Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Your letters...

Climate lobby scare stories

Sir, — Extinction Rebellion’s claim that wind power could subsidise other energy is preposterous.

Whatever figures given for the example sale price of power, they bear no resemblance to the true costs of so-called renewable energy.

Perversely, they prove my point. Renewable subsidies already cost consumers more than £10 billion a year. According to data from the Office for Budget Responsibility, direct subsidies to renewables, as well as the climate change levy and the EU emission trading scheme, will cost consumers about £15billion over the coming year. Conversely, carbon taxes are levied on coal and gas power.

One leading supplier of electricity for commercial consumers estimates low-carbon policy costs account for about 40 per cent of a typical bill to their customers. To these extraordinary costs should be added grid costs for windmill/solar power transmission, plus replacement and disposal costs.

Why do you think China and India are building all those coal-fired generators, if renewables are so cheap? Germany has just opened its latest coal power plant and Japan is ready to build 22.

Those attending the recent Henley climate demo appear not to have heard that the wheels are falling off the global warming alarmist scam, with its green energy obsession. This is due to the constant drip-feed propaganda from the left wing BBC and other MSM outlets and the censoring of any facts that go against this belief.

It goes a long way to explaining the increasingly shrill and deranged behaviour of the true believers of climate disaster, who see this as blasphemy to their religion, or the Marxists who see it as a means of destroying Western democracy, or the crony global capitalists and climate academics who fear their government grants drying up.

Within the last month, a number of prominent icons of the green movement have changed their minds, having seen what damage the environmental movement is doing.

There is the Michael Moore movie, Planet of the Humans, removed by YouTube after protests by Hollywood’s green lobby, then reinstated after free-speech protests. It blows the lid on the ecological carnage being done by so-called green energy.

Other examples are the publication of Bjorn Lomborg’s book False Alarm and the resignation of Zion Lights, the XR spokesperson who has left to lobby for nuclear energy.

Most significant is the very public apology of famous environmental activist Michael Shellenberger, someone with cast-iron climate credentials.

Quoting from his statement in Forbes magazine (before they censored/removed it): “On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years.

“Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.”

He explains the reasons for his about-face, too lengthy to reproduce here, but can easily be looked up.

He concludes: “Until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist.

“For years, I referred to climate change as an ‘existential’ threat to human civilization, and called it a ‘crisis’ but mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences.

“And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.”

Those attending the Henley demo claimed to be doing so out of care and love for the planet and their fellow humans but have no compunction in scaring the wits out of our children and grandchildren or promoting windmills, storage batteries and solar panels, whose requirement for rare earth minerals are destroying the lives of children in Africa and elsewhere, forced by poverty to work in appallingly dangerous and unhealthy conditions. That is happening now and is no exaggeration.

Poverty forced on them by the World Bank and other agencies who insist on only allowing loans and grants for Mickey Mouse green energy schemes, rather than the fossil fuel based economy that would allow them to industrialise and produce real jobs, that will give them dignity and an appreciation of their own countries.

Anyone who thinks the UK can have a zero carbon dioxide future in the next five years or thirty years, is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Some examples of many: just who exactly is going to provide the billions to replace all those millions of gas boilers, the huge diesel farm equipment and ships with electric power and the diesel substitute back-up for unstable intermittent wind and solar energy?

Nuclear is the only partial answer but environmentalists have been working to block that since the Sixties.

Yet they get hysterical about fracking, which despite fake news, has a commendable safety record and harms no one.

The other puzzling thing is that if they truly believe what they preach, they would immediately divest themselves of their own cars, including electric, as only a small amount is currently generated from renewables.

They would throw away their fossil fuel based mobile phones and anything made of plastic, no longer use the energy gulping internet, downsize their way of life, live in freezing winter conditions and never take foreign holidays or attend international climate jamborees, via private jet, and only eat their own home grown food.

But, of course, for the comfortable middle class, professional, Left-leaning true believers, it is other people who are expected to do all that. — Yours faithfully,

M Reid


Make culprit pay for clean

Editor, — Like many of your readers, I always enjoy the letters pages, even if many contributions are overlong and over political.

Veronica Carlton asked who had sprayed “No going back” on the pavements of Henley (Standard, July 3), which I agree must have been done by mindless lunatics with no respect for the town.

Whoever it was should be reported to, if not the police, then the council, so they can pay for the clean-up.

Bill Weaver

Ash Copse, Dunsden

Shame on the PM

Sir, — I would like to offer John Howell the opportunity to use your columns to apologise for Boris Johnson’s slur on care workers. In case he suggests the Prime Minister was misunderstood, what he said was: “Too many [care] homes didn’t really follow the procedures [on tackling coronavirus] in the way they could have.”

This was an utterly shameful slap in the face for people who put their lives on the line to help many who suffered and died because of the Government’s failure to act in time and its encouragement of hospitals to release patients into care homes without adequate testing.

It has been roundly condemned by the medical and caring professions.

People in Henley turned out to clap the very people the Prime Minister attacked. Where do you stand, Mr Howell? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Luff

St Mark’s Road, Henley

Here’s some reassurance

Editor, — I sincerely hope that the letter from Adrian Vanheems (Standard, July 3) was meant to be some sort of sick joke.

Unfortunately, I do not think this is the case, so may I explain:

1. Most importantly, it is absolutely untrue (and always has been) that anyone unlucky enough to be hospitalised with covid-19 would be refused treatment on the basis of age.

What an appalling suggestion that the excellent NHS would behave in this way. This has never been the case — people have to be assessed before being put on ventilators because some are so weak that their bodies could not cope but this is done on the basis of frailty.

It’s true that early on there was a shortage of ventilators but this is most certainly not the case now.

2. UK life expectancy for men is age 71 and for a women 86. (According to the Office of National Statistics.)

So Mr Vanheems can expect more than the four to five years he predicts. (I am a woman aged 70 and can expect/hope for at least 18 more years).

3. Mr Vanheems is not “imprisoned”, he is advised to take precautions to avoid catching the virus and this is what any sensible person will continue to do for the foreseeable future. This is not “hysteria” it’s simply common sense. My sympathy lies with all those younger people who are being asked to curtail their social activities to protect us “oldies”. The vast majority of them have behaved wonderfully and this seems to have gone largely unappreciated.

Please can you publish this letter (and any other information you may have) to reassure people as there are a lot of very anxious and vulnerable (mentally) people out there who might read this letter and actually believe it. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Shankland


Thanks to covid group

Sir, — I am writing this letter because there has been a lot of praise (and rightly so) for the NHS.

But here in Henley there has been so much help during the lockdown for us living alone, some of us well over 70, from the Henley covid-19 mutual aid group.

I understand that they are local people who have distributed valuable numbers of telephone helplines and have been so wonderful in visiting us lonely, and in my case depressed, people on a regular basis, helping with shopping or just being there to give a lovely cheerful check-up.

I am an artist and have been a long member of the Henley Arts and Crafts Guild and many other art societies. Not only have all their events been cancelled but also yoga sessions and Pilates etc. too.

So thanks to this covid group, which has helped me over many lonely times. I hope this letter will say thanks to them from many of us. Again, thank you all. — Yours faithfully,

Belinda Fitzwilliams


Generous chippy men

Sir, — I think it would be nice to bring to the notice of Henley the wonderful service the two gentlemen in the K’s fish shop in King’s Road, Henley, who have provided hot meals to the public from day one of the lockdown, seven days a week.

They have also provided free meals for NHS staff (there’s a notice in their window). No doubt, in due course, the NHS will thank them for their kindness and generosity during these trying times. Thank you. — Yours faithfully,

D R Boulton

Mount View, Henley

Disorderly shoppers

Oh dear Tesco. What have you done?

You had an efficient, safe, orderly way of shopping. It flowed and the social distancing was kept down to a minimum.

Having taken away the one-way system, it is now chaos. People are not social distancing, they are moving up and down the aisle, across them. Not a safe pleasant shopping experience.

Please bring back the safe one-way route. — Yours faithfully,

Kevin Nutt

South View Avenue, Caversham

Grateful for generosity

Sir, — We are writing to say thank you to all supporters of our recent Thames Valley Air Ambulance plant sale in Binfield Heath which raised an incredible £756. This donation has the potential to purchase a suction unit, which would assist a patient’s breathing.

Each year we organise a plant sale but given the coronavirus pandemic, we were uncertain how well it would be attended and the funds we could raise for this crucial organisation.

Needless to say, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of visitors and neighbours. We were sorry it had to be a self-service event but everyone seemed to enjoy finding their plants and mastered the social distancing extremely well.

Hopefully, our next sale will be less constrictive.

It is important to note that the air ambulance confirm that during the coronavirus pandemic, they continue to provide prehospital critical care service across the Thames Valley.

During April and May, they supported their NHS colleagues with their paramedics and doctors working a total of 616 hours at the John Radcliffe Hospital, the main regional covid-19 centre, and their crew spent 276 hours on shift available to provide patient service transfer between hospitals to avoid them being overwhelmed.

Your support during this particularly difficult time has made a huge difference. We look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks again. — Yours faithfully,

Robin, Nigel and Stephen Head

Binfield Heath

Support our local pubs

Sir, — It is great that our pubs are now able to re-open.

It is even more remarkable that nearly all of our local pubs in the Henley and wider South Oxfordshire area re-opened on July 4, or will do soon after, and it has been wonderful to see these much-loved local pubs re-open their doors.

However, your local needs your help. If you are able to, please support them during this period of re-opening as the licensees have worked extremely hard in recent weeks to make sure they are complying with all the regulations and guidance to open their pubs responsibly and make them a safe and enjoyable experience.

For many pubs, the opening hours may be limited to start with and bookings will likely be needed for tables inside the pub. although maybe not for the outside spaces.

The South Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has established, and is maintaining, a directory of the operating details of all the pubs in this area.

We are keeping this as a live document and updating it as frequently as we can at https://soxon.camra.org.uk

Do check the links for each pub to find out further information on how each pub is operating.

Several of our pubs have also been providing alternative services during the lockdown period, such as food and/or drinks takeaway, off-sales or home delivery services and, in some cases, providing groceries, fresh produce and other essential provisions.

Many of the pubs providing these services are continuing to do so, even as they re-open, for those people unable to visit the pubs directly. These pubs are also identified in the directory, together with the latest details of the service.

Please do what you can to support our local pubs, breweries and taprooms as they come out of lockdown. — Yours faithfully,

Graham Hards

Chair, South Oxfordshire Branch, Campaign for Real Ale, Tokers Green Lane, Tokers Green

Safer, quieter, cleaner town

Sir, — I live in Northfield End and walk through Henley every day.

What is clear from the many recent letters is that the speed limit is rarely kept to, that it matters deeply to us residents and that the police cannot or will not allocate resources to speed enforcement.

With this uncontrolled speed comes the daily danger to us all, the wall of noise and the contaminated air. It seems to me we have three options:

1. Live with it. Keep living on a racetrack.

2. Make the current system work, have speed enforcement in Henley every week by the police. However, the police say that they cannot deliver this.

3. Find another solution. Make it work for Henley. Why don’t we use modern technology to provide speed enforcement?

Clear signs that stating all vehicle speeds in Henley (and the villages around and arterial roads) is monitored, a small number of discreet cameras, speeds checked and fines issued for speeding drivers.

This would very quickly pay for itself and the surplus could be reinvested in our community.

Let’s make our beautiful town and surroundings safer, quieter, cleaner, more pleasant — better in every way. — Your faithfully,

Simon Paine

Northfield End, Henley

Think about pedestrians

I am a resident of Henley, who needs to use a mobility scooter.

I am appalled by the lack of thought and consideration by the residents of Clarence Road.

I attended a hospital appointment at Townlands Memorial Hospital.

On my way, I was greeted by residents’ cars parked on the public footpath and their wheelie bins leaving no access for my scooter.

Because of the obstruction I had to go out into the road, which resulted in a car nearly hitting me.

This was due to a large flatbed van blocking the view of cars coming down the hill.

I nearly fell from my scooter due to me having to go down a high uneven kerb.

I was very shaken after this but the hospital staff were very helpful in calming me down.

I believe this is a regular occurrence and, if not addressed, will result in a very nasty accident in the future.

I would appreciate this being investigated and highlighted in your paper to make people aware of the danger it is causing. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Reconsider cycling ban

Sir, — Since time immemorial pedestrians and cyclists have shared the Thames Path amicably. These days are now over, with Mill Meadows brandishing large “no cycling” signs.

The trigger for this was a rogue cyclist, who knocked down a pedestrian, followed by heated words and a scuffle, but no serious injury.

I’ve cycled the Thames Path for 55 years because it was safe, which public roads are not. The government is trying to encourage cycling, both for exercise and to reduce the use of cars.

The Thames Path, with its generous open space, is tailor-made for this. Yet Henley, with all of 50 yards dedicated cycle track, is going in the opposite direction.

Surely the sensible reaction to this isolated incident would have been to charge the cyclist with assault, not ban Mill Meadows to all of us.

In recent months we’ve been hit by an unprecedented number of prohibitions and now we have yet another. The British tradition of tolerance and common sense is no more. Or am I a lone voice in the wilderness? I wrote to the mayor about this and he has asked me to quote his reply. – Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road, Henley

Councillor Ken Arlett, Mayor of Henley, replies: “I think the majority of people would wish to see more people on bicycles. You may have seen recently the reduction to 20mph in certain areas of Henley? This is for both cyclists and pedestrian safety. There is also a scheme being put forward by Stefan Gawrysiak through the town council’s transport study working group for two cycle routes across town north to south.

The paths by the river are, as originally stated, “tow paths”, where boats were towed by horses. Basically, they are footpaths now and not cycle tracks.

I accept you may have been using the footpaths as a cycle track for 55 years and I am sure you are careful, but unfortunately not everyone has your respect.

There are now many more people using the footpaths, and many more cyclists that seem to disrespect speed and safety. Three weeks ago a town council employee was knocked down by a cyclist at Mill Meadows. The cyclist just seemed to be travelling too fast and also using a mobile phone, paying little or no notice of anyone else.

The cyclist, who came off his bike, decided to get up and throw a punch at our employee, hitting him in the face. Hence, we will be enforcing no cycling on the town’s footpaths for the safety of walkers.”

Political posturing

Dear Sir, — I am writing to express my disappointment with the article relating to our council meetings (Standard, July 3).

Our council had to revert to working from home with no notice and put significant resources into the vital community support work to protect our most vulnerable residents when they were most at need.

As soon as we were able, we set up our online remote meeting processes to allow our decision-making process to begin.

For a short period of time, it has meant external contributions to meetings have had to be made in writing rather than in person because we needed to find ways to adapt our software and procedures to securely bring external representatives into the meeting — a problem faced by many similar organisations.

Of course, we would rather contributions were made in person, but the request from government was to keep the planning process running by making whatever adjustments were necessary to do this and avoid a build-up of outstanding applications.

We therefore had to move forward on that basis, rather than being able to pause for a short period of time to develop a secure technical solution and procedures to allow external contributions made in person.

Regrettably, when the previous administration outsourced the council’s IT service to Capita, they did not include provision for technology that would enable us to broadcast meetings — a rather curious omission given their recent protestations of a desire for greater transparency.

Like so many other areas across the council, this lack of foresight now has to be addressed by the new Liberal Democrat and Green partnership.

I comprehensively reject the notion that the changes made to our online meetings were in any way an attempt to restrict or silence contributions. I find it wholly disingenuous of those quoted in the article to imply this, knowing full well the challenges we faced, and knowing full well that we are less than a week away from testing a solution that will allow external representatives like parish councils to again speak at our meetings.

If things go well, we will be rolling this out before the end of this month as it will be considered by full council when it meets on July 16.

I am also disappointed that the councillors quoted have failed to mention the joint letter, from myself and all political group leaders, to the secretary of state requesting that he temporarily remove the need for us to meet statutory planning targets and adjust the five- year housing land supply requirements during the period of the covid-19 crisis.

This request was made specifically so that we could ensure that we are able to pause planning applications for a very short period of time whilst we transitioned to virtual meetings without the risk of speculative development but, regrettably, despite it being supported by many town and parish councils, the Secretary of State did not agree to it.

In fact, the Secretary of State did not even respond, and instead continued to insist that the continued granting of planning consents and building of homes across so much of our country was prioritised even during lockdown.

This required some local authorities to delegate all of their planning decisions to officers — something we’ve been able to avoid thanks to the quick way in which our administration led the set up of our online meeting process.

Doing so has meant we have been able to maintain democratic accountability within our planning process and we believe asking parish councils and others to contribute in writing rather than in person for a very short period of time, while not ideal, was a reasonable request to help us avoid a return to wide spread speculative development that blighted our district only a few years ago.

All of the changes that have been made to facilitate online meetings and procedures were introduced with a commitment to review them within six months — it is a great regret to me that the changes to the planning process that the Secretary of State intends to introduce, which will increase permitted development and further reduce democratic decision making, will be subject to no such review.

The voice of our towns and parishes matters and this administration listens. We listened when residents, towns and parishes asked us to reconsider the emerging Local Plan, yet at the stroke of a pen the Secretary of State removed from councillors and residents the ability to do this.

Where, I ask myself, were the voices of councillors Snowden and Newton when the administration reached out to all parties on the council seeking their support for a cross-party approach to the Secretary of State that he reconsider his position and allow local residents and local councillors to express their views?

Although perhaps the answer to that question is no surprise, they are of course members of the party that believes the answer to a worldwide pandemic is to “build, build, build”.

A “power grab” has indeed been made on the planning powers that I believe should be vested in locally elected South Oxfordshire District Councillors — although it was not made by this council or by this administration, but by the Conservative Secretary of State when he issued his direction on March 3 regarding our local plan. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Anne-Marie Simpson

Cabinet Member for Planning, South Oxfordshire District Council

Applaud our councillors

Dear Sir, — Let’s hear it for town, district and county councillors who work their socks off for no salary.

The letter last week criticising three town councillors for failing to wear masks as they discussed the operation of the town bus service makes me wonder why community leaders are not treated with generosity, and respect.

Some years ago, there was great glee as the then mayor was caught sticking her car into the loading bays in Bell Street as she nipped into Sainsburys — something the majority of Henley car owners have done.

Town, district and county councillors work tirelessly for no salary whatsoever. Holes in the road get fixed, children's play areas get created and riverside beauty spots cleared of the rubbish we can’t be bothered to take home.

Even your august organ trumpets on the front page a complaint against a town councillor, but two weeks later assigns the exoneration of that councillor to page two.

Henley has a cinema, a wonderful pedestrianised central square, and a hospital (of sorts) because local councillors gave their time and worked tirelessly for the community.

It's about time they were shown respect and gratitude. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher


Support for travellers

Dear Sirs, — I was disappointed to read the rather loaded language you used when describing the recent arrival of travellers in Henley. I appreciate you need to sell newspapers and grab people’s attention, but does no-one ever stop to think that these visitors are people too?

Can you imagine how it must feel to be relentlessly chased away from one town or village to the next?

Henley considers itself a welcoming town and is lamenting the absence the Regatta (where visitors can often be seen drinking their own weight in booze and depositing the same across street corners in the town). Yet when people whose way of life involves travelling turn up, the council takes action to prevent them from entering any green spaces.

You quoted the Mayor as saying the travellers had been “friendly enough” and Deputy Mayor said “they are very nice…” Why then, is the appropriate course of action to hire a private security firm from Bristol to move them on (from Henley, then Shiplake, then Chalkhouse Green and who knows where after that)? If people are nice, should there not be some degree of reciprocation?

Giving people a life of being constantly moved from unwelcoming town to unwelcoming town is not a solution.

If people want to travel, let them travel and make it easier from them to do so. The idea that this would lead to an invasion of our towns and villages is farcical. You don’t need to understand other people’s culture and way of life, just let them live it.

In failing to provide adequate spaces for temporary stop-overs, it would seem a central part of travellers’ culture is being criminalised. That is both a failure of society and an act of inhumanity. — Yours faithfully,

Charles Calderbank

Binfield Heath

Unwelcome distraction

I am a registered disabled person and one of the few things I can do when I feel well enough is ride a quiet horse along a country lane. It’s a distraction from constant pain.

On Saturday we were forced off the road by travellers hurtling down a single track road, we were trapped between a gate and the sides of caravans. We shouted at them to slow down and all they did was blow horns, horses terrified, riders terrified, police called, after a 10 -minute wait to speak to someone I was informed that they were receiving multiple complaints about the dangerous driving.

Speaking to a friend later about the incident they said their children had to dive into a hedge to avoid being run down by them.

I have asked Thames Valley Police to tell me what action they are taking, as yet they haven’t responded. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address witheld

‘Balance’ for some maybe

Sir, — I was disappointed to read both Douglas Kedge’s letter headlined “Qualifying ‘balance’” (Standard, June 26) and Jeanne Nichols’ response the following week.

Ms Nichols states that Cecil Rhodes “introduced education to Africa”.

I echo Ian Reissmann’s letter — it is such statements which demonstrate perfectly the need for a balancing of education.

What Ms Nichols fails to note is that this education was delivered from a perspective of racial superiority freely admitted by Mr Rhodes.

It is just one of the UK’s colonial projects which has added to the historical narrative of whiteness as dominant, causing far-reaching, damaging consequences for the colonised communities they sought to educate and people of colour in the UK today.

Mr Kedge expressed his concern that the positive impact of colonialism will become a “footnote” in the attempt to balance the teaching on Empire.

I can understand that the introduction of a balanced narrative may create a sense of anxiety for those who have benefited from centuries of white privilege, a sense that tipping the scales away from this dominance represents a kind of erasure.

However, surely to create balance, there is a certain amount of counterbalancing required.

As white individuals privileged by centuries of colonial dominance (of which I am one), it is crucial to introduce diverse voices into education, work to understand our unconscious biases and introduce an element of humility to our sense of patriotism.

Recognising that the UK’s behaviour on the world stage has often been inadequate is not an attack on our national identity but a form of growth. — Yours faithfully,

Elizabeth Crowdy

Station Road, South Wimbledon

Appalling oversight

Sir, — With reference to my previous letter, I could have sworn I wrote “sub-saharan” African civilisations — as this is what I was replying to.

Somehow, what I could have sworn I wrote, doesn’t appear to appear in what I sent.

Northern African ancient civilisations of course existed. The Egyptians and Abyssinian/Ethiopians are famous examples of such. I apologise to everyone for this appalling oversight. — Yours faithfully,

Simon Brickhill

Goring Heath

Time for free discussion

Sir, — The group of university students who projected images in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Henley town hall (Standard, July 10) included the image “Silence is Violence”. They are right. One is reminded of the saying that it only requires good people to remain silent for evil to flourish.

However, silence can operate in more than one direction. One of the students involved is quoted as saying “the UK is a racist country”. This is a controversial statement, much depending upon degree, which one is perfectly entitled to express, but those who disagree with the student and say so are all too often “cancelled” as being “racist”, with no further discussion. Silence is demanded from dissenters, frequently in an intimidating way.

I suggest the following points for example, might be the basis for a free, calm, rational discussion between all sides:

1. Where racism exists, and it does, what further steps need to be taken to stop it?

2. Is the slogan Black Lives Matter racially exclusive? Do not “All Lives Matter” in every area of society?

3. Are there racist attitudes between the minority ethnic groups in this country? If so, should these be addressed?

4. Is it correct to claim, for example, that the over-representation of black people in our prisons is the result of a racist legal system? Could there be other possible reasons that should be discussed?

5. Would it be helpful for social advancement on every front if all our under-privileged young people, whatever their ethnicity, were expected to be self-disciplined, were taught to speak clear, received English and conform to the social norms of a cohesive society? — Yours faithfully,

Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Trees should be protected

Dear Sir, — It is disappointing that housing development plans have been submitted for Parkside in woodland with a preservation order on it.

This woodland forms an attractive entrance to Henley down Gravel Hill. In fact, it is probably the best example of woodland in Henley.

Even if only a few trees are removed, the integrity of the wood is lost and any remaining trees are at risk.

I have inspected the wood. It contains a fine variety of trees and is excellent for much wildlife, both plants and animals.

I hope that our councillors and planning team will work hard to prevent this development.

At this time we need to preserve our trees not fell them. — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Henley tree warden, Berkshire Road, Henley

Introduce noise limits

Dear Sir, — During the last three months or so my wife and I, like many others in this beautiful county, have enjoyed the peace of the countryside. We have heard more skylarks than we can remember and the absence of aircraft noise has been wonderful.

Now, however, the ripping-calico sound of the stunt planes is back and is all the more shattering following the peace.

I took my guitar out into the garden this afternoon but I had only just started to play when a staggeringly loud biplane started performing stunts overhead. I could not even hear my own playing, so gave up and took the guitar back into the house.

Now, some may say that was a relief for my neighbours, but this is my point. My “noise” only affected two or three people whereas the noise footprint of the stunt plane was probably a square mile or so — affecting some hundreds or even thousands of people. How is this fair, or even permissible? Surely there must be decibel limits for such aircraft, as there are for road vehicles. If not, why not?

If we had a vote on whether there should be strict noise limits on light aircraft, the number of people negatively impacted would surely hugely outweigh the number who enjoy throwing their toy around the sky.

Honestly, if the plane made no noise, would I have an objection? No, I might even enjoy watching and admiring the skill of the pilot. It is just the noise.

I would be very interested to know how many people share my feelings on this issue. — Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Smith

Goring Heath

Bring back singing

Sir, — As the co-founder and director of Nottakwire, Sonning Common, I wish to express my grave concerns about the most recent directives, which included “No singing”.

Nottakwire had reached its 10th birthday in early March, just before this ignominious lockdown was imposed. During the 10 years that our community singing group has been running, it has served both village and international charities, as well as charities such as Macmillan nurses, Comic Relief, the British Heart Foundation and others, with donations totalling £23,100.

The idea that singing is in some way more likely to spread (any) infection is, to my mind, a dubious one. What I do know is that when any of our members have had a cough, cold, chest infection — or any other kind of illness — they simply haven't attended singing sessions quite logically because they haven't felt well enough and they haven't wished to spread their germs to others.

Mature, responsible people, monitor their own health and activity and are quite able to make decisions about the appropriate actions to take, without any need for a directive telling them what they must and must not do.

I would be extremely interested to read in detail any scientific evidence available, that irrefutably confirms that the act of singing is any more likely than speech, to spread covid-19.

I seem to recall that at one stage we were informed that this particular virus is not airborne but is caught from infected droplets deposited on surfaces — hence the instruction to wash hands regularly.

Quite apart from anything else, people who are not happy to sing, will decide for themselves not to do it. Why are we allowing ourselves to be treated (to quote Philip Collings’ expression in the edition of July 10) like “sheeple”? If anyone is able to provide the scientific evidence to answer my question, I will be most obliged to them - and will read and digest it thoroughly.

However, I do wish to postulate the following: Singing together is one of the most emotionally satisfying and enjoyable activities that can be undertaken. The camaraderie, friendship, social interaction and support has been critical for the continued wellbeing of (our) largely elderly membership.

Feelings of wellbeing that occur during and following a singing session, release endorphins which boost the immune system and there have been cases of measurable improvements in breathing and lung capacity for certain individuals who suffer with asthma and or general breathing problems.

Being part of a group of any kind is known to reduce social isolation, boost confidence, confirm individual value and strengthen feelings of belonging.

Singing with others of like mind, is altogether a therapeutic activity that brings emotional release for many - reducing stress levels and benefiting physical and emotional health in a wide variety of ways. There has been a huge amount of research confirming singing as good for physical, mental and emotional health. Is that why we’re not allowed to do it? — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Moola,

Co-founder and director, Nottakwire, Sonning Common

Brexit cost revealed

Sir, — The cost of Brexit is beginning to become apparent. For example, I read recently that the Financial Times estimates Customs clearances are going to cost businesses £7bn a year.

Some 50,000 customs staff are going to cost at least £3bn a year. Let’s call it a total of £10bn a year, or near enough the amount it was claimed could be given to the NHS, as a result of leaving the EU. That’s at least £192 million a week. Someone should write it on the side of a bus.

Some of us warned of these huge costs on leaving but were told that it’s a price worth paying. What are we getting in exchange? A shattered economy. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, but all will be revealed as the disaster unfolds. —Yours faithfully,

Richard Rule

Church Avenue, Henley

Chapel is open to all

Sir, — I would like to thank Victoria Page for her charming picture of Binfield Heath Church (Standard, July 3).

However, whoever told her the church was for members only is quite mistaken.

For all of its 185 years’ existence it has been open to all who wish to worship there and hear Christ’s message in God’s word, the Bible, preached.

During lockdown the ministry has continued on the church’s website and other forms of contact with the increasing congregation.

The new minister, Steve Palmer, who was only inducted in January, has met the challenge of recent months with vigour and initiative.

The church (known locally as “The Chapel”) re-opened from lockdown on July 12 with reduced capacity due to social distancing and fewer meetings on the premises for the time being. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Gaines

Elder, Binfield Heath Church

Sign project complete

Sir, — Your correspondent Hilary Beck-Burridge (Standard, January 17) drew attention to our Victorian terrace house name signs project and expressed the hope that Caxton Terrace (5-7 Station Road) was included on our “to do” list.

It wasn’t, but when we realised that we had missed it, we quickly inspected the site to find that the sign was on a third storey and would require scaffolding to effect a re-paint at a cost four times that of the sign itself. Completion of this sign was therefore out of our reach in more ways than one.

Then along came a knight in shining armour in the form of Murray Gale, of Southern Plant, Henley, who offered us the free-of-charge use of one of his cherry pickers, an offer we could not refuse. This enabled our master sign writer Brian Allum to access the sign and we hope that you like the finished product.

This completes our project, with a total of 19 signs completed (initial target 17). We could have completed three more signs but were unable to obtain permission to do the work from the house owners concerned.

We are grateful to all those who contributed in any way towards the projects success, our latest benefactor Murray Gale, our sponsors and donors, our society members, Henley town councillors, especially the Mayor Ken Arlett and councillors Kellie Hinton and Stefan Gawrysiak and, of course, the owners who gave us permission to work on their properties. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Luckett

On behalf of the executive committee, Henley Society

Thanks for helping me

Sir, — On Sunday, July 5, I was driving along Marlow Road to Henley in heavy traffic.

I had to be stationary approaching the Northfield End roundabout and, when I tried to move forward, the car suffered a malfunction and would not move out of park mode.

Seeing my dilemma, three or four wonderful young men who happened to be walking along, with their families, came to my aid, sorted out the gear box, to enable them to push my car so as not to cause an obstruction and left.

I would like to express my thanks to these “Good Samaritans” who were, I believe, staying at Swiss Farm. — Yours faithfully,

Anne Long

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley

Sign from elsewhere?

Editor, — With reference to the two letters about the Orchard Avenue name plate (Standard, June 26) the screws holding it on the fence are cross head and look new.

I know there is an Orchard Avenue in Sonning Common and wonder if that’s where it has come from. Maybe someone in Sonning Common might remember a street name plate going missing? — Yours faithfully,

Mike Hails


Childhood memories

Editor, — I have just seen Hidden Henley article on the brick and flint wall that runs along Fair Mile in Henley and thought you might be interested in the following.

I grew up in Fair Mile and the lovely brick and flint wall ran through our garden at Magnolia Cottage, with an elegant gap and gate going through to our paddock, which in turn opened on to the playing fields. Obviously a lot of our local friends also had the wall in their gardens.

As an interested teenager, I was told that it was constructed to give work to the poor people in Henley but that could have tied in with the Fawley connection.

There was, and still is, a wooden gate at the beginning of Fair Mile leading to a public footpath going up the hill to Henley Park.

I wonder how many people have noticed the little gravestone near the style dedicated to a loved marmoset? — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Beard

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Keep up the good work

Sir, — I’d like to give a shout out for all the team at the Henley Standard.

In the lockdown with all the worry and uncertainty around the one certain thing to look forward to each week was picking up the Henley Standard.

We always do the crossword so it was a lovely surprise each week to have more of those and puzzles to keep us occupied. I also enjoyed reading about all the different experiences of people’s lockdown time — so entertaining.

You always print interesting bits of news too. I loved the article and photo of the painting of Kitty Tait a couple of weeks ago. How incredibly talented Mark Draisey is.

But the feature I think I love most is Vincent Ruane’s Nature Notes. What a romantic chap he is and more so I think since finding Rosemary, clearly the love of his life!

His descriptions of where they have walked and the photos of all they have seen are so beautiful and imaginative that I often look them up on the map with the intention of doing some of them ourselves. Has he ever written a book of walks with illustrations I wonder? I would definitely buy a copy.

So thanks Henley Standard team — keep up the good work — we love you! — yours faithfully,

Leslie Maynerd


Please, no more poems

Sir, — Published poems in the letters section are the scourge of this newspaper.

Here is my response. — Yours faithfully,

Mayfield Rockwell

Fair Mile, Henley

Dear editor, please publish poems no more
They are, usually, rather a bore
The attempts at rhyming are always contrived
and meaning of language therefore deprived
of what could be said in a sentence of prose
where language and reason are better composed.
If it’s a question of education
writing poetry was not your vocation
If, at school, you had done English lit
Your poem may not have been such ****.

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