Sir, — The football shirts of the Piggott School, Wargrave — blue with a single, wide yellow band are unusual and very similar to those of Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires, arguably the most famous team in Argentina.
Is there an interesting story that we should know about? — Yours faithfully,
Gillian Maloney, from the Piggott School, says: “The kit is used for football and rugby. We have not got a connection with Argentina. In fact we recently changed the kit.”
Sir, — You featured candidates for the Oxfordshire County Council elections in last week’s Standard and, like other residents of Henley, I have received through my letter box some of the candidates’ leaflets outlining their pledges to make Henley a better place to live.
I have read them all and the issue which particularly attracted my attention was that raised by one candidate to stop the council’s chief executive being paid £182,000 a year.
I visited the council’s website to verify the facts and found it has five executive officers — a chief executive, three directors responsible for the council’s activities relating to children and families, environment and economy and social and community, and a chief financial officer who is also assistant chief executive.
The five are paid an average of about £140,000 each, which means we pay roughly the equivalent of the cost of five prime ministers to manage Oxfordshire.
Most of us are shattered by the fantastic salaries paid to footballers and bankers but I never imagined that county council executives were so highly paid. Why are they?
The excuse is that the salaries are reviewed every two years to keep them in line with the salaries paid to other council top executives but again one must ask why? Why behave like sheep? — Yours faithfully,
Ancastle Green, Henley
Not fit to represent me
Sir, — I read what the five candidates for the new Goring ward had to say.
Four of them do not acknowledge that the ward consists of much more than the villages of Goring and Whitchurch and talk of their connections there, while the Labour candidate has not grasped that this is a local election.
As a voter from outside these two villages, I want someone to represent the whole area but none of them shows they are fit to do that, so I will not be using my vote. — Yours faithfully,
Worthy but irrelevant
Sir, — The Henley Residents’ Group election literature invites me to support a variety of causes, which are worthy in themselves but not part of the remit of the county council.
Oxfordshire County Council doesn’t control hospitals or provide leisure and sports facilities and it no longer controls Gillotts School, which is now an academy. Yes, to championing Henley — more easily achieved since the Conservative-controlled county council initiated the boundary review, giving Henley one dedicated councillor.
Independent voice for Henley? It will be a lone voice, marginalised within the structures of county council governance, which relies on strong political groupings to achieve effective change. — Yours faithfully,
Blandy Road, Henley
Sir, — While I have been out canvassing for next week’s Oxfordshire County Council elections it has become clear to me that the Boundary Commission’s decision to keep the name of Sonning Common division but change the boundaries is causing confusion.
Sonning Common division now refers to the nine parishes that surround Henley, namely Binfield Heath, Bix & Assendon, Eye & Dunsden, Harpsden, Highmoor, Rotherfield Greys, Rotherfield Peppard, Shiplake and Sonning Common.
Electors may also wish to know that only the Conservative and Labour candidates live within the division. The UKIP candidate is from Kidlington, north of Oxford, and the Green candidate is from Oxford itself (there is no Lib-Dem candidate). — Yours faithfully,
Conservative candidate for the Sonning Common division of Oxfordshire County Council, Mill Lane, Shiplake
Badly served already
Sir, — I am horrified at the proposal to remove the on-street disabled parking bay in Hart Street, Henley, (Standard, April 19).
On-street disabled parking in Henley is already practically non-existent — it’s certainly much less than recommended by government guidelines.
Bell Street, Hart Street and Duke Street are particularly badly served.
There are disabled bays in the car parks, which are usually very well used. However, they are not in close proximity to the shops and restaurants and disabled people have a fair way to walk/stagger as it is. — Yours faithfully,
Chazey Road, Caversham
Don’t remove disabled bay
Sir, — On behalf of the members of South Oxfordshire Mencap Society, I would ask Henley Town Council to please reconsider its proposal to remove the disabled parking space outside the Catherine Wheel in Hart Street.
Our Meteor Club members gather at the Catherine Wheel on a regular basis for social outings which are extremely valuable opportunities for them to engage with the community.
On these occasions it is imperative that the specially adapted bus is able to park immediately outside the pub in order that the hydraulic lift which allows wheelchairs to be raised and lowered can be utilised.
Removal of this space would mean using the nearest alternative in Greys Road car park, which would cause difficulty, particularly in inclement weather.
It is particularly disappointing that no consultation has been held before taking this decision. We would be happy to assist should the council wish to reflect before taking its final decision. — Yours faithfully,
Honorary treasurer, South Oxfordshire Mencap Society, Church Street, Henley
Frustrating empty space
Sir, — I totally agree that convenient and sufficient disabled parking is required in Henley.
However, the two parking spaces at the top of Duke Street are empty 98 per cent of the time when I drive by trying to find a resident’s parking space for which I and many others pay.
Residents trying to park must be frustrated at seeing this empty space. — Yours faithfully,
Foam fashion, Hart Street, Henley
What about the workers?
Sir, — I work in Hart Street and see the disabled space outside the Catherine Wheel virtually every day. It has occurred to me many times that while the street pay and display parking is ram-packed with cars, this disabled space and often the residents’ bays are sitting empty.
In fact, the thing that’s overlooked is that residents can park in both the residents’ and normal pay and display bays yet people who work in Henley don’t have the right to use the residents’ bays, even though if I lived a few hundred yards closer to the town centre I would.
Meanwhile, there are very few general parking spaces with many of them being of the type where you could squeeze in three cars but people park badly so that the capacity is reduced by 50 per cent.
Over the past few years, with the change from pay and display to residents and disabled, the effect has been very negative on the available spaces and that adversely affects businesses trying to have visitors and/or stop for brief periods near their office when the car parks in Greys Road and King’s Road are often full. — Yours faithfully,
Evidence of under-use
Sir, — The two disabled bays in Hart Street came into existence about two years ago. Before this there were three resident permit bays.
Over the past year, I have monitored the two bays and found they are under-used.
Evidence suggests that blue badge holders use the pay and display bays or the resident permit bays in Hart Street in preference to the two designated disabled bays on account of their juxtaposition to the traffic lights at the Bell Street junction.
If a decision is made to return one of the disabled bays back to its original designation then this bay will have dual-use status along with the other 17 bays in Hart Street and can be occupied by blue badge holders without penalty. — Yours faithfully,
Parking superintendent, Henley Town Council
Council is out of touch
Sir, — May I agree with Councillor David Sylvester’s letter regarding the removal of the disabled bay in Hart Street, which was supported by Councillor David Nimmo Smith (Standard, April 19).
The removal of disabled parking bays in Henley is completely wrong and I will not support it.
Recently I drove a blue badge holder and parked in the last available space in the Greys Road car park, which shows that they are not “under-used”. It is irrelevant that they are “empty” — the important point is that they are available. However, readers of the Standard will be appalled that this request was made to Oxfordshire County Council in 2009, so it has taken them four years to suggest the change.
This shows clearly that something is drastically wrong with the current way that the county council is run. Four years for parking bays, two years to replace bollards and potholes galore.
Readers will also note that it is also the county council’s policy that no pedestrian crossings can be installed in Henley unless there is an accident. Someone has to be injured or worse before it will consider a crossing. This is clearly madness.
All of these decisions mean that, at present, this council is completely out of touch with Henley residents.
At the county elections on Thursday voters have a stark choice. I am the only candidate standing who is independent of national party politics. I will make sure that the voice of Henley is heard and I will independently stand up for Henley residents. — Yours faithfully,
Deputy Mayor and Henley Residents’ Group candidate for Oxfordshire County Council Henley division, Elizabeth Road, Henley
Paying for shoddy job
Sir, — With regard to Bill Jackson’s letter headlined “incompetent, irresponsible” (Standard, April 19), I would like to add my own experience.
I have written to Oxfordshire County Council on numerous occasions, pointing out the bad workmanship/materials used for mending potholes.
I live on a single track lane where the potholes seem to be permanent. Infrequently some of the larger ones are filled in a very amateur way with poor materials.
The result is that the longevity of the repair is short- lived by which time the holes which did not qualify for infilling are much bigger and so the vicious circle goes on.
I, too, have never received any reply to my suggestions that the potholes should be checked for the quality of the repair, bearing in mind that we are paying for an unacceptably shoddy job. — Yours faithfully,
Good news on parking
Sir, — I was both amazed and delighted to read Councillor Ann Ducker’s letter (Standard, April 19) assuring the residents of Henley that South Oxfordshire District Council would be quite happy to take on responsibility for parking enforcement.
However, I am rather concerned at the lack of communication that she, as leader of the council, has with her chief executive David Buckle.
Cllr Ducker seems to have no idea that Henley Town Council has been in communication with Mr Buckle for over a year.
On April 17, 2012, members of Henley Town Council’s town and community committee discussed the possibility of decriminalisation of parking (now called Civil Parking Enforcement).
A letter was then sent to Mr Buckle asking for his council’s views on the pros and cons of CPE and specifically how responsibility for this function could be devolved to Henley Town Council.
His response on May 31 informed the town council that he was seeking advice and further clarity on the legislation.
In July, we were told: “While CPE might be a priority for Henley, councillors take decisions based on the interests of the whole district, not just one town. I am unaware of any strong call for the introduction of CPE emanating from other towns in South Oxfordshire…. at the present time I detect no political will to move forward on this.”
An additional letter in July from John Backley, shared technical and facilities manager for the district council, highlighted the advantages of CPE but then gave reasons why this function could not be delegated to Henley Town Council.
The letter concluded: “In summary, because of the financial impact on South Oxfordshire District Council, the council is not currently giving active consideration to CPE.”
But Henley Town Council did not give up. We contacted councillors from Thame, Didcot and Wallingford to explore their interest in CPE and arrange a meeting to discuss the possibility of a combined strategy to achieve CPE across the district. It has only taken a year but I’m sure you will be delighted to learn that this meeting was hosted by Henley Town Council on March 28.
The meeting and sharing of ideas between the four towns was very beneficial and it was agreed that in principle there was a strong desire to explore CPE with the district council.
Hopefully, a meeting will be arranged with the district council in the near future. — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Pam Phillips
Chairman, town and community committee, Henley Town Council, St Mark’s Road, Henley
Spectacular river pageant
Sir, — One of the great privileges of being a councillor is helping to organise fabulous events in our town that everyone can enjoy and one in particular has prompted me to send this rare letter to the Standard (I think too many councillors use this page for tittle-tattle when the town hall is the place for debate).
Last year, we had so many events connected with the fabulous London Olympics and the Queen’s diamond jubilee but this year there has been little mention to date of the Henley event to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
Well, please keep Sunday, June 2 at noon in your diary for what promises to be a spectacular river occasion in the form of a coronation river pageant.
The river is one of Henley’s greatest assets and it’s great that so many use it, be it for rowing, canoeing, swimming, dragon boat racing or simple cruising. It really does make our town idyllic.
The event will feature about 130 traditional boats and will be a really fitting occasion, bringing people together — boat owners, river lovers, people from afar and, let’s hope, some sunshine too.
Our pageant committee, headed by Jan Beyts, has organised a growing list of traditional craft, many of which would have been on the river in 1953. Those attending include Alaska, Consuta, Enchantress and Elsie (the latter two are both 100 years old this year). So far we have enlisted about 25 local Thames slippers, a number of traditional cruisers and, hopefully, a contingent of Dunkirk Little Ships.
We will have the Magic Dragon, an amphibious car, a working tug, 15 other steam boats which are being launched specially for the day, a Three Men In A Boat-type skiff (complete with a Montmorency lookalike) and, of course, our very own Winston Churchill lookalike, Ian Beyts. Last year, we ran the jubilee pageant and it was spectacular to see all the boats dressed for the occasion, the crowds waving their flags. This year, we will be raising money through collections for the Rivertime Boat Trust and its specially adapted boat for disabled passengers which will be on show opposite the River and Rowing Museum on the day.
The organisers are looking for traditionally built wooden boats, steam boats, or boats of special interest (i.e. character craft) and are inviting the owners to dress up for a party and decorate their boats with as much boating bling as possible. There will be a prize for the best-dressed boat and best-dressed skipper and crew.
If you would like to enter your boat, please read the guidelines and complete the application form at www.henleyriver pageant.com before May 15 if possible. Many thanks — Yours faithfully,
Councillor Will Hamilton
Henley Town Council, Greys Road, Henley
Blame owner, not the dog
Sir, — I was saddened to read Yvette Kershaw’s Labrador was attacked (Standard, April 19) and trust she is feeling a lot better now. However, here are two points:
1. It matters not one jot whether the German shepherd was a rescue dog or bought direct from a breeder. Any dog that is not looked after correctly or has not been properly socialised or taught basic manners will always be a problem. Of course, the same could be said of people.
2. The owner obviously knew that her dog was, as she clearly stated, “not friendly and attacks other dogs”, so why was it off the lead and not muzzled, as it should be, in a public place? Sorry, Ms Kershaw, I do not believe that she deserves any credit for her actions at all, far from it.
All too often we hear about dogs causing problems when in fact the fault lies with their owners who do not either have the time or intelligence (or both) to look after them properly. — Yours faithfully,
Mrs J Marriott
Please pick up dog bags
Sir, — The sun came out last weekend but, sadly, so did those damn dog poo bags — eight of them on the towpath between Leander and Upper Thames RC.
Who are these people who, in the mistaken belief that they are “doing the right thing”, leave them behind when they go?It would be better just to leave the mess there unbagged and let nature take its course. Who do they think comes and collects these bags? For goodness sake, stop it! — Yours faithfully,
Queen Street Mews, Henley
What fluffy nonsense
Sir, — I think it’s safe to say that the author of the anonymous letter headlined “Thoughts on turning 50” (Standard, April 19) was not Susie Orbach or Andrea Dworkin. In fact, I think the writer of the letter was a ball of fluff. — Yours faithfully,