Friday, 06 August 2021

Your letters...

Sir, — I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the kind people in Henley who helped me search for Ruby, my gorgeous collie, on Wednesday last week

So grateful to have my collie back

Sir, — I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the kind people in Henley who helped me search for Ruby, my gorgeous collie, on Wednesday last week.

I tied Ruby to the bench outside the National Westminster Bank in the Market Place at 11am. When I came out of the bank, she had gone.

Fortunately, she was found at 7.30pm tied to the swings at Makins recreation ground by a wonderful man called Jeff who was walking his dog Bertie.

Jeff mentioned that he had seen Ruby earlier that day but she was with a group of young people. As you can imagine, I am so thankful to him for calling me as she was shivering and very frightened.

Unfortunately, Jeff will not give me his surname or address but, as a dog owner, he will know how indebted I am to him.

In addition, thank you for all the calls I received from people with possible sightings and offers of help. Ruby sends you all a big lick. — Yours faithfully,

Sam Thirlby-Smith, Greys Road, Henley



Showcasing historic gem

Sir, — I read with despair that Henley town council is opposed to the proposed illuminated sign outside the Kenton Theatre (Standard, February 8).

I have been involved with this Henley gem for more than 20 years now and it is only thanks to the Henley Amateur and Operatic Dramatic Society, which saved it from oblivion in the latter half of the last century, and the current trustees, who mounted such a brilliant Kenton for Keeps campaign to purchase the freehold, that its future as a thriving community theatre is sure.

Remember, it is the fourth oldest working theatre in the country so Henley should be proud and start shouting about it!

For many years I organised coffee mornings on a Saturday to help swell the Kenton coffers. I would often waylay people passing and invite them in for coffee and a tour of the auditorium.

I cannot tell you how many times people said, "I have lived in Henley for ?X? number of years and I never knew there was a theatre here". More reason for despair!

However, those who popped in for coffee were often to become firm theatregoers, members of HAODS, or theatre volunteers or all three!

The problem with the New Street area of town is that it is a bit gloomy. We have lost the liveliness of the Horse and Groom, relying on the Rose and Crown and the subdued Hotel du Vin to attract people.

Traffic has to follow the one-way system but drivers are concentrating on the road, not looking either side.

It is also not obvious when looking down the street from the top that there is a theatre there to, say, people visiting the teddy bear shop, or passing to the pet shop or hairdressers.

The canopy helps a bit (another hard-won battle) but a tasteful illuminated sign would actually herald the Kenton?s existence from all angles, including from the river.

The theatre has a wonderful selection of professional productions from pantos to lectures, not to mention amateur productions by local societies such as HAODS (and we have more than 250 members, by the way), all of which rely on audience numbers for their income to help promote future productions, so the more people who know about the Kenton, the better.

So come on, you guys on the planning committee, the Kenton is an asset to this town.

"It is not as though we are talking about distasteful, flashing neon disco lights, but simply something that will put the Kenton firmly on the map and in the mind of those who have not noticed it before. — Yours faithfully,

Julie Huntington Chairwoman, Henley Amateur and Operatic Dramatic Society



Lucky to have this amenity

Sir, — I, too, am disappointed that Henley town councillors are opposed to having an illuminated sign outside the Kenton Theatre. From the artist?s impression printed in last week?s paper it would seem to be stylish and discreet and in keeping with the present design of the exterior of the theatre and not in any way garish.

I can understand that the residents of New Street may be worried that an illuminated sign might be intrusive but surely it is not beyond the wit of a good designer to make sure that the sign is lit and positioned in a way that would avoid this problem.

New Street, where the theatre is situated, does not have the same footfall as, say, Hart, Bell or Duke Street so the theatre does not enjoy high visibility.

Indeed, it never fails to amaze me, when talking to the public about forthcoming productions, how many people are completely unaware of its existence.

Over the last decade there has been an enormous effort put in by mainly volunteers and generous donors in reviving this beautiful historic theatre, which is a registered charity and strives to maintain first-class live entertainment for all the family, all-year round.

How lucky we are to have such an amenity right in our midst, just minutes? walking distance from the car parks and restaurants and bars.

The Kenton Theatre deserves to be able to showcase itself and let the public know what is right on their doorstep. — Yours faithfully,

Kate Lindsey, Chairman, the Henley Players



Town needs (lit) theatre

Sir, — I was unaware until reading your paper that objections have been raised by residents of New Street, Henley, to the proposal for an illuminated sign at the Kenton Theatre (Standard, February 8).

Part and parcel of any theatre is that it is for the enjoyment of the public and should be regarded as a tremendous asset to the town.

Live theatre is a privilege and Henley residents enjoy and appreciate the presence of the Kenton in the town.

New Street is one of the main roads through the centre of a world famous Thamesside town. Do the protesters expect that it should be plunged into darkness at twilight time?

Shops, pubs, restaurants and, if we are fortunate, theatres, are part of a townscape.

There are many outlying villages where the protesters to the theatre sign could, once darkness falls, live in total darkness.

We buy houses which open on to busy pavements and huge amounts of passing vehicles with, I am obliged to mention, vehicle headlights, because we want to live in a town.

I believe that there are many sources for curtaining/ blackout linings for curtains for the townies who want to live in New Street.

Believe it or not, because they live in a town, they can pop down the road on foot and access these items from many delightful shops.

After a brief sojourn "out of town" in the Cotswolds, I am returning to live in Henley very shortly. — Yours faithfully,

Deenagh M Reynolds, Chipping Campden



I loved old shop fronts

Sir, — Shop front pride doesn?t mean much these days.

There was a time when shop owners had time to add the finishing touches to their stores and I certainly remember more of those in my home town of Henley in 1950.

Now the shop front seems to take second place behind what?s on sale inside.

Old folk like me enjoy the olde world frontages. Alas, there aren?t many of them left in Henley and even fewer here in Hampshire.

Unfortunately, conservation areas that are brightened up in modern, brash colours reverse the very idea of conservancy.

Visiting our old town over the years, we have become increasingly worried about the alterations to shop fronts, especially in Bell Street. It?s enough to give you the blues! — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams, Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants



Preserving town?s beauty

Sir, — In response to M Bowles of Satwell (Standard, February 8), I would like to assure him that Henley town councillors will always promote the town and its economy.

Sometimes when words are taken out of context then the meaning can be misunderstood.

Market research carried out on visitors to Henley has identified reasons why people visit our town.

One reason why people shop here is the diversity of the independent shops and the feel of a traditional market town.

In an interview with the Standard, I made it clear that I was concerned that if, over the years, we change the appeal of our shopping centre then these visitors may shop nearer to home.

I believe that preserving our history as a market town, together with a beautiful riverside, will ensure a regular stream of visitors and protect its economy. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Dieter Hinke, Henley Town Council, Elizabeth Road, Henley



Why I?ve quit Conservatives

Sir, — This week, I have moved from the Conservative Party to the UK Independence Party.

As a committee member and treasurer of the Henley Conservatives and a town councillor, I have not done this without considerable thought.

I have long been on the Eurosceptic wing of the party and indeed in the 1997 general election I went so far as to canvass for the Referendum Party.

However, I do not trust David Cameron?s assurances about a referendum because he has broken his promise on such a measure once before and I believe he is quite capable of doing it again.

In addition, I am implacably opposed to the high speed rail scheme, which will dissect the beautiful Chilterns area I have lived in, or close to, for most of my life.

In recent years I have attended, on behalf of the town council, Chilterns Conservation Society meetings where the devastation this measure will cause to the Chilterns has been only too evident.

However, the straw that broke the camel?s back for me was not these factors, which I could possibly have lived with, but rather the Prime Minister defying the majority in his own party and proposing an anti-Christian and ungodly vote to sanction same-sex marriage. His "victory" on an issue that was not in the Conservatives? election manifesto came by deliberately relying on the wholesale votes of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

I am not prepared to continue with a local or national party, which connives its leader to act in such a way on such an important subject to a Bible-believing Christian.

The prophet Daniel tells us that a sign of the coming of the antichrist is that he will attempt to change the times and seasons — in other words, change the laws of nature.

That, I submit, is precisely what Cameron has tried to do in the realm of the nature of marriage.

Therefore I shall be ending my membership of, and financial donations to, the Conservative Party forthwith and transferring my allegiance to UKIP, whose policies are satisfactory on all three of the above aspects. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor David Silvester, Henley Town Council, Luker Avenue, Henley



In touch with community

Sir, — I was delighted to read David Holloway?s letter suggesting that I should say more on a range of issues (Standard, February 8). It is more common for people to think that politicians say too much!

Readers who would like to know more about my views on certain subjects and indeed my work in general can find regularly updated reports on my website, www.johnhowellmp.com

I also send out regular email updates on a range of issues. If readers would like to be added to the circulation list they simply need to email me at john.howell.mp@parliament.uk to ask.

If the Standard was to invite me to write a regular column through which I could share my thoughts on current issues I would be happy to do so.

I already write a regular column for other local newspapers and would be pleased to do something for Standard readers too.

Without the opportunity to write such columns I can understand that it may well seem that I simply spend my time visiting local charities and organisations.

This is an important part of my work as it enables me to keep in touch with constituents and what they are doing in the community but it is far from the whole story. — Yours faithfully,

John Howell MP for Henley



You should have listened

Sir, — With reference to Councillor Ian Reissmann?s letter headlined "Independent, trustworthy" (Standard, February 8), he said I had omitted to mention that I had paid £40,000 for each of the two car parking spaces which I bought. Is this the politics of envy at work?

I believe that Cllr Reissmann should have checked his facts. This figure is false and wide of the mark, which he would have known had he bothered to inspect the Land Registry records under which I own the freehold to my spaces.

I bought the spaces because I live in Bell Street, very nearby, have nowhere to park and because residents? parking in the area is very scarce.

I bought them in good faith in 2008, completely unaware that claims had been made that the road had long ago once been ancient highway.

Indeed, at the time the public records at South Oxfordshire District Council and the Land Registry both showed the road to be private freehold land and not public highway.

In Cllr Reissmann?s letter headlined "Principled opposition" (Standard, February 1), he inferred that there was no cost to the public purse.

Well, that is plainly wrong. Granted, Henley Town Council did not incur expenses at the inquiry, but thousands of pounds have been spent to date by Oxfordshire County Council and by those freeholders who have lost their right to use the road and no doubt much more will have to be spent litigating for financial compensation for what has now been lost.

Ultimately, this will all fall back on to the district council for telling purchasers that this strip of road was not highway maintainable at public expense.

The impact won?t fall on the town council but it will fall on the district council to whom local residents pay their council tax.

What is most regrettable of all is the fact that had Cllr Reissmann been willing to listen to his Conservative colleagues on the town council,

who urged negotiation, then a safe and far less expensive compromise could have been found long ago and much of the pending hit to the "public purse" could probably have been avoided.

Finally, as to the reference to this being a "community win", it is perhaps ironic that that one of the objectors to the stopping-up order was a former councillor who frequently parks in the spaces. — Yours faithfully,

Amanda Chumas, Bell Street, Henley



Needless cost and stress

Sir, — You have carried lengthy vainglorious letters from Councillor Ian Reissmann (Standard, February 1 and 8). As he is chairman of Henley town council?s finance strategy and managment committee, you might expect him to have at least a tenuous grasp of figures and, as a public servant, some respect for their accuracy.

Yet, despite his involvement in this saga for several years, despite his having access to much of the paperwork generated and despite the fact that the data is freely and publically available, he persists in quoting figures of £40,000, £80,000 and £400,000. These are not correct.

Why then accept his assertion that there?s no exposure to the public purse?

While the coming liabilities may not be directly Henley Town Council?s, they will fall on South Oxfordshire District Council and, since Henley residents pay their council tax to the district council, it is the local taxpayer who will pay for this debacle.

It is naive of Cllr Reissmann to say that no harm will be done because thosewho bought in good faith can simply get refunded.

I can?t believe that he doesn?t accept that the reality is that it will be a very costly and protracted (not to mention emotionally draining) exercise for all concerned (the district council included).

As so far, since the decision of the inquiry was published, none of the entities concerned has shown any willingness to sit down and resolve this mess in a spirit of compromise, reluctantly those affected have to prepare for litigation.

Like the costs which must already have been incurred by Oxfordshire County Council, litigation costs will in the end fall on the local taxpayer. This gives me no pleasure at all — I am, after, all a council taxpayer.

Had Henley Residents? Group, via the town council, been willing to sit down to resolve the matter in a spirit of compromise, as was repeatedly suggested since 2010, this outcome of costs and litigation could have been avoided.

Cllr Reissmann makes much about the victorious retention of the road for the "public benefit". This is a delusion and there is no such "public benefit".

The spaces "released" are in fact largely already monopolised by two individuals. Cllr Reissmann?s empty words now to "work with the county council" belie the fact that he has had that opportunity since 2010.

Instead, he chose an aggressive, confrontational stance that has not served the town, the taxpayer or the reputation of Henley Residents? Group. — Yours faithfully,

Jose Goumal, Bell Street, Henley



Not a fair comparison

Sir, — Your correspondent Colin Garnham was right to highlight the positive points with regard to the Welsh iron triathlon (Standard, February 8) but wrong to criticise "whingers" who object to the proposed 12-hour road closure in South Oxfordshire on Sunday, September 8.

My daughter completed the Welsh iron triathlon event and it was a happy occasion.

The big difference between the Welsh event and Challenge Henley lies in the traffic management for the cycle event. In Wales the roads were largely shared and care had been taken to ensure people could get about with minimum disruption.

Oxfordshire County Council is proposing total closure of more than 20 miles of road in South Oxfordshire.

Hundreds of households will not be able to enjoy Sunday activities, or receive visitors. Hundreds more will find travel severely disrupted. No wonder there is mounting stormy protest. This is not what sport should be about.

Henley Town Council should review the situation, drop the cycle event and offer an elite duathlon as a compromise. — Yours faithfully,

Julia Wells, Britwell Salome



We?ve been here before

Sir — The debate over Challenge Henley is not new. The Windsor Triathlon first caused a stir by using the Thames for its event and asking for the river to be closed.

The organisers charged a fee (less than £100) to all entrants but did not want to pay a small licence fee per entrant to the Environment Agency for the use of the river.

Paying to use the river (say £10 per entrant) would, of course, have reduced the organisers? profit. Anyone who questioned this was made to feel guilty because the event was "for charity".

The matter was left in abeyance, I believe, and the same question was asked about the royal regatta?s free use of the river too. I believe that went in the agency?s "too difficult" basket.

All of which upset other users who pay quite handsomely for the privilege (a youngster who wants to use his Mirror dinghy pays £87.10 or half that if it can be registered as a tender to a boat). Anglers, rowers and canoeists all pay.

The same question was asked about Challenge Henley when it started. Just Racing UK now charges up to £330 for an entry, according to its website, and it is a private company with two directors who presumably are the beneficiaries of the profits made.

This business uses other people?s assets in the name of promoting sport and charities. Isn?t that inherently unfair?

That?s aside from the nuisances allegedly inflicted on businesses and the public. A little more transparency would help PR. — Yours faithfully,

Neil Blake, Ewelme



Crops must be harvested

Sir, — May I make two important points regarding Challenge Henley?

Firstly, we are farmers and much of our farm can only be accessed by using the B481.

Farmers are entirely dependent on the weather. When it permits, we harvest all hours, including Sundays. Any delay in harvesting can cause serious losses.

If the weather is fine on the day of the triathlon and we have crops needing to be harvested which cannot be accessed other than via the B481, we shall get on with the job. No doubt any farmer affected would feel the same way.

Secondly, there have been many references to the "fact" that consultations indicate the majority are in favour of the event. What nonsense: local parishes round here have not been consulted. In any event, the bulk of the local population lives in Henley and if roads are closed, they can easily walk to church, the shops and the pubs etc. We can?t.

There is much talk of "economic gain" — economic gain for Henley, yes; economic gain for the countryside definitely not, only losses.

We are all in favour of sporting events, particularly if they attract young people, but not if they bring misery to the countryside. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Colston, Ewelme Park Farm, Nettlebed



Potential events clash

Sir, — With reference to the proposed community music festival (Standard, February 1), if it is to coincide with the last night of the Proms, which usually coincides with the Henley Show, it perhaps would not be wise to hold it during the day as this would create a clash of local events. I hope this would be taken into consideration. — Yours faithfully,

Minnie Wilson, Nicholas Road, Henley



Perilous pavement

Sir, — I am writing regarding the appalling state of the pavement along Marlow Road in Henley.

I would like to invite a member of Oxfordshire County Council to inspect this pavement after another torrential downpour so they would understand this longstanding problem.

The tracks made by cyclists make the pavement even narrower — they are unable to use the road because of the speed of the cars Marlow Road. The drains are continually blocked, meaning there is water completely over the road and the pavement.

The council is now considering putting up 30mph signs, which would be a complete waste of money. What is needed is a speed camera or a crossing but apparently this is unaffordable.

Improvements to these pavements are badly needed. The debris from leaves and mud makes them even narrower and because of the uncontrolled speed limit, cyclists and invalid scooters have to ride on the pavements.

Is it going to take a tragedy to enforce some action here? — Yours faithfully,

P Hewett, Swiss Farm, Marlow Road, Henley



Keep dogs under control

Sir, — On Wednesday last week, a ewe was savagely attacked in a field in Fawley. Despite our best efforts, the ewe died. She had clearly been chased to the point of exhaustion and suffered horrendous injuries.

It has to be supposed that she was chased by a dog or dogs. She was in lamb and carrying twins so this is a loss of not one but three lives.

I fear that others in the flock, although not attacked, may yet abort their lambs due to the stress of being chased.

The police have been informed of this attack.

The lambing season is approaching so, although one might hope that dog owners would always have their dogs under control or know their whereabouts, ewes are even more vulnerable at this time of year.

I would also remind dog owners that farmers have a legal right to shoot on sight any dog seen to be worrying livestock. Please keep your dogs under control at all times "for the sake of sheep, of your dog and for your own peace of mind. — Yours faithfully,

Tracy Betteridge, Nuffield



Fancy a walk in country?

Sir, — In response to William Murphy?s letter entitled "Big cat probably a fox" (Standard, February 8), I am one of the spotters of the exotic cat who he refers to as someone who is "unfamiliar with our native wildlife".

Having lived in the countryside for my 33 years and being from a family of nature lovers, I can categorically state that the creature I saw was certainly not a fox.

I was a maximum distance of 10m from the animal in near daylight. Living in urbanised Caversham Park Village, I am not surprised Mr Murphy has only seen five foxes in his lifetime!

However, they are a common feature of living in a rural setting such as ours.

I did appreciate Mr Murphy?s suggestion, however, and if he would care to join me on a nature walk of our locality, where I could point out the difference between a stoat and a weasel, a fallow and a roe deer and an adder and a grass snake, I would willingly oblige. — Yours faithfully,

Amanda Watkins-Cooke, Sonning Common



Chef should keep quiet

Sir, — Am I the only one who finds the continued selfpublicity by Antony Worrall Thompson and the Standard giving him exposure quite frankly distasteful and objectionable?

Does he really believe we have forgotten about his shoplifting from a local retailer last year? Does he really believe that those creditors who suffered as a result of his business failures will have any time for his offers of free ice creams? For goodness? sake, stop inflicting this man on us. — Yours faithfully,

Gordon McDowell, Hurley



Post Office progress (not)

Sir, — Last Friday morning I queued for some time with a number of other customers at the one and only post office counter in our newly refurbished One Stop shop in Sonning Common.

Imagine my disbelief to be told that I could not pay a cheque into my post office savings account: I had to go to Emmer Green to do that. Progress' huh. — Yours faithfully,

Carole Lewis, Woodlands Road, Sonning Common



A Post Office spokeswoman replies: "In new-style ?local? branches like in Sonning Common, customers will not be able to pay for products and services using personal cheques. Our research has suggested that there is little demand for paying by cheque and retailers do not accept cheques as a method of payment over their retail counter, where the local post office will be integrated. There is a number of other ways to pay for products and services in branch but if a customer?s only option is to pay by cheque, then these will continue to be accepted across our main and traditional branch network."



Successful collection

Sir, — Readers of the Standard will be pleased to know that the collection on behalf of Cancer Research UK, made during the first weekend of February at the Henley branch of Tesco, realised the splendid sum of £1,305.86.

On behalf of the charity, I wish to thank all those who donated so generously, the staff of the store, whose current charity of the year is Cancer Research UK, and the many volunteers who manned the collection point over two days.

Our next local events will be a coffee morning at Shiplake church room on Saturday, March 2 from 10.30am to noon and the annual Daffodil Supper to be held at Harpsden village hall on Friday, March 22. Tickets for the supper are available by calling (01491) 410416 or 573600. — Yours faithfully,

Susie Gerhartz, Henley fund-raisers for Cancer Research UK

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