Saturday, 19 June 2021

Letters

Fedora is fashionable and practical

Sir, — Last Apple Day about 50 Whitchurch residents turned out in the pouring rain to celebrate the apple harvest and commemorate the re-opening of our maze.

The downpour was relentless. To the sound of muzzle-loading muskets, our valiant county councillor Kevin Bulmer declared the maze open again.

By that time what hair I have dripped and my glasses needed windscreen wipers. Kevin’s head was dry and so were his glasses. He was wearing his fedora.

Some time later I mentioned this to my wife and thought no more about it. At least not until, to my bemusement, she went and bought me a similar hat.

It works. It is surprisingly warm and keeps the rain away from my head while my glasses stay dry and there is somewhere to put that feather.

I mentioned this to Kevin, who commented that it was the first time he had been accused of starting a fashion. Well, there’s a first time for everything. — Yours faithfully,

Harry Butterworth

High Street, Whitchurch




Attentive pheasant: the truth

Sir, — I just thought I would add a final update on the pheasant of Stoke Row saga.

After I reported a fourth encounter with the attentive bird, my husband had started to doubt my sanity so I took him along to the pheasant’s territory.

We found it lurking in the foliage and, as you can see from the picture, he soon made friends with it. — Yours faithfully,

Louise Forrest

Stoke Row



Editor’s comment: Mrs Forrest also sent us some film of the pheasant with her husband, which you can see by clicking here




Don’t destroy countryside

Sir, - Whether or not the recent controversial same-sex marriage legislation caused the local flooding appears to be open to debate.

After reading the letters in the Henley Standard two weeks ago, it seems to me that at least some readers stopped and thought about it and got out their Bibles to find out what the good book says.

Of course the Bible

contains a wealth of wisdom and provides sound teaching. However, it should be read as a whole and not out of

context, otherwise its

messages can be regretfully misinterpreted.

Anyhow, the point is what has caused our extreme weather during recent years? Is it global warming or, I wonder, would anyone like to blame it on the Government’s harsh and somewhat inflexible housing policy?

Many areas of the country are about to be overwhelmed with even more new homes and the planning regulations are to be short-cut in order to expedite the building process.

Going back to the flooding, believe it or not, housing legislation has contributed to the cause.

Over past decades the millions of homes built, covering tens of thousands of acres of England’s green and pleasant land, have prevented rainwater from soaking away naturally, leaving more water with nowhere to go.

The Government’s current plan for housing in the South-East requires hundreds of thousands more homes to be built by 2027 to satisfy demand.

Each area of the region has been given a quota of houses to build and the local authorities have the task of deciding where to build them all. There seems to be no appeal against the numbers allocated.

Locally this policy demands, as we all know by now, that some 450 new houses are built in Henley’s congested town, regardless of the problems it would cause without the necessary infrastructure in place.

In the same period a similar number of homes could be built in Henley on windfall sites. This could raise the total number of homes to be eventually built in Henley to around 900. Just think of an additional 2,000 vehicles trying to pass and repass through our busy streets every day.

I understand the Government’s housing inspector has refused to allow windfall sites to be included in our allocated quota of 450 houses. This decision cannot be based on sound reasoning and I think an appeal should be made against it.

One may question why the order was given to build all these new houses in Henley in the first place. Was any forward planning done by the planners to determine the effects on local communities before imposing unrealistic mandatory housing quotas on localities?

Whereas a certain number of new homes may be necessary at times and welcomed if built in the right places, there is something quite disheartening about a policy that forces communities to unwillingly have to strip their open spaces of fields and trees, together with the associated wildlife, and allow the land to be concreted over. This political strategy is not exactly conducive to putting joy into people’s hearts. There are certainly many angry and unhappy people about.

We should put the preservation of the beauty of our finite surrounding countryside uppermost. Any contrarian utilitarian policy expedient upon building the necessary housing indiscriminately anywhere in fixed quotas regardless of location is surely a haphazard way to carry on. There must be a better way forward.

The attractive hilly countryside around our town could be irreversibly spoilt unless the right decisions can be made as to where developments are allowed to take place.

At present, Henley Town Council is overseeing the preparation of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan with the recommendations due to be put to the vote in an autumn

referendum.

Soon the neighbourhood plan housing group will have the unenviable task of finally deciding which of the proposed sites would be best for development and which sites should be saved for their amenity value, or natural beauty.

Hopefully, no unpopular decision will have to be made but sites for an extra 450 homes must be compulsorily found nevertheless.

Maybe under normal circumstances many sites would not be recommended for development, so it seems that some decisions will have to be made to develop certain sites, like it or not.

Another way of putting it is that it has to be decided which sites, if developed, would have the least harmful effect on Henley’s town and surroundings.

In the meantime we must all be patient and wait to see which recommended sites will be on the list to be pinned on the town hall door.

The result of all this will not be all bad news - some people’s pockets will become filled with gold from the sale and development of sites, new homes will be available for local people to buy if ever they can afford them and new jobs will be generated.

I just hope that no beauty spot will be destroyed in the process. We must save our fast-disappearing countryside. Once it has gone, it has gone for ever. - Yours faithfully,

John Burton

Blandy Road, Henley




Bad weather is a warning

Sir, - I respond as a Christian minister in the broader Thames Valley area to the furore around Councillor David Silvester.

I do not link the recent severe floods to any one sin but there is certainly much about Britain which puts us on a collision course with the courts of heaven.

Cllr Silvester himself made this point when speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire, referring, for example, to the horror of seven million babies destroyed in the womb since 1967.

The Christian scriptures clearly teach that God controls the climate (1 Kings 18:1 and Mark 4:41).

In a fallen world which rejects God extremes of weather are a reality of life in every generation. They are not judgements on individuals but are warnings to nations to humble themselves before God.

The same-sex marriage legislation is undeniably a breach of God’s moral law as laid down in both the Old and New Testaments.

To those who argue that Cllr Silvester is not loving his neighbour, I respond that it is an act of compassion to point out the seriousness of sin.

On May 26, 1940 King George called a national day of prayer concerning British troops trapped near Dunkirk.

On May 28 a violent storm broke out over Flanders, grounding the German air force. This enabled British soldiers to reach the beaches relatively safely.

Despite the storm in Flanders, the Channel was like a millpond, facilitating the massive evacuation operation. The trinitarian God who controls the elements had answered the prayers of a people who feared Him.

In politically correct modern Britain many are, sadly, too "sophisticated" and "liberal" to believe such things. - Yours faithfully,

Rev Peter Simpson

Penn Free Methodist Church, Church Road, Penn, Bucks




Light relief welcome

Sir, - I must congratulate James M Kauffman for a most amusing letter (Standard, January 31) - such light relief after all the fallout from Councillor Silvester’s letter.

I note that he is from London but wondered if you’d like to invite him to write a regular column in the Henley Standard as I admire his witty style and would like to read more of what he has to say. - Yours faithfully,

Helma Marlow

Nettlebed




Seek and you will find...

Sir, - Your correspondent James M Kauffman asked for "more divine advice" (Standard, January 31).

In the event that Cllr David Silvester does not provide it, may I have a go?

It may help him and other readers who are rightly perplexed by what look like totally outdated and inappropriate biblical laws for the modern western society.

I have drawn on a commentary of a New Living Translation of the Bible that I have recently seen. The Old Testament laws can be divided into three categories:

l?Moral laws (such as "do not steal") include rules that transcend time.

l?Ceremonial laws (such a burning a bull on the altar as a sacrifice) focused on Israel’s worship at that time.

l?Civil laws (such as compensating a neighbour for the damage or loss to their property) gave practical advice about how to keep large groups of people in order. The question is whether we need to follow these laws today.

The ceremonial laws (many sacrificial) no longer need to be followed because the final sacrifice for sin has been made by Jesus on the cross.

The civil laws should be followed in spirit and many of our current laws draw "inspiration" from our Judeo-Christian heritage. Cultural details do indeed need to be taken into consideration and one needs to look at the overarching truth.

So you may not have an ox that gores a slave but you may have a child who breaks a neighbour’s window with a stone. The principles of honesty, responsibility and restitution found in God’s word are what we should follow today.

So what about the moral laws? They are still to be followed for they reveal God’s character and, as Mr Kauffman pointed out, God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Furthermore, the "gay marriage" issue that started off the heated debate falls very much under the New Covenant of the New Testament. That is, even if as Christians we are no longer under the law (of the Old Testament), we are under the laws of the New Testament.

Jesus made it quite plain that marriage was between a man and woman and you cannot then hide behind the banner (quite literally from the photos seen in the Henley Standard) of the "love thy neighbour" quote of Jesus.

He was asked what the greatest commandment was and Jesus quoted from the Old Testament in his reply. First Jesus asked us to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Then he said love our neighbour as ourselves. Note what came first: love God. Many of the "love thy neighbour" proponents conveniently forget the former. Loving God is paramount, then love your neighbour.

Now, here’s the rub (so to speak). The word "love" used here in the Greek of the New Testament is "agape". The best translation I have seen of "agape", which is pure Christian love that we need to aspire to, is from William Barclay: Unconquerable benevolence and invincible goodwill.

It does not mean that if I fancy someone I can go and have sex with them (outside marriage that is), male or female.

That kind of love is eros and is not used in the context of "love your neighbour". Our neighbour includes our gay ones, "married" or otherwise, whether or not we agree with what they are doing.

We must show them agape. It does not mean we condone their actions and the condemning is not up to us; it is Jesus who is the final judge.

You can kick against the traces of the Bible’s laws but then you have been given free choice to do so. You also should know the consequences of rebellion and accept those consequences.

This, I hope, is what Cllr Silvester was trying to get across. Jesus, however, freely offers his forgiveness and his grace. He paid a high price for that, for us, and it is simply ours to accept…or reject.

The Bible is not always straightforward but if you seek you shall find. And you will find that in Matthew 7:7. I hope that helps. - Yours faithfully,

Nigel Downing

Peppard Common




No one really has answer

Sir, - The warmth with which Bruce Mason describes his prep school friend David Silvester makes it all the more surprising that he is so against gay marriage and also leaves some of us wondering if they might have been bullied there.

If Mr Mason has something against homosexuals he can blame the heterosexual marriages that keep producing them - otherwise get off their case and allow them the same rights to happiness as everyone else.

Mr Mason also displays a scant regard for truth in his explanation of the floods as "We all know this is the result of global warming". He might care to note meteorologist Nick Miller’s BBC Weather Centre report about the wet weather on January 30, which stated: "All of this might just be down to the UK weather’s natural variability. The humbling thing about weather is that we still don’t have all the answers." - Yours faithfully,

Bob Cross

Hamilton Avenue, Henley




Equality for all, please

Sir, - I don’t know anything about David Silvester but I did read an article about him and his comments and, as a straight woman who supports the LGBT community, concluded that he is totally daft (as the British would say).

While he is entitled to his opinion, I feel he is out of touch with reality. To say that the storms and floods were caused by gay marriage… really? He sounds like someone living in the Eighties when it was said HIV/Aids was caused by "gay people".

I think some people need to buy a clue and realise that everything wrong or bad or catastrophic is not caused by gay people. I support same-sex unions or marriages (depending on where you live) and feel it should be equality for all.

By the way, I’m a Christian also and the God I serve is all love for all people. He knows who he created.

With regards to using It’s Raining Men to support this campaign, I have no problem with it. I’m flattered that after all these years, the song is still relevant (even if it is for "storms and floods"!). - Yours faithfully,

Martha Wash

The original Weather Girl, New York




Loving and disagreeing

Sir, - I do not know when I am supposed to have said "love thy neighbour" (Standard, January 31) but it is a good philosophy to espouse.

However, there is a great difference between loving the individual and loving what they do or say. One can disagree wholeheartedly with those in this category. - Yours faithfully,

John Howell MP

MP for Henley




I’d like to live there

Sir, - Your correspondent Joe Bates said he was embarrassed to live in Henley (Standard, January 24). I am sorry that I don’t live in Henley any more. - Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams

Ramshill, Petersfield, Hants




So when’s the hosepipe ban?

Sir, - Being an allotment holder, can anybody of meteorological or religious background tell me when the annual hosepipe ban will begin this year? - Yours faithfully,

Dirk Jones

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common




Muddy pitch puzzler

Sir, - I was quite puzzled by the Rotherfield United under-11s chairman’s comments regarding the damage to the football pitch caused by kids playing football on it (Standard, January 13).

Is that not what it’s there for? Do they postpone three games every time they play one so the pitch can recover? - Yours faithfully,

Nick Ford

Reading Road, Henley




Broadband tribulations

Sir, - In your excellent article about superfast broadband in Ewelme (Standard, December 27) you mentioned the financial support the village received from Oxford County Council.

Why did the village of Binfield Heath not receive the same level of financial support from the council despite all our own efforts to pay for superfast broadband?

Why have about 650 residents of Binfield Heath had to pay almost £60,000 to BT for the installation of a fibre-optic superfast broadband cable (FTTC)?

FTTC is a critical communication tool for any modern business and wifi everywhere is also essential for modern social media.

Without a FTTC broadband connection, a house cannot easily be rented and the sales value is greatly reduced, as some of our residents know to their cost.

Twenty years ago I moved my IT business to Estonia to benefit from fast broadband and wifi and develop open source-based solutions for mobile e-government

applications.

For example, in 2003 Estonia developed Skype and then sold an application to eBay in 2005 for $2.6?billion. Tiny Estonia already has nationwide broadband and free wifi everywhere.

Several years ago, in desperation at a public meeting, I criticised the then minister of state for communication about the lack of broadband for my home in Binfield Heath.

He responded and BT provided my home with basic broadband within one week. The responsible BT engineer was a very helpful -Colin P Brookes, from BT

Openreach.

In 2011, a fellow resident of Binfield Heath, Keith Pruden, who had no broadband at his home, asked BT for help and also met Mr Brookes.

BT’s management then told Keith that the village would have to pay a major part of the cost for a superfast broadband fibre cable to be extended from Playhatch.

Thanks to Keith’s initiative, more than 120 households agreed to contribute to fund broadband for Binfield Heath. Eventually, thousands of pounds were committed by villagers.

When the final amount required was announced, Lord Phillimore kindly arranged for the outstanding balance of several thousand pounds to be paid by his estate.

A Binfield Heath village broadband group was formed and it is now run by Richard Ormerod. Thanks to Keith, Richard and the whole team, Binfield Heath now has broadband.

Once again it has been Mr Brookes, the BT Openreach development manager, and his hardworking team that have overcome many problems to deliver on time.

Superfast broadband finally became fully operational in Binfield Heath at the end of 2013.

Sadly, Binfield Heath then had a village-wide breakdown in our normal phone services, owing to a faulty cable, affecting many households throughout the village.

I emailed BT chief executive Gavin Patterson. To my surprise, within one hour, I had a direct response from him. Within one day we had a BT complaints team analysing and then actioning all the necessary remedial work.

Once again, we had a BT Openreach team led by Colin Brookes and the managing director of BT Openreach, Warren Buckley, a local person.

They have been consistently helpful and are dealing with the technical problems as fast as is possible.

From my personal experience, to obtain superfast broadband, meet the minister or write to Mr Patterson but do not expect any financial help from Oxford County Council. - Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Director, Positive Concepts OU Estonia, Heath Drive, Binfield Heath




Telephone fraudsters

Sir, - Two weeks ago, we were the intended victims of an elaborate scam.

This involved a man, purporting to be a detective constable, ringing to say that my bank card had been cloned, things bought and that someone from a local bank was involved. Would I help with their enquiries?

I agreed and was asked to draw out a large sum of, possibly counterfeit, money from the bank to be collected by a courier for examination, prospectively leading to an arrest.

To validate the detective I called 999, giving his name and number. This apparently checked out. As further confirmation I rang the bank to be told that: "Yes, a sum had been drawn out of your account and had been replaced (as agreed) by the police".

In fact, both these calls had been answered by the scammers themselves. On BT lines this is made possible as, having received a call and put the phone down, the caller who has not put theirs down, has control of your line for two minutes.

Thus, if you call out within that time, you may not be speaking to whom you think you are speaking. I have to say that in our case it ended well but other people have not been so lucky.

Why BT persists in continuing with a system so open to fraud is not known. - Yours faithfully,

Robin Adams

The Bridleway, Goring




Thoughtless redesign

Sir, - At the end of last year the Waitrose store in Henley was refurbished and the row of check-outs for "one basket only" was

redesigned. Whoever did the redesign apparently didn’t give it much thought. There are five tills. You queue on the left and move away to the right.

You would expect to place your basket on the surface to the left of the till so that the cashier ("partner") can unpack it and place the items on the right.

But the space to the left of the till isn’t big enough for the basket so you have to put your basket on the right, which is inconvenient and potentially leads to a muddle between items which have been rung up on the till and those which haven’t.

If there isn’t enough room in that part of the store, then why have five tills? I have never seen all five open, even at busy times. The "partners" are very efficient and one rarely has to wait very long in any case. Four tills and more space would be my answer. - Yours faithfully,

Kate Ashbrook

Turville




‘Rat’ happy in darkness

Sir, - I write with reference to Betty Freeman’s letter about the Sonning Common/Peppared parish boundary and the "dangerous rat run" of Shiplake Bottom (Standard, January 31).

I am one of the "rats" who was born in and lives in the rat run of Shiplake Bottom! We definitely don’t need street lights and love the darkness and rural location without the light pollution and waste of energy of street lights.

Cars go too fast due to the long straight nature of the road and having street lights would not improve things. In fact, it would make it easier to drive faster with a clearer view of the road.

Residents of Sonning Common do not "have" to use this road at all. There are plenty of other routes into the

village. - Yours faithfully,

L Beales

Rotherfield Peppard




Help protect historic pub

Sir, - I would like to thank the Henley Standard for bringing to the attention of its readers the impending fate of the Rose and Crown in Henley and applaud the decision of the town council’s planning committee to resist this planned abuse.

Brakspear wishes to delicense the pub and turn it into a six-bedroom mansion.

The company’s argument is that it is entitled to do this because there are plenty of other pubs in the town (and it owns and manages the nearest and biggest, namely the Bull in Bell Street). Those who have visited the Rose and Crown will know that it has many attractions not all available elsewhere: a lovely south-facing garden, a working kitchen and three double letting bedrooms. Something for everyone.

It is also the only remaining pub in New Street, within spitting distance of the river and the Kenton Theatre and in a conservation area. This confluence of facilities has to be part of Henley’s history, of value to its community and part of the town’s appeal to visitors.

Former regulars at the Rose and Crown will also remember that it was once the home of a bridge club and a poker school, hosted club and society meetings in the front room and wasn’t adverse to the odd party.

There must be many Henley Hawks supporters who can remember meeting there on a Saturday to offer their opinion on the standard of rugby being played, similarly, patrons of the Kenton who can remember a dinner before the show and nipping across for a quick drink during the interval.

My point is the Rose and Crown did serve the community well before it went into decline and could still do so again in the right hands.

Economically, I think it needs to be free from tie (Camra estimates this can increase the price of stock by 50 per cent or more above open market prices) and free from aggressive, three-yearly rent reviews.

To conclude, the argument that no pub can be a valued asset to the community as long as there is another grog shop within 400 yards has got to stop sometime and neither should Brakspear, with its near monopoly in the town, be allowed to use it to its advantage by restricting the choice of pub-goers and

visitors.

I urge all those who have fond memories of the Rose and Crown and believe it could still serve the community to write, objecting to this application, as soon as possible, to: Head of planning, South Oxfordshire District Council, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 BNJ (quoting planning ref:P14/S0063/FUL) or via the council’s website. - Yours faithfully,

Richard Guy

New Street, Henley




Statue riddle is solved

Sir, - Last month, by chance I had sight of a photograph showing the statue associated with Janice Gardiner’s letter in November 2012 to be the statue presented to Phyllis Court Club by the Tweed sisters in 1931.The statue was the bronze patinated one, comparatively worthless. - Yours faithfully,

Derek Shirley

Phyllis Court Drive, Henley




Hazard on bins day

Sir, - Please could you request that residents of King’s Road, Henley, place their rubbish on a Wednesday morning in a way that allows people with motorised wheelchairs to pass without having to go into the busy road.

I would like to thank the kind lady with a dog who moved the rubbish for me two Wednesdays ago so that I could get by. - Yours

faithfully,

June Grindley

Fair Mile, Henley




Proud of my tree planting

Sir, - Thank you for your article about the tree planting at Greys Green Farm (Standard, January 31).

At the end of the article you reported me as asserting that I received financial support from the council for my tree planting.

I imagine that the council would be horrified by this assertion.

Unfortunately, your reporter misunderstood my comments. I was attempting to explain that my tree planting had been resisted by South Oxfordshire District Council for more than 20 years and that its attempts to stop further planting and to force the removal of the existing planting have cost council taxpayers and myself considerable amounts of money.

I’m extremely proud of my achievement in planting nearly 200 acres of former arable land with native broadleaved trees against the bitter opposition of the district and Rotherfield Greys Parish Council.

I am very much indebted to the Forestry Commission for its support and as a consequence have been happy to make large parts of the planting accessible to the public. - Yours faithfully,

Alexander Hood

Greys Green Farm, Peppard




Thinking of you, Vince

Sir, - I was so sad to hear of Vince and Annie Hill’s loss of their son Athol (Standard, January 31) and would like to pass on my condolences to the family.

I met the family in 1979 when we were on holiday in Barbados. In fact, we were on the same flight out of Heathrow. It was an enjoyable time and on return we kept in touch but over time our correspondence stopped.

I hope that Vince and Annie remember our meeting. It was so nice to sit by the pool having a drink together. I cannot imagine how they must be feeling now, such a loss. - Yours faithfully,

Mike Bacon

Magna Road, Bearwood, Bournemouth








More News:

POLL: Have your say