Sir, — I was driving to Reading through Binfield Heath on Monday last week when I saw ahead what looked
Sir, — I was driving to Reading through Binfield Heath on Monday last week when I saw ahead what looked like plastic adorning the hedgerow.
As I came alongside, I saw this beautiful display of icicles caused by the spray from cars going through a puddle that was then frozen by the exceptionally strong cold wind.
No doubt in a couple of weeks’ time, this beautiful winter scene will be replaced by the bright green of new leaves. — Yours faithfully,
Susan Young, St Mary’s Close, Henley
Sir, — I thought your readers would be interested in this bizarre phenomenon — an unusual formation of icicles, created on a roadside bush by cars driving through a puddle and splashing water on to it, which must have frozen overnight.
At first, I thought it was a group of very early catkins but as I drove closer realised that it was in fact this far more interesting icicle formation. — Yours faithfully,
Sensible to move hospital
Sir, — Last week, Peter Reader commented on Barry Wood?s excellent letter on Townlands Hospital published the previous week.
Mr Wood put forward cogent and practical reasons why we should now consider a change of plans for the redevelopment of the hospital.
Mr Reader says it is not the time to change course but, on the contrary, the current delays provide a great opportunity to seek an alternative site which would be better suited to the present controversial, over-large and unsuitable planned development.
With regard to Mr Reader?s letter, I wish to point out some specific and important issues:
—He makes no mention of the serious traffic problems the planned redevelopment on the Townlands site would cause. The town centre and car parks are already congested. Vehicles accessing or exiting the GP surgeries and the hospital already encounter serious difficulties and extra vehicles would be catastrophic.
In November a petition regarding the serious problems envisaged was signed by more than 100 residents in York Road, Clarence Road, King?s Road and King?s Close and delivered to South Oxfordshire District Council?s planning committee. The petition was totally ignored by the committee and by Henley Town Council.
It has become quite clear that those living outside the central area of town do not appear to have the slightest idea of the havoc already caused by traffic problems.
—The monstrously large and aggressively modern development planned is totally inappropriate in the middle of an old market town like Henley. The fact that the site is in a conservation area and so should be protected has also been ignored by the district and the town councils.
Those of us who appreciate our heritage and want to protect it are appalled by the lack of concern shown regarding this important issue.
—Mr Reader mentions that the Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust did at one stage consider alternative out-oftown sites for the hospital but these were rejected in favour of the Townlands site. This was well before the trust decided to shoe-horn into the site a 64-bed care home and other additions which have produced such a vastly inappropriately sized development.
The information provided by Mr Wood in his letter demonstrates clearly that there could be many benefits in seeking an alternative site for our hospital. His suggestions make much common sense and should be strongly supported. — Yours faithfully,
Patricia Campbell, York Road, Henley
Proud of our community
Sir, — We really appreciated Dan Robinson?s article summarising the progress of the Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan (Standard, March 1), which has generated even more interest in our work. We would like now to place on record some additional information to continue our policy of keeping everyone affected fully informed.
First is to say that the two jam-packed public presentations on February 7 and 9 were just a milestone on our journey to a complete the plan.
To start our work programme we first held four well-publicised public "design days" in April, June, July and September last year in which more than 250 residents and other interested parties took part.
Of those, 82 volunteered to help and they carried out 191 surveys for us.
Of these, 123 were carefully structured site assessment surveys of the 14 SON Sites, 28 were formal surveys of the village character and 40 were of the landscape settings.
Our core working party team then fully documented and analysed all these surveys to give us the basis for making our initial site selection proposals that were publicly presented on February 7 and 9.
As well as using the survey results, each proposal was supported by a colourcoded chart (named traffic lights summaries) setting out a 39-point empirical analysis of all the information available to us.
In order to eliminate any evaluation bias, 14 volunteers independent of the plan working party scrutinised each of the traffic lights summaries under the guidance of our independent professional advisers.
At the end of each of the February presentations everyone attending was asked to take away a booklet containing the recommended proposals for the 14 SON sites and to return them to us with their written comments in the following week.
We believe that it is quite fair to assume that anyone present with strong views on our proposals would have used these booklets to give them to us.
We received 416 written comments on our proposals: 89 per cent strongly supported them, six per cent were undecided and five per cent disagreed.
This gives us confidence that we are on the right track towards a good balance of choices.
With this strong endorsement from our residents, we are now working to crystalise interim decisions on sites — ready to move on to the design phase in which we will be detailing our proposals for the sites that we are taking forward as well as considering the wider needs of the village for amenities, services and facilities that will be used by all.
During this phase we will be consulting the appropriate landowners, local residents and neighbouring parish councils in the hope that we can arrive at mutually acceptable proposals for inclusion and publication in our final plan recommendations later this year.
Once our complete plan has been endorsed by the parish council it will be presented for inspection by a suitably qualified examiner and then, if passed, it will be put to a local referendum to seek electoral approval.
Only after crossing those important hurdles will it become "our" planning law to be applied within Sonning Common until at least 2027. From all this, your readers will realise that we are now only at the end of the beginning.
Just to get to this point has taken much toil and sweat but no blood or tears (yet), from our many volunteer residents as well as from our very dedicated plan working party. All are deserving of thanks from the whole community.
We expect to be proud of the plan that we will produce.
We are already proud of and humbled by the Sonning Common community spirit that has taken us this far. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Barrie Greenwood
Chairman of Sonning Common Parish Council?s planning committee and of the neighbourhood development plan working party
Too hasty on development
Sir, — Mark and Pauline Hatt?s letter about development in Woodcote (Standard, March 1) will strike more than a chord with residents who are concerned about the neighbourhood plan.
It would seem to me that the criteria which best met the wishes of the residents, as expressed at the "dropin" session last summer, have been largely ignored and that the decision is being left to a handful of self-appointed parish council members.
There would appear to be a great rush to get a final decision by the annual parish meeting next month, when people are likely to be presented with a fait accompli.
I understood that this meeting was to be an opportunity to present all the sites suggested for development to the people of Woodcote for them to make their own decisions.
It would seem, however, that the decision on which sites are to be developed will rest with a small minority.
Might it not be a good idea to take a step back and allow the inspector to examine potential developments? — Yours faithfully,
Julian Ralley, Bridle Path, Woodcote
Commitment to community
Sir, — Further to my letter regarding the One Stop store in Sonning Common and its refusal to continue to act as keyholders for the neighbouring village hall (Standard, March 8), I am pleased to say that the manager at the Co-operative store has willingly agreed to act as keyholder and told me that he sees it as part of his and the Co-op?s commitment to the community.
I am tempted to boycott the One Stop store but we need to keep our post office, even in its new meagre form. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury, Sonning Common Parish Council, Woodlands Road, Sonning Common
Post office in darkness
Sir, — I have passed the One Stop store in Sonning Common at 6.10am on the last two Sundays, when the post office was meant to be open, and the shop has been in total darkness. Maybe the staff have been sick. Pensioners and villagers are not all computer literate and they need postal services.
The Post Office?s vision, as expressed by regional network manager Mark Lawrence (Standard, March 15), may be the way forward but it has not considered the people in this village and the concept of a Post Office "local" is selfish.
The limited services have upset people in Sonning Common very much. Please reconsider, Mr Lawrence. — Yours faithfully,
Heather Allwright, Wood Lane, Sonning Common
Dogs versus runners
Sir, — Your correspondent John Ewans wrote about dogs jumping up and chasing runners (Standard, March 1), so I thought I might add my own comments.
I am a regular runner and a
walker with the Sonning Common
Health Walks and many times have had dogs chase me, jump up at me, attempt to bite me and trip me up and when I have talked to the owners I usually get abuse.
Why is it that a lot of dog owners (not all) seem to think that it is okay to let their sometimes filthy muddy dogs jump up you, chase and bite you? Please explain, dogs owners.
Does anyone know the best way to keep a dog away from you, apart from educating the owners, as shouting doesn?t seem to work?
Some people are frightened of dogs so, dog owners, please remember that you may love your muddy, barking dog and think that it is okay to let it chase us and trip us up and then become abusive when we complain, but not all of us think the same way as you.
Maybe if owners behave like this with no thought for anyone else, then that is just the way they are and will never be changed.
You can?t really blame the dogs who have been allowed to do this. I had better not get started on dog mess on footpaths... — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — How can Sotheby?s estate agent be chastised for its "unsightly" signs ("Standard, March 15) yet the multiple gauche and gaudy advertising boards of Southern Fried Chicken and Pizza in Greys Road do not?
The whole area at the bottom of Greys Road resembles a refuse site most of the time, largely due to the detritus from these types of outlets and the inconsiderate students who discard the packaging into the streets on their way to The Henley College.
How about we just empty our wheelie bin/bag contents in the lecture rooms and see the reaction? — Yours faithfully,
Nick Jones, Albert Road, Henley
Right to cap City bonuses
Sir, — Britain?s economy was dealt a huge blow by the mismanagement of our banks and the stupidity of our financial industry.
For that the "bonus culture" in the City of London must take much blame. Greedy bankers chasing enormous bonuses indulged in short-term thinking and risky speculations that led to financial collapse.
I welcome the latest agreement between MEPs and European governments to cap bankers? bonuses.
The agreement will limit the possible bonuses that can be paid to 100 per cent of salary (only!), or up to 200 per cent if shareholders agree, but this will not seem tough enough to those who wonder why million-pound bonuses have to be paid to people just to do their jobs.
The curb on bankers? bonuses was the price demanded by MEPs for supporting new rules that require financial institutions to hold more capital.
We are also insisting these organisations reveal how much profit they are making in each country and what taxes they are paying. It will be pan-European legislation, so London, Frankfurt and Paris will have to comply equally. To those who say these measures will damage Britain?s financial industry, I invite them to remind us of the mind-boggling sums we are now paying because of the scale of the problems this industry has created. — Yours faithfully,
Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for South-East England, Oxford
I forgot to close blinds
Sir, — I was interested in your Diary item about the blackout blind at the offices of B-Legal solicitors in West Street, Henley, (Standard, March 8).
I wonder if the blind came from Window Darkeners, which was based in Bell Street. Its blinds were a very dark green with a crepe-like pattern and highly stiffened so that they seemed more like cardboard.
During the last war I was manageress of Window Darkeners, even though I was only 18. The business was set up by Mr Maurice, a Jewish émigré who had sold high-class shoes before the war. There were about 18 employees and I was responsible for running the assembly room.
One night I left a light on without the blinds being down. This was a serious matter as the light could attract German bombers.
The matter was reported in the Standard shortly afterwards. — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — The Goring and Streatley branch of Arthritis Research UK held a collection at Tesco in Henley on March 14 which raised £351.40.
We would like to thank all those who contributed. — Yours faithfully,
Rosemary Lee, Secretary, Goring and Streatley branch of Arthritis Research UK
Helping those with diabetes
Sir, — With reference to your story about the couple running the London Marathon for type 1 diabetes research (Standard, March 15), this is awesome news!
My friend Natasha Wakaruk is running a half marathon in Scotland to raise money for better treatments and hopefully a cure. — Yours faithfully,
Daryl White Canada
The hole truth please
Sir, — Please assign your most experienced investigative journalist to ascertain the truth in the story that the quiet lane that runs past David Cameron?s house has been resurfaced from end to end at the same time as Sonning Common is peppered with dangerous potholes. Thank you in anticipation.