Friday, 23 July 2021

Your letters...

Super fair in wonderful surroundings

Super fair in wonderful surroundings

Sir, — Congratulations to Henley Round Table for organising the May Fair and to your newspaper for the page of smiling faces (Standard, May 10).

Our six great nieces and nephews came to the fair and it’s becoming quite a family tradition.

One high spot for them is a visit to the children’s playground. I sat there for some time in the afternoon under the horse chestnut trees, chatting with our family and watching our children and many others enjoying themselves.

It was such a pleasure to see so many children playing there happily and quietly. Well done, Henley Town Council, for providing this wonderful resource. — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road, Henley




How to beat litter louts

Sir, - With the onset of the summer season, Henley will attract a large number of visitors who will benefit our town.

It is important, therefore, that we look our best. Recently, I have been appalled by the amount of litter that is strewn around our town and its environs, which detracts from the image we wish to convey.

Most evident are the areas around Gillotts School and The Henley College although they are not, by any means, the sole perpetrators.

South Oxfordshire District Council says: "We work closely with schools on environmental and sustainability issues and help to educate children and highlight the impact that littering has on their local environment."

However, now that Gillotts is an academy and so no longer comes under council control, I?m not sure this service is continued.

In either case it seems that early education is forgotten by the age of 11 and rarely remembered thereafter.

The Henley HiT Litter blitz, of which I must admit I was unaware, took place recently and attracted just 30 people, although Lions, Rotary, youth groups and all schools were invited.

Two young ladies came too and have started their own campaign, Henley Environmental Litter Pick (HELP), which had front-page publicity in this newspaper.

All these efforts are highly laudable but I think they are small scale and happen too infrequently to make a lasting impact.

This problem is a national malaise and not just confined to Henley but we need to develop in our young people a pride in their town. I don?t have a magic wand but offer a few suggestions:

1. The Henley Standard could advertise the HiT Litter blitz for two or three weeks in advance to include pictures of litter and encourage as many people as possible to take part over a whole weekend. Name and shame if possible.

2. Centres around the town, such as Mill Lane car park, Henley Rugby Club, Makins recreational ground, Greys Road car park, King?s Road car park and Gillotts School, could be designated as meeting places with district council representatives and a local councillor present to organise the collection.

3. Parents of 11- to 18-year-olds and all children of that age group should be invited to attend their nearest centre.

4. Schools in the area could be inspected periodically and an annual prize awarded to the school adjudged to be the best environmentally.

5. The first day of each term could be spent on a litter pick of school premises and surrounding footpaths. The headteacher of Gillotts School said that this had, in her experience, resulted in a marked improvement.

6. Parents of 11- to 18-year-old students could be charged an additional levy on their council tax, say £20, to cater for the added workload created by this sector of our community. This could be waived if their children took part in a litter-pick.

I think that we need to tackle this problem within the town on a larger scale and involve a greater sector of our community. As it is, the task falls upon just a few good souls, none of whom is responsible for creating the litter. - Yours faithfully,

Gordon McBride

Wootton Road, Henley




I pick up rubbish too

Sir, - I take my hat off to Susan Young for her efforts to tidy her part of Henley (Standard, April 26).

I have been busy doing something similar since the mid-Seventies. In my case, I have mostly recovered recyclables such as cans etc. We have taken many an item from bins, including some in Henley when visiting.

I, too, own a litter-picker, which I was given many years ago by the town council.

I used to be annoyed at the litter lying in hedgerows but these days I just pick it up and recycle it.

Well done, Susan and friends, for "carrying the can" and being seen to be making use of your time, as the late Mollie Worthy would say.

She also did her bit for recycling but that?s another story! - Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Petersfield, Hants




No care for customers

Sir, - I have had the delight over 40 years in business to see some spectacularly bad treatment of customers - to the providers? commercial disadvantage in due course.

Indeed, I saw the BMW video of the salesman demonstrating the virtue of the light in the ashtray on the test drive vehicle to a committed non-smoker while he was smoking himself (but with the window open so that was okay).

John Cleese made a number of videos showing how to do everything wrong in relation to customers.

No dead parrots but lots of hysterically funny non-

connection with customers - lurking on their shoulder in shops, talking to their mates while the customer was waiting etc.

But the post office in Reading Road, Henley, seems to have its own agenda in despising customers.

While I am well aware of the staff?s uninterested nature in handling customer transactions, as indeed I rather think many other customers have recognised, I just have to admire the manager?s virtuoso performance on Wednesday afternoon last week.

While munching on an apple and serving a customer simultaneously, not I suspect in the Guide to Best Retailing, she espied the growing length of the queue and actually did it? yes, she put up the "Position Closed" sign and then wandered off into the middle distance, apparently to finish her apple. Stuff the customers.

The queue kept growing.

Why should we put up with this treatment? It may be that I am the only customer who thinks the staff behaviour at this post office is disgraceful. Don?t we, as taxpayers, own the business?

Maybe other "customers" will say that I?m totally wrong, or maybe I?m right. -Yours faithfully,

Richard Jones

Reading Road, Henley

A Post Office spokeswoman said: "Henley Post Office is a busy branch with a good track record for customer service.

"We take any comments made about our staff seriously, even if it is an isolated incident, and we will follow up with the branch to ensure appropriate levels of customer service are provided at all times.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused."



Helping small businesses

Sir, - It was with great sadness that I read about the closure of Bloc, one of our independent coffee shops in Henley (Standard, May 10).

Part of the problem the owner mentioned was being unable to market the business effectively, saying: "We failed to compete with the marketing machines of the big high street chains. Neither my father nor myself have the marketing skills."

Sadly, for many small businesses this is so true - their skill lies in what they do which in this case is delivering great food and coffee, not running and marketing a business. These are skills which need to be learned.

Corporate businesses have the resources to train their staff and acquire skilled people where they need them.

The owners of small businesses don?t have the same money, yet because they have to deal with such a wide range of activities and require diverse skill sets, they need the help even more.

There are organisations like my own which are there to help and offer cost-

effective training and support to small business owners.

With the increased importance of social media, marketing has now become a very cost-effective option for small businesses.

That said, like all areas of running a business, there is some science behind good marketing which should be applied - and that?s where good business advice comes in.

I for one do not want to see the loss of small businesses. They form the backbone of the UK economy and I would always choose to support such businesses.

Neither do we want our towns to turn into faceless high streets, particularly in a beautiful town such as Henley.

So to all you small business owners out there, you are not alone. Help is at hand and there is also government funding currently available to access that help. - Yours faithfully,

Mary Carter

Managing director, Business Fit Club




Conflict of interest?

Sir, - It was interesting to read that Mark Twine, the landlord of the In The Groove record shop in Henley, has put the mockers on it having a coffee shop because he is also landlord of Hot Gossip and considers being landlord of two competing businesses in such close proximity to be "bad business practice" (Standard, May 3).

In contrast, Tom Davies, chief executive of Brakspear, obviously has no such qualms, having magnificently refurbished and opened the Bull in Bell Street, directly managed by Brakspear itself.

This wondrous place, including the facility to brew its own beer so much appreciated in your "Take Five" item, is probably now the "top spot" in Henley and the place to be seen of a weekend.

It deserves to be a success but among its many customers are former patrons of other pubs in Henley. I know this because I recognise the faces.

Nothing wrong in that you might say, competition is healthy, except that Brakspear is also landlord and supplier to many of those other pubs. Brakspear has obviously chosen to invest an awful lot of money in the Bull rather than in its tenanted properties - that is the company?s choice but surely it has created a conflict of interest.

I do wonder how, having effectively pulled the rug from under many of Brakspear?s tenanted pubs, Mr Davies will now be able to reconcile the interests of these tenants with those of the Bull in which, judging by his photo and comments, he is taking a very close personal interest. - Yours faithfully,

Richard Guy

New Street, Henley




Tom Davies, chief executive of Brakspear, replies: "We are pleased to hear that Mr Guy finds the Bull a ?wondrous place?. We?re also pleased with this refurbishment but we don?t agree that owning the Bull as a managed pub as well as our 11 tenanted pubs in central Henley causes Brakspear any conflict of interest.

"In developing the Bull, our aim was to attract more customers into Henley, creating a bigger pub-going audience which should benefit every pub and business in town.

"We know some of our customers in the Bull come from Marlow, Maidenhead and Beaconsfield, which has to be good for Henley. Many visitors to the Bull also drink in other Brakspear pubs before or after their meal and the majority of our tenants in the town have been very supportive of the new pub for this reason.

"Our redevelopment of the Bull is far from being our only investment in our pubs in Henley. We have just completed a significant refurbishment at the Anchor and in the past 18 months have invested in the Angel, the Rose & Crown, the Old Bell and the Beer Tree.

"We are currently helping Nigel Rainbow at the Three Horseshoes with a refurbishment and are about to invest significantly in the Three Tuns.  I would like to think that pub-goers in Henley are seeing a general improvement in our sites. Making the Bull a managed pub was a decision we made only after we?d decided to invest in the site but weren?t able to find the right tenant.

"However, operating managed and tenanted pubs in close proximity is established practice in the pub industry. Fullers, Wadworths and Arkells are just some of the pub companies which successfully combine both types of operation. We assure Mr Guy that Brakspear will continue to support its tenants, both in Henley and elsewhere, and hope that he continues to enjoy visiting the Bull as well as our other fine pubs in the town."



Stop illegal parking

Sir, - I read with dismay that Revolution and Blue Moon have been forced to vacate their commercial premises in Henley market place (Standard, May 10).

Of more concern, particularly to me, is the impact the redevelopment of Market Place Mews invariably will have on the parking situation in Market Place.

I am the holder of a blue badge and have worked in Henley for almost three years.

When the old police station was being renovated, contractors parked their lorries, delivery vans and skips in both the disabled places and the limited waiting time areas.

I approached not only the parking warden but also Henley Town Council which agreed to see what it could do.

The problem they had was that the contractors arrive very early in order to secure an illegal parking position. Indeed, cars that are parked illegally deservedly receive parking tickets but, for some strange reason, the contractors? vehicles did not.

Now I expect I shall have to endure months and months of not being able to park in a disabled space, thus putting me to extreme inconvenience, not to mention physical pain, in trying to find alternative parking.

Can any authoritative body put preventative measures in place to ensure further breaches of Henley?s parking rules and regulations do not take place? I wonder. - Yours faithfully,

Kim Thurston

Wordsworth Road, Slough




Outstanding response

Sir, - Your correspondent Jason Lock kindly suggested that we consider leafleting the town with the Henley in Bloom order form for your Buy a Basket campaign (Standard, May 10).

I am delighted to be able to reassure him that we have had a leaflet printed with all the information on and have delivered this leaflet to about 80 per cent of the town centre premises to date.

We hope to leaflet the rest of the town centre in the next week.

I agree with Mr Lock that this should improve the response rate and I am confident that our target of 150 baskets will be achieved in the next few weeks.

The response so far from the town has been outstanding, with many different people and businesses keen to do their bit towards making the town come "alive" with flowers this summer.

We have received some lovely comments and letters too, all very supportive of the campaign.

This response certainly makes the hard work put in by the many Henley in Bloom and Gardening Buddies volunteers worthwhile.

Hopefully, this will lead to a fabulous floral display that we can all enjoy for many months ahead this summer. - Yours faithfully,

Marisa Francini

Henley in Bloom committee member, St Mark?s Road, Henley




Enforce ban on barbecues

Sir, - On any lovely sunny weekend, when everyone is out and about by the river, there are always families/friends enjoying Mill Meadows and having barbecues.

Unfortunately, the consequence of this is rubbish, burnt patches on the grass and food scraps left.

The day after the recent bank holiday my dog, which I walk regularly by the river, ate some of this barbecue rubbish which resulted in an expensive visit to the vet.

Am I right in thinking that barbecues are not allowed on Mill Meadows and if this is the case why is it not being enforced? This is not a recent problem, it happens following any summer weekend. - Yours faithfully,

Raelene Clarke

Reading Road, Henley




Give us back the town

Sir, - Now that the Henley Festival is to relocate to Greenlands (Standard, May 3), is it too much to hope that Henley Royal Regatta could relocate to Dorney Lake, thereby returning the town to its taxpayers and residents for the whole of July? Some hope! - Yours

faithfully,

Peter Entwisle

Nicholas Road, Henley



P.S. I bet you don?t print this.




Safe cyling on towpath

Sir, - As a regular Henley towpath walker, I appreciate that rowing coaches need to ride their bikes while conveying messages to crews training on the Thames.

After a couple of near-misses I have experienced with coaches riding their bikes while training, it?s good to hear that Leander are supportive of my campaign for a "code of conduct" for rowing coaches using bicycles along the towpath.

I had a meeting waith Mark Banks, head of coaching at Leander, who, along with the Leander management, support my proposal and want to encourage coaches of other Henley clubs using bikes for coaching to commit to the following code of conduct:

1. Ensure that every bike has a working bell.

2. If approaching a pedestrian from behind, signal with a bell from a distance of 20ft and keep ringing until noticed, thereby ensuring safe passing.

3. If riding towards a pedestrian head-on, signal, slow down and always ensure that the pedestrian has right of way (i.e. doesn?t have to move off the path).

Hopefully. all clubs will enter into this spirit of goodwill and follow this code of conduct. That way we can all avoid near-misses and reduce the chances of a serious accident in the future. - Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Friday Street, Henley




Steamed up over letter

Sir, - I must object in the strongest terms to the publication of a letter from Heritage Trading headlined "Want an old phone box?" (Standard, May 10).

I am also a local trader selling a full range of old post boxes of the type mentioned in the letter as well as other antiques.

Over the last 24 years I have spent tens of thousands of pounds advertising with Henley Standard and yet you have not given me any free publicity.

So now it is my turn as it appears to come under the editor?s remit of "topical and local issues" as stated each week.

For those of your readers who are interested, Chiltern Antiques will be exhibiting at the Fawley Hill steam and vintage event this weekend, which has been advertised in the Henley Standard. - Yours faithfully,

Fred Nickson

Chiltern Antiques, Henley




Independent monitoring

Sir, - I was disappointed to read your headline "Foreign inmates complain of victimisation at prison" on your article on the report by HM Inspector of Prisons about the conditions and treatment of foreign national prisoners at Huntercombe Prison (Standard, May 10).

The Independent Monitoring Board monitors the prison?s regime to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and with respect and operates independently of the Prison Service. Board members are unremunerated volunteers, drawn from the local community and appointed by the minister of justice.

They have unrestricted access to all parts of the prison and listen to prisoners? requests and complaints, privately and in confidence.

We monitor the range and adequacy of programmes preparing prisoners for release and, as we don?t make the rules governing prisoners, we do challenge the regime?s shortcomings where

necessary.

The board?s independent observations support much of what is contained in the HMIP report which was based on an in-depth assessment of the prison?s operation over one week last January.

Board members maintain regular visits and monitor the prison throughout the year and meet with the governor every month to discuss relevant issues and concerns.

The board has found little evidence of victimisation or "offensive stereotyping"of foreign national prisoners.

On the contrary, it believes that the prison management and staff managed the arrival and establishment of the foreign national population last year effectively and professionally given the very short lead time given.

Staff response to the change in population has generally been very positive and we observe a generally effective engagement with the foreign national prisoners which has been supported by ongoing staff training and awareness of the repatriation and deportation issues which many of the prisoners face.

However, nothing is perfect and where we have reported shortcomings in the operation of the regime, the prison has, on the whole, responded to try to improve the operation and cost effectiveness of its regime where it can with the welfare of the prisoner in mind.

There are many examples of management, staff and service providers, such as tutors and healthcare professionals, dedicated to encouraging prisoners to better themselves in prison so that they have a better chance of successful resettlement either here in the UK or in their own countries.

In our opinion, Huntercombe provides a safe, secure and caring environment for both the foreign national prisoners and for those who work in or visit the prison.

As the article stated, Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said about Huntercombe: "This is a positive report that recognises the good work of the governor and staff during a period of change at

Huntercombe".

Why not headline your article with a positive strapline - are you so committed to the adage that only bad news sells newsprint?

The Independent Monitoring Board at Huntercombe is looking for enthusiastic, open-minded volunteers to join the board.

We welcome applications from people over 18 and would be particularly keen to hear from young people and those from black and minority ethnic communities since these groups are under-represented on the existing board. For more information, visit www.justice.gov.uk/about/imb

An application pack is available at www.justice.gov.uk/jobs/independent-monitoring-board (reference Huntercombe/19/2013) or call the board secretariat on 0207 035 2261. - Yours faithfully,

Shaun Stewart

Chairman, Independent Monitoring Board, Huntercombe Prison




Party without any answers

Sir, - Your correspondent Ken Arlett stated that UKIP offered a "different approach to other political groups" (Standard, May 10).

From what I can tell, the only difference that UKIP offers is that they rant about other parties? policies but don?t have any themselves. They advocate leaving Europe but do not offer a clear idea of how we survive outside the trade groups that benefit the country currently.

They say restrict immigration but don?t tell us how to get people to do the rubbish jobs on the minimum wage.

They are happy to tell people what we should be frightened of but not how we need to pull together as a community to get though the issues that our past has put us in.

The reason for the apathy in voting is because we are going to hell in a handcart and spreading words of hate and fear that only help the media to sell newspapers (no disrespect to your great publication). I voted at the election. - Yours faithfully,

Jason French

Henley




Disillusioned electorate

Sir, - In response to Ken Arlett?s important question about why people didn?t vote in the local elections, my view is that the electorate are becoming increasingly

disillusioned.

It is often difficult for the voter ever to know if they made the right choice and they often feel their voice is not even heard.

Being ignored by the main parties ends up with voters not taking part.

Blair didn?t listen to the country on the Iraq war and now the Conservatives are not listening on many issues.

However, help may be on its way. Online organisations such as Mumsnet (child care), 38 degrees (tax evasion and NHS privatisation), Avaaz (internet censorship and Sky takeover of BSkyB), and Change.org (welfare reforms) are holding governments to account to do the correct thing and not to act without proper consultation.

The public can get directly involved and rewarded for their efforts. It?s a different, and potentially dangerous, form of democracy that competes in balance with the many lobby groups who have had too much power.

Surely Ken should use one of these vehicles to tackle the high salaries at Oxfordshire County Council. He might even get a result. - Yours faithfully,

David Dickie

St Katherine?s Road, Henley




P.S. Nonetheless, I did vote and would urge everyone to do the same.



Thanks for your support

Sir, - I would like to say a big thank you to Charlie Shaw who stayed with me for moral support and until the emergency services arrived after my traffic incident on Tuesday.

Thank you very much, Charlie.

Big thanks, too, to the three men in the white transit who offered to tow me. Many thanks to you all. - Yours faithfully,

David Hadley

Leaver Road, Henley








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