Sir, — We would like to say a big thank-you to the staff at La Barca Restaurant in Henley for making our Christmas Day lunch such a memorable one.
The food and wine were excellent and the five-course meal was more than value for money. The staff were very attentive and couldn’t have done more to make our time there most enjoyable. We couldn’t recommend this restaurant more highly and hope the people of Henley will give it the support it deserves. — Yours faithfully,
The Tucker family, Remenham Hill
Changing face of high street
Sir, — If Paperchase went ahead with a shop front that had not been given planning permission (Standard, December 21), then they were courting trouble.
However, it is wrong to think that we should cover the town in aspic, as certain councillors seem determined to do.
Just guessing, but I suspect the company/shop found itself being stalled when time was of the essence.
Not long ago, we were worried that our shops were closing and the town centre was dying. Now we have a bright new shop, offering a good service and, more importantly, employment.
Are our councillors seriously suggesting that the other shop fronts along that stretch of road are aesthetically more pleasing?
I offer you the following: Boots, Sainsbury’s, Clarke’s, W H Smith, M & Co and Robert Dyas. In what way do any of these shops enhance the nature of the town centre? None has a shop front that is easy on the eye.
Councillor Dieter Hinke, chairman of the planning committee, says Henley is an old market town and needs to retain its character. aPerhaps he would like to tell us which era he would most like to retain — the 1600s, 1700s or perhaps the 1800s?
Of course, we must retain the best of what we have but we must also move with the times. The Henley of 2012 is a different place to the Henley of 1912 — and will no doubt be a different place to the Henley of 2112. — Yours faithfully,
Peter Dixon, Gravett Close, Henley
A question of taste
Sir, — Judging by his comments on Paperchase shop front, Henley town councillor Martin Akehurst seems inappropriately qualified to give judgment on this topic and failing as our elected representative.
I’m surprised as I think Paperchase has done a nice job by most standards which others could well learn from.
For example, compared to the horrific, badly maintained, cheap plastic and peeling vinyl stickers on the glass-based store fronts of Boots and Sainsbury’s next door, it’s a most welcome addition to the street, not to mention replacing the former Clinton’s store abomination.
I get the impression that these bureaucracy-obsessed, self-important officials perhaps simply don’t like not having all their forms completed in the right colour ink or their egos otherwise suitably massaged — something I suspect the specialists, which the likes of Starbucks and Sainsbury’s no doubt employ to handle small town “big shots” like this, have done so well to be able to blight our town’s streets with their presence.
I would be interested to see the Standard host a Henley shop front “wars” photo contest on its website to see just where the town’s public opinion lies... or perhaps Paperchase would do the honours?
At least I’d welcome a best shop front in Henley competition voted for by Standard readers, something well suited to your Facebook page perhaps? — Yours faithfully,
Tom Potter, Church Street, Henley
Better than empty shop
Sir, — While I agree that planning permission is important, it is also important that businesses are allowed to trade in what would otherwise be an empty shell. Why is this hard line taken in such difficult times?
I find the Paperchase store attractive and of a high quality and without compromise.
What is it that the councillors are trying to protect by denouncing the design and even the colour? The biggest eyesore on any high street is an empty shop. — Yours faithfully,
R Lawrence, Amberley Drive, Twyford
Lovely, bright shop front
Sir, — I think the new Paperchase store in Henley looks lovely.
Yes, it is a bit bright but there are a lot of shop fronts that look far worse, so singling out Paperchase for bringing something fresh to the high street seems unjust.
Starbucks looks a mess most of the time in my opinion. Why don’t people worry about the litter bins not being emptied, or all the charity shops we have? — Yours faithfully,
Belle Vue Road, Henley
Let’s protect ourselves
Sir, — In arguing about whether global warming is anthropogenic or not, some of your recent correspondents are missing the point.
This is that the climate has always changed and will continue to change, whatever the reason.
We need to ensure that changes do not wipe out Homo sapiens.
There is no doubt that our species is now so numerous and active that we are making global-scale impacts.
Climate models are still rudimentary but they nevertheless are our best shots at understanding the issues and suggesting steps which could mitigate possibly catastrophic threats.
We need to act now as best we can, to begin the slow process of generating the mindset and cohesion on a global scale which would facilitate future measures, which may need to be implemented at speed. — Yours faithfully,
John Thornley, Makins Road, Henley
Do your own research
Sir, — I don’t claim to understand all the intricate details of climate science and therefore I must rely on summaries of the current state of scientific understanding and on surveys of opinion among climate scientists.
The Royal Society, probably the most respected scientific organisation in the land, states: “There is strong evidence that the warming of the earth over the last half-century has been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, including agriculture and deforestation.”
The Royal Society is not prone to making rash statements and bases its opinions on decades of published peer-reviewed research papers.
Although there are scientists who dispute these views, they are very much in the minority. I doubt if your correspondent M Reid could find any scientific organisation that supports his arguments — I certainly couldn’t.
I urge readers not to take his, Kenneth Fuller’s (or my) word for it but to do their own research. — Yours faithfully,
Giles Alder, Bix
Eight days to repair leak
Sir, — Like many other residents, I’m sure, I received a colourful email on December 21 from Thames Water with tips about caring for the water supply and ending with the advice that if your pipe bursts and you need help, call a plumber.
A burst water main under the public footpath outside my neighbour’s house occurred on Thursday, December 13 and he telephoned Thames Water with no effective response.
In view of the serious nature of the leak, the amount of water running to waste, the damage to the footpath and possible other underground services and the inconvenience to pedestrians and motor traffic, I called Thames Water the following day and was eventually told that someone would contact me within four hours.
Nobody did and when I rang again later that day there was no answer.
I rang again on the morning of December 15 and again was told that someone would come within four hours.
I had a similar experience on December 16 plus the advice that the departmental manager had been informed and he knew exactly where the leak was because “he lived just round the corner”.
Sadly, the manager’s proximity to the location of the leak did not help at all. On December 18 I spoke to a young man who told me that forms had to be filled in and two valves had to be turned off and the repair was scheduled for December 21.
His offer to contact the plumbing contractor and find out if they could bring the repair date forward proved to be just a wishful thought and the repair was eventually completed on the scheduled date of December 21, eight days after it was first reported.
With the help of a familiar four-pint plastic milk bottle, I conservatively estimated that a minimum of half a gallon of water was running to waste every second, which I calculate equals 43,200 gallons a day or 345,600 gallons (1,571 metres cubed) in eight days.
According to my latest Thames Water billing, my water consumption for six months was 35m³ so the wasted water is equal to 45 times my six-month consumption and would therefore have covered my usage for the next 22 years. The cost based on the current charge of 122.63 pence per m³ is £1,927 plus about a third for the fixed charge, making the total in excess of £2,500.
It will be interesting to see what comments Thames Water have, if any. — Yours faithfully,
Victor Miller, Ancastle Green, Henley
A Thames Water spokesman said: “We fix 1,000 leaks a day on average across our ageing, 20,000-mile network of water pipes across London and the Thames Valley. We prioritise leaks in order of their severity, dealing with the most serious ones first. We’re sorry for the time it took to fix this leak and for any inconvenience caused.”
Bigger and better
Sir, — Henley’s Living Advent Calendar has just completed its second highly entertaining and successful year.
We hope it will become a flagship fixture for the Henley Partnership in conjunction with Henley Town Council.
Everyone involved seems to have had a great time and we are even starting to attract visitors specially to the 24-night event. I would like to thank a number of people for this marathon feat.
Firstly, our audiences, which this year were around twice the size of last year, averaging 100 each night with several attracting nearly 200 (e.g. Leander Club, the Argyll and the River & Rowing Museum).
Consequently, we have been able to raise more than twice as much for our three charities, Camp Mohawk, the Chiltern Centre and Sue Ryder, as we did last year. The total stands at just over £4,200 with some raffle ticket monies still to be collected.
Secondly, our sponsors, who made the essentials of the production, sound and light and publicity possible, Invesco Perpetual, the Henley Partnership, the Head Partnership, Sotherbys International Realty, Towergate, Higgs Group/Henley Standard, CTC-aspire, Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council.
This year, more than 60 local businesses and organisations were involved, as venues and partners, providing great hospitality and an abundance of mulled wine, sausage rolls, mince pies and fizz for all.
One of the delights for many members of the audiences is discovering places they never even knew about in Henley, which this year included the Marine Reserves’ building, Lovibonds Brewery and Delegate Office Services.
We have already got other businesses putting up their hands to be involved next year, which is terrific.
Thirdly, the performers, who have shown what great talent there is around Henley.
Each evening provided a different surprise and some of my personal favourites were the abseiling Father Christmas, the tango dancers, the singing firemen, Junior Guevarra and Professor Eek’s Punch and Judy show.
Finally, a huge thank-you to those who “stayed the course” and were there all 24 days to make it happen:Kim Agostino, of Think Big Events, and Hugh Legh, of HDL Tech, who made it all happen; Chris Wellings and Richard Young, of CTC-aspire, for the website, blog and videos; Liz Cleall and her “bucketeers”; the team from Gillotts School who designed the posters and flyers and all those who came to help marshall and collect donations every evening.
Thank you, too, to the Henley Standard for your coverage, photographs and video features throughout. — Yours faithfully,
Julie Perigo, Chairman, the Henley Partnership and Henley Living Advent Calendar
Sir, — The Chiltern Centre for disabled children was facing the possibility of forced closure as a result of a funding crisis at the beginning of 2011.
Thanks to the support of the Henley Standard, the Building Our Future 2011 Appeal, launched by Phillip Schofield, was successful in producing an immediate cash injection.
In 2012, the appeal — with a target of £350,000 — was renamed the Jubilee Appeal.
Now I am delighted to confirm that our target has been reached.
On behalf of everyone at the Chiltern Centre, I would like to express our enormous thanks to your newspaper and your many readers who supported the appeal and to the many organisations, companies and individuals who have together contributed to this wonderful result. Thank you one and all.
The success of our appeal has stabilised our finances. However, every year we need to fund-raise £200,000 to be able to open our doors the following January.
In 2013 we shall be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our existence and it is a testimony to the continuing generosity of the greater Henley community that we are able to do so. — Yours faithfully,
Paul Barrett, Chairman of the trustees, Chiltern Centre for disabled children, Greys Road, Henley
Successful music night
Sir, — I would like to say thank you for all the support for Goring Unplugged at the town hall on December 21.
Setting up and clearing up was done in record time and I only had one bottle to take home instead of a car full.
We had some very kind people who worked like mad to put away, clean and tidy and everyone took their rubbish home with them — brilliant!
Add that to a lovely evening of music... success! I do hope those who were there enjoyed it. There’s a lot of work involved in running Goring Unplugged. If you feel able to help in any way, we’d be grateful — whether it’s a one-off or regularly or as an audience member, which is just as important.
We owe a big debt of thanks to everyone who supports the event.
We wish everyone an exciting, challenging and inspiring 2013. — Yours faithfully,
Patricia Williams, Organiser, Goring Unplugged
Sir, — I would just like to say how impressed I was by the performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Langtree School, Woodcote. This was very impressive in so many ways — the singing, acting and staging. I don’t mean impressive for schoolchildren, this was impressive. — Yours faithfully,
I’m related to poet’s wife
Sir, — I should start by saying how much I enjoy both the Standard as a whole, including the Diary.
However, I feel I should point out a small error in the Hidden Henley article about Shiplake church which mentioned poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Standard, December 21).
His wife was not Emily Smallwood but Emily Sellwood. I know as she is a distant relative. She was my mother’s (Ancia Mregan Lawes Selvester, née Sellwood) claim to fame and was spoken about when I was a small boy living in Portsmouth before we visited the Isle of Wight as a family.
When I moved to Henley in 1993, I was reminded of our relative’s connection with the church in Shiplake and I took my soon-to-be wife for a visit in the hope that it would impress her. It didn’t but the beautiful church did! — Yours faithfully,
Duncan Selvester, Reading Blue Coat School, Sonning
Thanks for fixing wheel
Sir, — I would like to thank the kind man who helped me during my sponsored fancy dress walk from Reading to Maidenhead on Saturday, December 22.
This “Good Samaritan” stopped (just after the Sonning Common turn-off on the A4) to mend the wheel of my trolley. Without his timely intervention, I would have been unable to complete my journey.
Thanks to his help, I was able to continue wheeling the decorated Christmas tree and finish the walk, which was in aid of Sue Ryder and other local palliative care charities.
I would also like to thank all those who gave me a cheery wave of encouragement or honked their car horns or flashed their lights along the (long and wet) route.
I didn’t raise a king’s ransom but I did raise a smile or two (and awareness) and had some fun — even losing the trolley wheel seems funny with hindsight. A happy and blessed 2013 and beyond to all your readers. — Yours faithfully,