Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Your letters...

Double standards

Double standards

Sir, — Say “Henley” and everyone conjures up images of the regatta, frocks, “suited and booted” and a “loadsamoney” town.

Alas, have you noticed that the more financially strapped fellow cannot buy a pair of trousers in our town without taking out a mortgage?

Sainsbury’s “Basics” are not considered for stocking or have disappeared. “Lack of space/due to demand” I was told.

Then why have more expensive items muscled into this lack of shelving, where cheap yogurt and teabags once stood? Yes, there may be demand but not all have the dosh!

Even our Oxfam boasts a sale. How can a charity shop with already used items justify a sale? They’re supposed to be cheap, or have I not grasped the concept of the charity shop? I swear it could only happen here!

It comes as no surprise that I regularly watch people rifling through and pinching all the donated goodies left outside our charity shops of an eve.

So what to do? Some may stroll nonchalantly into a supermarket and relieve the deli of some choice niblets and perhaps a drop of red as an accompaniment and receive counselling.

Other lesser mortals receive a free photo shoot to be displayed to all and I’m not talking about the 100 Faces of Henley but diminutive “Wanted” posters and then, if found guilty, they face a fine for their crime.

Double standards and selective pricing for our oh-so opulent town.

On that note, I salute you if this letter is published and you prove to be the Henley Standard open to all and not a further dubious double standard.

So here’s hoping my thoughts will not be considered too risqué and tossed aside as a pro-shoplifting, anti-Sainsbury, Oxfam-besmirching, penny-pinching Lefty. — Yours faithfully,

Louise Daly , Duke Street, Henley

Wrong place for triathlon

Sir — Councillor Joan Bland’s frustration in trying to talk sense to Messrs Rose and Ronald (Standard, February 1) is understandable.

She clearly reflects the views of a great many people.

As the director of Challenge Henley, Mr Rose does ignore letters on this subject.

I would like to comment as follows:

1. The restrictions on Henley Bridge and the creaking local road system demonstrate that this area is totally unsuitable for the purpose of this event. How many UK towns route traffic through a car park?

2. That some thousands of local people and visitors will be forcibly locked-down for the pleasure and profit of a small number of others is dictatorial and unacceptable.

3. Does Just Racing perhaps plan some “mission creep” with further events on more weekends throughout the year? Where would Oxfordshire County Council draw the line?

4. We live in a democracy. Why is the county council wishing to disregard the very strongly held views of so many?

5. Who pays? Does the county council charge Just Racing a fee or do taxpayers pay all the costs?

Some will certainly agree with Henley Town Council’s support although crucially only “in principle”.

It is time to tell Mr Rose and Just Racing to find an alternative venue where there would be minimal collateral damage to the community at large. — Yours faithfully,

A Lawson-Smith, Fair Mile, Henley

Compensate businesses

Sir, — The roads in Nettlebed will be closed for 12 hours for the Challenge Henley event, which will result in a substantial loss for the White Hart and the petrol station.

I presume Just Racing will be arranging to pay suitable compensation to these businesses. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Leigh, High Street, Nettlebed

Welcomed in the hillside

Sir, — Having read the whingeing letters regarding the Henley Challenge triathlon, I thought you might be interested to learn how this type of event has been positively embraced in Wales.

In an article in Cycling Weekly, Wales Sportive organiser Matthew Evans says: “We have more than 350 volunteers over the weekend, so for every group — it can be a church group, football club, whatever — we give them £200 for every 10 volunteers they bring.

“We then have a best supporting village competition, which we give £1,000 to. Technically, you could call it a bribe!

“For example, one village, Manorbier, got about £1,700 altogether. That paid off the debt on the football club pitch, they bought a second team strip, the church got money and the school.

“Now they have competing marshalling groups within the village as well.” — Yours faithfully,

Colin Garnham, Rotherfield Peppard

What’s the fuss about?

Sir, — When I read of the furore over the colour of the Paperchase frontage (Standard, February 1), I imagined it to be some garish turquoise blue.

I went to look for myself and discovered it to be more like a duck egg blue, which is very tasteful, elegant and eye-catching!

It’s a pleasant change from the other shop fronts in Henley, particularly at Sainsbury’s, which is old- fashioned and smacks of football shirt colours. What on earth is the fuss about? — Yours faithfully,

Mrs Leslie Maynerd, Caversham

Blue shop looks great

Sir, — With reference to the new Paperchase shop, what’s wrong with Fortnum & Mason blue or Tiffany blue in our high street? I think it looks great. — Yours faithfully,

Minnie Wilson, Nicholas Road, Henley

Preposterous remarks

Sir, — It is a real shame that councillors cannot be removed from office for preposterous remarks.

According to Councillor Dieter Hinke, chairman of Henley Town Council’s planning committee, “People can go to other centres very close to us if they want bright and cheerful shops”.

It’s not really the sort of bright and cheerful comment you would expect from a councillor who should be positively promoting the town and its economy. — Yours faithfully,

M Bowles, Satwell

Housing plan is bananas

Sir, — There have been many views published in the Standard expressing concern and some dismay as to the provision of new homes in South Oxfordshire.

I myself have called into question not only the soundness of future plans but also their fairness.

South Oxfordshire District Council has decided that all new development will be placed in major centres and large villages. This is well known.

What is less well known is that “windfall” sites make up many hundreds of the projected figures. These sites by definition cannot be inside the major centres or large villages, which are taking more than their fair share as it is.

Traditionally, windfall developments have been back garden schemes. These obviously now do not apply. In short, even the small villages and rural areas will have development. In the district council’s core strategy it is envisaged these will be 10 to 20 units in size.

Now I turn to fairness. If the area is to grow by nine per cent over the plan period, is it not fair that all communities grow by the same percentage? Will the next plan have all the housing in the rural areas to balance the growth? I fear not.

The small communities with few, if any, amenities and services are consigned to more than a generation of stagnation by the current policy.

There is a sense that building close to amenities and services makes sense but the result is that rural areas get nothing.

With finances for a generation at least under tight control, we face the withering of rural communities, further exacerbating their decline.

Turning to housing numbers, these are going to take a big jump. While the district council’s core strategy is “sound”, the inspector has confirmed that the actual numbers are subject to challenge.

They will be challenged by the big players in the industry and the council and its partners have already commissioned work on the new numbers.

The recent national census showed that the plan was already faulty on its assumptions of the current population and the regional spatial strategies, much heralded at the general election, are in the process of being revoked.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires a plan, which incorporates the core strategy, to be evidence-based. If the evidence shows the need for greater housing numbers then greater housing numbers need to be supplied.

The basis of the current numbers is an evidence base much-derided, imposed by the previous government.

The basis of localism is that new housing in a community gives direct community benefit. Few if any of us have seen this in operation as much if not all of the money has disappeared into the district council’s coffers.

The current state of play since localism and the NPPF is not only that communities get a large slice of the infrastructure cake, but they get all of it if they ask for housing. This is in the order of £20,000 to £25,000 for every house built.

Imagine what a small community could do with this sort of money, or maybe it’s better the district decides how best to use it? Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone (BANANA). — Yours faithfully,

David Heron, Director, Vortal Properties, Wokingham

MP should say more

Sir, — We do indeed live in interesting times what with the gay marriage issue, the Tory party leadership, the in-or-out of Europe debate to name but three.

I was wondering where our Conservative MP stands on these points.

Studying the Standard, we learn that he likes having his photograph taken with local worthies and Rotarians, or volunteers picking up litter, or some such nonsense, but of more important matters, not a squeak from either him or, indeed, the Standard. Surely we deserve to be told? — Yours faithfully,

David Holloway, Harpsden Road, Henley

Independent, trustworthy

Sir, — The Standard hasgiven a lot of coverage to the decision by the Secretary of State to refuse the stopping-up order at Bell Street, Henley.

This would have taken an area of public highway and converted it into private land when it could be sold for private gain of up to £400,000.

In contrast, highway is maintained for the benefit of the public and is therefore a public amenity. This can take the form of road, footway, public parking or simply an attractive open space.

Henley Residents’ Group councillors on Henley Town Council are delighted at the decision to keep the land as highway.

They have been clear, firm and principled in standing up for Henley and the vast majority of residents to defend ourselves from the loss of this amenity and the dangers of the layout as proposed.

The inspector’s report was hard-hitting and clear in its support for the HRG position that the proposal was dangerous and not in the interests of Henley. We can now look forward to this area being managed by Oxfordshire County Council for the benefit of everyone in Henley rather than the handful of individuals who are able to afford £40,000 for a parking space.

Your correspondent Amanda Chumas failed to mention in her recent letter that she had bought two of the spaces at a cost of £80,000.

This is big community win. Furthermore, the inspector stated that “the public benefits lie with rejecting the stopping-up order”.

Your correspondents made no mention of safety. On this key principle the inspector was unequivocal, saying “as for safety, it is clear that the arguments are very strongly in favour of retaining the highway in public ownership and control” and “the fact that there has not been an accident is not a good reason for continuing this dangerous situation”.

The small number of people who are unhappy at this decision seem to be placing the interests of a commercial developer and two individuals ahead of everyone else, especially the safety of the public and residents.

HRG believes that Conservative councillors, who have been supporting and voting for the interests of these privileged few against the interests of the town, have a lot of explaining to do.

HRG will always act independently in the interests of the Henley community as a whole. It has been doing this for more than 20 years and is pleased that we now have another achievement to add to our long list of successes on behalf of Henley residents.

Looking forward, HRG agrees that the county council should work with all parties on a safe and fair solution.

A fair solution does not involve giving away public assets for private profit or provide an unfair advantage to those who can afford the parking spaces above other residents.

In the letters page two weeks ago, electors were asked what HRG stands for when they next go to vote and I am sure the voters will realise that HRG acts as a truly independent group which supports Henley and its residents as a whole and they will continue to trust HRG with their support and votes. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann, Chairman, Henley Residents’ Group 2007-2011, Gainsborough Road, Henley

‘Big cat’ is probably fox

Sir, — I refer to Diana Hadaway’s letter (Standard, February 1) and earlier correspondence on the existence of a large, wild cat-like animal in the Henley area.

On December 30, at about 10pm, I was driving along Henley Road in Caversham in the direction of Henley when I passed the southern edge of Caversham Park and a large black animal ran across the road in front of me.

I saw its rear end as it disappeared into the hedge on the right hand side of the road. At that point I could see that its fur was brown and it sported a bushy tail. It was plainly a large fox.

Its black appearance had resulted from the way the street light fell upon it. I have seen a fox only five times in 35 years. I expect that all the reports of this mysterious “puma” result from the very short time (a few seconds) that the observers had to look at it and their unfamiliarity with our native wildlife. — Yours faithfully,

William Murphy, Kingsway, Caversham Park

Thanks, but still no Tiny

Sir, — Thank you so much for publishing my daughter Lucy Irvine’s letter and the picture of her missing dog Tiny (Standard, January 18).

Three people did get in touch with her, which was very kind, but with no luck in the end. We can but try and thank you for your help. — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser, Director, Barn Galleries, Aston

Heartfelt gratitude

Sir, — On behalf of Harpsden Pre-School I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Waitrose for the generous donation of cheese for our recent cheese and wine tasting fund-raiser.

The evening was a huge success and we have had very positive feedback from parents and members of the Harpsden community who attended.

We raised £424.23 for the pre-school, which was well beyond our expectations. —Yours faithfully,

Sara Jobson, Committee member, Harpsden Pre-School

Where the river flows

Sir, — There appears to be confusion about which way the river flows in Henley. I have composed this little poem to help. — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins, Berkshire Road, Henley

Which way to London shall we go?
Shall we paddle north and follow the flow
Of the sweet Thames, which may be slow
Or south by rail via Twyford Junction
With luck your connection there should function.
Go east, up White Hill, drive that way The M4 is fast if there is no delay.
You could try west, it’s a long round trip By foot, bicycle, plane or ship.
But readers of this paper before venturing forth
Please note that in Henley the Thames flows south to north.

More News:

POLL: Have your say