s first anniversary.

It has become a popular activity for those living with dementia and their carers, both from Henley and the surrounding areas.

We welcome anyone to visit to see what we get up to and perhaps take part in our weekly quiz (where cheating is positively encouraged!) singing, (where we are enthusiastic but less than harmonious!) and lots of chatting, along with delicious homemade cakes and coffee or tea.

We also have regular monthly visits by the children from the Henley Village Montessori pre-school, when everyone gets involved in artwork, singing and sharing stories. Great fun for young and old alike!

For more information, please call myself or Anita Pearce at the centre office on (01491) 577733 or email — Yours

Vanessa Bird

Centre manager, Christ Church Centre, Reading Road, Henley

Welcome return

Sir, — Last April, the Bluebells day centre, based at the Christ Church Centre and operated by Age UK, closed its service because of Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group grant cuts.

The loss of the service, after 20 years, was a huge blow to all those who benefited from it.

So I’m delighted that the day centre has been re-established as an independent registered charity and plans to re-open next month.

We should pay a special tribute to the Mayor Glen Lambert who led the campaign to bring it back from the start. He has been instrumental in restoring Bluebells and securing the funding required.

There are very few of us that have not had family members or friends who need care resulting from dementia. Providing respite and specialist advice is so important to allow patients and their carers to manage in what is often a mental and physical struggle.

Bluebells’ relaunch shows that, with energy, vision and commitment, politicians and community leaders working together do make a difference. I wish all those involved with Bluebells the utmost success. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Kellie Hinton

Henley Town Council, Queen Street, Henley

Crossword repeated

Sir, — Ninety per cent of the reason that I purchase the Henley Standard is for the cryptic crossword so you can imagine my anger and frustration when I find that, not for the first time, last week’s crossword was a repeat of the previous week’s.

Perhaps you’d like to arrange for me to receive a complimentary copy of this week’s edition or, better still, email me the “coffee break” section each week? — Yours faithfully,

Mike Kempton


Annoying mistake

Well done, Henley Standard. Last week you managed once again to repeat both the crossword and the Sudoko puzzle from the previous week so that once again I cannot check my answers or attempt a new crossword or Sudoko. — Yours faithfully,

Rose Metcalf


The editor responds: “Apologies to Mike Kempton and Rose Metcalf and other readers who were upset by this error. As compensation, we have printed the crossword and puzzle that should have appeared, together with the ones scheduled for this week on page 35.”

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