Thursday, 05 August 2021

The positive benefit of oilseed rape

Sir, — I was intrigued by the photos by Victoria Page (Standard, July 26) and Helen Chilvers (Standard, August 9) as well as the painting by artist Steven Allender (Standard, August 2), inspired by the view of the crops on the hillside field which rises from Remenham Lane right over the hill as far as Remenham Church Lane.

The positive benefit of oilseed rape

Sir, — I was intrigued by the photos by Victoria Page (Standard, July 26) and Helen Chilvers (Standard, August 9) as well as the painting by artist Steven Allender (Standard, August 2), inspired by the view of the crops on the hillside field which rises from Remenham Lane right over the hill as far as Remenham Church Lane.

I myself have walked the footpath which runs through this field on numerous occasions over a long period of time — and in all seasons — but was only once inspired to take a photo myself on one sunny afternoon a few years ago.

This was when the field in question was sown to the much maligned oilseed rape. In this instance I think you might agree it has some good qualities, at least of a decorative nature! — Yours faithfully,

Roy Cooke

Northfield End, Henley

P. S. A continuation of this walk from Aston Lane and the Flowerpot Inn takes you through the grounds of Culham Court on the riverside path to Hurley, Temple and, in my case, usually took me on to Marlow Bridge.

These days it’s all part of the Thames Path which, of course, eventually carries on right into the heart of London.

Thrill to see apple-eating capybara

Sir, — The Hennerton Backwater Association long ago built a des res otter holt, hoping to attract that charming fish-eating animal into our stream.

Otters have been sighted in recent times in the Thames between Shiplake and Marsh lock but we are still waiting for them to take up residence here.

However, what a thrill it was to see at the weekend a capybara (the largest rodent in the world) cheerfully eating apples on the banks of our backwater. — Yours faithfully,

Tom Berman

Chairman, Hennerton Backwater Association, Henley Road, Wargrave

Another view of that beautiful field

Sir, — What lovely pictures of the field above Upper Thames Rowing Club.

Here is one more to add to your collection, taken at an earlier date, as you can see from the crops. Hopefully, this will inspire people to walk more. — Yours faithfully,

Izzy Gann

Deanfield Road, Henley

Let?s have pop-up shops

Sir - I recently visited Whitstable in Kent and was delighted by the many independent retailers and pop-up shops that lined the streets.

The atmosphere was bustling, every shop front was full, there were colours, clever shop names, interesting window displays and wonderful merchandise and I wanted to explore every shop as each one was unique.

What a difference pop-up shops would make in Henley, where so many shops are empty.

Also, when you look at the shops which are operating in Henley, the independent shops are the minority and we are restricted to the predictable chain stores.

Why doesn?t Henley look to Whitstable rather than Reading as our town centre model?

I have two easy-to-implement suggestions that could invigorate Henley and make it a shopping destination:

1.With our many empty stores, our council could liaise with organisations such as to offer space to pop-up retailers and galleries and fill empty retail spaces quickly with colourful and interesting shops that operate for a couple of weeks in each venue.

2. Our retailers complain about our high rates, so I suggest a reduced rate is agreed for independent retailers to encourage them to make Henley their home and leave the rates as they are (or raise them to make up for any losses) for the national chains, which can afford high rates.

I had such a lovely time browsing the shops in Whitstable and would love to have that kind of experience when I am in Henley.

What do other readers think? Do write to the Henley Standard with your views. -Yours faithfully,

Suri Poulos

Remenham Hill

Shopkeepers who care

Sir, - What a joy it is to shop in Henley. No need to travel far.

We bought birthday presents from independent traders Laurence Menswear and Gorvett & Stone and were served by knowledgeable owners who care about their customers. Thank you, Henley. - Yours faithfully,

Jill Irwin

Singers Close, Henley

Where?s civic pride gone?

Sir, - Having returned from a holiday in France and Italy last week, I was shocked and dismayed to notice how filthy our pavements in Henley centre are.

Why, when the council paid a huge amount of money for very special paving slabs, are they allowed to get so disgustingly filthy?

Why is no cleaning of the pavements undertaken in our beautiful town, unlike in the towns of our continental neighbours?

We make so much effort to win the Britain in Bloom competition, so why don?t we bother with the cleanliness of our environment?

Should we residents accept this situation? Should we now take a stand and vote for a council that has higher standards than the present one? If we do nothing to demand a clean environment, will this situation get even worse?

We are lucky enough to be living in a beautiful area of the UK that attracts many tourists. Where is our national pride?

Fellow residents, let us make a stand and let the council know that the cleanliness of our town is not acceptable. - Yours faithfully,

Lynda Thornton-Hunt

Founder of the Safer Henley Campaign

Ill-judged ban on barbecues

Sir, - I?ve just come back from a walk alongside the river at Mill Meadows in Henley and thought it was a shame that there were so few people enjoying a picnic on such a lovely Sunday afternoon.

I hope the barbecue ban has not totally deterred all the polite and well-behaved Indian families who come to Henley for a picnic. Perhaps they?ve gone somewhere more welcoming.

Whoever introduced this ill-judged ban should be ashamed of themselves. - Yours faithfully,

R Stanier

Cromwell Road, Henley

?Rubbish? in Station Park

Sir - The contractors who look after Station Park in Henley do a grand job.

However, their efforts are somewhat marred by that hideous and trashy statue of the "Humping Frogs" together with the Disney-esque "Blooming Train" and associated Toytown signage.

The councillors who have allowed Station Park to be disfigured in this way need to remember we live in Henley, NOT Blackpool.

I am looking forward to November when I hope the frogs, kitsch train and related signage are all consigned to where they belong - landfill - and the view from my study is restored. - Yours faithfully,

Steve Ludlow

Station Road, Henley

Helpful view from outside

Sir, - It was pleasing to see a reaction from Stoke Row with regard to my comments about the village (Standard, August 9) and I hope that I didn?t offend anyone as it was not my intention.

I do not believe that ringing the parish clerk or taking part in the litter collection (I hear that dogs fouling the cricket ground is the latest scandal!) will change my views.

It is often a view from outside which can highlight a failing that is not seen from within and my comments stemmed from conversations "around the water cooler" (the village shop).

The Wildlife and Countryside Act referred to in the parish clerk?s letter, I?m sure makes reference to "intentionally or recklessly" damaging a bird?s nest etc.

I wouldn?t have thought that trimming a hedge came into that category.

The small village in Wiltshire where I lived until my twenties used to employ a retired resident to keep things tidy around the village so that when the best kept village competition judges turned up we were ready.

If he noticed a bird?s nest he would trim the hedge accordingly; if he thought one of the residents was not keeping things tidy then he let them know and offered to sort it out.

These days it?s all about contractors who no doubt get the job done but is it backed up by village pride?

The tractor-driven hedgeand verge-cutters used outside the village boundaries, presumably by OxfordshireCounty Council, are lethal and don?t discriminate with regard to birds, small animals or anything that gets in their way.

Maybe it?s just a county failing but whenever I revisit the county of my birth I definitely notice that it is seems smarter and tidier than this.

As for the "chicken coop", the fact that it is going to be all right now that landscaping and trees will be used to hide it is surely an admission that it is not really in keeping with the rest of the village and needs to be hidden.

I understand it may be on Grand Designs and I shall be interested in what Kevin McCloud has to say.

As I heard in the village shop, "I?m sure it looks very nice - from the inside". Anyway, it looks like there has been some improvement - keep it up! - Yours faithfully,

Jim Tull

Calcot, Reading

Needless disruption

Sir, - On September 8, much of South Oxfordshire is to be closed down once again.

The Henley Challenge triathlon cycle route is designed on a spoke pattern, which causes the maximum disruption.

Cyclists will ride out and back along spokes in four directions from a hub at Nettlebed continuously from dawn until mid-afternoon.

Traffic will not be allowed to use the roads over a large area of the county. Seven hundred households will be effectively under house arrest.

The evil is in the continuous two-way cycle racing. It is wholly unnecessary.

In both the other iron distance triathlons in Britain, at Bolton and Tenby, the organisers do it properly.

Cyclists follow a loop pattern, riding in a single direction round a loop of some 30 or 40 miles.

Other traffic can use the roads most of the time and hostelries remain open. Sports events, family occasions, church services and businesses continue normally.

But not here because nothing may matter except the triathlon.

Many miles beyond the closed roads communal and social events are cancelled because people cannot get to them without travelling enormous extra distances.

Theoretically, the commercial promoter decides the route on his own and Oxfordshire County Council is merely obliged to close roads for safety.

In reality, the council made the critical decision because the event could not be run unless the council had decided, as it did, to collaborate actively. In fact, it has been deeply involved in planning the route.

It is strange that it should be the policy of a Tory council to deny country people the basic right to use their roads. Round here people are angry at being ordered about by a dictatorial county council. Both it and the promoter have decided that we do not matter.

But roads can and must remain open to all, as they do in Lancashire and


It is a poor kind of sport that takes place only if all other activities are killed for it. - Yours faithfully,

Arthur Weir


Cavalier attitude

Sir, - I regret the accident on Howe Hill, Watlington, that you reported (Standard, August 16) and hope the cyclist involved recovers quickly enough to take part in Challenge Henley if that is the event for which he was training.

However, the accident emphasises the need for a responsible attitude to safety from the organisers of that event, including the period of training leading up to the race day.

Regular users of the road and residents along the route have noticed a marked increase in the number of cyclists on Howe Hill since the course was announced.

The Watlington Parish Council response to the consultation earlier this year on the choice of route for the event highlighted the inadequacy of the risk assessment included to support the organiser?s preference.

In particular, we identified Howe Hill in our parish as a potential trouble spot that had not been properly assessed.

Even before this consultation we had predicted and repeatedly stated that accidents were almost inevitable during the training period when cycles and motor vehicles are in conflict, with a strong possibility that they would be serious or even fatal.

Howe Hill is steep and narrow with no roadside verges and has a number of blind corners.

It is unbelievable to suggest, as the organisers? risk assessment did, that it presents no greater risk than, for example, the straight, level and wide-open Fair Mile in Henley for a cyclist training while the road is open to all vehicles, or even under race conditions when traffic is severely limited.

Our objection was brushed aside in the report on the consultation on the grounds that we had only seen a preliminary draft of the risk assessment. The route was nonetheless accepted on the basis of this "preliminary draft".

Another recent example of the apparently lax attitude taken by all concerned in the organisation of this event is Oxfordshire County Council?s consultation last month on the traffic order needed to authorise closure of the roads to be used.

The order explicitly states that access to the closed roads requires "permission from a police constable in uniform".

The guidance from Just Racing on access to the route refers to their motorcycle escorts but makes no mention of the need for police permission, or whether their motorcycle escorts are authorised to provide this permission instead of the police.

Our concern is the legal and insurance complications any residents of Watlington parish will be faced with should an accident occur while they are being escorted along the route, particularly the section up Howe Hill.

The county council, in a direct response to us, dismissed this concern with the statement that the wording of the traffic order is "standard for events of this type and is the same as previous years in accordance with the police approval for the event".

We have asked Just Racing whether their motorcycle escorts will have authority delegated from the police and, if not, whether they would be meeting any additional legal or insurance costs arising from an accident while a vehicle is being escorted by their motorcycle escorts. No reply has been received yet.

I personally am not opposed to the Challenge Henley event. On the contrary, I am delighted that it is encouraging people to get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside as well as boosting their health and fitness.

I do, however, object to the cavalier attitude of the organisers of this event and their supporters who appear to do little more than go through the motions of dealing with the concerns and interests of local residents no matter how significant or legitimate these concerns might be. - Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Hill

Chairman, Watlington Parish Council, Couching Street, Watlington

I?m enjoying roadworks!

Sir, - I thought your article about the closure of Wargrave Road (Standard, August 16) was somewhat one-sided.

I live along the road and would like to say that Forefront Utilities, the sub-contractors for Southern Gas, have been extremely helpful and have gone out of their way to create as little disruption as possible.

The works to replace the old gas main are very necessary and are being carried out at the time when there is less traffic due to the summer holidays.

The road closure itself is a boon to us who live along the road as we do not have a stream of fast drivers coming past most of the day.

As the majority of the householders go into Henley rather than into Wargrave, the direction of the closure is beneficial.

In any event, the contractors are doing such a good job. I think it unlikely the closure will be for three weeks - more likely one-and-a-half.

I trust this letter gives the other side of the story. - Yours faithfully

George Constantinidi

Wargrave Road, Henley

Life ban for drink-driver

Sir, - Crash, bang wallop and more besides. The poor village folk.

I do feel sorry for the people of Remenham Hill after their peace was spoiled by drink-driver Christopher Goff crashing into three walls at 3.40am (Standard, August 9).

Like witness Emily Forrester, I have little faith in the law after this villain was given a suspended prison sentence. Most of what transpires in the courts makes little sense to me.

The amount of damage created at the crash site must have been substantial (and not everybody is insured against such a bolt from the blue) and I don?t believe his punishment was adequate.

The only way to serve notice on this rotter is to make him pay every penny for the damage caused, including repairing the brick and flint walls, and to withdrawn his driving licence permanently, or am I being too hard? -Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants

P.S. He might find it hard if he had a bicycle.

Despicable behaviour

Sir, - Regarding the story about the police officer who was spat at while making an arrest (Standard, August 16), what a despicable form of pond life Jason McGarvey is (I was considering using the word human being but that would be an insult to the human race).

What a disgusting thing to do to another, let alone a police officer who was just doing his job.

I hope this "being" is banned from every licensed premises in Henley and made an example of.

The council and licensees should really come together and make a stand against these drunken idiots who blight our towns week in, week out. Nobody should have to tolerate such behaviour. - Yours faithfully,

Spencer Dance


Let?s resist HS2 together

Sir, - We in Henley are privileged to be part of that Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Chiltern Hills.

Sadly, it appears that the Conservative-led coalition government does not see the Chiltern Hills in this way due to its desire to win votes in other areas and in order to make its mark on posterity or, if it does, it simply doesn?t care.

The hare-brained scheme to force 250mph trains from London to Birmingham and thence to Leeds and Manchester, driving a construction corridor 40 miles wide across some of the most valuable country in the nation, including the Chilterns, and disrupting 500,000 lives, has now been shown by an Institute of Economic Affairs to be a complete white elephant.

The original estimated cost of £33?billion first went up to £43?billion and has now more than doubled to £80?billion. That is £3,000 for every family in the country and it is now incredibly bad value for money.

If the projected sum of £80?billion was instead used for alternative road and rail schemes, it would benefit the economy by £300?billion.

In other words, there are massive returns to be made on other projects but, as with certain other policies, the Government is pinning its ears back and pushing ahead, even though the scheme is loss-making.

The courageous Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, is doing her best to stand up for the Chilterns and resist this development.

It would be good if other Chilterns MPs, including our own John Howell, showed solidarity (if they are not already doing so) by joining her in putting up a united Chilterns front of resistance. - Yours faithfully,

Councillor David

Silvester (UKIP)

Henley Town Council, Luker Avenue, Henley

Inspire, not perspire

Sir, - Three letters last week put me in mind of the Western Front when the big guns - two council officers and a politician - blasted away indiscriminately at their target.

Now the guns are quiet I shall try to construct a reply with birdsong clarity. Neither of the officers? letters could agree whether the boundary review is statutory or legal or a recommendation.

I am sure, Mike Kennedy, that government never drafted any legislation with the phrase, "?review governance arrangements operating at the parish level every 10 years or so."

Even David Buckle suggests it is only a recommendation for a 10-yearly review and that they are long overdue against this target.

Hence, South Oxfordshire District Council did have some latitude in its timing and could have waited for the neighbourhood planning groups to report in the spring. It was the council?s choice on timing and method.

No effort is made by either officer to tell us why they would not leave boundary changes to those same groups, where they could have had the best consultation possible - a recommendation produced by local people for local people without political shenanigans and legitimised via a referendum.

As it is, we now have the cart before the horse in the decision-making process and parish councillors seeking cynical land grab opportunities for their local communities prior to any agreement on housing development.

The advantages are there for each community and based on selfish motives rather than the greater good:

l?Henley will get an inflating £30,000 a year in additional council taxes.

l?Harpsden will link up with socially desirable houses in its quest to take its community "ex-directory".

l?Harpsden and Shiplake together will be allowed to kill off Thames Farm as a site for development through political manipulation.

Mr Buckle attempts to give the process integrity by saying boundary change recommendations will be signed off by the (Conservative-dominated) district council. Might is right then in politics.

As to Councillor David Bartholomew?s letter, he endeavours to rehash the old chestnut that I am in this to protect my house from adjacent development.

UNITED!?s position is that we are prepared to compromise on development of Lucy?s Farm for the public good but this would possibly be a lot less than the 110 to 130 houses intended.

Significantly, the two public opinion days run by Henley Town Council did not have one person from either Henley or Harpsden favouring the development of Lucy?s Farm

The councillor?s fluffy comments on the perspiration shed by Malcolm Leonard and Shiplake Parish Council are all very reassuring but we also need inspiration from these people.

That includes giving leadership to insular communities as to how they might relate to each other for the greater good.

Yes, councillor, we must have a fair deal for Thames Farm and let it establish its credentials as a site worthy of possible development.

Of course, I understand that you do not want to talk about that in your letter as you live in Shiplake. - Yours faithfully,

Barry Wood

Chairman, UNITED!, Blandy Road, Henley

Correct analysis

Sir, - I would like to thank David Bartholomew for his letter entitled " Selfless service" (Standard, August 16).

His analysis of Barry Wood?s marathon mission statement about new housing proposals was spot on. - Yours faithfully,

Mike Kempton

Lower Shiplake

So stand

for election

Sir - In reply to their letters (Standard, August 16), I pointedly did not comment on the actual development proposal on land formerly owned by H Goldsmith and close to S Brickhill, as I actually agree that anyone has the right to make and argue for a planning application.

My point remains - there is an election to the parish council every four years if enough people offer themselves.

As regards filling a "casual vacancy" during the term of the council, it was felt that the huge cost of running a by-election would not be welcomed by local people.

In my time, we tried to co-opt a suitable applicant on a number of factors, not least to give an even geographical representation across the scattered parish of Goring Heath.

I look forward to seeing S Brickhill amd H Goldsmith?s names on the next election ballot paper. People with strong views who are willing to contribute their time provide vitality to a council whether you agree with them or not! - Yours faithfully,

Jon Hatt

Goring Heath

P.S. As regards flooded roads, all that is needed is to keep the "grips" clear and so disperse the water before it flows to the lowest point and causes the flood. Perhaps minor offenders could be given community service orders to do such work?

Security conscious

Sir, - Island Massages would like to clarify a point regarding your report on the theft of a purse from our premises (Standard, August 16).

The purse did not belong to a customer but was taken from a handbag belonging to one of the business owners from private staff quarters at the rear of the building.

External CCTV is in place and the side alley access gate is now locked at all times.

We are extremely security conscious and our customers? security, privacy and safety are of paramount importance to us. - Yours faithfully,

Iain Ryan

Island Massages, Reading Road, Henley

Importance of one letter

Oh little "a" how did you get in my letter of August 16?

Did the editor include it?

No, surely not!

The thought it?s profoundly obscene!

For as everyone knows

When allowed to compose

The difference? Perhaps a surprise

The two English words

Or haven?t you heard?

Then allow me so to apprise!

The chairman we apprised

To make him more wise

Of the actions the council intended

For we never appraise

In communiques

Only staff who are highly commended

In their annual appraisals conducted each year

We assess for their quality and value

But we only apprise when we tell or inform

Now I hope that is perfectly clear!

Mike Kennedy

Town Clerk, Henley Town Council

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