Monday, 20 September 2021

Potholes keep reappearing

Sir, — After reading the recent letters about potholes, I thought that I must respond with some of my own comments.

Sir, — After reading the recent letters about potholes, I thought that I must respond with some of my own comments.

I drive a route including Kennylands Road in Sonning Common and Playhatch Road at Playhatch daily and have reported the very large potholes at the side of Kennylands Road near the junction with the B481.

Some houses are being built there and it looks like lorries turning into the building site have broken the verge and there are now continuous potholes inches deep.

In addition they have made a new footpath and kerb which appears to have narrowed the road, so if a van or bus is coming in the opposite direction then you have no option but to drive in the potholes or stop. This is near a busy junction, so stopping is not really an option.

I have reported this to Oxfordshire County Council many times and white lines have been painted around the potholes but they are never mended.

The council was asked about the potholes in Playhatch Road on BBC Radio Berkshire’s morning programme recently and some, but not all, of them were repaired the next day. Two weeks later, some of the repairs had already failed and I noticed that the holes had white lines around them again.

What a waste of money this is — a repair that lasts two weeks. Why is there no quality control on these repairs? This is our money that the council is wasting.

If all of us reported every pothole that we came across (it is easy to do on the county council’s website) it would take more notice but there again, maybe it wouldn’t. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Soden

We pay for safe roads

Sir, — Well done to David Gobbett on his one-man campaign against potholes (Standard, March 1).

Don’t let Oxfordshire County Council get you down. We have all paid our contributions and it is their duty to use our money to keep the roads safe and useable. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Jones

Albert Road, Henley

Pollution solutions

Sir, — I am writing about the concerns expressed about the effect of heavy goods vehicles passing through Henley.

As well as the noise and structural damage to roads and buildings, there is also the issue of air pollution.

The latest (2010) figures from South Oxfordshire District Council show that HGVs and buses make up about four per cent of the traffic flowing through the town but they contribute nearly 40 per cent of vehicle emissions.

The nature of the streets close to the centre of Henley means that the pollutants do not disperse quickly. What are the health effects? What is being done? What more can and should be done?

Henley in Transition is concerned about this issue as well as looking for long-term sustainable solutions to Henley’s traffic problems. Do join us for a discussion in the King’s Arms Barn on Tuesday at 7.30pm. — Yours faithfully,

Dave McEwen

Henley in Transition, Church Street, Henley

Marooned by triathlon

Sir, — Please allow me to correct your correspondent Simon Barnett (Standard, March 8). If he was to complain about the Challenge Henley triathlon then that would be a Nimby action.

Unfortunately for us, and many of the other complainants, it is not in our back yard but across our front doorstep.

I would also like to correct him on another matter — the majority of people who are marooned by this event would be quite happy to support it if the road closures were for only three or four hours but 12 hours is too long.

The motorcycle escorts provided are too few and it takes nerves of steel to negotiate the hoards of angry cyclists when you are lucky enough to eventually get an escort. — Yours faithfully,

Mary Sarson

Lambridge Wood Road, Henley

Not time to change course

Sir, — While I share the frustration of Barry Wood at the ongoing delays to the redevelopment of the Townlands Hospital site, a frustration which is probably shared by most of the residents of Henley and the surrounding villages, it would be entirely the wrong move to suggest “changing horses” at this late stage.

As a long-term resident of Henley, I have followed the saga of this project for 10 years or more, from the early protest marches around the town by residents and the public petition presented to the prime minister in Downing Street, when it seemed likely that we would lose our local hospital completely.

It has been a very long and frustrating road, not only for the residents of Henley but more particularly for the Townlands steering group under the chairmanship of Councillor Ian Reissmann. The committee should be congratulated for its fortitude and perseverance when, on some occasions, all seemed lost.

I seem to recall that during its early deliberations, the committee and Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust officials did consider the possibility of developing an alternative out-of-town site for the replacement hospital but although there were other greenfield sites on the outskirts of Henley, these were all rejected in favour of redeveloping the current site.

I applaud Mr Wood’s wish to see more low-cost housing built in the area but if he has the support of the Waterman’s allotment holders for a move elsewhere, which I doubt, why could that site not be used for low-cost housing?

I believe that he is deluded if he thinks that the National Health Service, which owns the Townlands site, would be willing to sell it for £15million (his quoted figure) and hand over this sum for the development of an alternative hospital site in Henley.

He is probably old enough to recall that the War Memorial Hospital site, which was originally provided from money raised by public donations, was sold by the NHS, which gave an assurance at the time that the proceeds of the sale would be used for improvements on the Townlands site.

Despite this assurance, the financial proceeds disappeared into the NHS coffers, never to reappear in Henley.

With the NHS in its current financial dilemmas, why does Mr Wood think that this time the situation would be any different?

Finally, with the plans for the redevelopment now approved, and the generally accepted view that the planned relocation of the Order of St John care home and the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed now included in the redevelopment, this will provide a comprehensive “health campus” on the single site which also incorporates the Hart and Bell surgeries.Now is not the time to suggest changing horses. Rather we should all be uniting to press the authorities for a speedy solution to the current problem and an early start on the redevelopment.

With apologies for mixing my metaphors, but if Mr Wood wishes to jump ship at this late stage he should go ahead and do it but not take all the inhabitants of Henley with him. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Reader

Western Road, Henley

Silly season has arrived

Sir, — The silly season has arrived again! Elections are once more in the air. How do I know?

Well, when the chairman, vice-chairman and leader of the Henley Conservatives all go into print at great length, mainly blowing their councillor trumpets, in the same week (Standard, March 8), you know something is up.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier is praised in excelsis by Councillor David Nimmo-Smith who notes she “does not sound her own trumpet, working constantly, quietly and positively for the good of Henley” while Councillor Sam Evans tells us that Cllr Nimmo-Smith also works “constantly, quietly and positively (where have I read that before?) for the good of Henley”.

So are both of them exact paragons of virtue, or should we be asking, who wouldn’t seem as such with fellow committee members being choreographed to sound their trumpets for them?

Oh, and into the bargain, we got a masterclass on the full council from the new chairman, something not even previous chairman Councillor Will Hamilton attempted (thank goodness) on his first appearance!

As I said, the silly season is well and truly with us, so doubtless there is plenty more such tasteless junk to come. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor David Silvester (former Conservative)

Henley Town Council, Luker Avenue, Henley

Disrespect for position

Sir, — Oh dear, there must be county council elections taking place on May 2.

One can only come to that conclusion after reading the letters last week from the chairman and vice-chairman of the Henley Conservatives and their election candidate.

Firstly, we have the newly elected chairman Peter Hopkins naively telling us he had never attended a full town council meeting and then telling us about his “friend” Lorraine Hillier, who has been on the council for 14 years (although he stated 20 years at the council meeting) and never been mayor. He suggests that as the longest-serving member not to be elected mayor it should now be her turn.

What he forgets to mention is when the Conservatives had the majority on the council from 1999 to 2003, they had the chance to make Cllr Hillier mayor yet during that period they chose Conservative councillor Tony Lane twice, even though he had been mayor twice before.

What Mr Hopkins also fails to tell your readers is that he is a former London borough councillor and as such is fully aware how councils operate.

Secondly, we have Councillor David Nimmo Smith using nothing but plagiarism in his letter, as these were the words of Councillor Samantha Evans when she nominated Cllr Hillier.

One should probably ask Cllr Nimmo Smith why he never supported Cllr Hillier as mayor when the Conservatives had the majority on the council.

Finally, we have Cllr Evans, who has only been on the council for five minutes, telling us why Cllr Nimmo Smith should be deputy mayor and what his alleged achievements have been, when she should be asking why at county council level the Conservatives voted to renege on the £25,000 funding of Henley Youth Centre and drastically cut funding to our libraries.

In conclusion, what all three of your correspondents fail to tell readers is that up until two hours before the council meeting, Cllr Hillier was not the Conservatives’ choice for mayor-elect.

That was Cllr Nimmo Smith and once he lost that they would propose him as deputy mayor, their reasons being he needed to become high profile with the county council elections coming up.

This just shows the disrespect the Conservatives have for the positions of mayor and mayor-elect. Perhaps any of the three would like to tell us why they changed their minds?

Thankfully, with Henley Residents’ Group, we have councillors who wish to work for the town rather than the Conservatives who wish to work for their political masters and use people as political footballs. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Thoughtless dog owners

Sir, — I am concerned about the increasing problem of dog fouling in the residential streets within our lovely town of Henley.

I live in Harpsden Road and on many, many occasions myself or members of my family have, or almost have, stepped in vile excrement.

Our small daughter understands when I tell her “to look out for the doggy poo” and answers that the dogs need to go on the toilet (I wish they could!).

I’ve nothing against dogs but I do have against those inconsiderate owners who do not think it is their responsibility to pick up their animal’s waste that they leave outside our houses for one of us to step in and thereby spread germs into our homes.

We live near a veterinary clinic but the staff there agreed that the problem seems to be happening outside their opening hours, so are pretty certain it’s not their customers’ dogs which are responsible.

I quite believe them as the problem does seem to occur during the night — almost as if the owners wait for it to be dark so that no one can see them.

I would be grateful if you would highlight how widespread this problem is across Henley and ask what we as residents can do to catch these culprits and make our streets clean again. — Yours faithfully,

Michele Jones

Harpsden Road, Henley

New concept post office

Sir, — In response to the letters about the new-style post office in the One Stop shop in Sonning Common (Standard, February 22), a key point is that it is now open from 6am to 10pm, seven days a week.

The branch re-opened on January 25 as a “local” post office, a new concept for delivering Post Office services from an open-plan counter with Post Office products and services available alongside retail transactions during shop opening hours.

Having one combined till is balanced by the extended opening hours, which mean customers can use the post office earlier and later and at the weekends, allowing us to increase the time available to access our services at Sonning Common by more than 70 hours a week.

It may take local residents a while to get used to the increased availability of Post Office services. Independent research shows that the average queue time is 43 seconds and 100 per cent of customers are served in less than five minutes. This research has been undertaken at more than 200 local branches.

A Post Office local is based on transactions being easy to operate, thereby limiting customer waiting time and lessening the paperwork for operators. We are confident that the Post Office local service in Sonning Common will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.

However, we are happy to meet customers and local councillors to discuss any issues they have and allay any fears. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Lawrence

Post Office regional network manager, South and East England

Disgraceful service

Sir, — I agree with Councillor Chrissie Phillips Tilbury that Sonning Common post office is a disgrace (Standard, March 8). It now resembles a kiosk-cum-broom cupboard.

The staff, however pleasant they are, cannot possibly be experienced postmasters/mistresses in a matter of weeks. Some of the previous staff were trained over many years. Having lived in the village for 30 years, I am now too wary to do business at the counter and only purchase stamps. Human errors will no doubt occur and I do not want to experience this.

More housing is planned for Sonning Common and yet there is barely an existing post office. If this is down to money and greed, then I can only consider the whole issue to be a load of rubbish. — Yours faithfully,

Heather Allwright

Wood Lane, Sonning Common

No respect for customers

Sir, — What has happened to the Sonning Common post office is a disgrace. It has gone from three counters to one by the entrance.

I feel sorry for elderly people, myself included, having to stand waiting because there is only one counter for post office work and being told to go to Emmer Green or Binfield Heath post offices.

The Post Office has no respect. — Yours faithfully,

Mr A H Manley

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Confusion over statue

Sir, — There seems to be some confusion over the identity of the statue that is presumed stolen from Phyllis Court Club in January 2012.

Phyllis Court Club contends it was the statue shown at the croquet club’s annual meeting at Christmas whereas other Phyllis Court Club members contend that this is not the statue in question.

I have a letter from Henley police stating that “the disappearance of the statue located at Phyllis Court Club is of continuing interest to the neighbourhood team etc”. — Yours faithfully,

Derek Shirley

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley

Thanks to hospital staff

Sir, — I would like very much to praise the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s cancer centre for their skill and dedication.

I have been attending for various tests and treatment for the last four months and found them so very polite and understanding during this very stressful period. Their work rate was phenomenal.

We are so very fortunate to have the Royal Berks to hand and I thank all the highly skilled staff. — Yours faithfully,

Clifford A Pryke

Sonning Common

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