Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Your letters...

Suspicious of closure

Sir, — I repeat the question I asked a couple of years ago, when Holly Spiers, Sue Ryder’s director of hospices and fund-raising, first stated that the hospice in Nettlebed would have to close because of under-use.

If that was/is the case, why, when my husband was finally admitted to the hospice, were efforts immediately made to get funding from the NHS to move him on to a nursing home?

He was extremely ill and in great pain and there was no possibility of him ever coming back home. Permission was granted, he moved out and died a week later.

I had always thought you went into a hospice to die, not to be thrown out as the end drew nigh.

Was it part of a planned policy to satisfy future statistics to justify selling the property?

It is all a question of money. Joyce Grove was built at the beginning of the 20th century by the grandfather of Ian Fleming, who was born there.

It is a beautiful house with extensive grounds and must be expensive to maintain, both indoors and outdoors.

Mrs Spiers manages several Sue Ryder homes, all of which seem to reach the required occupancy of 70 to 90 per cent but not this jewel in the crown!

Mrs Spiers states: “If a patient being cared for at home wants to spend their final day or two at the hospice, transport can be arranged.”

How dismissive — as if it were just an outing, not the end of a human life.

You reported that relatives of patients had claimed that loved ones were only being cared for at home as there was no room at the hospice.

If this is true, and it would seem evidence bears this out, it is totally contrary to what the Sue Ryder management is claiming. — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

More hospice care needed

Editor, — I would happily forgo any fees for converting the top floor of Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley into a luxury penthouse with a plastic surgery clinic attached.

This being on the basis that the space should be allocated as a hospice.

Henley is a most accommodating town for elderly folk but lacks provision for end-of-life care for those with a terminal disease. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Giuliani

Architect, Wilson Avenue, Henley

Revitalising Henley

Sir, — We Conservatives are very excited to have a fresh slate of candidates for the Henley Town Council elections this year, 10 of whom are standing for the first time.

Henley really does matter to us. All our candidates are eager to meet local people, listen to and understand their needs, build on the existing strengths of the town, identify the issues and strive to make Henley an even better town in which to live, work and study.

With a wide range of backgrounds and interests- from the environment and performing arts to marketing and especially sports — business people who know how to make things happen — we know how to combine forces and develop a long-term vision for Henley, really helping to make a difference to the town that we all are passionate about.

We listen to the people of Henley. Following our survey in 2017 (from which we received more than 200 responses), we highlighted the key elements which are reflected in our manifesto.

Our main aim is to revitalise Henley for the future. We endeavour to reach this through a number of ways, including:

• Organising a transport and parking summit to transform parking and ease congestion.

• Building eco-friendly 21st century almshouses at truly affordable rents for Henley people

• Producing an integrated environment plan to improve air quality and to develop an integrated tourism, investment and trade group to properly co-ordinate and enhance the vitality of the town. — Yours faithfully,

Jessica Piasecki-Jarvis

Henley Conservative candidate for Henley Town Council

Not local and out of touch

Sir, — Thank you for having published the names of the candidates for election to Henley Town Council (Standard, April 12).

I see that Conservative headquarters has a number of innovative surprises for the residents of Henley.

Not only have they alienated the chairman of South Oxfordshire District Council (and, presumably, many of her supporters), but they are also having to parachute in three candidates who are not residents of Henley but live as far afield as Wokingham and Lower Earley in Berkshire and Hambleden in Buckinghamshire.

Furthermore, it seems they plan to construct almshouses in the town — almshouses in this day and age? I thought those went out in the last century. Meanwhile, it is worth reminding your readers of the benefits of electing local residents with local contacts and local knowledge.

Since Stefan Gawrysiak was elected to the district council four years ago, he has succeeded in getting, inter alia, £100,000 in the budget for air quality, £150,000 to refurbish the Gillotts leisure centre, 1,000 potholes filled and three major road repairs with three new pedestrian crossings in the pipeline. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher


The right candidate

Sir, — I note the concern regarding the eligibility of Simon Dunster to stand as Conservative candidate in the Henley Town Council elections (Standard, April 12).

Simon has worked and contributed positively to Henley for many years, giving his time and expertise to the town.

As such, I would suggest that his candidacy should be welcomed with open arms. Henley needs doers such as Simon, as your correspondent Dieter Hinke quite rightly highlighted. — Yours faithfully,

Edmund Simpson


No Brexit, no barracking

I was happily reading last week’s letters pages thinking that for once Brexit had finally eluded the content of our local paper but then I came across the 19th letter and we were back to Brexit, still hanging over us still like the sword of Damocles!

So, while I’m on politics, I completely agree with Dieter Hinke regarding his sadness that our local councillors tend to allude to being a mini parliament rather than just getting down to the business of working for the interests of the town.

As a Henley born and bred resident and having had my business here for more than 30 years, I have seen a big difference in Henley from the relatively carefree days of the Seventies.

I have been asked to stand for council on occasion and, while I’d love to help make my lovely town even better, I’ve been put off by the political barracking and point-scoring.

Maybe I am being rather naive in my Utopian belief in a town council working in unison for the benefit of the town. I see new candidates are up for election and have my fingers crossed for the new blood to change the tide.

My final comment is in response to José Goumal whose life was saved by a passer-by. I was taught CPR at sixth form college and at the scouts. I think it should be part of the school curriculum now as there can surely be no greater frustration than being with someone in need of resuscitation without the knowledge needed to save them. It’s as simple as ABC.

I already have a refresher course booked. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Pinches


Farewell and thank you

Editor, — Over eight or so years serving on South Oxfordshire District Council, I have learned a lot about local government, from finances to potholes. There is, however, one lesson that stands out.

When I was first elected, aged 21, I knew that Henley was full of amazing volunteers doing incredible things out of sheer love for their community.

What I hadn’t fully experienced was the scale of this. We are incredibly lucky to have so many dedicated people who find a problem and, instead of complaining, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to sort it out.

This will be my last letter to the Standard as a councillor and I want to use it to thank those volunteers.

From the teams behind the Henley skate park and the brilliant rugby club development to the trustees of the YMCA, I have spent the last eight years humbled by the work of volunteers in our town and in our district.

New councillors elected in May must remember that it is the role of representatives to support, encourage and facilitate this force for good. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor William Hall

South Oxfordshire District Council

Remember the cuts?

Sir, — Our MP John Howell wonders who he has done a disservice to (Standard, April 12).

His voting record, which can be seen on, shows that he has consistently supported his government’s swingeing cuts to the funding of our NHS, social services, education and the police.

It is odd then, that Mr Howell should say that he is proud to be speaking up in support of local efforts to assuage the effects of the very cuts that he has helped implement.

Perhaps this is the disservice that he is wondering about? — Yours faithfully,

Paul Jenkins

South Stoke

Take your pick, voters

Sir, — Great, so we now have a phoney Euro election, but at least it might prove to be an “indicative referendum”.

Vote Liberal Democrat to stay in.

Vote UKIP or Brexit to crash out.

Vote Conservative for Theresa May’s deal.

Vote Labour for don’t know. — Yours faithfully,

Jon Hatt

Goring Heath

Mind your language

Sir, — I wonder if Ken Stevens will apologise for referring to me as a “dullard” for voting in favour of leaving the EU.

Those of us who voted to leave were motivated by a multitude of reasons and had a large variety of expectations as to what the outcome might be.

What I didn’t vote for was a crude withdrawal from the EU resulting in many people in the UK being poorer.

Using words like “betrayal” and “traitor” are much more offensive to me (and I expect many voters) than stupid words like “fruitcake” and “swivel-eyed loons”, which are obviously theatrical hyperbole.

Being regarded as a traitor or as a betrayer is far more serious and this type of language is giving licence to what Ann Law called “the outpouring of discrimination, abuse, lies and bullying”.

Our society is poorer today as a result of the outcome of the referendum and the way that both politicians and some members of the public have behaved since then. — Yours faithfully,

Professor Dan Remenyi

Kidmore End

New crossing is welcome

Sir, — As a long-standing resident of the Gainsborough estate in Henley, I am very aware of the amount of traffic that uses Greys Road, often at some speed.

As a result, I am very concerned for the safety of pedestrians of all ages who use and cross Greys Road.

At long last, a pedestrian crossing has been proposed by Henley Town Council for Greys Road, which is planned to be in the vicinity of Takhar Stores.

This crossing will improve the safety of all and will be of great benefit to the parents and children of Sacred Heart Primary School and the residents of The Close and the Gainsborough estate. It is also noted that crossings at Swiss Farm and Gravel Hill are planned.

It is essential we have these implemented very soon. — Yours faithfully,

Rob Isaac

Gainsborough Road, Henley

Less testing, more action

Sir, — On the question of air pollution in Henley, I can assure your correspondent Phil Perry (Standard, April 12), that, from where I’m standing (at the bottom of Norman Avenue), it is not hard to visualise vehicle exhaust pollution — I see and smell it every day.

I have lived here for three years and, believe me, the problem has become considerably worse even in that period.

Of course, it would be nice to think we could all use public transport (as David Dickie encourages us to do) and my husband and I do walk into town, but this does not address the issue of people travelling through Henley rather than Henley being the final destination.

The main problem areas are at the junctions of Station Road and Reading Road and the junction of Greys Road and Reading Road where traffic is continually waiting to move when the lights change.

At the bottom of Greys Road, cars frequently hasten through the red light and end up blocking the junction and at the Station Road/Reading Road junction the yellow box has all but disappeared and, as such, is ignored by drivers. This leads to great problems for residents like us, trying to leave Norman Avenue.

Additional problems arise when two roads funnel cars into the single lane of Duke Street, so the drivers are then at the mercy of the traffic lights going into Market Place.

The phasing of these lights seems to have gone completely awry. They are no longer “smart” — indeed, quite the opposite.

I have tried to find out who is responsible for traffic management in Henley.

So far, I have received no response from my local councillor and it does not appear to fall within the jurisdiction of South Oxfordshire District Council.

I understand that the highways department can be notified about specific street issues but not yellow boxes.

But can I urge whoever is in charge to stop spending money on measuring the pollution — it is abundantly clear that we do not meet government standards — and, instead, spend it on doing something about the problem.

Incidentally, if there are any motorcyclists reading this, will you please desist from revving your engines while waiting at the traffic lights outside the Higgs offices. Reading Road is not the beginning of a Formula 1 grand prix, however much you might like to treat it as such! — Yours faithfully,

Carel Barker

Norman Avenue, Henley

Roundabout rocket fun

Sir, — It was disappointing to see gardeners removing the “rocket” from the Playhatch roundabout.

Should the general public not be allowed to enjoy the sculpture for a bit longer?

Surely we all need to have a bit of humour in our lives, especially in the current Brexit climate. — Yours faithfully,

R Evans

Thoughtless dog walkers

As well as my own dog’s mess, I collected 10 full dog poo bags before 8.30am on Monday while walking along the river between Leander Club and Temple Island.

Four bags were piled on top of each other next to a park bench, i.e. people had consciously decided to leave them there!

As I returned towards town via the bridge (with a fistful of steaming bags) I couldn’t find a dog waste bin to dispose of them and therefore took them in my car (with all the windows open!) to an appropriate disposal point.

Given the number of dog walkers and volume of footfall along the river, surely it would be a sensible place for a dog waste bin to be placed here? Maybe this would give the currently irresponsible dog owners a more convenient alternative to littering the bank. — Yours faithfully,

Francesca Mably

Victoria Road, Wargrave

Growing challenge

Sir, — I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Henley who has made my last three years as your town clerk an absolute pleasure.

I will be sad to move from the post but also excited.

Your article last week mentioned only a few reasons why I have made this difficult decision.

Quite apart from being closer to home, Didcot will present a very different challenge to Henley. It has a population of around 29,000 but is set to grow as it seeks to embrace its garden town status.

In his spring statement, the Chancellor approved £218million to be spent on infrastructure projects in and around Didcot. It is a modern town that is likely to become an important destination for science and technology industries — and I am delighted to play a small part in that with Didcot Town Council.

Meanwhile, Didcot (like Henley) is facing local elections and I would like to encourage everyone to make good use of their vote on Thursday, May 2.

Town and parish councils represent the residents at the grass roots, so this is your chance to elect those people who best represent your views.

Your vote can make all the difference in where you live and getting things done. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Wheeler

Town clerk, Henley

Hard act to follow

Sir, — I wish Henley town clerk Janet Wheeler all the very best in her new job.

I have much enjoyed our frequent correspondence, especially regarding the upgrade of Station Park, which now looks fabulous due in no small part to her attention and actions.

Her successor has a first class act to follow, that’s for sure! — Yours faithfully,

Steve Ludlow

Station Road, Henley

Missing man is our dad

Sir, — I write in response to Tony Taylor’s letter about his father’s 1949 Henley YMCA football team (Standard, March 29) and the various responses.

Our father Ronald “Rocket” Hughey, known then as “Mink”, is seen on the back row second from the left. He was 18 years old when the picture was taken.

We believe his position was left wing but, for whatever reason, he wasn’t wearing his football kit in the picture.

Our father, who still lives in Henley with his wife Joan, rowed at Henley Rowing Cub, played tennis and later became an official football referee.

It was great to see this old photograph which has brought back old memories to our father. — Yours faithfully,

Carl and Sally Hughey

Marmion Road, Henley

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