Monday, 02 August 2021

Your letters

A lot still to think about

A lot still to think about

Sir, â?? Everyone was delighted when the business case for the Townlands redevelopment was approved. We were equally happy when planning permission was granted and then the contract was signed with Amber Infrastructure and development finally started.

Achieving this result has taken many years and there were many twists and turns yet it appears there is now another one as the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is reviewing the health services that are to be provided at our new hospital. Of course we all thought this had been decided long ago. However, it is important to remember that the hospital is being built and it is as certain as it can be that the new hospital will be opened in the next year providing a range of services that we need.

The question is what is still to be decided? We know that Sue Ryder are no longer planning to move into the top floor (although a final decision has yet to be made).

The commissioning group wants to put forward a new model of care in which bedded care (i.e. the 18-bed Peppard ward) is replaced by five emergency multi-disciplinary unit beds leased from the care home and there is a new set of services such as dialysis etc.

The intention is to change the way the health needs are currently being met by the Peppard ward beds to a model in which care is either provided in the home or by more rapid access to long- term institutional care.The questions we need to consider are:

Is this a better model of care and can the new model be set up in time for the opening of the new hospital? We have asked the GPs who believe that such a model has the following potential gains for health/social care provision:

* Many patients prefer to be cared for in their homes.

* An increased range of services can be provided on the site, removing the need for many patients to travel to, for example, the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading or the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.However, there is a number of potential downsides and uncertainties as follows:

* There is widespread concern regarding the ability of adult social services to deliver the home care safely and with dignity.

* There have been many similar moves to a more home-based model in the past which have had limited success. At a time of austerity, with perhaps worse to come, can Oxfordshire County Council really commit to providing the resources necessary?

* Even if the county council was able to do this, will it be able to present a cogent plan on May 11 which the community can accept as  deliverable? It is clear from anecdotal evidence, as well as the considered view of GPs, that there is a real need which cannot be met in this way.

The only way to provide the sort of step up/step down care that is needed is using beds so that people who need hospital care when recovering can do this outside an expensive and distant acute bed.The commissionong group has agreed a consultation to start on May 11 for four weeks. It is committed to providing a detailed description of the service model on which to consult. It is far from clear that this is possible and there must be great concern that there will be insufficient detail to allay the concerns of the community, particularly on the adult social services.There has also been the distraction of the suggestion that this is a numbers game and the change of plan is a simple dilution of 18 to five beds. This is much too simplistic a way to look at the situation.The options which may be proposed on May 11 will include a number of new and different services which may be possible on the site.The options will also need to include detailed and complex descriptions of the supporting systems that will be put in place to ensure the new model to support the emergency multi-disciplinary unit beds (i.e. home care and more care home places).Consideration of these and their credibility will need a great deal of thought and analysis. It is very important we do not make hasty decisions on the proposals until we see much more detail and have had the opportunity to listen to the voices of those who have the most knowledge and trust, our GPs.

The community has a long record of considering the health services and Townlands in a mature and thoughtful way.It would be highly damaging to Townlands and our health services if a hasty and ill-considered response was to be made before all the facts are available.It would also be damaging if the community were to fail to act cohesively or to be driven by motives other than seeking the best deal possible for the new hospital.We have come so far in the last 10 years by thoughtful analysis, listening and speaking clearly to the decision- makers using the authority of the Townlands Steering Group and this is how we should continue. â?? Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann Chairman,

Townlands Steering Group,

Gainsborough Road, Henley

What about social care?

Sir, â?? It is quite staggering how divine intervention works when confronted by a general election.Our MP John Howell is now claiming the credit for the consultation on the proposed reduction in beds at Townlands Hospital, a solitary act, with rapturous applause from the sidelines from Councillor David Nimmo Smith (Standard, April 17).I see that Councillor Ian Reissmann, chairman of the Townlands Steering Group for 13 years, was relegated to a commentator with two small paragraphs. It would, in fact, be appropriate if Mr Howell and the Conservative Party were to give even grudging credit to the steering group for their resolute fight to save Townlands Hospital over 13 years. In your article, there was not one mention of what is the other side of the coin in the healthcare debate, namely the provision of adult social services care in our communities. Without knowing what will be provided outside Townlands Hospital in terms of social care then we, the residents, can only vote one way in any consultation â?? against any loss of beds.If, however, it is clearly stated by Oxfordshire County Council that there will be a plan in place with timetable and funding for enhanced social services care in the community then I, for one, would be voting for a change in bedded care provision at Townlands Hospital. All residents should realise that a balance of a small amount of bedded care and well-delivered adult social care is the best outcome for Townlands Hospital.As Dr Burnett stated: “The new Townlands should be about healthcare for the many, not the few.” We can have more of the latest diagnostics techniques, more on-site consultations, more treatments through day care and a greater presence by the Royal Berkshire Hospital. The savings in appropriately focused healthcare, and in time and convenience for residents in not having to go to Reading or Oxford, will be a considerable benefit, all through our own local hospital. However, if the social care at home for residents is not put in place then fewer beds at Townlands will only mean bedded care out of town for many of our residents and away from loved ones.Personally, I do not fancy being hospitalised in Witney as was the case in the early Noughties.It will also mean that the few beds that will be provided will be liable to “bed blocking” with elderly people who cannot go home because of lack of at-home care â?? not a pleasant prospect. John, if you wish to show leadership and gain credit for your interventions, please push the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Oxfordshire County Council to produce a well-thought through balanced package of clinical care and social care working together for the good of the residents of Henley and adjacent communities.Then we will have a real consultation with all the facts and can have a consultation that will produce a system of care that will be the envy of our nation. â?? Yours  faithfully,

Barry Wood

Member of the Townlands Steering Group,

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

Beds cut is shortsighted

Sir, â?? I have read with interest the debate relating to the reduction of inpatient beds at Townlands Hospital.I worked at Townlands for many years and have seen the reduction of provision of inpatient care from six wards down to Peppard ward with further reductions in the pipeline.For some years I worked as ward manager on Peppard ward, where we cared for patients who needed postoperative care, rehabilitation and for those who were terminally ill.Patients were discharged home with appropriate care packages or to residential care.This enabled the Royal Berkshire Hospital to discharge patients to our care, thus releasing their beds for urgent cases.Problems with long waits in accident and emergency departments and acute hospitals implementing “Code Black” has hit the headlines during the past few months.The reasons given are that there is a number of patients who have been medically discharged but have no care plan in place.With the growing numbers of elderly in our community, this problem will not go away and planning for the future should start now.Those who have put forward the proposal that we should have only five inpatient beds in the new build are shortsighted and are blind to the needs of the future.Relieving pressure in the acute hospitals will enable those who require urgent medical care to gain access to treatment needed. â?? Yours faithfully,

Jill Owen Wallace Road,

Plympton, Devon

Ridiculous proposal

Sir, â?? I was most interested in your report and the letters about bed numbers at Townlands (Standard, April 10), which were all very much to the point.I would like to add to the fight for the original promise of 18 beds by relating my personal experience last October.After five weeks in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, including three weeks in intensive care, I was due to come back to Townlands as a stage in my recovery before being fit enough to go home.At the very last minute I had to go to Wallingford instead as Townlands could not take me â?? so last minute that my discharge notes state that I went to Henley.I cannot fault my treatment in Wallingford and particularly the help from the physiotherapist who taught me to walk again and climb stairs in 10 days.However, after visiting me in Reading for five weeks, my wife had to travel to Wallingford instead of walking up to Townlands.It would also have been reassuring to be treated by my trusted doctors from my own surgery.I would be delighted if a larger number of varied clinics from the Royal Berkshire can be held at Townlands and if the range of treatments and diagnostic work that can be done locally is increased. With a spare floor now there should be plenty of space.I am also in favour of a move to more treatment and care being done in our own homes but I cannot see the sense or justification in cutting the number of beds in the main building from 18 to nought and instead taking five beds at the other end of the site from a facility that will probably be oversubscribed itself.The care and physiotherapy I had at Wallingford could not possibly have been done in my home. This certainly could not be contemplated for someone living by themselves or with an elderly spouse on the verge of needing care themselves.I also worry that relying too much on fragmented home care would allow money to be withdrawn from the service by stealth. It is obvious to all if a ward is not there or is closed by staff shortages while individual neglect could be masked by anonymity and the inability of the ill and/or old to be heard.We daily hear of the disgraceful way care workers and patients are treated now with 15-minute visits etc. in some parts of the country.There is a simple way to avoid the delay of any consultation and that is to withdraw the ridiculous proposal.It is absurd that the health overview and scrutiny committee at Oxfordshire County Council has to be asked to make judgement on the application of a simple English word when it is blindingly obvious to all that a reduction from 18 to nought and a replacement by five is substantial. If this is the result of a £3billion reorganisation which was previously denied and unwanted by most of us then I can see why the NHS performance is slipping.I just hope I stay fit enough not to need such services again but I am concerned for everyone in the area who might need a bed in Townlands. I hope sense will prevail over bureaucracy. â?? Yours faithfully,

Charles Langler

Queen Street, Henley

A patient’s viewpoint

Sir, â?? I suffer from osteoporosis and therefore often break bones, to date eight different ones.This results in long stays in hospital. I broke my knee in November and ended up in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for eight weeks as I was unable to move to Townlands Hospital due to the lack of beds.I am now at Townlands and have been since January. I will probably be here for several more months.The staff are lovely and, as I have been admitted on several occasions in the past, they are used to me and are very welcoming when I have to spend time there. It is a pleasant place to recuperate.The new Townlands proposal to reduce the beds from 18 to five leaves me wondering what will happen should I again need these facilities rather than bed blocking at the Royal Berks.The powers that be appear to have no real knowledge of the community’s needs or is there a hidden agenda? â?? Yours faithfully,

Flora Ashby

Sonning Common

Plans should be foolproof

Sir, â?? You report that the consultation on the future of Townlands Hospital, as successfully lobbied for by John Howell MP and Councillor David Nimmo Smith, will commence on May 11 (Standard, April 17).I look forward to a properly presented consultation document with a well-thought through feedback form as we enjoyed with the second draft of the neighbourhood plan.The Townlands Steering Group meeting on March 26 introduced us to the ambulatory care model for which there is a document on the group’s page on the Henley Town Council website.This consultation is the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s opportunity to sell this new concept to us. Let’s not have closed minds but let’s have the consultation document clearly set out the benefits of this new concept in plain English.It takes a leap of faith to grasp having a hospital with no beds when the existing establishment has a full quota fully occupied.The consultation document should also address the subject of sub-contracting five beds from the care home, including why they consider the care home was over-provisioned in the first place or detail how they will enlarge it to accommodate the hospital’s needs.There should also be drop-in sessions as there were with the neighbourhood plan so that we can all better understand and ask questions on the documents provided to support the consultation and where we can hand in completed feedback forms.This is a very expensive facility which is being built and we, the medical profession and the people that Townlands is intended to serve, need to ensure that it provides the best possible facilities which will stand the test of time. â?? Yours  faithfully,

Julian Brookes

Conservative candidate for Henley Town Council,

Parkside, Henley

I always had my doubts

Sir, â?? Like Robert Aitken (Standard, April 17), I find it incredible that there were no binding commitments from the stated use of the new Townlands Hospital when the build contracts for the site were signed.I didn’t follow all the discussions and negotiations which went on for years before the plan for the new hospital was decided and the money for the development made available.But I was very impressed by the heroic efforts of the Townlands Steering Group to achieve what, I’m sure we all agreed at the time, was a very successful outcome.Surely the final plans, which had been so difficult to arrive at, would involve contracts with binding commitments? How could so much money be spent on a development, the plan for which could be subject to major changes? Presumably the agreement with Sue Ryder to take up the second floor would have helped considerably in getting the plan approved.Personally, I always had some doubts about two of the main features of the plan. Firstly, I was rather surprised that Sue Ryder would relocate from the beautiful Joyce Grove to the second floor of a small hospital building but I suppose convenient medical services and the money gained from the sale of Joyce Grove would have been a great temptation.Secondly, I was rather surprised, but pleased like most of us were, about the intended provision of an 18-bed unit.This did sound rather like a reversion to the kind of cottage hospital which has almost disappeared due to the inefficiency of running a very small unit and the lack of much necessary equipment.If all this unravelling of the original plan goes ahead what will be done with the large empty spaces that will have been created? Will the money for the new hospital still be available? Presumably, at the very least, the new hospital building will have to be used for broadly medical purposes, ruling out the possibility of converting the second floor into a luxury penthouse flat! â?? Yours faithfully,

Michael Hollas

Queen Close, Henley

Tories are out of locals

Sir, â?? A couple of years ago South Oxfordshire District Council reorganised the election wards, the claim made at the time being that it was to save money.Now the real reason has become apparent.The Conservative Party is desperate to keep control of the council but doesn’t have enough people willing to come forward to serve.As a result, many wards are now being treated like 18th century rotten boroughs, with people who don’t even live in the ward concerned being nominated as Conservative candidates on the assumption that voters will vote for anyone with a Conservative label, irrespective of local connection, ability or interest.David Nimmo Smith is claiming Woodcote as his own while living in Henley and while also being a county councillor, which is also a double role to which Kevin Bulmer in Goring is aspiring.Further afield, Wallingford is assigned to one Conservative party member from Abingdon and another one from Didcot, while for Sonning Common they have found one local but have also had to drag in a party member from Henley.We in Whitchurch and Kidmore End, a ward that is now an amalgamation of Goring Heath, Whitchurch, Kidmore End and Mapledurham, have been assigned to a Conservative from the Henley fringes, a candidate with no apparent connection to any of the parishes that make up this ward.These elections are supposed to be local and the big thing now is to have less centralisation and more local democracy but there is no local democracy if local councillors are not local. â?? Yours faithfully,

Peter Dragonetti

Vice-chairman, Goring Heath Parish Council,

Whitchurch Hill

Independent when it suits

Sir, â?? Stefan Gawrysiak, the Henley Residents’ Group chairman, states that he believes the town council should be independent of party politics (Standard, April 17).This was a strange statement as the HRG is a registered political party and the party was very upset when five members, including the Mayor, recently left.I also note for the town council election that the public can also choose from Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent candidates but surprisingly no Labour candidate.Are the latter perhaps sheltering under the HRG umbrella? â?? Yours faithfully,

Councillor Malcolm Leonard (Conservative)

South Oxfordshire District Council,

Badgers Walk,  Shiplake

You can make a difference

Sir, â?? Cameron says possibly, maybe, perhaps, if.Milliband says I will give, give, give.Clegg says um, um, um,  balance.Farage says stop, return, take.Sturgeon says gimme, gimme, fight, fight, fight.Bennett says hope, repair, recycle, re-use, switch off.Independents say look at this tiny bit here.The one common theme in all of this run-up to May 7 is that, as a democracy, they are avoiding one basic premise â?? asking what we, the electorate, want them, our elected representatives, to do for us, the people who have to stump up the money, JF Kennedy put forward the noble premise: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.The only way such an idea can work in a democracy is if the elected representatives are part of that desire for change and listen to the needs and desires, not present policies like token gifts handed out by the elite to appease the lowly masses.Could Russell Brand have actually had a point when he told us in his Revolution: “don’t vote, don’t keep supporting this tyranny of the rich elite in disguise”? Whether you choose to make a conscious decision based on the arguments or follow a tradition out of habit, please cast your vote.One fact from my early childhood is firmly ingrained in my mind. In the quirky pages of a Superman annual I still have two entries from the fun facts page: 1. When it came to the choice between English and French being the national language of Canada, English won by a single vote.2. It was the difference of a single vote that made Adolf Hitler a Reich minister and started his rise to power.One vote can make all the difference. Wouldn’t it be nice to think it was your vote that changed the result of the election rather than thinking things could be different if only you had put that simple cross in that little box? â?? Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

How to ‘swap’ your vote

Sir, â?? The outcome of the general election may be very uncertain but there is little doubt about the prospective result in the Henley  constituency.If you feel that your vote here is of little consequence, consider using Vote-Swap to achieve something more than a symbolic gesture.By using this website you can swap your vote with someone in a marginal constituency and possibly have a real influence on the result.The full web address is â?? Yours faithfully,

David Salmon

Badgers Walk, Shiplake

Solutions to traffic issue

Sir, â?? One thing that has become perfectly clear, after knocking on many doors and talking to residents, is that one of the main concerns is how Henley will deal with the extra traffic the 450 new homes will bring (plus the problems we already have).There is no easy answer but doing nothing is also not an option so last week the neighbourhood plan governance committee, of which I am chairman, appointed an independent traffic consultancy (Peter Brett Associates) to look with fresh eyes at traffic and transport in Henley.They will report back with not only where we need action but with solutions too.I promised all interested groups in Henley a forum whereby they would meet the consultants and pass on their extensive knowledge and ideas and it is planned that we will be issuing invites to this forum very soon.Heavy goods vehicles, air quality, trains, buses, parking, cycle routes, walkways etc. will all be open to examination and we can look forward to seeing what I hope will be innovative thinking towards our problems.Oxfordshire County Council and county councillor David Nimmo Smith are giving their full support to this survey and are pleased with the experience of the consultant we have chosen.Hopefully this is the start of a process which will highlight our traffic and transport issues and, more importantly, produce workable solutions. â?? Yours faithfully,

Councillor Dieter Hinke

Chairman, neighbourhood plan governance committee,

Henley Town Council,

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Money before democracy

Sir, â?? I would like to add my concern that the Gillotts School playing fields could still be considered for  housing.The consultation showed that many people were very worried by this initiative and if democracy is to be seen to be done then the plan should be withdrawn.However, democracy doesn’t always get noticed when it comes to property and making money.As an example, the Bell Street parking saga was only saved from poor Conservative judgement by Henley Residents’ Group and Independent councillors.Let’s hope we get a balanced set of councillors after the election and especially a balanced neighbourhood governance committee to ensure fair play.Henley is in danger from the invasion of 450 homes as its infrastructure will not be able to cope â?? money for the developers but traffic jams and poor air quality for you and me. â?? Yours faithfully,

David Dickie

St Katherine’s Road, Henley

Over-sized toll increase

Sir, â?? Amid the justified indignation at the proposed rise of the Whitchurch Bridge toll from 40p to 60p, I have examined in some detail the Whitchurch Bridge Company’s application to the Department for Transport for a toll increase.Unsurprisingly, the company’s numbers don’t stack up.Firstly, they underestimate the number of bridge crossings, so inflating the per-crossing cost.Then they assume that users will immediately start paying to save for the next replacement 100 years hence, even before we’ve finished paying off the loan for the last one.Finally, they want to continue paying shareholder dividends, even though it’s the shareholders in any company who are supposed to bear operating risks.Taking a correct number for bridge crossings, deferring saving for the next replacement and pausing shareholder dividends changes their calculation from 60p per crossing to 45p.This still covers operating costs, widening the footpath on the Pangbourne side and the interest and repayments on the bank loan which partly funded the recent rebuild. When the bank loan is repaid in 15 years’ time, the interest and repayments will stop. Then will be the time to think about resuming shareholder dividends and saving for the next bridge replacement. Even then, a 60p toll seems unjustified. The company’s own figures show that a 60p toll would result in a £3million cash pile by 2039.Projecting that for another 75 years until the next replacement will result in enough money to build several new bridges.Any toll increase granted by the DfT inspector should not be in perpetuity but subject to periodic review as circumstances change.I have written to the inspector detailing my calculations. I look forward to the public inquiry on Tuesday, May 19. â?? Yours faithfully,

David Watson

Cold Harbour, Goring Heath

Conservation area or not?

Sir, â?? When is a conservation area not a conservation area? The answer is when it’s in Watlington.According to the South Oxfordshire District Council website, “A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance (section 69 of the 1990 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act)”.The management of St Leonard’s Church in Watlington, together with the Oxford Diocese, wants to ride roughshod over the district council which as recently as 2009 confirmed the area the church plans to build two five-bedroom houses in is in fact a “conservation area”.In addition the church appears to be turning its back on the new town plan, which does not show the area the church plans to build on as a part of the town for houses to expand into. In fact it shows it’s a conservation area.But the church is apparently happy to set the precedent and to build in the conservation area anyway. And once the precedent is set just watch the conservation area disappear â?? forever.I read recently the church has been working on this plan for the past six years. It’s a pity it didn’t think a bit longer and a bit harder and consider the full implication of the plan on the younger people in the community and on the new vicar who must surely want to increase the size of his congregation only to find the 20 car parking spaces available are not enough. â?? Yours faithfully,

John Burslem

Pyrton Lane, Watlington

Spot the difference

Sir, â?? Good of you to supply us, your loyal readers, with (alongside the usual pieces) a new “spot the difference”  feature.

I refer to the headline on the Watlington page in the April 10 edition “New plan to redevelop hall site” in contrast to the church withdrawing plans to demolish the hall of just a few months ago.

In the same issue you quote Andy McCluskey of OMD as saying (in advance of the Rewind Festival) that “synthesisers had become the domain of people like Keith Wakeman of Tangerine Dream and we were nothing like that”.

I can only presume McCluskey has conflated Keith Emerson (ELP) and Rick Wakeman (Yes) into one person.

As regards Tangerine Dream, their leader/founder Edgar Freese died a few months ago. â?? Yours faithfully,

Ian Bell

The Meadows, Watlington

Kites bad for wildlife...

Sir, â?? Garth LeBrook was quite right to suggest the  re-introduction of wolves to the Henley area (Standard, April 3).As he said, there is plenty of parkland and open farmland doing nothing where they would feel at home and attract tourists.They would, of course, much prefer the lengthy chase of an adult fallow deer to the softer option of ewes, lambs and calves and, in any case, if the wolves were to kill a few dozen of these, the local livestock farmers wouldn’t be bothered since they only stock the fields for our delectation: they don’t need to turn a profit! Every day in the Chilterns area we see proof of the insanity of ill-conceived species reintroduction projects, namely the red kite.Last week, in this paper, we had to endure yet another photograph of this, albeit magnificent, bird which the RSPB assures us only feeds on carrion and earthworms. If only this was true.Reintroduced about 25 years ago with stock mostly from Spain, the red kite has bred rapidly to about 2,000 but this figure is only a rough estimate and the total could be much higher. This raptor, which has no predator, has a voracious appetite for mice, voles, frogs, leverets and the chicks of all ground-nesting birds, including our much-beloved and now endangered skylarks, lapwings and many others.If this is not enough to make you reconsider your affection for this avian vandal then consider the following.If, like me, you spend quite a lot of money feeding songbirds throughout the winter, be aware that from now on these circling “vultures” will surely spot and take any songbird fledglings on their first flight.Unbelievably, the new chief executive of the RSPB, Mike Clarke, has nominated the red kite as his favourite for the forthcoming election of Britain’s favourite bird. Such astonishing hypocrisy.Clearly the RSPB cannot now admit its mistake in supporting this reintroduction programme and has instead, cynically, turned this into a great RSPB marketing  exercise. The public, almost unanimously, now believes the story that the red kite is a magnificent harmless bird persecuted to near extinction 100 years ago, allegedly by landowners and gamekeepers, but thanks to Natural England and the RSPB is now thriving in the South-East and causing no harm to wildlife and delighting us all with its airborne prowess.The RSPB will have us believe that the red kite  re-introduction programme represents “the greatest wildlife conservation success story of the 21st century”.If we are all happy to see the skylark, lapwing and so many other rare birds become extinct in the Chilterns then, yes, this project has indeed been a great success.If any of your readers are unfamiliar with the glorious song of the skylark, please tell them to get in touch with me and I will happily take them to a rapidly deteriorating former skylark stronghold in order to share this wonderful experience before it is too late.And if we are really lucky I might be able to show you a lapwing, hundreds of which used to follow the farmer’s plough (seeking earthworms) and which have recently been displaced by the horribly un-melodious, ruthless red kite.I would implore anyone who loves our existing fauna to seek out and quiz genuine rural workers who have non- scientific expertise and anecdotal evidence to verify that the red kite represents a wildlife disaster. â?? Yours faithfully Paul Sargeantson Britwell Salome ...such as poor frogs Sir, â?? Until recently we lived in Hookend and we had a large pond in the back garden.During March, while the frogs were spawning, we witnessed several red kites swooping down and taking frogs with a splash from the surface of the water.You could see their little legs kicking before being swallowed on the wing. No wonder frogs are becoming endangered. â?? Yours  faithfully,

Lloyd Stone

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

Old bones bad for dogs

Sir, â?? In the last two weeks our border terrier has found a chicken leg bone and a cooked lamb bone in our garden.Fortunately, I was able to take both bones away from him quite quickly before he started eating them. The bones are the by-product of local residents feeding red kites and foxes, encouraging them into their gardens.The RSPB says we should not be feeding red kites as they are quite capable to hunting for their own food.All dog owners will be aware that it is not safe to allow your dog to eat cooked bones because they splinter and can lodge in the throat or intestines and may have to be surgically removed. Sometimes this can be fatal.By feeding any wild animal meat with bones it will almost certainly cause problems once the bones are dropped by the birds from overhead into the gardens with a resident dog. The dog will naturally make a beeline for the bone.I now keep a close eye on our dog in the garden and am always suspicious if he’s on to something as it’s usually edible. I would encourage other dog owners to do the same. â?? Yours faithfully,

Kay Parton

Mill Road, Shiplake

Don’t tar all carers

Sir, â?? As parents of one of Mencap’s service users in Henley, we were saddened and horrified in equal measure by your front page story about care Gale Mutton (Standard, April 17). The betrayal of trust shown by a professional carer in stealing directly from a vulnerable adult’s bank account is indeed dreadful and we feel utmost sympathy for the family affected by this case.It would be sad, however, if the prominent exposure you gave to the story should cause your readers to question the standard of care provided by Mencap for the vulnerable adults and young people resident in Henley.Mencap is the agency responsible for the residents of six properties in Henley, enabling its clients to live their lives with a degree of independence appropriate for their needs but confident that those particular and individual needs are catered for and that they have the essential support to prevent any vulnerabilities from being exploited.The dedication, friendly support and professional competence provided for our son by the team of hard-working and not very well-rewarded staff is a source of our never-ending gratitude and respect.That one “bad apple” happened to be found in Henley is regrettable but is in no way indicative of the invaluable service Mencap provides for all its clients. â?? Yours faithfully,

Chris and Gloria Walker

Cheer on the champions

Sir, â?? Tomorrow the Henley Hawks play their last game of the season at Dry Leas against Dorking (kick-off is at 3pm).Promoted to National Division 1 four weeks ago with three games still to play â?? an all-time record â?? the team will want to put on a good show and their opponents are still battling for a place in the play-offs.The cup will be presented and there will be outside bars, barbecues and music and the biggest crowd of the season is expected.So why not come down, join in the celebrations and have a fun day out? The main purpose of my letter is to thank all those good citizens of Henley and beyond who throughout the season have supported the team in significant numbers.Talking to the players, it seems it truly does make a difference and they have asked me to pass on their thanks.Go the Hawks! â?? Yours faithfully,

Mike Trethewey

Chairman, Henley Rugby Football Club

Join choir, children

Sir, â?? I am writing with a special message for all parents or guardians of seven-year-olds in Henley and the surrounding areas who love music and love to sing.The Junior Henley Youth Choir, which is held at the d:two Centre in Market Place at 5.30pm on Mondays in term time, is for children aged eight to 11.But we have been told about a number of seven-year-olds who are impatient to join and have the chance to sing with 23-year-old conductor Benjamin Goodson, so we have decided to send a special eighth birthday card to any Henley youngster who wants to sing, explaining that, now they are eight, they can come and sing with Henley Youth Choir.All we need from any parents or guardians of musical seven-year-olds keen to sing is the youngster’s name, address and date of birth and we will do the rest.Please contact me, Fi Harding, the choir administrator (see details below). For more information about the choir, visit www.henleychoral â?? Yours faithfully,

Fi Harding

50 Rotherfield Road,

Henley, RG9 1NN.

Tel 07947 658252,


The beauty of bowling

Sir, â?? It is that time of year once more when folk are outside weeding, planting, feeding and tidying.Flower beds return to life as we lovingly tend them to the sound and sight of blackbirds, wagtails and sparrows all searching for food and a place to nest, many of them in our hedges. Benches are being weatherproofed and paths cleared. Grass has been cared for all through the winter months and has benefited from all the spiking, scarifying, mowing and feeding.A friendly face of someone spring cleaning inside looks out admiringly on to the striped green expanse, dreaming of warm days to come.Behind me the River Thames flows gently by only a few feet away from where I standâ?¦ beautiful, perfect position.Admired by all who visit, is this a highly priced piece of real estate? Is it for sale or could it be a café or restaurant on the river bank? No, not quite.This place I so love to be, as do many others, is the local bowling club at Mill Meadows in Henley.You didn’t know it was there? It enjoys the enviable position where tourists flock and visitors can sit and watch in this peaceful setting the traditional game of bowls.From mid-April until mid-September we can be found playing or practising. We play friendly matches as well as league games and there are plenty of opportunities to come and join in.We welcome new people of all ages and try to discourage the occasional remark about “not being old enough yet” to play. It is a skilled game â?? a fact that not all newcomers appreciate to begin with.Do come in and see us. Ask about our coaching sessions or about membership. You will be most welcome, whether young or not so young.Now is a good time to learn something new and see how good you can become. â?? Yours faithfully,

Gill Robins

Henley Bowls Club

My massive thank-you

Sir, â?? Good Samaritans are still around. Therefore a massive thank-you to the very kind person who returned my lost property on Saturday at about 11.25am. Please contact me via the Henley Standard. â?? Yours faithfully,

Name and address supplied

Shame to see our old motorboat go

Sir, â?? I’m writing in response to the letter from Mike Huntington (

, April 17) regarding the old boat that used to be on the roundabout by Tesco.

As publicised in the

Henley Standard
in 2009, my family donated the boat for Henley in Bloom.

I would love to think the boat had some exciting history, like being a survivor of Dunkirk, but sadly it is a fibreglass motor boat from the Fifties so too late for that.

We had a lovely time with the family on the Thames and hence why it seemed so suitable to be at the entrance to Henley â?? representing what we are known for.

Perhaps a rowing boat would be even more appropriate.

We were very disappointed to see the boat disappear and surprised with the theme of the new roundabout. We were also surprised no one had the courtesy to let us know it was being disposed of. I wonder where it went â?? maybe a Viking funeral? â?? Yours faithfully,

Chris Wermann

Deanfield Avenue, Henley

Sir, â?? With regard to the letter from Mike Huntington enquiring what has happened to the old boat from the Reading Road roundabout, it is still alive but, alas, it sits unloved in the company of other Henley artefacts now residing in the Jubilee Park retirement home (see my photo). â?? Yours faithfully,

Claudia Rowberry

Sheephouse Farm, Harpsden

Teenage singer with some chutzpah

Sir, â?? On Saturday the people in Falaise Square in Henley were treated to something very special.

The Masquerade Young People’s Theatre performed numbers from their upcoming production of

Phantom of the Opera.

The young lady in my photo is Jess, who performed in their previous shows,

Jesus Christ Superstar

Les Misérables
, at the Kenton Theatre.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of this year’s show clashing with her exams, she will not be in this show.

Despite this, upon hearing that some of the performers couldn’t make it on Saturday, Jess hotfooted it to the town centre to fill in.

Now even if you know and love a show, to step up to the microphone, in public, without rehearsal, takes a certain amount of chutzpah.

This young lady is just shy of her 16th birthday and she sang three numbers from the show, including an unrehearsed duet with the lead James Gribble, much to the delight of onlookers. In modern parlance, she nailed it.

The show is on at the Kenton from Sunday to May 2. There are still tickets left for earlier nights in the week and it is well worth seeing such a professional production at our local venue, however small some people may think that is. â?? Yours faithfully,

Herbert Roberts

Upton Close, Henley

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