Friday, 06 August 2021

Spot the difference... or did I miss out?

Sir, — I write with reference to Katie Freebody’s photograph of the Dunkirk Little Ships at the Thames Traditional Boat

Sir, — I write with reference to Katie Freebody’s photograph of the Dunkirk Little Ships at the Thames Traditional Boat Rally in Henley in July, which won the rally category in the event’s inaugural photographic competition (Standard, November 15).

To my sincere dismay, I did not know there was a competition as I feel I would have stood a chance since my photograph bears a striking similarity to Katie’s. — Yours faithfully,

Anne Mackenzie-Webster

Photographer, Widmore Lane, Sonning Common

Unacceptable development

Sir, — The presentation by developers at Henley town hall on Monday night showed that apart from developing the industrial estate and former gravel pit at Highlands Farm, a genuine brownfield site, the plans now include two adjoining green fields.

These are the football pitch to the south as well as as a third of the field to the north between the industrial estate and Greys Road.

All the land is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where there is a strong presumption against development.

Apart from the AONB constraints, there is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, alerting us to the fact that here we have something very special indeed.

During the Fifties and Sixties, gravel extractions brought to light a large amount of the earliest man-made tools known in this country in the form of worked flints, including axes, from the Lower Palaeolithic period, i.e. the Old Stone Age when man first began shaping stones.

The SAM was designated along a narrow strip north of the gravel pits to prevent further destruction of this area of truly national importance.

The developers assuming that they can simply extend the area of buildings over adjoining fields is absolutely unacceptable for both historic reasons as well as the need to keep the AONB intact as Henley’s beautiful green lung. — Yours faithfully,

Ruth Gibson

Honorary secretary, Henley Archaeological and Historical Group, Vicarage Road, Henley

Businesses before homes

Sir, — I am writing with regards to your front page article headlined “Nineteen sites for new homes” (Standard, November 22).

I would like to point out to your readers, local councillors and South Oxfordshire District Council that “the former Empstead Works” is actually now known as Henley Enterprise Park and is indeed full of enterprising businesses which are thriving in spite of the worst economic crisis that the world has seen in a long time.

Henley Enterprise Park has 18 businesses covering everything from garages to bakers, lighting to cycling.

They are owned/run by local, hardworking entrepreneurs who have invested heavily in their businesses and need smaller, less costly units than you will find in the immediate area.

We are very concerned by the continuing threat of the loss of our business premises when there are other more suitable tracts of land around Henley/Harpsden where housing could be situated.

Indeed, most of the other tracts of land identified are empty and their use would have no major impact on people’s livelihoods whereas building on Henley Enterprise Park would put approximately 50 local people out of work.

We would appreciate it if huge consideration was taken into removing Henley Enterprise Park from the list of potential sites and we were able to get on with serving the local community without the threat of closure hanging over our heads and the negative impact that it has on our businesses. — Yours faithfully,

Vikki Bray

Director of customer services, David Bray Motor Engineers, Henley

Not the place to build

Sir, — I find it quite ironic that the former Empstead Works has been put forward as a suitable site for residential housing, especially as it is owned by Stuart Turner, which once had an enviable reputation worldwide for engineering pumps made in Henley.

It was originally owned by Walden’s builders, who at one time were probably building most of the homes in Henley.

This site is by no means derelict, it houses a number of local firms making fantastic things.

Collier & Robinson tailor blazers on the site, Ian Desmond makes bespoke cabinets and has a thriving carpentry workshop, Jonathan Coles designs marvellous, innovative lighting, Early Rider produces a world reknowned bicycle and Lawlor’s the bakers, one of the oldest surviving businesses in the town, is still providing gorgeous breads and cakes.

This is not to mention two thriving car mechanics, Athlete Services and the offices of the Best of Henley and Dame Stephanie Shirley.

The residents of Henley should be proud to live in a town where such talent has a place to thrive.

Where else could you get some scrummy buns to increase your waistline, a new suit made to measure, a bespoke wardrobe to keep it in and some well-placed lighting to show your best side?

Don’t forget people do live and work in Henley.

Maybe the planners should look elsewhere, Maybe those people building large houses on very large plots should think smaller. — Yours faithfully,

N Taylor


Build homes on car parks

Sir, — Now that the Townlands Hospital rebuild has been delayed, can one suggest the following?

Replan Townlands for Gillotts School or Highland Engineering.

Plan for park and rides at Makins Field, Henley Station and a field on Marlow Road.

Have the town buses go to these park-and-rides as well as the town’s venues, Waitrose etc., and increase their range and times.

Then build houses on the King’s Road and Greys Road car parks and Townlands site and provide decent town housing for young, hard-working families. — Yours faithfully,

David Parry

Greys Road, Henley

No plans to sell college

Sir, — I was disappointed to read that The Henley College’s sites are apparently a development opportunity (Standard, November 22).

While it would be advantageous to the college to be on one site, there are certainly no plans currently to sell this land for development.

At the meeting that our governor attended on housing this was never discussed. — Yours faithfully,

Tom Espley

Principal, The Henley College

Enormous extensions

Sir, — I read with a great deal of interest the letter from Melanie White (Standard, November 15).

I’d be very surprised if there is any legislation that restricts the increase in size of houses in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to 10 per cent.

As for the 50 per cent increase Monty Taylor has managed to obtain, it is dwarfed by recent extensions to houses along Fair Mile.

If such restrictions exist it obviously does not apply in this particular area of the Chilterns where, in the last few years, at least six properties have increased their size by 100 per cent. — Yours faithfully,

Doreen Thatcher

Fair Mile, Henley

Business has to obey law

Sir, — I write in reply to the letters from Rob Scott, owner of Hare Hatch Sheeplands, with regard to the garden centre (Standard, November 8 and 15).

The issues raised seem to relate to the extent of unlawful development at the site, the negotiation to try to find a solution and financial viability. The main shop and the café building are lawful. However, the majority of other buildings and structures on the site are not lawful in planning terms.

The greenhouses should have been removed if they are not being used for selling or growing plants. All the other paraphernalia, storage and display, together with the structures, do not have planning permission.

Wokingham Borough Council officers have asked the site owner’s agent to submit a scheme to facilitate negotiation. This has not been received.

Council officers have written again requesting this. Without this submission, officers will be unable to consider a compromise.

Any proposal put forward must be acceptable to Mr Scott. I encourage the owner’s agent to submit such a scheme as soon as possible to see if a compromise can be reached before the appeal hearing.

Rob Scott seems to suggest that there is a binary choice between financial viability, achieved only if he is free from planning restraints, and closure.

This is not a tenable position in England (let alone in the green belt) and would have substantial opposition if applied generally.

The owners of any business have a duty to operate within whatever legal constraints exist. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor John Halsall

Wokingham Borough Council, Remenham

Skate park is wasted money

Sir, — I support Councillor Will Hamilton’s views on the proposed £75,000 investment in the Henley skate park (Standard, November 22). I believe he is simply concerned about such a lot of money going to a niche activity when so many more inclusive and necessary projects are short of funds and face possible closure.

I am not sure some if our councillors know their half-pipes from their elbows.

My objection is not “Nimbyism”. Living over the road from the site, my family could actually benefit from the renewal of the skate park — we have three children who may well use it and the old structure is extremely noisy.

But I still disagree with such a huge amount from council funds going to this project.

I regularly visit the skate park area as a spectator with my young son. If anyone is actually there at all, we are the usually the only ones watching and I never seem to see more than three or four people using it.

Let’s say there are seven people — give them £10,000 each and I’ll bet they wouldn’t spend it on a skate park!

As I understand it, up to £250,000 is needed to complete the project. As we are in Henley, let’s use a boating analogy: a boat is a hole in the water that you just keep pouring money into. Well, it seems a skate park is a hole in the ground that you continually pour money (and cement) into!

I have read social media sites relating to this project as it is about the only real way to find out what is going on.

From what I read, a great deal of effort is expended in persuading people to “want” the skate park.

If it is such an effort to keep up continued interest and excitement in potential users of the park it may indicate interest could wane over time, if it is ever built.

If the view is “build it and they will come” and then “they” don’t, the money will be very much wasted and gone for good.

I suggest readers write in and suggest what alternative uses they could make of £75,000 of our council cash, which appears so freely available to this project. — Yours faithfully,

John Newton

Greys Road, Henley

Have a go, councillor

Sir, — Good to read about the Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak’s criticism of the disparaging comments made by Councillor Will Hamilton regarding the Henley Skate Park Initiative and the young people of Henley.

If Cllr Hamilton actually had a go at skateboarding, he might (a) enjoy it and (b) give the people of Henley a good laugh.

You get the feeling that some councillors are unrepresentative of the town and out of touch with what’s going on and that their real motivation is to get giddy with local power and have their photograph in the Henley Standard whilequaffing bubbly at some fund-raiser.

Good on the Mayor for making a point. Hopefully, other councillors will take note. — Yours faithfully,

James Lambert

Friday Street, Henley

Keeping town beautiful

Sir, — May I say a huge thank-you to all the businesses of Henley who took part in efforts to clean up the streets.

Many businesses are continuing to clean outside their premises because they know that a clean pavement is a welcome mat that encourages people to enter their establishment to eat or shop.

Henley Town Council has also done its bit in paying for the streets to be washed and chewing gum removed. We can now see our wonderful York stone paving in all its glory. This will continue next year.

Can I make a plea: if you have litter, find a bin; if you chew gum, find a bin; and if you have a dog, clear up and find a bin.

Henley is a beautiful place so let’s keep it clean and wonderful for residents and visitors alike.

Two further matters. Firstly, you reported (Standard, November 15) that the financial agreement regarding Townlands Hospital will be signed at Christmas and that building work will start in the spring.

Let’s hope so because Henley has waited long enough. The town council and Townlands Steering Group will be keeping up the pressure on the NHS to make sure the contract is signed and work can start so we get the hospital we have fought for over many years.

Secondly, Councillor Dieter Hinke and I attended a meeting in Oxford regarding further housing for Oxfordshire.

We have a neighbourhood plan that the residents of Henley and Harpsden are developing, based on 400 new homes over the next 15 years. We believe this is the maximum that Henley can take.

We will vigorously resist any increase in this figure and would urge Oxfordshire County Council and South Oxfordshire District Council to make sure that there is no increase in the number for Henley, which would put further pressure on services and our roads system.

We ask all of our district and county councillors to vote for no increase for Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Stefan Gawrysiak

Mayor of Henley

Time to cut speed limit

Sir, — Following the tragic news of yet another fatality on the A4130 around Nettlebed, once again we need to look at reducing the speed limit in the area.

This is the latest in a series of fatalities over the last few years, mostly on roads with the national speed limit. Whenever we ask about lowering the limit we are told that this can only happen after a fatality.

When there is a fatality, we are told that it was not caused by speeding. However, speed is always a factor — at low speeds the risk of death is massively reduced.

The A4130 between Nuffield and Nettlebed has at least a dozen homes along it, many of them with young families. It is blighted by cars and lorries driving above the speed limit and on sunny weekends it is used as a race track by motorcyclists.

It is, therefore, no surprise to those of us who live there that there has been another accident.

Furthermore, the pavement along this stretch is completely overgrown, forcing pedestrians and pushchairs on to the road. Walking children to the school or shops means risking their lives, with the consequence that people make short journeys by car. Again, nothing has been done to remedy this.

The road is acknowledged to be dangerous and in places such as Nuffield and Bix the limit has been reduced to 40mph.

Surely the case has been made for extending this limit along much more of the road, especially where there are dangerous corners, junctions and residential housing. — Yours faithfully,

Digby Knight

Port Hill, Nettlebed

In defence of cyclists

Sir, — A lot has been written recently about the increasing number of cyclists on our roads.

We are extremely lucky to live in a beautiful area in which so many local residents and visitors want to cycle, so we should accept the minor inconvenience in good grace and embrace the fact that the recent achievements of British cyclists such as Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Chris Hoy, Laura Trott and others have inspired a generation to get off their backsides and get out into the countryside and do something active.

I believe it’s a great shame that our elected representatives were unable to find a solution to the Challenge Henley issue. The vocal minority won and I’m sure in the longer term our loss will be Weymouth’s gain.

As someone who has been a regular walker, cyclist and, out of necessity, a driver around the Chiltern villages over the last 25 years, I’ve never felt the need to be insured against the risks caused to me by cyclists (or walkers for that matter), whereas as a walker and as a cyclist, I’ve often felt in danger due to speeding motorists.

Alistair Horne complained (Standard, November 15) that a cyclist he was following not only held him up along a narrow lane but then had the audacity to hit a pothole and crash, potentially causing Mr Horne to have an accident and scratch his paintwork.

There was no note of sympathy for the poor cyclist, only concern for the risk this posed to himself and the motorist coming in the other direction.

As for his comment about “monkeys in lycra”, all I can say is that I’m disappointed that the cyclists whom he claims narrowly missed him on pedestrian crossings in London were unable to find their target. — Yours faithfully,

Jon Lock

St Mark’s Road, Henley

Potholes are council’s fault

Sir, — Graham Lloyd’s letter (Standard, November 22) shows commendable restraint and good humour.

I am truly sorry that he fractured his wrist falling into that colossal pothole on Armistice Day and hope he might consider suing the council for its gross neglect.

Colin Garnham in his letter seems to blame the motorists for the potholes but I suggest that they may have existed well before the motor car, in the days of horses and carts.

Now cyclists and motorists should surely combine their ire in attacking, not each other, but the true villains of the piece: the local authorities who allow such lethal potholes to exist and multiply.

Either they plead austerity budget cuts for their neglect or they repair the holes so inefficiently, using every sloppy cost-cutting dodge, that one winter’s frost opens them up again.

Councils are the enemy and the cause of many blow-outs, accidents or near-accidents and they should be the target of our joint road-rage.

A couple of years back there were notices on the Henley road proclaiming: “We’re working on it.”

Well, were they? You could fool me. — Yours faithfully,

Alistair Horne


Our right to be heard

Sir, — Everyone is entitled to their opinion but Peter Woolsey should be sure of his facts before stating that 38 Degrees is a “commercially based business that seeks to influence public opinion for its own ends” (Standard, November 22).

In fact, 38 Degrees is “a British, not-for-profit political activism organisation that campaigns on a diverse range of issues”.

In September 2011, it was named best UK internet non-governmental organisation by the Oxford Internet Institute, which is housed in Bailliol College and is “the main UK member of the world internet project” (quotations taken from Wikipedia).

More importantly, 38 Degrees encourages participation.

I have been asked by them to suggest campaigns that should be pursued.

I have participated in lobbying for change and donated small amounts of money to them.

My options for making change are limited:

I vote but my party of choice doesn’t stand a chance in this constituency. I have written to John Howell MP but that has not got me anywhere. I have served for many years as a parish councillor but what I have been able to achieve is minuscule and now I am writing to my local paper in the hope that it publishes my letter and my views are heard.

I don’t know how much my support of 38 Degrees helps but at least it gives me another option to get my voice heard.

I supported 38 Degrees’ campaign against forest privatisation, which was praised by environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, and was one of those members who donated to commission legal advice on revised plans for the NHS, which led to Lib-Dem peer Shirley Williams declaring that “this flawed Bill threatens the very future of the NHS”.

To suggest, as Mr Woolsey does, that 38 Degrees “seeks to convince those who may, vaguely, agree with it” is insulting to those who participate in its lobbying.

We are people interested in improving society and consider this is one way we can contribute.

And, yes, I have used the pre-prepared statements, sometimes with an added sentence of my own, as my time is limited.

Mr Woolsey is entitled to his views but he should not try to belittle others who are trying to get their views heard, even if he does not like their method. That is what democracy is all about. — Yours faithfully,

Beth Timms

Gravel Road, Binfield Heath

P.S. I was sorry to have missed the Henley Jazz and Blues Week which your correspondents gave such a good account of. I will definitely look out for it next year.

MP should try harder

Sir, — After emailing John Howell MP on the issue of the Lobbying Bill, I received a response which bore a remarkable resemblance to his response in the Standard (November 22). Indeed, on closer inspection, it was identical.

I really think that Mr Howell needs to make a little more effort when answering people’s queries, otherwise the suspicion that he has little regard for his constituents and would rather trot out the party line than engage directly in the concerns of voters, might start to gain traction. — Yours faithfully,

B Butterworth


Money before artistic merit

Sir, — Your correspondent Richard Goddard’s comments (Standard, November 22) exactly chimed with my dismay at the mostly second rate hotchpotch of art, comedy, music and horribly over-priced food and drink latterly offered by the Henley Festival.

Indeed, I was unaware that it had originally been instituted as a classical music festival.

The event has quite clearly become first and foremost a money-making operation without any artistic heart.

The last straw came some years ago, when the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra arrived to play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons but were evidently told by the organisers that the people of Henley weren’t up to sitting through all four seasons; they could only cope with one and even that had to be cheered up by some C-list “celebrity” compere plus a couple of half-dressed pole dancers cavorting on either side of the stage. — Yours faithfully,

Tom Berman

Henley Road, Wargrave

Young play tennis here!

Sir, — Disappointment on seeing that Councillor David Nimmo Smith ignored the tennis club when listing the clubs that “cater for the sporting and recreational needs and desires of the young of Henley” (Standard, November 15) turned to despair when last week he was reported as saying “the next Andy Murray will certainly not come from here”.

Our club currently has 250 members of whom more than 100 are juniors, including one county champion.

I am sure they all appreciate Cllr Nimmo Smith’s encouragement!

I would be delighted to show him our facilities at any time or, better still, he can enjoy unlimited tennis for an annual fee of just £65 — much cheaper than any pay-and-play council scheme. — Yours faithfully,

Eric Davies

Secretary, Henley Tennis Club, Tilebarn Close, Henley

My tree saga continues

Sir, — Following my letter concerning the dangerous willow tree on our property (Standard, November 8), I have received a reply from South Oxfordshire District Council.

They have refused permission to remove the tree on the grounds “it can been seen from the highway and has significant amenity value”.

This is far from the detailed risk assessment I would have hoped for. The council chap turned up unannounced, looked up at the tree and decided it was big and pretty so should stay... very scientific!

Interestingly, the council has taken responsibility and offered compensation “for any loss or damage which is caused or incurred in consequence of this refusal of consent”.

I reiterate the concerns raised in my initial letter and hope no one is killed or seriously injured.

The saga continues and I have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol to see if common sense can prevail and this dangerous tree can be removed. — Yours faithfully,

John Goldsmith

Dunsden Green

Don’t forget the animals

Sir, — While I am sure there are people in the Philippines enduring extreme suffering, has anyone given a thought to the animals in crisis there?

Pete Burness-Smith called for Henley Town Council to give £4 million to the typhoon victims fund (Standard, November 15).

Maybe he would like to donate to the International Fund for Animal Welfare? — Yours faithfully,

Mrs O Connor

Watlington Street, Nettlebed

Car dealer wasn’t us

Sir, — I write with reference to your article about the prosecution of car dealer Christopher Edwards (Standard, November 22).

Although our business was not named, as the premises that Henley Car Sales traded from, many of our customers are thinking it had something to do with our business. Please can you clarify that Henley Car Sales had nothing to do with Whitehill Service Station or the car sales company that specialises in Minis that currently trades from our premises.

Henley Car Sales was a tenant of ours working independently and as soon as we became aware of the outcome of the case by trading standards the tenancy agreement was terminated. — Yours faithfully,

Simon Bodle

Whitehill Service Station, Remenham Hill

Spread some festive cheer

Sir, — Help is needed with the Henley Living Advent Calendar on the evenings of December 1 to 24.

Can you spare one hour to help us as a marshal or to sell raffle tickets? As audiences get larger every year, we need to ensure that everyone is kept safe at the venues.

This year, so as to raise money for our four charities, the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, the Regatta for the Disabled, Henley Youth Centre and Oceans Project, we are having a raffle every evening so we need people to help us with that too.

If you can offer to help for even one evening from 5.45pm to 6.45pm, please call me on (01491) 579058 or email as I am making up the rota. To see a list of the venues, please visit www.livingadvent partners-84.html

You will still get to enjoy the performance and the Christmassy nibbles as well as the pleasure of knowing that you are contributing to a unique community event and bringing a beautiful sense of Christmas cheer to everyone in Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Carolyn Molyneux

Delegate Office and Conference Services, Hart Street, Henley

Give friendly cafe a try

Sir, — I joined a group of friends at the Hot Frog café at the Henley Youth Centre in Deanfield Road, which is run by volunteers and where students with a learning disability at The Henley College are trained to handle money and serve customers.

I had assumed this was simply a venue for college students and it would not have occurred to me to go in for coffee had I not seen the advertising boards outside notifying that the café is open to the general public.

We were very impressed with the standard of service, the freshness of the venue and the friendly welcome. The coffee was excellent and the home baking delicious.

The café is run as a not-for-profit establishment. Please give it a try and support this worthwhile venture. — Yours faithfully,

Louise Stuart-Bennett

St Andrew’s Road, Henley

Remembering speedway club

Sir, — I am investigating the history of Henley Hawks Cycle Speedway Club 1955-1958, which was founded by myself and Nick Simmons.

It represents a very small part of Henley’s sporting history but I feel it should not be forgotten.

It was notable for the fact that it was operated by a group of 50 youngsters, mainly teenagers, with minimal adult help.

The club staged more than 50 race meetings in its four-year existence.

I have spent some considerable time obtaining information about the club’s activities, in particular examining the reports submitted by me to your newspaper in 1957 and 1958. Reports were not submitted in the first two years.

As well as my compiling A Racing History, a commemorative website has been set up (, part of a nationwide task undertaken by Dave Hunting. It is recorded under Berkshire as the tracks were both on the other side of the bridge. There is more to be added to the website, including the names of the riders.

There are still a number of gaps in the history and very few photographs have surfaced.

May I, through this letter, ask if any residents in the Henley area can help me to fill these? If anyone has any information, photographs or artefacts which would help me to complete my task, please send an email to me at

It goes without saying that any items loaned will be returned in the condition received. — Yours faithfully,

John Leyland

Cavendish Gardens, Winnersh

Sir, — As two of the main organisers of the very first Henley Jazz and Blues Week, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the many people who worked with us to organise this event from scratch.

Many individuals and companies worked for nothing or expenses only and we are most grateful for their invaluable contribution.

The week proved what we thought, that there are many people in and around Henley who love jazz and blues music.

We are determined to build on this first year and, within our resources, increase its profile and reputation. This will ensure we can attract the very best musicians.

Our thanks again to all our supporters, helpers and everybody who attended from Henley and further afield. We hope to please you again next year. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Cuthbertson and Carol Crowdy

Organisers, Henley Jazz and Blues Week, Checkendon

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