Monday, 02 August 2021

Bad parking almost made me crash

Sir, — I was driving home on Wednesday night last week when I nearly had a nasty accident in Bell

Sir, — I was driving home on Wednesday night last week when I nearly had a nasty accident in Bell Street, Henley, due to a van being parked so far out into the road, as my photograph shows. Plus the vehicle’s front wheels were over the pavement! Large lorries and buses had to swerve into the other side of the road to avoid a collision.

I would like to know where the parking enforcement officer was. — Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Captives of science elite

Sir, - After shivering through the coldest March for between 20 and 50 years and as central Europe endures the deepest cold for 100 years, we may notice that the world hasn?t actually warmed for at least 16 years.

In March 2000 a climate expert said that "snowfalls are now just a thing of the past" so should we be surprised that there is now more ice than ever at both poles or that the population of polar bears is burgeoning?

The expert was in good company because in 1974 there were headlines warning of an imminent ice age!

While we already flinch at electricity bills bloated by compulsory levies for "renewable energy", we must realise that all UK manufacturing and business costs are about to soar once the "carbon floor price" of £16 on every ton of plant food (CO2) emitted by British industry begins next month. Get ready to weep.

Look at - a minute-by-minute view of the national demand for and supply of electricity - to see what those renewables are actually doing.

For a few days last week the 8.4 gigawatts of installed wind power generation, that we all subsidise at either two or three times the cost of conventional generation, struggled up to 60 per cent of its rated capacity before collapsing back to its normal 10 to 25 per cent.

Would you buy a car rated to achieve 40 miles per gallon but normally getting less than 10? Pig in a poke springs to mind.

All of this, driven by the Climate Change Act 2008, comes from trying to reduce the amount of a harmless gas that we all breathe out and on which all our lives depend. No carbon dioxide means no plants and no animals, humans included.

Were the UK to succeed in meeting its "carbon targets" the worldwide effect would not be noticeable while the country would be closed down.

This looks pretty odd to those of us who learnt about the Medieval Warm Period (c. 900 to 1,300 AD) when grapes ripened in Scotland, the Vikings grew barley and raised livestock in Greenland and the world was much warmer than it is today with no industrial CO2 output.

All this arises from a theory that, by definition, cannot be proven.

The vaunted climate models all recognise that, on their own, rising CO2 levels will have little effect on us.

Their predictions, now looking ever more suspect, assume a huge forcing effect from either water vapour or clouds or both.

Much is made, especially by the BBC, of "climate science" and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, yet in 2005 Tim Flannery, Australia?s chief climate commissioner, wrote in his book, The Weather Makers: "The pronouncements of the IPCC do not represent mainstream science, nor even good science, but lowest common-denominator science?"

How did we get into this mess? Follow the money that governments have been lavishing on anyone claiming expertise in climate change.

Most of the snollygosters* who claim to represent us in Westminster and Brussels have, with a few honourable exceptions, bought into the group-think and in some cases seem to have been bought by it.

When the chairman of the energy and climate change select committee triples or quadruples his MP?s salary by working for or advising "green companies", the chairman of the committee on climate change seems similarly conflicted by outside pecuniary interests and the big energy companies are profiting hugely from their "renewables" divisions, we all pay the price.

In 1961, president Eisenhower warned the world: "In holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-

technological elite."

He was so very right and we are now paying the price as captives. Time to rise up? - Yours faithfully,

Philip Collings, Harpsden Road, Henley

*One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable


What?s best for children

Sir, - I read with interest the letter from Steve Blake (Standard, March 29) regarding childcare.

I agree wholeheartedly with many of his points, especially the fact that for every young child who attends nursery it should be the best experience possible.

I have been running Dragonflies Montessori School for seven years and during that time there have been many changes and, on the whole, most of them have been


The revised Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is clear and concise and still maintains the child as the main focus.

The new teacher-

children ratios proposed for this autumn are a benchmark for the minimum number of teachers.

It is the responsibility of nursery owners and managers to ensure the children in their care are safe and given a rich nurturing learning environment by adjusting ratios as necessary.

Nursery schools that choose to employ the minimum number of teachers will not be able to provide such a good service and will therefore not be popular.

Ofsted asks nursery schools to submit self evaluation forms that highlight strengths and weaknesses and we are expected to make changes to continually improve. The onus is on us to get things right.

The private sector provides the majority of pre-school child care in the UK as there are very few fully-funded state-run nursery schools.

The number of three-year- olds eligible for the nursery education grant could never be met by the public sector.

This approach allows market forces to work; parents have freedom of choice as they can select any nursery school that is registered with the local authority to provide their child?s education.

Even if parents choose not to work or are unemployed, they should still have the same choices for their child as working parents.

Working parents often struggle with childcare and not just in the pre-school years.

In the UK, the majority of schools are still only open for a maximum of 39 weeks per year, leaving parents to make alternative arrangements or care for their children for the remaining 13 weeks. Working parents may only have 25 days? holiday per year.

This has a major impact on encouraging and enabling a parent?s (particularly mothers) return to the workplace.

The way parents cope is often a combination of taking holiday, asking friends and relatives to help out and by using holiday activity schemes.

These are not ideal and often extremely stressful for the parents and the children concerned.

This is surely the starting point, thinking about providing holiday provision for all children and making it affordable and, of course, enjoyable for the children. - Yours faithfully,

Lisa Drage, Principal, Dragonflies Montessori School, Norman Avenue, Henley

Illuminating response

Sir - I was interested to read the letter from Councillor Dieter Hinke stating that South Oxfordshire District Council officers were willing to meet us concerning the Kenton Theatre?s application for an illuminated sign (Standard, April 5).

Councillor Hinke, as chairman of Henley Town Council?s planning committee, expressed his willingness to engage with us as regards our application. I have a trail of emails with Councillor Sam Evans, copied to him, trying to arrange a meeting.

A meeting was finally arranged and confirmed, only to be cancelled 10 minutes beforehand due to inclement weather, even though both myself and the Kenton?s managing director Wendy Bowsher had braved the weather to be present.

I requested a new date and never received a response - hardly an effort to engage with us.

The fact is New Street is not a residential street. Indeed, South Oxfordshire District Council conservation officer Mark Brewer, in his letter of support for our application, refers to New Street as "Henley?s second commercial street".

A survey of the street found it was of mixed commercial and residential use, comprising houses, shops, pubs, an office and a very large hotel. In its former years, the street was dominated by the Brakspear Brewery.

If taken by measurement of frontage, New Street is 65 per cent commercial and 35 per cent residential.

The conservation officer has supported our application in respect of size, materials and internal illumination.

Susan Malcolm, the district council?s economic and development officer, has urged the council to support the theatre.

Cllr Hinke is correct in his assertion that there has been much publicity with regard to our application which, dare I say, has been overwhelming in its support.

Yes, his letter is illuminating - unlike the Kenton Theatre?s front of house!

I hope that this application will be decided on pure planning issues, not on political or personality bias. - Yours faithfully,

Edward Simons, Chairman of trustees, Kenton Theatre

Encouraging our youth

Sir, - I write in response to the letter from Sophie Taylor (Standard, March 5).

I have never claimed to have had a part in the organisation or planning of the Music of the Meadows festival, nor for that matter was I made aware of these group meetings arranged by the Deputy Mayor.

When Councillor David Nimmo Smith wrote that I was the catalyst which allowed the Be There Henley group to start, his reference was merely to my allowing the use of my coffee house as a venue by young people every Friday evening.However, the real catalysts were Maggie Atkinson along with our fantastic chairman Sam Bowden. - Yours


Lorraine Hillier, Hot Gossip coffee house, Friday Street, Henley

What does this mean?

Sir, - Councillor William Hall was correct to state that with the Oxfordshire County Council elections soon to take place, we would be entering the "silly season" of politics (Standard, April 5).

My first election leaflet has arrived and just happens to have come from his Conservative party and I am still trying to fathom what it means.

I quote: "What kind of town do we want to see in the future? Now is a compelling opportunity for innovation - to streamline bureaucracy for efficient, affordable and effective service delivery at the point of need, transparently accountable and underpinned by strong local values."

Now I imagined that the point of "need" and "strong local values" were our libraries, youth clubs, school maintenance, elderly residents, road safety schemes etc, all that the Conservatives have failed on in the past. Then again, I could be completely wrong.

Finally, can we thank the Conservatives for only raising our council tax this year by 1.99 per cent when it could so easily have been two per cent. - Yours faithfully,

Mr H Roberts, St Andrew?s Road, Henley

Solution to dog problem

Sir, - With respect to Mrs P A Pearce?s letter regarding her admirable acts of collecting the "fluttering pink and blue bags" of dog excrement (Standard, April 5), an obvious solution comes to mind.

As a clerk of Pishill with Stonor Parish Council, why hasn?t she suggested placing doggy waste bins at strategic points on Maidensgrove Common, particularly as it clearly attracts regular and numerous dog walkers?

As a dog lover, I also abhor those fellow dog owners who don?t clear up after their pets and, depending at which point on our morning walk our dog chooses to perform, it is either collected and placed in one of several conveniently sited bins provided in the park or taken home and placed in a separate bag until dustbin day.

Incidentally, the less obtrusive "plastic containers" also come in black! - Yours


Judith MacBeth, Emmer Green

Install some waste bins

Sir, - My respectful advice or suggestion to Mrs Pearce, who was clearly looking for a response as representative of Pishill with Stonor Parish Council by writing in about dog litter bags hanging on branches and bushes, is to capitalise on her direct connections with that council and influence a move to site receptacles or bins in the area.

Certainly, the dog walkers are making it known that they are willing to be responsible (albeit by a misguided effort) and those who speak for the parish council should reciprocate, not carp, in their duty towards decent council tax payers. - Yours faithfully,

Bob Nancarrow, Remenham Hill

Cycling while on the phone!

Sir, - I?ll be blunt: hate crime or not, when I?m driving I have come intensely to dislike cyclists - not as a group, but in groups.

I resent them almost as much as they must curse the motorists they force to sit in their wake.

My special venom I reserve for those weekend collectives (Raleighs?) of would-be hoi-polloi who refuse to form single file.

Years ago, before designer crash helmets, the Highway Code instructed drivers to give cyclists a wide enough berth to avoid squashing fallers. Probably that hasn?t changed but it becomes impossible in a narrow road.

Another separate motoring law sensibly discourages me from driving while holding my phone, so last Sunday my thin lips turned more than usually Meldrewy as, crawling down Stonor Valley behind several packs of chatty pedallers and having pulled in behind a parked car to let an oncoming swarm through, I noticed one of them, mobile clasped to right ear, left hand


That skill, mildly impressive in the circus, becomes simply foolhardy on a narrow, twisty road which, not long back, sadly saw a cycling fatality.

We all of us, cyclists and motorists, need to take the utmost care to ensure against a second tragedy. - Yours faithfully,

Robert Stephenson, Manor Road, Henley

Cyclists are vulnerable

Sir, - It was with consternation that I read in the national press recently that a number of local authorities were considering not repairing some roads and reclassifying them as byways.

It was then that it dawned on me that OxfordshireCounty Council must have already made that decision.I cite Stoke Row Road from the B481 to Stoke Row and the road from Henley through Harpsden to Crowsley as being typical.

When using these "roads" I urge drivers to give plenty of clearance as they pass cyclists as the riders may suddenly swerve to avoid cavities that appear before them.

Hitting one of these may be an annoying bump if you?re in a car but can mean broken bones or even death if you?re on two wheels.

In some European countries it is a legal requirement for motorists to give at least two metres clearance when overtaking cyclists. Should a collision occur the blame is put on the driver for not giving the required clearance - simple.

In the UK we seem to be very good at providing legal protection to children, vulnerable adults, ethnic minorites etc but not at providing similar protection to vulnerable road users. - Yours faithfully,

Colin Garnham, Rotherfield Peppard

Excellent new restaurant

Sir, - We went to Shaun Dickens? new restaurant on Friday before the official launch (Standard, March 5).

The food was amazing and absolutely delicious. I will definitely be returning.

The menu is going to change regularly to reflect what?s in season and comes fresh from suppliers and I thought the evening was great value, given the quality.

I am looking forward to going back and it?s great to support a local person. You won?t be disappointed if you do the same. - Yours


Zoe Hellman, Haywards Close, Henley

You must go cheaper, chef

Sir, - On reading that Shaun Dickens (ex-chef at L?Ortolan) was taking over the La Barca restaurant and that he was looking to offer a three-course dinner for £37 (Standard, March 29), my heart immediately sank for him.

Before he decides the price of his menu he should take time to visit (in my mind, and that of quite a few friends) the best two restaurants in the town, namely Villa Marina and La Bodega.

Four of us have lunched at both in the last month and for a three-course lunch with huge portions the cost is £15.50. If Shaun was to look at the dinner menus at both restaurants he would see that he could have a three-course dinner for £30 and under at those establishments.

Hopefully, he will not be supplying food in small portions surrounded by foam and other artistic decorations that do not offer value for money.

We wish Shaun the best of luck but if he does try to go too artistic with his food, considering also how far out of town he is, then he will undoubtedly come a cropper, so to speak.

I am sure that those, myself included, who eat at the Boathouse will have their own opinions. - Yours


John Williams, Western Road, Henley

Jogger who saved my dog

Sir, - May I express my heartfelt thanks to the young lady jogger who came to my assistance when my 16-year-old Welsh springer spaniel fell into the Thames on Monday afternoon.

Without her prompt assistance we both might have ended at Hambleden.

I was hardly in a position to express my gratitude at the time and, if she reads this, I would be most grateful if she could call me on 0118 946 3670. - Yours faithfully,

David Pratley, Binfield Heath

Raising awareness

Sir, - The Henley branch of Parkinson?s UK is starting a sub-group for younger people unable to attend the branch?s main weekday


Ten per cent of people with Parkinson?s are diagnosed before they reach the age of 50. This group is commonly referred to as "young onset"

Based on recent statistics, it is estimated that there are approximately 400 young people with Parkinson?s in the Thames Valley.

As part of Parkinson?s Awareness Week next week, the Henley branch is keen to let young onset people know that this sub-group of the main branch is being formed.

The group plans to hold an evening meeting once a month in a suitable venue in Henley.

The intention is that people with Parkinson?s and their family and friends will have an opportunity to share problems, find companionship, encourage physical challenges and raise awareness of what Parkinson?s is and how it affects people diagnosed with it and those around them.

Anyone interested in this new group should contact the branch secretary by emailing nickie.parkinsons - Yours faithfully,

Terry Dudeney, Chairman, Henley branch, Parkinson?s UK

The value of a sign

Sir, - It was good to see the Henley Residents? Group recognising the value of publicity by posing behind a large sign (Standard, March 5).

This is the very sort of publicity denied to the Kenton Theatre by the very same group.

Incidentally, the balloon behind our mayor elect looked like a rather ill-fitting halo. - Yours faithfully,

Jean Meeghan, Fair Mile, Henley

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