Wednesday, 08 July 2020

Your letters...

Tunnel better than bridge

Sir, — I hate to sound like an old scratched record but with a bit of lateral thinking there is an alternative to the third Thames bridge.

Reading Borough Council’s own figures show 35 per cent of cross-Thames traffic is in transit, not local.

What they want to do is build a third bridge to offload congestion into South Oxfordshire with no infrastructure to move it onwards once north of the Thames. Not their problem to placate the Oxfordshire natives.

Yet a simple solution is to take traffic from A to B in the shortest time, from somewhere south of the Thames to the A4074, by building a 3,500m tunnel under “Caver’s Town” from the A329(M) “Ski Jump” towards Chazey Heath.

The shortest route requires an extra 1,500m surface link but the longer 5,000m tunnel surfaces directly alongside the A4074.

With a 30mph speed limit, the traffic would traverse the entire link in less than five minutes without anybody noticing, no fields and wildlife being desecrated, and 97 per cent of the route within Berkshire’s existing boundaries.

No need to annexe any more of South Oxfordshire to build a surface bypass when they can build a through-pass underground.

Ah, but the costs. Compared to what? The Crossrail link, HS2, the proposed new Dagenham or Cardiff tunnel, covid-19?

A Reading-Oxford link tunnel would be mostly through Chilterns chalk up an 0.8 per cent incline which naturally drains it. Yes, you would need to add ventilation and lighting but that is it.

Tunnel boring machines technology has advanced in leaps and bound in the past 10 years and the choice of two single-lane tunnels or one wider bi-directional tunnel is up to the bean-counters to work out.

The current bridge plan route over the Thames and the gravel pits as far as the Henley road dumping point is more than 2,000m, only 1,500m shorter than a tunnel direct to the A4074 which solves the entire problem with no new Oxfordshire road infrastructure required.

And the spoil dug out is free material to protect the flatlands (Dutch style) from the River Thames flooding using barges not lorries to transport the stuff around. Yes, the start of the tunnel is next to a river where boats can float!

We are fighting a fight to protect South Oxfordshire, which does not need to be fought if we/they tunnel.

To put it in perspective, if the Sonning Common 1,700m cinder cycle track to Emmer Green ever comes off, the tunnel I am proposing is only just double that at 3,500m and weatherproof.

The trouble is nobody in the ivory towers will admit there are alternatives. Saving face and all that. Not invented here. — Yours faithfully,

Dirk Jones

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

We’ve been here before

Sir, — Your front page item about Henley market square (Standard, June 19) rang a bell.

Nearly 25 years ago I was the first town centre manager in Henley charged with introducing the new town centre plan.

One idea was to take the traffic out of Market Place and create a traffic-free piazza-style centre. Uproar and major opposition! Shops carried disaster posters.

A proposed meeting in the town hall had to be held outside from the steps up to the hall. Too many protesters. About 1,000 people turned out to protest against the scheme. Where would we park?

Of course, a compromise was reached but only after much more discussion and negotiation. Today’s arrangement was that eventual compromise.

Perhaps serious thought should be given before disturbing sleeping dogs. — Yours faithfully,

P Fieldhouse

High Street, Hurley

Nice idea but unworkable

When I first moved to Henley back in the Seventies the town had a traffic system that worked pretty well, albeit with less traffic.

A few years on and a new traffic plan was implemented that proved to be a disaster, so it was revised.

How successful that has been is a matter of opinion but any scheme that involves routing traffic through a car park has to be questionable.

The problem is that the town was never designed to carry the size, quantity and weight of traffic it now has to deal with — you only have to go along Reading Road to see lorries or cars being forced up on to the pavements in order to pass.

As with everything, be it housing developments or road layouts, before undertaking any new scheme it is the infrastructure that needs to be considered first.

I applaud Councillor Sarah Miller for her attempt to come up with an idea to boost the high street. The trouble is that Henley wasn’t designed as a town with a piazza, however quaint, romantic and seductive it may sound.

To close the odd road occasionally for a special event is one thing. To do so on a regular basis would, I fear, be asking for trouble.

Circulation in the town is bad enough as it is and I suspect this plan would only make things worse. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Murray-Leach

Binfield Heath

Wrong place for cafe zone

My apologies for repeating comments made to you last year (and the year before), but the perennial suggestion to use Hart Street as “a buzzing outdoor café zone” has once again appeared on your letters page.

Internet address lists still show around 40 residential units in Hart Street — a lot of us were on our doorsteps on Thursday evenings recently.

Many of these residents take advantage of the Henley residents’ parking scheme. Take away parking facilities and life becomes much more difficult.

Then there are the numerous delivery vehicles servicing not only Hart Street businesses but also catering to the newly acquired taste for online shopping. If these have to block the road to perform their tasks, traffic builds up and exhaust fumes spoil your latte.

Access over the pavement for half a dozen entrances to private car parks and residences behind the Hart Street frontage would still be required, so sidewalk tables would need careful placement and where would disabled people park if you removed the blue badge zone from outside the Catherine Wheel?

Another major challenge would be to provide access to bridal cars and hearses across the pavement to access St Mary’s Church without disturbing drinkers.

Although the suggestion for an outdoor café zone is very attractive, it really should be in a traffic-free area rather than beside the busiest road in town. — Your faithfully,

John Louth

Hart Street, Henley

Lane will be improved

Sir, — The poor state of repair of Gillotts Lane has been of great concern to residents, Harpsden Parish Council and me for many years.

The level of concern rose even further when planning permission was granted for almost 200 new houses at Highlands Park, near the top of the lane.

Gillotts Lane is the natural route for residents of the new estate coming from or heading to the south, meaning that not only repairs but also traffic-calming measures are required.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, I have been in extended discussions with residents, the parish council and Oxfordshire County Council officers to come up with a solution to the problem that is broadly acceptable to all parties.

The resultant scheme recently went out to public consultation and was overwhelmingly endorsed with just one objection being received.

I presented the proposal to the cabinet member for environment and transport at the decision meeting on Thursday last week and I am pleased to say it was approved. It is being funded jointly by Harpsden Parish Council (using Community Infrastructure Levy funds) and the county council as the highways authority.

From late summer, local residents will be able to enjoy a thoroughly repaired and improved road with comprehensive but non-intrusive traffic-calming measures.

The road will, however, remain unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor David Bartholomew

Sonning Common division, Oxfordshire County Council

Punish the litter louts

Sir, — Lockdown really has brought out the worst in people. The amount of litter left by loutish visitors to our lovely town is a disgrace. Beer cans and wine bottles, cigarette ends, plastic wrapping from food, not to mention the used tissues and human excrement from people using our hedgerows as a toilet.

Bring back capital punishment, I say, or at the very least, those found littering should be fined, given a litter-picker and forced to pick up rubbish as a deterrent to others. — Yours faithfully,

Claire Schofield

Park Road, Henley

Qualifying ‘balance’

Sir, — The call by four former Henley students for more balanced teaching about the British Empire (Standard, June 19) is commendable but “more balanced” requires detailed definition in current times.

For many axe-to-grind groups, “balance” implies an almost total emphasis upon the iniquities of colonialism with mere footnotes on its positive contribution to world development.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the state of the indigenous peoples prior to colonisation was primitive compared with the remarkable developments existing on many fronts at that time in Asian, Middle-Eastern and Western countries.

It was violently tribal. Even the wheel and axle had not been invented. There was no literacy. Communication was by word of mouth and religious beliefs were broadly animistic.

Colonialism, with its admitted failings, brought this part of the world into modern times and I doubt whether there are many sub-Saharan, black Africans today who would want to put the clock back. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Sonning Common

Getting with modern action

Sir, — The time has obviously come for Henley Town Council to address the matter of inclusivity in its naming procedures.

As a town often accused of snobbery and exclusiveness, it behoves the council to correct the matter.

For a start, Gladstone Terrace, as we have now discovered, is named after the son of a major slave owner.

Duke Street, following on, is patently a celebration of the aristocracy grinding the faces of the poor into the rural mud.

Put the two together and go with Bishop Tutu Way.

Hart Street? Well, “as pants the hart for cooling streams when heated in the chase” patently endorses deer hunting.

Do we all support that? Try Tree Huggly Way.

Bell Street? “Ask not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

In the light of current concerns regarding mental health, really not very appropriate. Happiness Hoedown would be nice.

Then there’s Vicarage Road and the Saints’ Avenues. Rather Victorian Christian wouldn’t you say? Hardly religiously inclusive. Cross-Belief Straight perhaps and Buddha Boulevard, Islam Crescent and Hindu Highway would be an appropriate follow on.

But Reading Road? How do dyslexics view that? Best change to Education 4All Drive. Note the inspirational mix of numbers, letters and determination.

One could go on but that’s the council’s job. So just to leave on the matter of Fair Mile. When we’re told to be 2m apart? No, no, no. Kilometre and a Fair Bit Main Drag seems just right.

Let’s get with the modern action. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Jones

Bishop Tutu Way (Gladstone Terrace as was), Reading Road, Henley

Importance of foreign aid

Sir, — This an open letter to John Howell, which I would be delighted to see printed in the Henley Standard and even more delighted if your readers would join me in addressing the issue with our MP.

“John, — I trust you and yours are all safe and well.

“I’m moved to write to you because of the Prime Minister’s decision to roll the Department for International Development into the Foreign Office.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons last week: ‘For too long, the UK overseas aid budget has been treated, frankly, as some giant cashpoint in the sky that arrives without any reference to UK interests, or to the values that the UK wishes to express, or the priorities, diplomatic, political and commercial, of the Government of the UK.’

“Let me now address each argument contained in the above sentence.

“‘...giant cashpoint in the sky...’ No it’s not. Nobody can walk up and just draw money at will.

“I support charities which sometimes receive funding from the DfID for specific projects and the hoops they have to jump through to qualify for funding are extensive — and rightly so.

“Even then, the funding is often contingent on the charity raising an equivalent amount by other means (match funding).”

“‘...without any reference to UK interests...’ Pardon me, but the purpose of overseas aid is not to promote our national interests, it is to promote the interests of the poorest and most deprived in the world.

“Even then, the UK interest is promoted because beneficiaries are aware that the aid comes from the UK, which is good for our image and helps lubricate diplomacy.

“I happen to have visited a number of projects in Nepal with the charity Practical Action and the UK-Aid logo is right there on the signage and literature for those projects.”

“‘...or to the values the UK wishes to express...’ UK overseas aid directly expresses many values we are proud to call British: generosity, compassion, concern for the poor and deprived and more. Does the PM wish these to cease being British values?

“‘...or to the priorities, diplomatic, political and commercial, of the government of the UK.’ Those priorities are served by the Foreign Office and by various trade ministries.

“The priority of the DfID is to help people and make the world a better place.

“I have seen it suggested that there is a conflict between our diplomatic or economic pressure on governments and the fact that the DfID is giving aid to their countries.

“The aid is there often to ameliorate the damage done by bad government — quite the opposite of supporting bad government.

“The PM’s move signals to the UK populace, and to the world, that Britain is now a country which cares only about itself: We will help others in the world only if there’s ‘something in it for us’.

“If all the charitable giving in this country were on that basis, imagine what a poorer place this would be.

“I sincerely hope that the Opposition will challenge this bad decision in Parliament.

“I would like you, on behalf of me, my wife and I’m sure many of your constituents, to inform your Conservative whip that, in the event of a vote, you will vote to keep DfID separate and, if that vote arrives, to deliver on that promise. — Yours faithfully,

David Watson

Laureate Gardens, Henley

We’re all still at risk

Philip Collings bemoans life under lockdown and suggests that many of those that die have other conditions from which they would all die anyway “within a year or less” (Standard, June 19).

I find the attitude implied quite shocking. The assertion is also completely false.

Is he suggesting that those with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or any other condition are not worthy of extra time alive? These are conditions that can often be lived with happily for many years.

Wellcome Research has shown that the average length of life lost for those that have died of covid-19 is 13 years for men and 11 years for women. That’s no small amount.

I think the key covid numbers in the UK are 60,000 dead so far (FT reckons 65,000), seven per cent of the population have had it (source ONS) and 70 per cent need to catch it for the virus to die out.

How many excess deaths would Mr Collins be happy to have?

My point is that this is a dangerous virus, far worse than seasonal flu.

The Government has been grossly negligent in its handling of the pandemic so far. It was obvious in early March we needed to do more — just locking down one week earlier would have saved tens of thousands of lives by now.

The risk of catching covid is much lower than it was a few weeks ago but there are still thousands of cases a day. As we approach the autumn and we all go inside again it will come roaring back if we drop our guard. Think of the devastation to people’s lives and to their livelihoods if that happens. The economy would be even harder hit.

Of course, we all want to get out of the lockdown and get business going, especially for the young. But only getting on top of the virus properly will give enough people the confidence to spend money in “‘normal” ways again.

So please, Government, be very careful about how you release the lockdown. And let’s hope for a vaccine. — Yours faithfully,

Robert Thompson

Henley

True price of ‘freedom’

Sir, — It is no surprise to find Philip Collings declaring himself a paid-up member of the Sumption faction over the management of the virus.

It may be remembered that a while back Lord Sumption declared the lockdown to be an unjustified assault on fundamental freedoms.

He argued that it should be a matter of choice as to whether people decided to observe the rules or not and that the element of compulsion was intolerable.

For a moment I was partly seduced by his elegant reasoning — if I wanted to risk getting the virus, surely that was up to me?

Then I remembered that I belonged to a wider society and with that came responsibilities. . .

We all know that the chances of getting the virus are extremely small — in leafy Peppard Common, where Mr Collings is lucky enough to live, very remote indeed.

We all know that. We all know that many people have it without knowing it, that younger people will hardly notice it, that the proportion who fall seriously ill enough to require hospital treatment is tiny.

Nevertheless, in a country with a population of nearly 70 million, even tiny proportions add up.

The estimates of the number of people who would have died had not lockdown been imposed vary between 200,000 and 500,000.

The number seriously ill enough to have required hospital treatment would have been many times higher. Hospitals simply would not have been able to cope, particularly hospitals with significant numbers of staff ill themselves.

It may well be that had Mr Collings himself become seriously ill with the virus, he would have regarded it as a fair exchange for his precious freedom and been content to go home and die.

But many wouldn’t and any government that sat on its hands and allowed the spectacle of hospitals turning away desperately ill people for lack of beds or capacity to treat them to unfold daily on our TV screens would have faced a civil insurrection.

As for Mr Collings’ suggestion that this is Mother Nature’s way of organising a cull of the old and the infirm, would he have said the same of the Black Death and subsequent outbreaks of plague? The Spanish flu? Diphtheria, smallpox, polio? Would he have stood by as millions died and said: “Don’t worry, it’s Mother Nature’s way.”

I hold no brief for the Government’s performance in dealing with this horror story, which has been lamentable in many respects.

But the idea that it should simply have invited the population to observe social distancing and self-isolation and the other measures if they felt like it so that Mr Collings could have arranged to meet Lord Sumption in the pub to discuss the sacred nature of liberty sticks in the throat somewhat. — Yours faithfully.

Tom Fort

Wood Lane, Sonning Common

We’re being brainwashed

Sir, — It was with a huge sense of relief that I read the letters from Philip Collings and Rolf Richardson (Standard, June 19).

It was cathartic to realise that I am not the only person in the locality that questions the conflicting “guidelines” we have been living under for the past three months — and to severely criticise this inept government for perpetrating untold misery and harm on every UK citizen.

Mr Collings summed up the situation with admirable clarity and in precise detail and my heart rejoiced when I read the following statement in Mr Richardson’s letter: “Perhaps the worst effect of this tragedy is that we have been BRAINWASHED (my capitals) into a paranoia that will be difficult to eradicate.”

It is certainly obvious that there are still a number of people who live under an umbrella of fear.

To reassert Mr Collings’ statement: “A life without some risk is no life at all.”

May I suggest that people stop watching the constant slogans that appear on the TV screen all day, every day, and are also broadcast on radio stations throughout each and every day.

Appendix B of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies meeting on March 22, where the subject under discussion was “Options for increasing adherence to social distancing measures” contains an “APEASE (Acceptability, Practicality, Effectiveness, Affordablility, Spillover effects, Equity) evaluation grid for options to rapidly increase general social distancing”.

Option 2 in that grid reads “Use media to increase sense of personal threat.” If this doesn’t constitute brainwashing, I don’t know what does.

It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to be so easily taken in by this fear-driven campaign and start to ask real questions about what and why. — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Moola

Sonning Common

Respect for our teachers

Sir, — Dan Herbert, chair of governors at Valley Road School, rightly drew our attention to the outstanding role played by teachers during the coronavirus pandemic in continuing the education of our children and the huge support they have had from parents (Standard, June 12).

We have had a similar experience at Rupert House School, where teachers and parents have been working closely together to ensure remote learning successfully maintained academic standards.

We were delighted that the Government has allowed us to welcome all children back into school this week, a critical step for the social and mental wellbeing of pupils and their families ahead of the long summer break.

We are slowly returning to normal, a cautious step at a time.

Teachers deserve huge respect and all our thanks for their magnificent efforts at personal risk to themselves. They have worked tirelessly for the benefit of those they care about so passionately — our children.

Our schools have an important role to play in ensuring Henley continues to be a vibrant community and an attractive place to live for young families.

There is much to learn from the pandemic and we have a common interest in working together as schools and with our fantastic local performing arts organisations, sports clubs and others to help get the town back on its feet. — Yours faithfully,

Charles Lowe

Chair of governors, Rupert House School, Henley

Act before it’s too late

This an open letter to John Howell.

“Dear Mr Howell,

“Yesterday (Thursday) the Government advisory committee on climate change was due to deliver its progress report to Parliament, saying that the Government is failing in its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, a target already dangerously late.

“Humanity is facing a crisis unprecedented in its history, one that will have vastly more far-reaching and serious long-term health and economic consequences than the coronavirus pandemic: the climate and ecological emergency.

“Scientists and economists predict that it will lead to the displacement, suffering and death of people in biblical proportions around the world. As Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned: ‘The future of the human race is now at stake.’

“This is why Extinction Rebellion Henley chose to take climate action yesterday. We are lawyers, accountants, engineers, scientists, teachers, students, psychologists. We are parents, foster parents and grandparents. We care about our planet and our community. We love our children and we want to do everything we can to protect those we love.

“To this end, we are asking you, as our elected representative in Parliament, to urgently support a green and just recovery plan. The recovery cannot be a return to ‘business as usual’, it must be guided by adherence to public health and scientific expertise.

“What will our legacy be? How do we want our children to remember our contribution at this critical crossroads? History will judge us all for our actions now.

“Let’s listen to the science: Scientists have long warned of another looming coronavirus pandemic following SARS in 2003 and yet we failed to set up sufficient defences against similar viruses.

“The Government’s failure — against the weight of scientific evidence — to test, trace and isolate earlier has cost thousands of lives.

“Covid-19 has starkly demonstrated the interconnected nature of the natural world, human health and the economy: without a healthy ecology and stable climate, there is no economy.

“Let’s listen to the science: You say that 2050 is not too late to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Yet this flies in the face of the scientific evidence before us. If we go above 1.5C warming we will set off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control, pushing climate systems further into chaos and devastating lives.

“By the end of the century, taking into account climate policies that were already in place in December, climate models predict that we are heading towards an average global temperature rise of 3C, with a significant chance of hitting 4C. A target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 gives us alarmingly low odds of limiting heating to 1.5C. Are we prepared to risk these odds for our children?

“Professor Will Steffan, director of the Australian National University Climate Change Institute, warns: ‘There is a growing sense of panic in those who really understand what a 4C world might be like.’

“Two recent scientific reports specifically urge a much more urgent target date than 2050. The more urgently we act to mitigate the disaster, the less catastrophic the consequences will be. Delay will only mean much more difficult and costly actions will have to be taken as time passes and some possibilities for mitigating disaster will have been lost altogether.

“Let’s listen to the experts: Government inaction on the climate and ecological emergency is an existential threat to civilisation. In February, a hard-hitting report from JP Morgan economists warned that human life ‘as we know it’ could be threatened by climate change and that without action being taken there could be ‘catastrophic outcomes’.

“Professor Joseph Stiglitz, economist and recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has cautioned: ‘The climate emergency is our third world war. Our lives and civilization as we know it are at stake, just as they were in the Second World War.’

“Fatih Birol, one of the world’s foremost energy experts and executive director of the International Energy Agency, recently warned that the world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis.

“We must act now to radically transform our economy and the way we live: ‘Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.’ (Mark Carney). More than 200 top UK firms and investors recently said ministers should use the recovery from lockdown as a ‘springboard’ to a green economy.

“Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, said recently: ‘If this recovery is to be sustainable — if our world is to become more resilient — we must do everything in our power to promote a green recovery.’

“Let’s listen to the voters: Public opinion is in favour of a green recovery. A recent study suggested 62 per cent of people (and also 62 per cent of Conservative voters) would prefer a recovery that prioritises the environment to one which prioritises the economy.

“We are asking you to do everything possible to ensure that:

• The Government publicly commits to following the recommendations from its own advisors, the committee on climate change.

• The Government follows the recommendation of the Institute for Public Policy Research’s social justice commission to have a national net zero delivery plan which is centred around a ‘just transition’ (i.e. one that also focuses on social justice).

• Any recovery package is consistent with the Government’s stated aim of keeping global heating below 1.5C (including revisiting the 2050 target date) and include the largest possible investment in zero carbon infrastructure and the restoration of nature.

• There are no more bail-outs for airlines, fossil fuel companies and other polluting industries without strict conditions.

“We are sure you will agree that our responsibilities to future generations and the living world at large require us to act with the utmost energy and urgency to respond to this emergency, as current public opinion increasingly emphasises.

“We urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the UK becomes a global leader at the forefront of the new opportunities, including more than a million new jobs, for example, retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, across the country and promoting our expertise in technological innovation that will come with a green and just recovery.

“The UK can play a leading global role, particularly at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, by demonstrating what needs and can be done.

“We implore you to show leadership, act decisively, listen to expert evidence and not to let the lessons learned from the current covid-19 crisis go to waste. In December, you said that you would fight for your constituency and one of your top priorities was climate change: the time to fight is now.” — Yours faithfully,

Kate Oldridge

On behalf of Extinction Rebellion Henley

Prove your credentials

Sir, — I would earnestly hope that the Lib-Democrat/Green coalition running South Oxfordshire District Council lives up to its name and aspirations for a more sustainable and economical future and scales back the proposed £18million council headquarters to take into account the proven benefits of home-working that have been demonstrated over the lockdown period.

I am also assuming that at some point the “commercially sensitive” cost will be disclosed to us given that, as council taxpayers, we are funding it.

One thing is fairly certain though — that is whatever the scheduled cost ends up being, the actual cost will be much higher at the end of the project once the council officials and councillors have finished tinkering with it and adding on many “nice-to-have” items at our expense. — Yours faithfully,

Garry Forster

Goring Heath

In praise of hedgerows

Sir, — I have to respond to P Butler, of Shiplake, (Standard, June 19). There are no big hedges, or at least none that I’ve spotted.

Things have changed for the better and there are wonderful sights to behold. The drive from Caversham to Henley is marvellous. We see poppies, mallow, mullein and hemlock along the roadsides.

I could not award a moment’s interest in gazing at a sterile field of pesticide and herbicide-treated wheat, barley or rapeseed.

I have never seen a sycamore along the road as described.

Hedgerows, especially those now being planted or enhanced to replace those grubbed up in the past, provide an incredible amount of cover, food and nesting sites for birds.

They do not “stifle” wildflowers at all. Indeed, they provide an ideal environment for flowering plants to thrive.

Roadside hedging also provides a “green” corridor that allows animals to travel in safety and brave birds to nest as well as being a pleasure to the eye.

I, for one, have not lost any lovely views. My fiancée and I travel along the same roads that P Butler seems to know so well.

Span Hill is as lovely as ever. We see everything, right into the far distance. The hedging is not high and who on earth wants to see a “chugging” train anyway?

The footpaths are dry. I can see all around.

May I suggest that your correspondent leaves the apparently diminutive car behind and take a walk but then he perhaps does not like wildlife and would rather live in a treeless, boring, flat landscape.

Hedges absorb and do not “trap” pollution. We need more of them and trees right now, more than ever. — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Henley Road, Caversham

Improve your TV reception

Sir, — Replying to recent letters on difficulties with the Henley TV transmitter, we found there is sometimes a simple solution to dealing with these problems — retune your aerial to a different transmitter.

In Henley, there is usually the option of retuning to the Hannington transmitter (in north Hampshire).

Hannington is a “full service” Freeview transmitter which operates at 50 or 25kw, whereas Henley is a small, local transmitter which has only 20W.

Retuning involves getting an aerial installer to redirect your existing aerial towards Hannington and turning it through 90 degrees.

Then your TV or set-top box must be retuned to match the new channels. Hannington provides many more channels whereas Henley only has a limited set.

We did this four years ago and have had no problems at all. You have to receive BBC South instead of London, so local news programmes are slightly different.

There may be a few places in Henley where it’s more difficult to receive Hannington with your existing aerial but a good aerial installer will know from experience what’s possible and you may benefit from an aerial amplifier or, in extreme cases, a better aerial. — Yours faithfully,

Chris Bennell

Deanfield Road, Henley

This Legion doing well

Sir, — Despite the sad demise of the Harpsden branch of the Royal British Legion (Standard, June 19), the Henley and Peppard branch would like to assure your readers that we are alive and well.

The local membership continues to increase, partly due to its monthly programme of speakers and lunches at the Christ Church Centre.

To be a member it is not necessary to have been in the military but simply to be someone who enjoys meeting like-minded people for conversation and company.

The only prerequisite is to agree with the Legion’s main purpose to honour our armed forces and their contribution to our freedom through remembrance and support of the Poppy Appeal.

Recently energetic members of the branch have fundraised by sky-diving with the Red Devils, taking part in the Nijmegen Marches in Holland and climbing in Ethiopia, raising more than £10,000 in the process.

All three of Henley’s cadet units are affiliated to the branch as is the Aliquando choir (with many branch members within its ranks) whose unforgettable concert commemorating the centenary of the end of the Second World War in Europe was a huge success.

If you would like to know how we extend the hand of friendship, especially in these difficult times, please check out our website, www.rbl-henley.org

Until meetings can resume (for which transport can be arranged for anyone unable to attend under their own steam), our quarterly newsletter and phone conversations between friends help to bring everyone together. So come and join us, what’s not to like?

We normally meet on the third Monday of each month in the company of local residents, making a contribution to our town past, present and future.

For more information, call membership secretary Mollie Jeffrey on 07768 851615. Thank you. — Yours faithfully,

John Green

Chairman, Henley and Peppard branch, Royal British Legion, Maidensgrove

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