Monday, 24 June 2019

Your letters...

Only locals get my vote..

Sir, — It’s possible that we could have three elections in quick succession — our town and district elections next week, the European Parliamentary election and maybe a general election.

Voters in each of these will probably vote on different criteria, the general election being based on political parties, the European election a re-run of the referendum and our local elections based on who is best for our town.

Same voter, but three different priorities.

That’s important for our town as we need the best to represent us. I recently saw the results of a poll (organised by Henley Residents Group) which showed that among the top issues affecting our residents are traffic, parking and lack of affordable housing (homes at below market rental).

These are incredibly important issues as traffic will certainly increase. I notice on the road to Reading that the new quarry road will be opening soon. This is to facilitate a new excavation so expect more heavy lorries.

Solutions will be found by a council that works together, united by local people with a common interest.

I am concerned at the number of new town council candidates who have shown little affiliation to the town and its community organisations, probably because some don’t live in the town.

I am seriously concerned about the possible deterioration of the quality of life in Henley over the next five years.

My experience as a former councillor has shown that those councillors whose lives are, and have been for some years, intertwined with Henley will put in the time and effort to deal with these problems and keep Henley the special place it is.

I started this letter by highlighting how the same voter can have different priorities in different elections.

In my opinion there is only one priority for this town election. Elect candidates who are local, think local and act in the local interest. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Elizabeth Road, Henley

..and mine (obviously)

Editor, — No doubt it has not gone unnoticed that in the forthcoming Henley Town elections there are four candidates in the South ward without precise addresses.

Given that “address in South Oxfordshire” is on the ballot paper suggests that they are not resident in Henley. Are they part of a fanatical political commune hiding in the Chilterns?

In this day and age of (almost) post-Brexit Britain, the idea that candidates can be bussed in from “foreign” parts is a disgrace and a betrayal of the voice of the people for true independence and reclaimed sovereignty.

Ideally, candidates should have been born in Henley (preferably at The Hermitage, my alama mater) or at least lived in Henley for 42-and-a-half years.

For my part, I shall be voting for ERG, which has done so much for Henley and for improving the sale of double-breasted pyjamas. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Giuliani

Wilson Avenue, Henley

Pair setting good example

Sir, — Serving as a town councillor has been an honour that I am sadly relinquishing this year due to my business commitments.

It is inspiring to see so many enthusiastic and willing new candidates putting their names forward and I hope they will have the chance to demonstrate the hugely positive influence that new councillors have on the workings of the council.

As relatively new councillors, Jane Smewing and Laurence Plant have set a very high standard which, sadly, some of the long-standing incumbents do not even attempt to achieve.

Two of these so-called experienced councillors openly admitted to using precious council time to score political points at the last full council meeting.

Most of those who stand for the council do so because they love the town and want to give something back.

Individuals like Jane and Laurence work soley for the good of Henley, without prejudice or political motivation.

They may stand for different parties, but the example that they have set shows what can be achieved when councillors are focused on the good of the town, not the number of times that they can appear in the pages of this news paper.

Henley will benefit hugely from a new council comprised of individuals who want to work as a team for the good of the town, replacing those who have been in control for too long and seem to be purely motivated by political gain. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Sam Evans (Conservative)

Henley Town Council, Reading Road, Henley

Let’s work together

Sir, — I have been on Henley Town Council for eight years, South Oxfordshire District Council for four years and Oxfordshire County Council for two years.

I believe it is an enormous privilege to serve Henley and also get things done. As a consequence, I work my socks off for Henley.

Henley is a thriving community with more than 200 voluntary organisations, a thriving tourist centre and many major businesses, Invesco being just one example.

Contrary to what others may be saying, we have a thriving high street which has bucked the national trend with only two shops empty at the moment and even these are under offer.

Having taught in Henley for 30 years, I love the town because it is a place where I see so many people working together as a community.

Let us all be positive about Henley and its prospects and continue to work together to make Henley even better. —Yours faithfully,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak (Henley Residents Group)

Henley Town Council, Elizabeth Road, Henley

We must fix traffic issue

Sir, — As a Conservative candidate for next week’s Henley Town Council elections, I feel I should voice one of the issues I feel particularly strongly about and that is the traffic congestion that plagues Henley.

Not only is it a practical problem from the sheer number of cars that try to pass through our idyllic town, it is also an environmental issue generating excessive pollution.

The town is growing as more houses and flats are being built, so the problem is not going to go away or improve and I feel urgent action is needed.

The current traffic light system was implemented 15 years ago and we have to ask is it still fit for purpose?

To travel from Upton Close over Henley Bridge, I pass through five separate sets of lights and, coming into Henley in the evening, a wait of half an hour or more on Remenham Hill is quite common. Is what we have the optimum solution? I can’t believe it is.

I joined the Henley Conservatives as a candidate this year mainly as I was enthused by their commitment to revitalise Henley and I believe a new solution to the traffic flow will be a significant move in the right direction.

A new approach, a fresh set of eyes, so to speak, is an absolute commitment I intend to give to this problem and I am more than happy to be held accountable. — Yours faithfully,

Jezz Moore

Conservative candidate for Henley Town Council

Help locals to stay here

Sir, — Over the past few weeks, I have canvassed many households in Henley and one topic that comes up time and again is the affordability of housing and the unavailability of lower cost/social housing.

I believe people who have a strong connection to Henley and the area should be able to stay and keep the community of Henley thriving.

As chairman of Henley Town Council’s planning and neighbourhood plan committees, I am actively pursuing with landowners the idea of community land trusts.

This is where generous and society minded landowners “gift” land at a cheap rate to enable truly affordable rental homes to be built. These homes would not be able to be sold, they would be for rent in perpetuity.

I think this would be a great way to invest some of Henley’s money in the future.

Whilst writing, could I take this opportunity to thank all the residents who have given up their time in helping with the review of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan over the past year. It has been very much appreciated. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ken Arlett (Henley Residents Group)

Henley Town Council, Elizabeth Road, Henley

Weekly litter-picks

Sir, — I am lucky enough to live in Henley and I’m very proud of the number of visitors that we welcome each year. But we all know that litter is a problem and we all want to solve it.

I want to share the brilliant plan for ridding our town of litter that Ian Clark, one of the Henley Conservative election candidates, has just shared with me.

They are going to work with the residents of each street to create groups to attack the litter on a weekly basis. Forget annual litter- picks, let’s do it weekly and be proud of our beautiful town and also get to know our neighbours.

What a fabulous initiative. — Yours faithfully,

Janey Maple

Gravel Hill, Henley

Tories are out of touch

Sir, — Apologies for banging on about the Henley Conservatives (sorry, more correctly, their superiors, Watlington Conservative HQ), but they really do take the biscuit jammy dodgers most likely.

Recent “promises” (if elected) include the “transformation” of parking in Henley but they don’t tell you that most of the parking is under the control of South Oxfordshire District Council.

It could have been transformed by the Conservatives on the district council anytime in the last 20 years — fat chance with all the income it generates for that council and not a penny of it spent in Henley.

Henley Conservatives also want to reintroduce weekly bin collections, another sole district council responsibility.

Unsurprisingly, they don’t tell you that council tax would have to double and the Conservative council leader Jane Murphy has already said it isn’t going to happen. What planet are they from?

Conservative candidate Ian Clark wants to increase pollution by reintroducing two-way traffic in Market Place. That’s a really good way of making us ill and killing trade for the likes of Cafe Copia, The Square, Starbucks and Patisserie Valerie.

The Conservatives are clearly out of touch — strong believers in the old adage “you can fool a lot of the people some of the time...” — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Hambleden

Let’s be more welcoming

Editor, — I was touched by the letter from Micky and Valerie Denehy regarding the decision by Henley Town Council to make permanent the ban of barbecues in Marsh Meadows (Standard, March 29).

They highlighted the inability of the council to come up with a better solution.

Henley should be more welcoming and inviting to all visitors. Many people don’t have the luxury of gardens so this is their only space to barbecue and Easter is a time for families to be together.

We have just had the most glorious weekend of weather and everyone I saw at the meadows was really enjoying themselves.

The council ban is simply not working — there were numerous barbecues over the weekend. When I was down there everyone was well behaved, there was no park warden present and everyone took their rubbish home.

I do hope the council can reconsider this in the next term and we find a more sensible solution. The last thing we should be doing is banning groups of people and families from our wonderful meadows.

We want Henley to continue to be a happy, vibrant, diverse, welcoming and wonderful place. I just ask everyone to do their bit in taking their rubbish home and keeping our town clean and safe for everyone. — Yours faithfully,

Karan Takhar

Conservative candidate for Henley Town Council

Too little, too late

Sir, — Paul Jenkins’ letter on John Howell’s voting record (Standard, April 19) prompts me to write on the Government’s record on climate change.

In his most recent newsletter, Mr Howell states: “We are firmly on track to meet the 2050 target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 80 per cent”. That is far too little and far too late!

It is also only half the story. So much more could already have been done, yet since 2015 this Government has chosen instead to cancel helpful initiatives.

As far as I know, Mr Howell always votes along party lines.

The Conservatives have:

• Banned onshore wind projects.

• Scrapped warm homes standards.

• Stopped incentives for solar energy.

• Sold the Green Investment Bank (at a price condemned by the National Audit Office as far too low).

• Allowed fracking in the face of fierce local and national opposition.

• Allowed open-cast mining at the same time as boasting of reduced reliance on coal.

• Scrapped plans for a tidal lagoon near Swansea, which could have seen the UK leading the development of a new source of green energy.

• Refused to meet the climate strikers and protestors.

How sad that such enormous heaps of salt have to be added to political claims. — Yours faithfully,

Helen Watson

Cold Harbour, Goring Heath

Lesson for protestors

Sir, — At a recent presentation delivered to the Friends of Imperial College London, among the prizes announced was one to a PhD student who wrote a paper on separating carbon and oxygen by the application of energy to certain greenhouse gases.

If any current protesters can get themselves unglued, I recommend they check with that august university to evaluate the usefulness and likely feasibility to make use of this possible breakthrough.

I assume that it might be necessary to radiate any excess of “applied” energy into space so as not to make the current “warming” situation worse, but these are just initial thoughts.

Hopefully, an excess of “cooling” will not turn up too quickly as a potential roadblock. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Remainers, not traitors

Sir, — I fear Professor Dan Remenyi was sorely misinterpreting my words the previous week (Standard, April 19).

My reference to “dullards” was a humorous take on prominent Remainers having regarded Leave voters as lacking sufficient appreciation of what they had voted for. I am one of those dullards.

He dismisses the “fruitcakes” etc jibes as banter, so perhaps he now accepts my “dullards” in a similar vein.

My reference to “betray” related solely to the comparison between the 2017 Conservative manifesto and the present reality, as in the ordinary expression “betrayed its principles”.

I have made no reference to any Remain voter as a betrayer and have never used the word traitor.

I disagree profoundly with those who advocate remaining in the EU but certainly do not regard them as in any way treacherous.

You will be relieved to know that this is my last letter on the topic at this particular stage of proceedings! — Yours faithfully,

Ken Stevens

Red House Drive, Sonning Common

Most won’t bother voting

Sir, — If this country is daft enough to have the Euro elections in May at a cost of more than £100 million, I would suggest to my brother Jon (Standard, April 19) that there is a fifth option that will take up an even greater percentage than all his suggestions put together. That is apathy. — Yours faithfully

Mark Hatt

South Stoke Road, Woodcote

Upsetting, unsettling

Sir, — I wish to endorse my support for the excellent letter written by Enid Light, regarding the present situation at Sue Ryder Hospice, Nettlebed (Standard, April 19).

In the past I have known many people who have entered Sue Ryder for end-of-life palliative care.

The present system seems in reverse, relatives are advised to find alternative accommodation for their dying loved ones when it is patently obvious death is imminent.

How heartbreaking for both, particularly the relatives having to find somewhere willing to take them, plus the trauma of moving the terminally ill person for what may be only a few hours/days.

As the bed situation is gradually being diminished, it is patently obvious that maintaining and funding such a huge and monumental building is unsustainable. Thankfully, when my beloved husband was in need of palliative care, I was fortunate to have support of a loving family, together with wonderful care from nurses Ali, Sarah and doctors at the Hart Surgery, so he was able to end his life at home.

This situation is impossible for those without family or resources at their disposal.

Finally. I must add how unsettling the present situation is for the army of devoted volunteers who work tirelessly to organise, sort and sell goods at regular sales raising monumental sums for the benefit of patients. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs S Pegg

Periam Close, Henley

Fine utility companies

Sir, — And so it begins… 11am on Tuesday and we have tailbacks caused by an empty hole in the road in Reading Road, Henley.

Perfect day for getting on with it and not a single worker in sight. Thames Water improving the network? The only improvements we get, by the company that loses close to half the water it is supposed to supply, are the meters they use to enlarge the bonuses and pension pots of the German owners.

It is a wonder our competency is compared with many far flung countries where repairs and upgrades take a fraction of the time.

The utility companies should be held to account with financial time penalties. We should all demand better. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

New road to third bridge?

Sir, — I’ve been watching with interest the new road being laid close to the Flowing Spring pub at Playhatch.

It’s there to access a new quarry but it’s wide with perfect white lines and finely laid tarmac, far too well constructed and expensive for mucky lorries going up and down it all year. I like to think it’s secretly being built in preparation to link up with the long-awaited third Thames bridge.

It’s so long that it dips out of view, tellingly towards the river.

I can’t see anyone going to that expense for a driveway to a new house and it’s way too perfect for a quarry road. I hope I’m right. — Yours faithfully,

Danny Darcy

Piggotts Road, Caversham

Home made into terrace

Sir, — We have lived in our semi-detached house for 25 years. Now our brand new next-door neighbour has been granted plannning permission, on appeal, to extend his house and at the same time divide it into two dwellings, thus downgrading our home to an end-of-terrace.

There are no other terraced residences in the area. Our surveyor has confirmed that this change in status is likely to affect the price of our property, should we wish to sell.

We are quite aware that our neighbour is quite within his legal rights to carry out this change but surely there is something wrong with the planning laws when this situation isn’t even regarded as an issue.

We have nothing against terraced houses but our home was bought as a semi detached and that is what we expected it to remain. — Yours faithfully,

Carol Brown

Bix Common

Good luck to us runners

Editor, — May I take this opportunity to thank you for your coverage of local people taking part in this year’s London Marathon (Standard, April 12 and 19) and indeed those runners themselves. On Sunday, I will join the thousands of other runners who will be pounding the streets of the capital. May I wish good luck to all those from the Henley area taking part.

I am running to support a very worthy charity, the Chiltern Centre for disabled children and young people in Henley which is a cause very close to my heart.

The centre, off Greys Road, looks after young people with severe physical and mental problems as well as offering a most welcome respite period for their family and carers.

Thank you to the wonderful people in the town, colleagues, friends and shop and business owners who have very kindly sponsored me.

I’m feeling in good shape, though slightly apprehensive. I will be straining every muscle to raise the profile of this wonderful charity and raise as much money as I can, so that the Chiltern Centre can carry on with its most splendid work.

If you are able to make a donation, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/WillHamilton2019 — Yours faithfully,

Will Hamilton

Greys Road, Henley

We do have almshouses

Sir, — Thank you to Jessica Piasecki-Jarvis and Dick Fletcher for their interest in the Henley almshouses (Standard, April 19).

I am pleased to say there are 23 one- or two-bedroom almshouses owned by the Henley Municipal Charities available to residents within the Henley town boundary and the ecclesiastical boundaries of the parishes of Rotherfield Greys and Bix.

All have been modernised and refurbished to standards expected today, including ensuring the homes are as energy efficient as possible given that some are listed buildings.

These homes are for those who have limited means and savings and are unable to afford to buy or rent a home on the open market.

Residents are required to be capable of independent living. Maintenance of the homes (inside and out) is the responsibility of the charity in return for a modest contribution.

When a vacancy arises, it is advertised in the local newspaper (Standard April 12 and 19).

The generosity of the Henley Municipal Charities’ benefactors long ago has provided the means to help Henley people who find themselves without suitable homes or in need of a little help which otherwise would not be available.

The charities have a proud tradition of fulfilling their obligations through many generations and are delighted to have the means to continue doing so for many years to come. — Yours faithfully,

Wendy Bowsher

Clerk to the trustees of the Henley Municipal Charities

Can anyone use silver?

Sir, — For many years we collected silver for Guide Dogs but haven’t found anyone recently who would take it.

I have quite a lot in a plastic sack and would love to know that it has gone to a good cause.

Can anyone help me please? Call 0118 972 2636 or 07979 892284. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Chivers

Westleigh Drive, Sonning Common

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