Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Your letters...

Sad to miss experience

I was saddened to read both Hugh Archibald’s letter concerning the withdrawal of the regatta boat tent area tickets for residents and Sir Steve Redgrave’s response (Standard, June 17).

I fondly remember the look of joy and excitement on my daughter’s and friends’ faces as they collected their badges and then mixed with crews, families and spectators as they embraced the whole atmosphere of regatta.

It was here that she got Steve Redgrave’s autograph (as he was then) and recognised other favourites as they launched and subsequently returned, usually victorious.

A week on Saturday she and another group of friends will once again return as stewards’ guests, as they have frequently done since that early welcoming experience.

I fully understand the safety and security issues but am sure there must be way of managing these that doesn’t result in the exclusion of those for whom the boat tent area is their only way of truly experiencing regatta at first hand. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Trethewey

Queen Street, Henley

How much for refurb?

Sir, — Having read about the re-opened public toilets in Greys Road car park in Henley (Standard, June 17), I thought I would pay them a visit.

For the reported £145,000 spent by South Oxfordshire District Council on refurbishment the old toilets and modifying the building to provide a rest room for car park staff and a storeroom for signage, I was expecting to find a luxurious, veritable cathedral of public sanitation with fittings inside made from the finest Italian marble with gold plated taps and door handles.

Instead, in the cubicle that was operational, was a bog-standard, vandal-proof stainless steel toilet, paper dispenser and washbasin built into a vandal-proof stainless steel wall panel at the back of the cubicle.

Grey plastic wall panels are provided at the sides — all typical of any motorway service station or public lavatory.

However, the toilet does automatically flush when the door is opened on leaving and there is a central drain in the floor, presumably for those who cannot aim.

For £145,000, at the very least I would have expected the toilets to be of the hi-tech robotic self-cleaning type.

So unless the other toilets are very different and the employee rest room incorporates a gym, sauna and buffet canteen, it is very hard to see how the cost of the project can be justified.

For this amount one could probably build a small house.

It is very difficult to see how the refurbishment could have cost more than £50,000 and it should probably have been done for very much less.

It looks very much like the council was grossly overcharged for the project.

I am all for councils spending money on public goods. However, it has to be spent wisely and the public has to receive value for their money.

It is claimed that the refurbishment of the toilets was needed because the existing one were smelly.

Perhaps in reality all that was really needed was for them to be frequently and thoroughly cleaned.

Well, I have news for the council. The newly refurbished toilet I saw smells, although not quite as much as the cost of the refurbishment project stinks. — Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Verge

Chestnut Close, Middle Assendon

We also need fresh water

Sir, — I said in a letter of December 10 that “when things were better” it would be possible to drink fresh water in the Greys Road car park outside the toilets.

With climate change leading probably to more frequent heatwaves and drought, it is arguably of greater importance to provide easy access to drinking water as well as acceptable toilets.

It is welcome that at last the toilets are now open as you reported last week with our South Oxfordshire district councillors Ken Arlett, Stefan Gawrysiak and Sue Cooper using it as a photo opportunity.

But for some of us, the old smelly toilets with drinking water freely available may be preferable to refurbished toilets with no drinking water. Our councillors have failed us so far.

Please put a fresh water drinking fountain outside the Greys Road car park toilets as a high-priority issue. And tell us about it! — Yours faithfully,

John Thornley

Makins Road, Henley

Is river safe to swim in?

Editor, — Last year I saw teenagers jumping from Sonning Bridge into the river.

Apart from the Thames being one of many rivers into which sewage is often pumped, presenting a health hazard, it is also used by boats of many sizes.

If the jumper lands on a boat passing under the bridge they are likely to sustain serious, possibly fatal, injuries.

If they bounce off it is very unlikely that they would be able to swim to the bank and climb out.

Then there is a craze for “wild” swimming — that is swimming in rivers and lakes. It is very unlikely that a lifeguard would be around.

Also, contamination of such waters with weil’s disease microbes is common, the source being cattle and ubiquitous rats.

If an open-air activities centre has an outdoor swimming area how many precautions have they taken against any of the above?

Is the water chlorinated? Have they been properly inspected and certified as safe? — Yours faithfully,

Harold Gough


Ignorant or misleading?

Sir, — The Home Secretary Priti Patel was reported as saying last week that the European Convention of Human Rights behaved “scandalously” in grounding the Government’s deportation fight to Rwanda.

She added: “I’m not an advocate of European institutions and never have been.”

By this remark was she displaying her total ignorance or knowingly confusing the issue by making a political point?

The European Convention of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg in 1950 by Churchill in liaison with the British judiciary. It was based on English law and its purpose was to prevent the likes of Hitler rising to power again in the future.

It is often confused with the European Court of Justice, also in Strasbourg, and is the supreme court of the EU in matters of EU law.

Confusion by the media and politicians often occur, either deliberately or by ignorance.

The fact that the Prime Minister wants to abrogate the European Convention of Human Rights so that he can dictate his own policies at will is surely what the court was designed to prevent? — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

How is this resolution?

Sir, — I often wonder at the non-think behind some of the religious Thought for the Week contributions but the one from Elizabeth Yates (Standard, June 17) took some beating.

She asserts that God has already resolved all the issues of life so we can be “brought back to the gentle beauty of life in this moment”. It would be most helpful if Ms Yates would tell readers what is gently beautiful, for example, about the moment when a young child unwittingly pulls a pan of boiling water over themselves and explain the nature of God’s care and “resolution” in this case. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

No more coffee shops

Sir, — I dread that the old Superdrug store in Henley will re-open as yet another outlet of a mediocre chain of coffee shops.

Apparently, in some quarters we are now known as Caffeine-on-Thames. Enough! — Yours faithfully,

Martyn Read

Mount View Court, Henley

Useful local knowledge

Editor, — My goodness, Nicholas Verge knows his way around Fair Mile, Henley, (Standard, June 3).

So much local knowledge does help a lot and his very long and thoughtful letter was a true eye-opener.

I feel most people know the basics and what to do on our patches of land and to try not to make mistakes.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more Fair Miles around the country that have gone through similar cuts.

Well written (and named), Mr Verge. — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants

Cut letter, not grass

Sir, — Have you relaxed your request that letters should be “as brief as possible and try not to exceed 300 words”.

I confess to not ploughing through the letter from Nicholas Verge about mowing Fair Mile, Henley. This lengthy missive made me wonder. — Yours faithfully,

William Fitzhugh


Delightful concert

Sir, — What an absolute delight it was to spend Saturday evening at All Saints’ Church in Dunsden for Margaret Probyn’s farewell concert.

Accompanied by the talented pianist Helen Lam, Margaret entertained us with an evening of her favourite songs and charming vignettes from her life of performing, from her school days to now.

The audience shed a tear at her beautiful interpretation of Over the Rainbow and laughed at Jeremy Nicholas’s “Someone is sending me flowers” and a number of Cole Porter classics.

I hope this farewell will be only the first!

And thanks to the generosity of her audience, we raised £274 towards our appeal to buy emergency medical supplies and vehicles to help our dear friends in Ukraine, which we will be delivering directly in early July.

Every donation is vital. For more information, so please visit Crowdfunding to purchase urgently needed medical supplies and ambulances so we can deliver them directly to our contacts in Ukraine by early July — Yours faithully,

Elizabeth Ledaca

Park Road, Henley

Health talk from expert

Sonning Common Health Centre’s patient participation group would like to get people to talk more openly about prostate cancer, so we are holding an information event.

We invite people to attend the event on Tuesday (June 28) from 6pm to 7.15pm via Zoom.

The event will be hosted by the group with guest speaker Adam Jones, a dedicated and renowned consultant urologist practising in Reading.

He specialises in prostate cancer and biopsies, prostate specific antigen (PSA), kidney cancer as well as laser, obotic and laparoscopic surgery.

He will kindly share some of his wealth of knowledge about prostate cancer.

The information will include what to look for, how to get help if you find anything of concern and what treatments are available.

If you would like to attend, please email — Yours faithfully,

Vicky Mynott

Physiotherapist, Binfield Heath

Wonderful generosity

Sir, — On behalf of South Oxfordshire Mencap Society, may I say a very big thank you to the wonderful people of Henley for supporting our charity cake sale and collection on Saturday?

We raised the wonderful sum of £536.80.

This will be used to provide our members, who have learning disabilities, opportunities to enjoy mainstream contact in our community.

To this aim we provide social activities, such as theatre outings, discos and Christmas parties.

In addition, through our Meteor Club, which meets weekly, we offer opportunities for social contact for our members and respite for their carers.

We are a local charity based in Henley and are always seeking volunteers to help and funds to support our activities.

Please pass on our thanks to all our helpers and contributors without whom this would not be possible. — Yours faithfully,

Brian Connolly

Honorary treasurer, South Oxfordshire Mencap Society, Henley

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