Sir, — This rust bucket, together with the associated disgusting mess surrounding its base, stands on the pavement outside the Hobbs of Henley office in Station Road. Maybe it should be moved to the town centre to adorn the other filthy pavements. Why is this permitted in our beautiful town? — Yours faithfully,
Wyndale Close, Henley
Councillor Pam Phillips, chair, Henley Town Council’s town and community committee, responds: “I am extremely grateful to your correspondent for raising this matter. This bin, along with 28 others, was originally funded by Henley Town Council as our contribution towards the overall cost of the town centre improvements undertaken by the county and district councils in the late Nineties. The damaged bin is therefore owned by the town council and will be replaced as soon as possible.
“We work in partnership with our friends at South Oxfordshire District Council who, as the principal litter authority, has overall responsibility for street cleaning. This includes emptying litter bins. With their co-operation, an inspection regime will be introduced so that in future any damage to our bins is quickly identified, reported to us and rectified.”
Sir, — It was lovely to see all the pictures of “that” field but I am starting to become slightly concerned (see above). — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — Following a visit to the Craft & Design fair in Henley this year, we spent some time on the stand of Peter Leadbeater, a wood sculptor.
So impressed were we with his work that we invited him to suggest a design and quote for work in our garden.
This has now been completed and in the little village of Lower Shiplake has generated an enormous amount of interest and some favourable comments.
He has transformed a rather ugly, dying tree into a thing of beauty. — Yours faithfully,
Sir, - How ashamed we ought to feel as a town if we can?t support Challenge Henley.
If anybody has ever been to watch the London Marathon, they will know how positive and moving an experience it is.
Thousands of Londoners cope with road closures and many of them turn out to watch the event, even if they don?t know any runners personally, all simply to applaud and support human
Ironman and triathlon events take place in other parts of the country and have routes lined with supporters - they are a great thing to watch; inspirational, a force for life.
We should be proud that our town can offer a fantastic setting for such an inspiring event.
The event should be one that helps to cement Henley?s reputation as a great sporting town, one that is welcoming to athletes and to the families and friends that come to support them.
In 2012 we turned out in our thousands to see the Olympic torch go through the town and we all talked enthusiastically about the "Olympic legacy", about inspiring future generations to take part in sport.
How ironic it would be if, one year later, we are so hostile and negative that we force the Challenge Henley event away from our town.
Many local people, including my husband, have been inspired to take part in Challenge Henley over the last three years and two of my children have gone on to take part in junior triathlon events as a result.
I am certain that the vast majority of logistical issues can be resolved. Yes, they needed more marshals and more publicity about road closures would make things better but surely these problems are not insurmountable.
Come on, Henley, let?s come together as a town and let?s support this event. Let?s let the organisers know that we want them here in 2014, inspiring our children and showing us what regular people (as well as professional athletes) can do when they really push themselves to their limits.
To see the event go elsewhere would be embarrassing and immensely damaging to the reputation of Henley at a time when we so badly need to build our image as a place to visit. - Yours faithfully,
Cromwell Road, Henley
Show us your figures
Sir, - Just Racing UK, the organisers of Challenge Henley, rumble about negative public attitudes.
But it is a limited company. It does engage with charities (eg Sue Ryder) and it facilitates charitable sponsorships but it is not a charity in itself.
The goal is to make money for the owners, whether by remunerating the directors or increasing the company?s value or both. Quite reasonable - apart from using public assets to stage the triathlon. But we, the public, are being made to feel that we are being uncharitable spoil-sports if we question the event. We are expected to put up with widespread road closures because it is worth it. For whom? Does Henley?s trade and branding suffer if we don?t do it?
Henley is not alone. The Windsor triathlon (Human Race Ltd) raised questions too. One is why the Environment Agency does not collect a licence fee from each entrant. Anglers, canoeists, oarsmen and boats all pay. Why do swimmers apparently not pay to use the river?
Attracting 1,000 entrants at, say, £100 a head grosses £100,000 before all the valuable additional income streams from advertising.
There are lots of outgoings and risks but it is an interesting business opportunity to make money. Four events a year? A nice little earner, one might say.
Perhaps if Just Racing were a charity or its income and expenditure for each event was published, people might be less negative.
Financial transparency might help its cause considerably. - Yours faithfully,
Let?s expand Challenge
Sir, - The people of South Oxfordshire were informed of the Challenge Henley event 12 months in advance and had plenty of time to plan their day instead of using the car to get everywhere.
Reading some of the letters, it appears that many expect to drive everywhere to drop off children, collect a newspaper or go shopping.
This could be a day when we all take some form of exercise and take a little walk.
There were numerous articles over the year stating that there was little for the youth of the area to do, so while the triathlon caters for many "older" people of the community, why not take this golden opportunity to expand Challenge to a two- or three-day day event and involve our primary school and secondary schoolchildren? Then the whole community can benefit. - Yours faithfully.
K B Nutt
Primary school sports
co-ordinator, South Oxfordshire
Crossing, not a speed trap
Sir, - I read with interest Andrew Howells? letter asking whether a speeding problem exists along Marlow Read, Henley, near Swiss Farm (Standard, September 20).
I can only speak from my personal experience of being caught by this speed trap several months ago, resulting in a fine and points on my licence.
I thought it dangerous that I only realised I?d been caught when a policeman in a high-vis jacket jumped into the road in front of my vehicle and ushered me into Swiss Farm.
Then I was talked to by another policeman who told me they were running a speed trap because of requests by residents of Swiss Farm who like to cross the road at that point to the riverside fields on the opposite side of the road.
After the number of years of running this speed trap, wouldn?t it be more sensible and cost effective to use some of the funds generated to put in a pelican crossing to allow people to cross safely?
May I also say that signage is poor and the new illuminated speed sign is virtually invisible until you are right by it because of roadside
Therefore, I have to agree with the fund-raising theory as the police seem happy to carry on fining rather than take steps to solve or improve the problem they are aware of. - Yours faithfully,
Sir, - I enjoyed the temporary quality and tranquillity of life in New Street, Henley, during the roadworks.
No more thundering of giant lorries and buses changing gear as they roar down the road at speed or angry drivers in cars in jams puffing out exhaust fumes from early morning till late.
It was like living in the country and I could even hear some birds singing. What a fabulous eerie respite.
Apologies to those who were greatly inconvenienced by the closure but I think what a super little noiseless "gapette" it was for the residents, apart from the jackhammers now and then to show they were doing some work to rectify the ageing sewers.
Pedestrians could actually cross the street without fear of being run down or waiting for some kind motorist to let them across - it is usually a really hazardous venture as there is no pedestrian crossing. - Yours faithfully,
New Street, Henley
Perfect traffic management
Sir, - It is matter of great delight that at this year?s Henley Show all the doubting Thomases who wrote to you regarding parking and so on were proved comprehensively wrong.
From the start I am told that almost at the last minute Lord and Lady Alvingham, patrons of the show, arranged, through connections, to have New Street re-opened to traffic for the benefit of visitors when leaving the show and everyone else in Henley. That was a stroke of genius.
Then the efficiency of the traffic and parking volunteers - note, volunteers, not "professional" parking people who would presumably have charged an arm and a leg - was admirable.
Although traffic was probably not as great as it could have been because of the poor weather, there were virtually no queues at all, in or out. My direct experience of the main field was that everyone got in, parked correctly (with the help of the volunteers) and had minimal delays in leaving.
On the free public parking field the experience of everyone I met who used it was equally good.
It is a matter of further note that the military cadets with their officers who provided so much support were a great credit to themselves. In a world where young people come in for so much, sometimes justified, criticism it was a delight to witness their commitment and fine behaviour.
So, in summary, best not to have listened to the gloomsters - the show was brilliant, traffic management was excellent and the organisers and volunteers deserve to be applauded.
Deservedly "the best one-day country show in England". - Yours faithfully,
Henley Show traffic
I can help clean town
Sir, - With reference to your front page story headlined "Let?s scrub the town clean" (Standard, September 6), I would like to introduce myself to Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and other councillors. As a local window cleaner, I am in total agreement with the Mayor about the state of the town.
I am no ordinary window cleaner who just cleans the glass. When I clean shop windows, I clean the whole shop frame, from the sign to the ground. I even sweep the pavement.
Last week I was asked by Barry Whittington, of Whittington Fine Arts in Hart Street, to wash down his two shopfront windows. While I was there I also power-washed the pavement.
He was so pleased that he has asked me to clean the fascia, the five windows and that beautiful old lamp (we need to get that working as it is such a feature) above his shop. I will do these at the beginning of October.
If you have time, please see the work that I have done. I also clean the windows of Sotheby?s.
I would be very happy to get involved with cleaning up the town. Although I am just a window cleaner, my background is in construction so I do have a knowledge of how to renovate buildings if they are in need of repair and I know of some very good local tradesmen who can help do repair work.
I am starting a new avenue of business for estate agents, called First Impressions, where I clean the outside of people?s homes from the gutters down, including the garden.
I am also looking at buying a chewing gum removal machine. It is not cheap but it would make such a difference to our pavements. I have public liability insurance.
I would be happy to meet the Mayor to see if he would be interested in any of my services. - Yours faithfully,
Hi Glass Window Cleaning, Kidmore End
Swill system was better
Sir, - With reference to business waste collections in Henley, until a few years ago edible waste was collected from everywhere - hospitals, hotels, shops, boarding houses and private homes - by licensed swill collectors.
This was cooked at high temperatures and then fed to pigs.
A lot of men got a good start in life with this system - I know of at least 20 such people within 12 miles of Henley.
And think of the money it saved councils. It was all stopped on the orders of the European Union and Tony Blair. - Yours faithfully,
Save Royal Berks staff
Sir, - I have visited the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading several times over the last five years so the
following observations are based on reality and my own experiences.
Most recently, I spent four days having a joint replacement operation and prior to that made pre-op visits which showed two fundamental things - the complete dedication of all the "on the ground" staff and failings in the system they have to use.
On intake, 10 pages of information and tests have to be completed, which takes about an hour-and-a-half.
Although I am sure much of this information is necessary, as are the tests, one wonders if it is all so. Understandably, the staff are reluctant to answer.
Each member of the team is expected to complete at least 10 patient forms daily.
In spite of this burden, they remain professional and very jovial.
On the day of the operation, staff do simple blood tests but have to go through checking the 10-page form from the previous visit.
Prior to going to surgery, I found the surgeon, registrar and all the other necessary staff friendly and reassuring.
Following the op, patients go into Lister Ward, which is staffed by teams of totally dedicated staff who have to endure treatment from a few patients that a dog would not deserve. Understandably, they have to contend with all types.
On two consecutive nights a patient shouted, very loudly, for over three quarters of an hour.
This was followed sometime after by what sounded like an amplified telephone conversation between himself and a female that went on for around 20 minutes only to be repeated about a hour later. The following night there was the same "performance" without the telephone call but with an invasion of family members, including children. This resulted in a slanging match between them all.
Needless to say, all the staff had done everything prior to this to subdue the individual.
We constantly hear about respect for human rights, which appears to be grossly in favour of troublemakers.
Consequently, our hospital staff and all the patients have to suffer with no recourse. When in Rome? or in the Royal Berks.
Now to food, a topic which is frequently discussed in the press and on local radio.
During my stay (and this is backed up by family members who have spent longer periods in there than me) the food and service can be described without hesitation as "excellent".
There?s a daily choice of breakfast, lunch and dinner to suit all creeds, including starters, main course, sweets and beverages, served piping hot on trays and plates where appropriate.
Individuals can select large, medium or small portions. Tea, coffee and other beverages are served a number of times.
All meals cooked in the hospital?s own restaurant are, again, of excellent quality with lots of choice and from an outsider?s point of view very competitively priced. Incidentally, while talking to a nurse regarding the food and whether the staff use the restaurant, she told me they do but their problem is time.
Each is only allowed a 20-minute break and it can take at least five minutes to walk to the restaurant. Then there?s several minutes spent queuing, eating and then getting back to the ward.
This is obviously unrealistic. Do the executives get 20 minutes?
My observations are that the wards are clean and tidy and most of the equipment seems good. In spite of their treatment and pay, all the staff are dedicated people from whom we could expect no more.
Instead of the pen-pushers in the so-called upper tiers, the money they waste on paying themselves should be channelled to the wards and staff. We all know the current financial situation but ultimately the Government has the moral responsibility to face reality. Spending on many unnecessary ventures, MPs? wastage on furnishing, trips etc could easily be diverted if the Government had the will.
There would then be no need to appoint NHS executives with neither business nor qualifications for the position who just toady to the Government?s unreasonable instructions. We, Joe Public, can do something about it rather than just moan. Find out who your local hospital executive is and their lieutenants and constantly blitz them with positive questions.
Expect a positive answer, not a fob-off or blaming government. Keep on until you receive the results you ask for. What does your MP do?
Ultimately, our succession of spineless governments are to blame... we put them in power! If they all only considered our country instead of constantly keeping their party or job in power we would have a solution to most of our problems. How about a "Help our Royal Berks and its staff" campaign? - Yours
Don?t knock the NHS
Sir, - With reference to your article about Yvonne Johnston and her daughter Clare Sherriff (Standard, September 6), I am well aware that the physical and emotional care provided at the Sue Ryder home in Nettlebed is excellent and much appreciated in the community. However, your headline ("My mother died happy... no thanks to the NHS") set a hostile, anti-NHS tone to which I would like to respond as follows:
1. With its circumscribed role of caring for people who are terminally ill and dying, a hospice has a much more straightforward remit than a large district general hospital like the Royal Berks which daily copes with a huge diversity of complex problems and where there is more likelihood of staff being under pressure and much less able to have the time for sensitive work.
2. The article was actually not about the NHS, apart from the incidents described during one admission. The family should definitely have complained about these, so that the hospital could have investigated and dealt with them and responded to the family. I can understand that the family had other priorities at the time but to have these allegations stated in your paper for everyone to read without the hospital having the chance to reply was clearly not fair.
3. For any campaign to succeed, it needs to be approached in a positive manner. Taking the line that the NHS does excellent work in many complex areas but further development in terminal care is needed and that the hospice movement and its supporters want to help with this would be true, much more constructive and more likely to be successful. - Yours faithfully,
Retired NHS staff member, Stoke Row Road, Peppard
Rewards of volunteering
Sir, - I have really enjoyed seeing the photos in your paper of all the wonderful volunteers and the fantastic work they all do at the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley. However, nowhere was it mentioned that all this volunteering was organised by Community Service Volunteers.
If anyone is interested in volunteering in any capacity you should most definitely contact Anna Jackson from CSV. Her email is anna.
I have volunteered with this organisation and I am very enthusiastic about the work they do. They help to co-ordinate where volunteering is really needed and can put you in touch where your gifts or talents can be well used.
It does you a world of good too and you can make great friendships! - Yours
Name and address supplied (inspired volunteer)
Memories of Diana Dors
Sir, - I am putting together a professional scrapbook of pictures and articles from all my many film magazines and books about Diana Dors, plus a memories and tributes section about her in the second half of my book.
I wondered if anybody has any memories of Diana Dors visiting Henley and, in particular, when she awarded Henley resident Peter Chapman a darts trophy around 1973/74 (www.patrickchaplin.com/Peterchapman.htm).
I am also looking for memories of Diana at social events and fetes in the area.
I wondered if any of your readers met her or saw her and would like to share any memories/anecdotes to my non-commercial professional scrapbook.
This book will be donated to various library archives around the country, where Diana lived and worked, her birthplace town of Swindon being one of a few.
Many may know that she spent the last few years of her life living in Sunninghill and Sunningdale.
I prefer Diana Dors? serious roles in acting and in particular her role as the condemned woman in Yield To The Night (1956). I have had a contribution from her co-star in that film, Michael Craig. It is true to say that Yield To The Night helped to abolish the death penalty in the UK during the Sixties.
There is no doubt in my mind she was one of the most loved and diverse entertainers Britain produced during the 20th century and she certainly earned that status all her life.
She was the precursor of the modern day celebrity in every way. She could put her mind to serious and comedic studies on TV, in film and on stage. In 1960, Diana even started a singing career, which eventually produced her Swingin? Dors album, which is still available on CD, I?m told.
In essence, I am hoping my project will be one of the most comprehensive collection of memories relating to Diana Dors? life and career to date.
I look forward to any memories and can be contacted at the address below. - Yours faithfuly,
Sir, - On behalf of the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre in Reading, I would like to thank the staff and customers of Tesco in Henley for their warm welcome and generosity during our charity collection held at the store on Saturday, August 31.
We were delighted to raise £697.89, which will be put towards the provision of therapies, services and information for local people with MS.
I would also like to thank the eight volunteer collectors who gave up their time to help us raise money for our centre. - Yours faithfully,
Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, Reading
Club for hard of hearing
Sir, - I am writing on behalf of Reading Hard of Hearing Club, which was established in 1946.
On the first and third Friday afternoons each month we meet at Abbey Baptist Church in Abbey Square, Reading for lip-reading classes, friendship and support.
New members will be made most welcome. For more information, please call me on 0118 926 8055. - Yours faithfully,
Chairwoman, Reading Hard of Hearing Club
Hoax postbox is stage prop
Sir, - The post box replica which has been hanging on Sonning Bridge for some time and has only now been noticed was earlier this year hanging high on the outside wall of the Bull, where some joker had presumably put it.
It looks like a theatrical or film prop and is, I think, wooden.
It moved down to the bridge some time before the wall of the Bull was repainted. I am surprised that Uri Geller had not noticed it before and am astounded that he can attribute it to the ghost of Isobella who lived and died long before the Royal Mail, regular post or post boxes had been thought of.
I trust the advice he says he gave to both the CIA and Mossad was more sensible. - Yours faithfully,
Thames Street, Sonning
Sir, - With regard Pat Doyle?s letter (Demise of doodlebugs, Standard letters, September 20), I disagree with him. I have a map showing strikes as far inland as Leicester, Shropshire, Cheshire, Derby and Lancashire. Oxfordshirehad a total of four and Berkshire 12.
Also, the engines did not always cut out over London as we gave false information through the double-cross system as to where they were landing, so the flight time was adjusted which helped London avoid some strikes.
Then there are the recollections of my father who heard the unique sound of the doodlebug before it hit. Dumb bombs do not make the same noise.
He does then say one landed in Checkendon - which goes against his argument! - Yours faithfully,
Sir, - One of the more sensitive planning applications in Goring in recent years was the retrospective for landscaping works at Cleeve Firs in late 2011. The site lies in a conservation area in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty adjacent to two national trails and is prominently sited on the Thames.
When Goring Parish Council considered it in two planning meetings there had already been a number of objections and 11 or so people including myself, attended the second.
What seems not widely known is that the parish council?s decision to approve was the subject of two complaints made by myself. These centred on a councillor?s declaration of interest as a friend of the applicant (which I have no evidence has been disputed). The councillor spoke and voted in favour without the chairman directing otherwise. The reason for the declaration of interest was not stated in the approved minutes, and seems not to have been stated since, such as under "matters arising". There were several other issues in the complaints.
One complaint was referred for "further action", the declaration of interest being a key concern, and even in the other the review panel made recommendations to "maintain public confidence" in the parish council. A full investigation was only withheld on the grounds of cost and their status as a consultee (leading me to wonder whether the district council can only investigate itself?)
Decision summaries for both complaints are available from SODC on request.
More recently I did a Freedom Of Information request to the parish council to find out what action was eventually taken, having seen no mention of the complaints anywhere in the public minutes. It emerged they had been discussed under "confidential business". Moreover, wording in the district council?s complaint summary was considered and is on record, which incorrectly stated the witnesses I had available, giving a quite wrong impression of an organised group.
The district council had agreed to correct this in their decision summaries and send them to the parish council, and also discussed the wording with the two councillors but surprisingly my request yielded no mention of this or indeed the two decision summaries themselves.
An uninformed member of the public would presumably have no way of knowing the nature of the declaration of interest or that any concerns had ever been raised about this highly sensitive planning decision, without doing an FOI or inspecting confidential minutes. - Yours faithfully,
Cariad Court, Cleeve Road,
Anyone seen the squirrels?
Sir, - It only takes a short walk or drive through our countryside to witness the abundance of fruit on the trees. Plums, acorns and blackberries all groan with this bumper crop and I discover the name given to this is a "mast year".
Is it just me, but last year saw an abundance of squirrels, so where are they all this year? Or is that a secret? - Yours faithfully,
Sir, - I fully support the Millie?s Dream campaign (Standard, September 20) to have a defibrillator in every school. With a cardiac arrest, every minute in getting treatment is critical.
However I would like to draw readers? attention to the Community First Responder scheme run locally with South Central Ambulance Service, which trains volunteers in resuscitation, operating a defibrillator and administering oxygen, and provides local schemes with kits including a defibrillator, oxygen cylinder and so on.
The aim is to have trained volunteers and kit no more than five to seven minutes? drive away from emergency incidents, giving volunteers every chance of getting to an emergency ahead of the paramedics.
The Henley Community First Responders scheme has existed for a number of years, the kit is there, and we have trained volunteers, but sadly far too few to provide anything like the 24/7 cover Henley needs.
For anyone interested in joining this life-saving scheme please contact the SCAS Community First Responders help desk at email@example.com or call 0800 587 0207 for further information. - Yours faithfully,