Sir, — I am writing to support and reiterate the concerns of Judy Dinsdale relating to heavy goods vehicles juddering through Northfield End, Henley, (Standard, February 15).
We have recently moved to Henley from London and the volume of HGVs that thunder through Northfield End after hurtling along the Fair Mile all through the night and early hours of the morning has been a real disturbance.
We previously lived on Fulham Road, which is one of the busiest westerly routes into central London and yet we never had this volume of heavy traffic through the night.
Additionally, much of the traffic going in the other direction out of Henley shows little regard for the speed limits.
As soon as vehicles cross the roundabout at Rupert’s Lane, they proceed up Northfield End unrestricted by any speed deterrents until they are travelling well in excess of the limit. With the current wintry weather it is only a matter of time until there is a serious traffic incident.
It is also of concern that there is currently no pedestrian crossing across Northfield End.
I have spoken to Councillor David Nimmo Smith about this and he was very helpful and promised to take this up with Oxfordshire County Council.
We and many of our fellow residents believe the following measures are required to reduce the speeding and volume of traffic:
1. We must reduce all speed limits, 30mph to 20mph and 40mph to 30mph in and around the town.
2. Speed cameras should be introduced on both sides of the road in Northfield End.
3. A pedestrian crossing should be installed to allow safe crossing between Freeman’s Meadow and the Henley registry office so residents and wedding guests can safely cross the road and enjoy the public park without having to negotiate dangerous traffic.
I hope the Standard’s article on Ms Dinsdale’s house cracking as well as my letter may be the beginning of a campaign to encourage the town and county councisl to take action and address the traffic problems in Northfield End in order to preserve the wellbeing of our beautiful town and the standard of living of its residents. — Your faithfully,
D A Thomas
Northfield End, Henley
No case for exclusivity
Sir, — With reference to your story about selfish parking (Standard, February 15), customers visiting shop premises in the Station Road and Reading Road area should use existing pay and display in common with every other vehicular shopper in the town.
Should the council consider that there is insufficient on-street pay and display provision in the area then new signage/meters should be installed.
Might I suggest that the stretch of bays diagonally opposite in Reading Road also be included. This would raise much-needed revenue.There is certainly no case for the shops having their own exclusive customer parking zones. — Yours faithfully,
Station Road, Henley
Sir, — While driving on well-maintained A roads and motorways you concentrate on the road ahead and oncoming cars etc.
When I’m driving around our local side roads, which are in an appalling condition, it’s another matter.
I have noticed that while driving I am constantly looking down at the road surface in order to avoid the many potholes instead of looking at the road ahead.
Recently I just avoided hitting a deer that had jumped out into the road. Although I braked in time, I could have had another second to do this if I wasn’t looking out for potholes.
The fact that I have to watch out for potholes instead of concentrating on the road ahead seems to be another danger that Oxfordshire County Council should be aware of.
I wonder if other drivers do the same because I’m sure it is a sub-conscious thing.
It’s a bit like trying to catch a ball but for a split second you take your eye off it to see where you are treading and miss the catch. — Yours faithfully,
Mr M Thompson
Early warning to drivers
Sir, — I was talking to a “school-run” driver recently whose route takes him from somewhere near Henley through Goring and Streatley after which he turns northwards.
I mentioned the closure of Whitchurch Bridge. Although he never goes anywhere near the bridge, the implications of 3,000 vehicle movements each way each day that won’t be going over it from September onwards will clearly be very significant for him.
The various councils on both sides of the river are doing what they can. For example, provisional maps showing the positions of diversion signs now exist. There is even discussion between councils!
Nevertheless, the bridge won’t be there for at least seven months and none of them can change that.
September may seem a long time ahead but such things always seem to happen so much sooner than expected. It is going to happen and it will affect people over a very large area. The earlier each of us thinks about what we may need to do when the time comes the easier it will be for everyone to cope when it does happen. — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, Whitchurch Parish Council
Let’s stop race in court
Sir, — It appears that the objections raised by the citizens of Henley and the surrounding neighbourhood against the Challenge Henley cycle route are being ignored and in consequence a private company will be enriched. It is outrageous that we are obliged to tolerate decisions made by unaccountable bureaucrats and a few politicians who are manifestly failing in their duty to represent their constituency and perhaps the time has come to make meaningful protest.
Let us put a stop to this arrogance and seek a judicial review. — Yours faithfully,
Paradise Mews, Henley
Another side of the story
Sir, — Having read your front-page story about the incident involving Alex and Linda Milne’s West Highland terrier in Gillotts Field, Henley, (Standard, February 9), I felt compelled to write.
I, too, was in the field on New Year’s Eve at the same time the “monster” dog was on the loose.
My partner and I were walking my partner’s dog, a two-year-old, small white fluffy bichon frise (about the same size as a Westie for those not familiar with the breed).
We entered the field via the kissing gate by Gillotts Lane and proceeded to walk straight across the field.
Very soon after we had let our dog off the lead we saw a young-looking, very enthusiastic, boisterous Boxer-type dog that came bounding over to us, with the owner following. Our dog and said enthusiastic dog greeted each other as only dogs do and then they started haring to and fro in and out of all our legs.
It was one of those moments that, as a dog owner, puts a smile on your face, seeing your dog enjoying what dogs do best, having a chase and being playful with one another.
After about five minutes we said our goodbyes and continued on our way, our dog with a spring in her step as she was obviously enjoying the fresh air.
We walked around the perimeter of the field and on our way back we noticed an argument ensuing.
From some distance we saw a man holding a white dog shouting and clearly swearing at the boisterous Boxer-type dog’s owner. He wasn’t very pleasant for a sustained period of time, so we decided we didn’t fancy getting involved.
My partner and I commented to one another that the two dogs obviously didn’t see eye-to-eye and one had snapped at the other, although we didn’t see the extent of any injuries.
Seeing the story, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was most surprised to see words such as “monster” and “psychotic” used to describe a dog that I saw with my own eyes as boisterous and enthusiastic.
I am sure whatever happened to cause the two dogs to fight will only be known by the dogs themselves and as dog owners we know every time we take our pride and joy for a walk we are aware of the risk that not all dogs see eye-to-eye.
I am sure Alex and Linda’s experience was distressing and the vet’s bill would have been unwelcome, but to appear on the front page of the local paper, describing a scene from American Werewolf in London is a little unfair, as 20 minutes earlier the dog I met was charming.
I don’t suppose I will ever bump into the Boxer-type dog’s owner again as I am sure, after this, she will not walk her dog in that field again but I would suggest she takes her dog back to training classes to get a little more control to avoid a repeat of this incident.
By the way, there is still a reluctance for owners who walk their dogs in this field to pick up their pets…. it’s disgusting. Are people in Henley really too posh to pick up poo? — Yours faithfully,
Housing plan is flawed
Sir, — I own a house and approximately two acres of land behind the Bridle Path, Woodcote. I lived there for 16 years but have rented it out for the past two.
I felt I must put pen to paper after attending the first of two Woodcote neighbourhood plan drop-in meetings held at the village hall on February 5 and 9.
These meetings were planned by the Woodcote Neighbourhood Group with the idea of showing the villagers all the sites that had been put forward with a view to being developed in the future.
There were approximately 23 sites and the group had previously discussed all of them and then graded each one on suitability for the group’s development criteria.
The group then narrowed these down to seven potential sites and asked residents to choose their preferred three sites for the final selection.
The public said last summer that new homes should be within the built-up area, not on the outskirts of the village, and development ought not to be concentrated in one area.
Three of the seven sites put forward at the drop-in sessions are all adjoining and are off Reading Road. Only one of these three sites is truly brownfield (the garden centre) and yet the other two were described as brownfield.I was approached by the group last year and asked if I was prepared to put my land forward to be developed. I agreed and was happy for the group to visit the property at any time to determine its suitability.
At no stage did any member of the group accept my invitation and visit my site and I then discovered at the above meeting that my land had been excluded from the final selection as they had deemed it to be a greenfield site, which it is not as for the past 50 years it has had buildings of some description with various businesses being run from them. It should therefore be graded as a brownfield site.
I raised this issue at the meeting and asked for a discussion with the group but was told by the chairman that their decision was final and my land had been excluded.
It seems strange to exclude the land off Bridle Path, which is extremely well screened so any development would have virtually no visual impact on the village, has good and safe access and is within the boundaries of the village.
One of the main concerns of the group regarding the South Stoke Road site was traffic congestion and yet one of their final seven sites is opposite the two schools where there is already huge concern over dangers to the public caused by existing traffic problems.
I do find it surprising that sites well outside the village boundary on agricultural land are being promoted. It seems that at no stage has the group considered infill within the village.
I am a great believer in a free and democratic society with open discussion on all things and am very disappointed at the way this whole selection issue has been handled. There is a great deal of misinformation being circulated.
I understand it is impossible for everyone to be completely impartial, particularly where any proposed development affects most residents living within the community, but I do feel there are two huge flaws in the case put forward by members of the Woodcote Neighbourhood Group — firstly, their failure to recognise all brownfield sites and, secondly, and perhaps more importantly, their failure to try to contain the development within the village boundary, which would have minimal impact on the community.
Surely most of us agree that more houses have to be built in villages everywhere to ensure future affordable housing for our children and our increasingly ageing population. — Yours faithfully,
Bridle Path, Woodcote
How to lose customers...
Sir, — I fully agree with Councillor Carole Lewis (Standard, February 15) that the new post office arrangement in Sonning Common is a joke and certainly not customer convenient.
In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking it has been done with the deliberate intention of deterring people from using it, thereby giving the “powers that be” the excuse to close it altogether.
I visited it on Monday morning merely to post a large envelope which required weighing and an appropriate stamp. There were a dozen or so people in the queue in a very restricted queuing area also serving the general shop tills. After 10 minutes with the queue reduced by only two people and realising others in front of me were there to tax cars, which of course takes a long time, I gave up and drove to Emmer Green.
The downside of that for Sonning Common was that while there I took advantage of the local shops. — Yours faithfully,
‘Local’ post office... not
Sir, — The new-style “local” branch post office at Sonning Common is a joke.
There is one counter where there were three, you can’t use many of the great services that we could before and, to top it all, the “staff” (if you can call them that) don’t even know the price of a second class stamp.
I for one am hoping that the new-style One Stop shop will soon go bust and we can get a real local post office back. For the time being we are having to go to Emmer Green and Henley. — Yours faithfully,
Red House Drive, Sonning Common
I’ll shop elsewhere
Sir, — Well, it has come to a head really, a decision has to be made whether free parking at Tesco in Henley is worth the hassle of searching the empty shelves, lacklustre display and rude, reluctant management, or to spend the time and cost traversing to Marlow, High Wycombe or (God forbid) Reading.
I would sorely miss my friends among the ever helpful, friendly staff but I want the products that I want and not to have the supermarket dictate what it wants to put in my shopping basket.
The sad fact is that what I want and indeed used to purchase from the shop “we all love to hate” has diminished from a goodly “almost everything” to a depressing hardly anything.
Their offers have also changed from a lot of the things my family eats and uses to hardly any of it. Most of my basket staunchly remains outside the “deals” range, most of which seems to be made up of the stock they want to get shot of.
One day, not for the first time, staff were still putting a delivery on the shelves from the previous night at noon, surely evidence of drastic under-staffing and bad management.
Indeed I stood by when an open discussion took place which informed everyone present that new starters that week in the internet department were not going to be paid until several weeks later due to lack of money in the store budget. Tesco — lack of money? A sick joke by a greedy corporate monster more like. No, most of my shopping will be done elsewhere, where the shelves are filled and products are more to my liking not theirs.
Instead of “Every little helps”, perhaps Tesco’s motto should actually read “Very little help”. — Yours faithfully,
Mr H Roberts
Shop cameras need update
Sir, — With regard to the CCTV images of suspected shoplifters operating in the Henley Waitrose store (Standard, February 15), I failed to see how anyone could be identified from images of such poor quality. I have noticed time and time again the very poor quality of the images from CCTV cameras. If the cameras are only capable of this poor work surely the photos are useless to produce as evidence.
To expect readers to identify anyone is almost impossible. Even if the suspects are local, which I doubt, it would still be impossible.
In this day and age the technology must be available to upgrade the cameras. If a suspect was arrested purely on the basis of the published images they would be able to plead not guilty due to their poor quality.
Update your cameras, Waitrose. I think this is part of the answer to the problem. — Yours faithfully,
D W Hermon
Northfield End, Henley
Promotion of a thief
Sir, — I write with reference to Gordon McDowell’s letter headlined “Chef should keep quiet” regarding Antony Worrall Thompson’s brush with the law last year, where he was cautioned for serial shoplifting (Standard, February 15).
I too am wondering why Antony has been allowed to make his way back into his local community.
He has recently appeared in cookery slots on BBC Radio Berkshire, cooked the sausages outside Machin’s butchers in Henley at Christmas time and posed for photographs which your paper featured — the list goes on!
While you happily published CCTV images of suspected shoplifters in Henley to “name and shame” them, the same obviously does not apply to Mr Worrall Thompson, which is grossly unfair.
To top it all, I see that Tesco in Henley is actually advertising his Windsor Grill — his business advertising card is up on the wall.
I wonder if the store realises that it is supporting and advertising the very criminal it brought to national media attention. — Yours faithfully,
Stapleton Close, Marlow
At last, a real (lit) theatre
Sir, — With reference to your article about Henley Town Council’s objection to the Kenton Theatre’s plan for an illuminated sign (Standard, February 8), I feel considerable sympathy for Ed Simons and the management of the theatre.
After many years of the Kenton being primarily an amateur theatre with a very limited programme, the present management has done much to create a community theatre offering a wide range of attractions for the benefit of the people of Henley. All this at no cost to the taxpayer.
Although the new canopy fitted some years ago is a vast improvement on what went before, it provides no illuminated signage.
As this is a business that operates for much of the time in the hours of darkness, a sign that can be seen in the dark is surely a necessity.
Is there any other town centre theatre in the country that does not have some sort of illuminated sign?
The proposed design would make the Kenton look like a real theatre at last and proclaim it as a major landmark in Henley.
I hope Mr Simons and his team are not discouraged and continue to try to raise the profile of the theatre. — Yours faithfully,
Best ticket in town
Sir, — I want to give a large thank-you to the Henley Standard on behalf of the Henley Drama Festival committee for taking up our story of being rescued by the generosity of the Marston’s brewery and the Brakspear pub company, both of which sponsored our 41st festival and on the successful outcome of the festival which I wrote about in the Standard last May.
In fact, the festival was even more successful than we envisaged.
It just shows how wide the circulation of your newspaper is as, when our invitation went out to amateur theatrical groups to apply to perform their one-act plays at our 42nd festival, we had so many very talented groups applying, we have decided to run for six nights, not four or five as in previous years, and we still have a waiting list.
The festival will therefore run at the Kenton Theatre from Monday, May 6 to Saturday, May 11 and it will be a really exciting week.
Our aim is to attract groups of all kinds to perform. Last year we had a group of people with special needs (Friendly Bombs) who were so good they actually won the adjudicator’s special prize. When they performed there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
This year we shall have another group of people with special needs and four other groups who have never performed at the festival as well as our regular entrants.
Every year the standard of acting is raised because every group wants to win at least one trophy.
Three plays are performed each evening. Last year there was such an eclectic mix of plays. In fact, it was the local playwright, Caroline Bowder, who won the prize for best play.
The Henley Drama Festival is such a good night out for anyone who loves theatre and we offer a season ticket for people wanting to attend every evening — in fact, it’s the best ticket in town! Thank you again. — Yours faithfully,
Blandy Road, Henley
Support new jazz festival
Sir, — As part of the Henley as a winter destination campaign, we are working together to see if we can launch a Henley autumn jazz festival in October.
The aim is to create an exciting event to appeal to locals and tourists and work with a wide range of local businesses to see how we can best use it to boost trade too.
We already have a marvellous list of performers, both big names and local favourites, ready to entertain (through the hard work of local businessman Rich Creed and local music promoters Eight Ray Music).
Many of Henley’s best venues, such as Hotel du Vin, the Three Tuns and Leander Club, have offered their premises for the proposed weekend event.
Now we are looking for sponsors (of all sizes), advertisers for the publicity material, jazz fans who would like to help with spreading the word, project management or stewarding — and clever ideas from local retailers, hospitality services and any other local businesses or individuals who can help us make the most of a festival like this for the benefit of all the town.
We are looking for imaginative suggestions on how local businesses could use this as a springboard to boost their own trade and profile.
So, if you have some thoughts or would simply like to find out more, join us for an open meeting at Hotel du Vin in New Street on Wednesday, March 6 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm or email town centre manager Peter McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org — Yours faithfully,
Julie Perigo, chairman, the Henley Partnership, and Peter McConnell, Henley town centre manager
Thanks for helping mum
Sir, — I’d like to thank the kind removal men who ran to assist my mother when she fell in Reading Road, Henley, last Friday — also the helpful lady from the solicitors who took her in and offered her a chair and cup of tea until she felt well enough to make her way home.
Fortunately, apart from some cuts and bruises, she was none the worse for her misadventure.
We wanted to pass on our grateful appreciation of the kindness shown. Our faith in humanity remains intact. — Yours faithfully,
Stoke Row Road, Kingwood
Difficult to understand
Sir, — With reference to John Howell MP’s comments on the same-sex marriage bill (Standard, February 15) he stated it was a vote of conscience and there was no right or wrong decision.
Surely our conscience is our moral sense of right and wrong. By voting with his conscience and believing there was no right or wrong decision, why then was it the most difficult issue he’d ever had to vote on? — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — I really liked the idea of extending your Turning Back The Pages feature to the letters page. Publishing letters from 100 years ago about same-sex marriage and the Conservative Party is really interesting as you can see how far views have evolved in our modern society. What? Oh... — Yours faithfully,
Hedges are hazard for pedestrians
Sir, — I was a Henley resident some years ago and my mother still lives in the town.
Every time I come to visit her I take her dog out for a walk, sometimes with my daughter. Each time I go out I am faced with numerous cancerous growths which put our safety at risk.
I am referring to the uncontrolled hedges being allowed to obliterate the pedestrian paths alongside very busy roads.
The estate where I walk is on the driving school routes and even though it is not a main road it can be extremely busy, especially at home time for Gillotts School.
The hedges have been allowed to take over more than half the walkways in places, forcing people into the roads.
I am dismayed that the council has done nothing to bring this matter under control.
The hedge in my picture (above right) has been allowed to take up more than half the pathway, forcing two people walking together into the roadway.
In the second photo the lamp-post clearly shows where the highway boundary is.
A sign saying “Slow, children at play” is hidden by hedge growth.
Does this say something about the lack of care the residents have for their own children?
I call upon Oxfordshire County Council and Henley Town Council to stand up and be counted. Challenge these homeowners and enforce the highways boundaries and make our paths safe again before someone is seriously injured or killed. — Yours faithfully,
Mold Crescent, Banbury
Grave of a Henley man in Seychelles
Sir, — While on holiday in the Seychelles, my wife’s homeland, we visited her mother’s grave in what must be the largest cemetery I have ever seen.
While she was tending the grave I wandered off looking at the other graves and not 10 feet away I came upon the grave of a Henley man. There are thousands of graves and for me to chance upon this one was mind-boggling.
The inscription on the headstone reads: “In loving memory of James Henry Brooks MRCS, Chevalier de Lordre de Pie IX. Born at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire on the 23rd October 1831, died at Henley Villa, Mahe, on the 9th June 1920 after over 60 years of residents in Seychelles. Also of Diamantina, his wife, who followed him to rest on the 14th January 1922.”
I wonder if any of your readers have any more information on this man as I would like to put some information together to give to the museum in Mahe, Seychelles. — Yours faithfully,