Saturday, 31 July 2021

Your letters

School vision benefits all

School vision benefits all

Sir, — I was born in Henley and have lived and worked here most of my life.

The early part was spent in a house on a gravelled track off Green Lane that is now the upper part of St Andrew’s Road.

I am a governor of Gillotts School and was chairman of governors for eight years until December 2013.

Since then I have remained actively involved in the school’s submissions to the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and other agencies, such as the Education Funding Agency and the Secretary of State for Education.



Your correspondents Trevor Howell and Jon Lake (Standard, April 17) both live in houses constructed in the Sixties on open farmland opposite what was once my home.

Although the development was opposed at the time, no one would now seriously suggest that it was not the right thing for both the town and community to build the Wootton Manor estate (as it was then known), just as it is the right thing now to develop Gillotts land for the benefit of the same community.

While, like Mr Lake, I have some concerns over the neighbourhood plan process, it is wholly wrong to suggest that community input has been discouraged.

On the contrary, Mr Lake would only have had to turn up to the housing working group to be accepted on to it.

Nor do I know how objectively he would be able to justify the comment that Gillotts is “already satisfactorily resourced”.

But I take greater issue with Mr Howell. Throughout my time as a Gillotts governor, the governing body has striven to improve both the school and its facilities as this is central to ensuring the quality of education.

It is true that the school has been successful, since converting to an academy, in obtaining funding from the Education Funding Agency to improve the site but much of that money (apart from that to refurbish the gym) was specifically emergency funding for work to address issues that could close the school.

It is also true that the buildings are thankfully in a better state of repair than they were but they are constructed to obsolete standards and designed to serve an outdated model of education.

The community deserves better than that and the governing body is within touching distance of providing it.

I and my colleagues are passionate about education. Very little in life is more important than providing children with the best start in life, irrespective of their background, and we want Gillotts to be the best state secondary school in the country.

Why therefore would we advocate selling land if we had any concern that any current provision at the school would suffer?

On the contrary, sporting provision will (as we were able to demonstrate to the Secretary of State and shall demonstrate to Sport England) be enhanced. Of that I have no doubt.

I have spent nearly 10 years on the Gillotts “project” and I have seen several government initiatives, such as Building Schools for the Future, come and go without aiding us.

Austerity will continue whatever the result on May 7 and I can assure your readers that there is simply no other way to match the quality of the school’s facilities with that of its education.

It is, frankly, absurd to suggest that such sums of money can be raised through government grants and, in particular, fund-raising (although both have a subsidiary part to play).

An opportunity like this arises less than once in a generation and we now need the community’s support so we can jump the last hurdle and ensure that the school’s land is included in the neighbourhood plan and that the plan is adopted so we can realise our vision for the benefit of the whole community. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Walden

Cromwell Road, Henley



Unclear  position

Sir, — The Blandy Road area of Henley has been canvassed by a prospective Henley Residents’ Group councillor with assurances that, if elected, the group would strongly oppose any development of Gillotts playing fields and support other funding options.

It appears that the reverse is happening in other parts of Henley where residents are being assured that HRG would “push through” housing on the playing fields.

What is the HRG position? What does “push through” mean? Will HRG please come clean on this issue as a matter of urgency? — Yours faithfully,

Mike Jones

Makins Road, Henley



Time for an alternative

Sir, — We are told that a simple majority, i.e. 51 per cent of the votes cast, is all the neighbourhood plan referendum requires to be carried and have legal status.Since the Gillotts site has been rejected by 52 per cent to 41 per cent in the latest plan consultation, and assuming that the plan’s democratic principle applies uniformly across the board, we assume that this means the Gillotts site will now be excluded.Or are we mistaken in this assumption? Is there any guarantee that the will of the community in this respect will be upheld in the final version of the plan that goes to referendum, once it has been considered in the round by the governance committee, Henley Town Council, Harpsden Parish Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and the inspector? Will the final version be the people’s plan? It is our contention that Gillotts’ playing fields should never have been part of the site allocations plan. Misinformation has ensured the site’s continued inclusion: l The district council’s core strategy required only that the site allocations plan should contain proposals for how the building needs of Gillotts might be supported. It did not specify that Gillotts’ plans should be totally funded by the plan and certainly not by a land sale. Yet this is how the message was interpreted and communicated.l The school’s buildings were said to be crumbling, yet they have been safe and intact for the last couple of years following an injection of £600,000 from the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund.l It was claimed that the two full-sized pitches in question were never used. Untrue. They are used every week in autumn and spring for rugby and football respectively and in the summer for athletics, rounders and other activities.As a greenfield site, Gillotts was the second least popular of 19 sites in the very first public consultation.In June last year local residents voted against it by 53 per cent to 47 per cent in the school’s consultation but votes from other sources were used to achieve an overall yes vote.Seventy-four residents responded, compared with just 43 parents, 26 members of staff and seven governors. Only 33 parents out of a possible 1,600 voted in favour — hardly a ringing endorsement — and we know that many who were against the school’s plans did not wish to be identified, so abstained.To have had any integrity, the consultation should have been carried out by an independent body.In the first draft plan consultation in July 2014, Gillotts’ inclusion was supported by 54 per cent to 46 per cent, while the second draft consultation just held showed a majority against of 52 per cent to 41 per cent despite vigorous efforts by the school governors to influence parents’ votes.How many more opportunities will Gillotts be given? It has had its chance and the community has expressed its opposition on three out of four occasions.Now surely is the time for the Henley community as a whole to start a serious debate about an alternative funding strategy to meet the school’s aspiration for improved facilities. — Yours faithfully,

Trevor Howell

On behalf of the Sustainable Funding Action Group,

Blandy Road, Henley



Serving our children well

Sir, — A certain resident of Blandy Road is fighting a vociferous campaign against Gillotts School and the proposed sale of some of its playing fields for much-needed building works. Clearly every homeowner has a right to defend their view. However, what about the children of our town? Much is written about what a lovely town we live in and, at the heart of the town, sits a secondary school we should support. Gillotts works hard to do its best for our children but does so in buildings that desperately need attention. Don’t our children deserve the very best education in buildings that are fit for  purpose?So, in response to certain recent letters, yes by all means defend your outlook. However, this decision should be made on the facts and merit, not on who shouts loudest. Nine hundred local children go to Gillotts every day and this proposal will benefit not just them but many future generations of local children. Surely that should be at the heart of any neighbourhood plan. — Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Bodman

Gillotts parent,

Vicarage Road, Henley



Boorish behaviour

Sir, — I am still asked why I, and four other HRG councillors, left Henley Residents’ Group in November, particularly as one of the five is an HRG founder member. I think that those members of the public who have either attended, or heard about, the behaviour of particular HRG councillors at council meetings will have a strong idea as to some of the reasons why we left. We could not work within that sort of atmosphere and environment.Henley Town Council has been reduced to hateful smears, vitriolic comments and boorish behaviour which has no place in a parish council where volunteers give up their time freely for the benefit of the town. The reputation of our council has already been tarnished. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected, I can assure residents that I will continue to work hard to help the town and be respectful and work together with all my colleagues on the council.We have many challenges ahead, particularly with the 450 new homes, and I feel that within the Henley Conservatives, who are like-minded people, I am in the right place to carry out this work in the most effective manner. — Yours faithfully,

Dieter Hinke

Prospective town councillor (Conservative),

Elizabeth Road, Henley



Democracy that counts

Sir, — Would you be confident in the mathematical ability of anyone who claimed that 10,644 is a higher number than 11,047? Would you be happy to give them responsibility for the finances of Henley, let alone let one of those who agrees with that number chair the finance committee that makes recommendations and decisions about the town finances? Henley Residents’ Group states “We won the election in May 2011 with a huge majority of votes” yet they received 10,644 votes compared with the Conservatives’ 11,047 votes.It is democracy that really matters so please do have your say on May 7. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Samantha Evans

Prospective town councillor (Conservative),

Reading Road, Henley



Reassuring presence

Sir, — I have lived and worked in Henley for more than 30 years.That is long enough to remember when the town was in relative decline with dangerous narrow pavements and when the town square would be deserted by Saturday lunchtime.Public money was spent bulldozing the public tennis courts to build an expensive pavilion for the bowls club.

Henley Residents’ Group was born from the attempt to demolish the Regal and further destroy the life of the town. The group soon became a catalyst for many changes and improvements.Newcomers today are attracted by our theatre, cinema, festivals, sports, restaurants and many clubs and societies.What they may not immediately appreciate is the sense of community in the town. HRG is a mainstay of much of the cultural and social life of Henley.I don’t know how many HRG councillors have been elected over the last 25 years but 19 mayors have been chosen.It is reassuring that so many of our residents are willing to give their time and energy to work for the benefit of the town.I suspect that this is what David Cameron was trying to encourage when he spoke of the “Big Society”.Like all voluntary groups, HRG has had its highs and its lows. Sometimes councillors have moved on to follow their personal agendas. The underlying strength of HRG is the commitment of members to its core principles.Team HRG 2015 is formidable. Ian, Stefan, Kellie, Sara, Glen, Jane, Bruce, Sarah, David, Karan and Simon have a wealth of talent and experience and remarkable levels of enthusiasm and energy.Ian is a major force behind the building of the hospital, Kellie has taken Henley in Bloom to a European standard (and what a difference that has made to the town) and Stefan ensured that a new children’s playground was built.Our new team members bring specific expertise in law and local government, in information technology and business management.All the candidates are engaged in some aspect of the town’s business and social life and they are all willing to give their time to make it better for all.For the children, we want to renovate all the playgrounds to the standard of Mill Meadows. For families, we want to build a splash park (as Wallingford has).For the youth, we are committed to the skate park (as Newbury has been).For the seniors, we will support the Over-60s Club.For the health of everyone, we want to limit the heavy goods vehicles passing through the town.On Thursday, vote for Henley, vote for HRG. — Yours faithfully,

David Feary

Treasurer, Henley Residents’ Group,

Walton Avenue,  Henley



Only this party counts

Sir, — May I thank Malcolm Leonard for personally naming me in his letter (Standard, April 24).Councillor Leonard is a senior member of the Conservative Party who lives in Shiplake and yet feels the need to tell Henley residents how to vote.I suggest that he sticks to Shiplake and lets Henley residents make up their own mind.Cllr Leonard will tell Henley Conservatives how to vote on key issues, as he showed so clearly but, as independents, Henely Residents’ Group is only answerable to the residents of Henley (not Shiplake). Henley needs strong, independently minded councillors who will speak up just for Henley, so I hope that Cllr Leonard of Shiplake now understands what HRG is.We are independent of national parties, we are Henley residents for Henley residents.For 25 years, HRG has worked hard and got things done for Henley. We say it, we mean it and we do it.For parliament vote for whoever you want, Conservative, Liberal, UKIP etc., but in the Henley Town Council election vote for HRG to get councillors who work just for the residents of Henley.For the last four years the HRG team has been getting on with the job of looking after Henley.Being able to take a lead on many of these things was very rewarding when I was mayor last year — steam cleaning the streets, removing business waste, getting the new toddler playground and securing the new Townlands Hospital and much much more — all HRG achievements.Once again, I thank Cllr Leonard of Shiplake for showing that Henley people should chose a local party (HRG) for Henley Town Council. — Yours faithfully,

Stefan Gawrysiak

Candidate (HRG),

Henley Town Council,

Elizabeth Road, Henley



Whiffs of power hunger

Sir, — Where do the loyalties of Henley’s election candidates lie? His worship the Mayor, Councillor Martin Akehurst, following his defection from one party to another in mid-term, is expecting to be  re-elected to Henley Town Council and to be elected as a district councillor for Peppard Common.Meanwhile, his right hand person, her worship the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jeni Wood, who lives in the Peppard Common constituency, wants to be elected to represent Henley.With her husband recently appointed chairman of Peppard Parish Council, you’d think Peppard Common would be a shoo-in for her.Meanwhile, Henley’s representative on the county council, and lord high chief (aka cabinet member) of transport for the entire county, Councillor David Nimmo Smith, wants to be  re-elected a town councillor as well.He’s already on record saying that as county councillor he can’t give preference to Henley’s traffic problems over those in other Oxfordshire towns (fair enough perhaps, but he is Henley’s only representative on the county council).He’ll have a major conflict of interest if elected to serve Henley’s best interests, unless of course he’s intent on blocking the solution to Henley’s traffic problems. Then, to crown it all, he also wants to be elected as a district councillor for Woodcote and Rotherfield! Apart from whiffs of power hunger, don’t these people have families to be at home with of an evening and loved ones to care for? — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Mill End



Stealth cuts to the NHS

Sir, — Local resident Dr Simon Winner, a recently retired consultant physician, has written to the Henley Green Party about what he calls “corrosive changes” to the NHS under the coalition government, resulting in the loss of the “service” aspect of the NHS.In one example of a commercial company running local out-of-hours services, he says “local clinicians have begun switching off their phones rather than answer the frequent calls from the company desperate to find someone to work a shift”.Dr Winner continues: “As a recently retired cnsultant physician, I can attest to the corrosive effects of these changes, felt every day on the wards.“One important effect has received too little attention: the dismantling of the service. Most of my colleagues, in all the health professions, have felt that they were part of a team providing a service for patients.“Keeping the service running is what motivates you to accept an extra night duty or weekend when there is a gap in the rota, or causes a nurse to stay for a double shift if a colleague fails to show up, or encourages people to stretch to ensure that patients do not fall into gaps between different elements of the service.“Slicing off parts of the service to be contracted out to commercial providers damages the ‘S’ in NHS.“Many will simply not feel motivated to go the extra mile for the likes of Virgin, United Health, Circle and their shareholders.” Other observers note the mounting evidence that marketisation has caused huge increases in administration costs, taking money away from patient care.Neurosurgeon Dr Henry Marsh, shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize for his book Do No Harm, has commented: “What bothers me is that is that the marketisation and ‘financialisation’ of the NHS has eroded the sense of public duty and public spirit.” While the overall proportion of private provision in the NHS is still quite low, around six per cent, the direction of travel is clear, with a parliamentary answer given by the health minister Dan Poulter in January indicating that NHS spending on private providers has risen by almost 60 per cent under the coalition. John Howell, Conservative MP for Henley, has repeatedly claimed that reports of mass privatisation are exaggerated. He does not mention that the coalition’s top-down re-organisation of the NHS has been distracting and damaging and that new systems of governance and accountability resulting from the reforms are complex and confusing .He also claims that NHS spending has been protected but in fact, by making cuts to the prices paid to hospitals to treat patients, the NHS has been subjected to stealth cuts of £2billion. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Stevenson

Green Party candidate for the Henley parliamentary constituency,

Warborough



Negative campaigning

Sir, — I have been saddened and surprised by the negative campaigning that has been going on in our town’s local elections, in particular from political parties who publicly proclaim that they do not play politics.Some of the attacks have been deeply personal in nature and should have no place in democratic debate.Joan Bland, Lorraine Hillier and I have not, and will not, use negative campaigning. The electorate deserves better and so our campaign is a positive one.That is why we have been knocking on doors speaking to residents for years, not just in the election months. That is why ours is the only party which has held surgeries in the market place over the last few years.Instead of playing politician, I want to be judged on my record and my policies. That is why I send out InTouch leaflets year-round, not just during elections.I love Henley. We are truly fortunate to live in our unique town, so let’s make this a positive debate about our future and not a mud-slinging contest. — Yours faithfully,

William Hall

Prospective South Oxfordshire district councillor for Henley (Conservative),

New Street, Henley



Connected councillor

Sir, — I write with reference to Peter Dragonetti’s letter about Conservative candidates representing the new ward of Kidmore End and Whitchurch (Standard, April 24).He states that as a candidate I have “no apparent connection” to the new ward.Not true. Under the old ward boundaries, I have been the South Oxfordshire District Councillor for Kidmore End and Mapledurham since the last election and both are in the new ward. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Rob Simister

South Oxfordshire District Council (Shiplake ward),

Harpsden Bottom



Candidates confused

Sir, — I refer to the list of South Oxfordshire District Council candidates for the Woodcote and Rotherfield ward at the end of your story about the local elections (Standard, April 24) as two of them came as a surprise to me.Anna Badcock, the Conservative candidate for Watlington, is expecting both Catherine Hughes and Tony Winters to be joining Tom Bindoff as her opponents, not as reported by you as them being included in the opponents to me and Charles Bailey. — Yours faithfully,

David Nimmo Smith

Prosective South Oxfordshire district councillor (Woodcote and Rotherfield ward),

St Andrew’s Road, Henley



What a very special place

Sir, — I would like to say thank you to all the residents of Henley who have helped to make Henley a special place over the past year.Being Mayor has been a great honour. I have represented the town on many, many occasions, from Remembrance Sunday to opening charity events to singing comedy Flanders and Swann songs at the Mayor’s Christmas party for the older residents. I’m told that brought tears to the eyes of music lovers, so my apologies for that! I’ve met and worked with some lovely people during this year and I look forward to continuing to work with and for them if possible after the elections, if I’m elected.There’s still a lot to do for Henley with branch line changes, the neighbourhood plan and other major projects for the town.I was astounded how much went on in Henley when I became a councillor and after four years I’m keen to get stuck in with the Conservative party to continue to make a difference. The benefit is now being able call on support at a number of levels up to national with our MP.Being Mayor has been a seven-day-a-week role but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully made a difference to a number of organisations and charities.All I can do is to shine a spotlight on those who organise, raise funds and give their time so readily — with the help of the Henley Standard. I have attended a number of national functions and it has brought home to me how a small town like Henley, with perhaps 11,500 residents, punches so far above its weight with more than 230 organisations and charities. Similar-sized towns in the Midlands and North have been astounded.We live in a very special place. At the end of the day it’s all down to those residents who have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in to make Henley special.

To all of those wonderful people, thank you. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Akehurst

Mayor of Henley



Houses before another hotel

Sir, — Another hotel in Henley (Standard, April 24) — just what we need for all the visitors. And on a car park too — lucky we have plenty of parking! There are three hotels in Henley already, four if you count the Imperial in Station Road, though it occasionally gets a splash of paint but never seems to re-open. What are really needed are houses, not hotels. All the politicians agree but nothing seems to be built.David Cameron says he wants people to be able to buy their council houses but there are thousands of young people who can never afford to buy anything. What we need is not fewer council houses but more.In Henley there are many young people (“working families” as the politicians love to call them) who work in the area but can’t buy or even rent anything here.I know young families who are third generation born and bred in Henley but are squeezed into nasty flats in Reading or Maidenhead and have been on the housing list for years.Instead of building, the councillors have decided to have another neighbourhood consultation. This will only take a year and cost £10,000. This amounts to five years of my personal council tax. What a waste of money.There are sites ripe for building on now. The former Jet garage site in Reading Road is cleared and ready to go (55 houses or flats). Highlands Farm, off Greys Road, is industrial land available (190 houses).I suggest that the town council buys some of this land and builds council houses to be rented out to our working families. It can afford it as it has about £4million in the bank and borrowing money has never been cheaper.I agree with one of your earlier correspondents, Herb Braithwaite, that what is needed is a large dose of common sense, so scrap consultations and start hiring diggers. — Yours faithfully,

Alan Howard

Rotherfield Road, Henley



Vulnerability exposed

Sir, — The Mayor is quite correct to be worried about the proposal to sell off Henley station car parking to build a hotel.Clearly Network Rail will need more car parking at Twyford to support Crossrail but it is nonsense to achieve that upgrade by a downgrade in a closely related part of the transport system.Only on Monday transport chaos ensued when the 7.07am from Henley to Paddington could not run owing to brake failure, which naturally also affected passengers at Shiplake and Wargrave.This highlights the vulnerability of the single track branch line and the need for better strategic investment rather than selling off assets.If Henley needs another hotel the refurbishment of the Imperial in Station Road is long overdue. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Milner

Market Place, Henley



Selling rail real estate

Sir, — What with Network Rail selling off our station car park in Henley, and some of the proceeds thereof possibly going towards enlarging the station car park in Twyford, one does begin to wonder whether Network Rail may already have in mind the sale of yet another slice of their Henley real estate. — Yours faithfully,

Jennifer Fellner

Swyncombe



Thoughtless smokers

Sir, — Is there now an unwritten rule that says it’s absolutely fine to smoke on the Henley station platform after 5pm in the week? This never used to happen but now there are consistently up to half a dozen people at any time and it’s gaining momentum.I’m not unreasonable and do recognise that the smoking area is a good eight-second walk away from the platform but it would be lovely if the smokers could have a little more consideration for others around them and for the first impression it creates for anyone arriving by train. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Bauld

Harpsden Road, Henley



Why debate was delayed

Sir, — Your correspondent John Burslem queries the decision taken by the planning committee of Watlington Parish Council to discuss at its April meeting the application for proposed development of land adjacent to St Leonard’s Church (Standard, April 17). I would like to clarify the council’s position on this.The committee meets once a month on the first Tuesday and discusses all applications received that require a comment before the next scheduled meeting.As South Oxfordshire District Council required responses by May 1, the April meeting was the only possible opportunity the committee had to discuss the application.Mr Burslem assumes that the parish council waits until after the closing date for residents’ comments so that these can be included in the parish council’s consideration of an application. Sadly, this is not the case.The parish council has to get its comments to the district planning department by the same closing date as residents. In exceptional circumstances, the district will grant the parish council a few days extra for its response.In the case of the application that concerns Mr Burslem, the planning committee decided at the meeting that as the majority of members had not yet returned from their Easter breaks, it would be better to defer discussion of such a controversial application to a later date to allow the full committee and residents sufficient time to consider it in detail.It was proposed that an extension to the return date be requested or, failing that, a special additional meeting of the planning committee be held.The district council has now agreed to an extension so the application will be discussed at the planning meeting on May 5. — Yours faithfully,

Kristina Tynan

Clerk to Watlington Parish Council,

Old School Place, Watlington



Pollution is killing us

Sir, — Eighteen years have passed since South Oxfordshire District Council started monitoring air quality in Henley and 13 years since an Air Quality Management Area was declared.Disappointingly, major problems remain after all this time.For Henley, the AQMA was set up to tackle unacceptably high levels of nitrogen dioxide levels that are, in places, still 50 per cent above safe concentrations.For tourists, Henley’s quaint, narrow streets are quintessential features of a pretty English market town. Unfortunately, they also trap the NO2 and particulate emissions of heavy goods vehicles, buses and other vehicles in what is known as the “canyon effect”.Unlike particulate emissions, NO2 is invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean it won’t harm you.Based on new scientific studies from the Word Health Organisation and other agencies, the Government’s committee on the medical effects of air pollutants concluded last month that there is a direct causal link between NO2 and mortality.Every year, 29,000 people are estimated to die prematurely in the UK due to diseases relating to particulate matter air pollution. Depressingly, this number is due to be revised upwards in 2015 to take into account lives lost due to NO2.At such time, deaths from air pollution are forecast by academics to move far ahead of those from traffic accidents, obesity and alcoholism combined. Recognising the risk that NO2 poses, the cross-party Commons environmental audit committee recently requested that the Government and local authorities take much more aggressive action to tackle air quality.In a similar vein, Henley in Transition calls on every candidate standing for election to the town council, district council or parliament to make tackling Henley’s air quality problem a policy priority.Critically, the town doesn’t need another “action plan” that results in no meaningful improvement in air quality.It is time to take bold measures that have a significant, real impact. Put bluntly, every politician elected to office on May 7 has a moral responsibility to push forward measures to reduce air pollution in Henley before more lives are lost. — Yours faithfully,

Justin Bowles, David Dickie, Charles Langler, Dave McEwen

Air Quality Group, Henley in Transition



Litter hasn’t just vanished

Sir — South Oxfordshire District Council and its litter-picking contractor must be breathing a big sigh of relief as the spring flush of grass and flowers has already hidden the filth tossed out of passing cars on to our roadside verges.They probably think that the problem has gone away.But for three months the Oxfordshire County Council verge cutters have been straining at their leashes and any day now they will be let loose to destroy wild flowers and shred the unpicked litter which Biffa does not have the manpower to gather up.Wouldn’t the winter months have been the right time for Biffa to really set to and get on top of this dreadful problem? I am always loathe to criticise the district council since generally it provides an excellent service for only eight per cent of our council tax bills yet, ultimately, the responsibility for the failure to keep the district clear of litter lies with the district council.The solution to this problem can only be to teach children in our schools that it is both socially unacceptable and a criminal offence to toss litter out of car windows in the hope that they will apply pressure on their parents to desist and that they too will become responsible motorists in the futur .I have made this point twice via your letters page in the last 15 years and again via Country Life magazine so let’s hope that at last we might elicit a response from a primary school teacher if only to tell me I’m wrong (unlikely!) and why.Could we also have a response please from a district councillor? — Yours faithfully,

Paul Sargeantson

Britwell Salome



Amazonian figure

Sir, — I received an instant shock when driving to the Tesco supermarket from Harpsden.To my amazement, I saw a female figure displaying girl power in Henley.I presume it symbolises the leader of a new tribe representing the power of the female sex in Henley.I suggest members of the male population takes heed — they are at serious risk. — Yours faithfully,

Odette Moss

Harpsden



We don’t like new sculpture

Sir, — We are writing to complain about the sculpture on the Tesco roundabout.We feel it does not show what Henley is all about. We liked the boat before. It should be about the river, regatta or even how beautiful Henley is and how lucky we are.All we are trying to say is we don’t like the sculpture. — Yours faithfully,

Ella, nine, and Martha, six, Dickson

Greys Hill, Henley



Rings visible only from air

Sir, — The Tesco roundabout now has the Leaping Lady to welcome us to town.She looks very happy to be in Henley leaping for joy from concentric-ringed flower beds.These rings are not too apparent to the passing travellers and I don’t recommend that anyone should try to cross the road at this place to view them as the traffic is rather busy.The rings are similar to crop circles, only really visible from the air. Unfortunately, not many people commute to Henley by helicopter so you will have to take my word for their shape, or try the local hot-air balloon company. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Huntington

Swiss Farm, Henley



Overpriced insurance

Sir, — I do not pretend to understand the insurance business but would assume that all the companies were cognizant of the relevant risk statistics that their quotations would fall between a comparatively narrow band and generally this has been my experience — until now.I am an 83-year-old in good health (I will not say “fit” as this seems to imply I run marathons or continually stand on my head like Father William) and have been trying to obtain travel insurance for a holiday in the West Indies.The worst was from a well-known charity for the elderly who wanted just over £800 and at the other end a local broker at £150.True, even they flung up their hands in horror when I revealed I took statins along with nearly all the old age pensioners of my acquaintance and in tune with every other vendor increased (to £170 in this case).

And I thought this medication was supposed to prolong my life by five to 10 years if you believe the normal five per cent of what appears in the press, so why not a reduction? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Dayton

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common



Beautiful blue hue in historic woods

Sir, — This hue of blue in the woods at Greys Court was captured on Saturday. We are so lucky to live is this beautiful area. — Yours faithfully,

Izzy Gann

Henley



Another side to photographer’s work

Sir, — The photographic work of Martin Cook so often adorns the pages of the

Henley Standard
as he is excellent at photographing the good burghers of Henley in the most flattering of poses.

However, over the coming weekend you will have the opportunity to see another aspect of this talented photographer.

Martin will be exhibiting his imaginative images as part of the Henley Arts Trail at the River and Rowing Museum (open 10am to 5pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday).

Freed from the bounds of making everyone he photographs look 10 years younger, he can give free rein to his creative skills.

His highly individual vision makes us look at our environment in a different way and truly appreciate the variety of shape and colour in the world around us.

He will be exhibiting with two painters, a ceramicist and a sculptor.

Do not miss seeing the other side of Martin Cook — you will be amazed and delighted. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Seidl



My prickly companion

Sir, — On Thursday night last week, while in my garden meteor watching (Lyrid’s meteor shower), I felt something by my foot.

To my surprise, when I looked down I found I had a companion doing the same. Luckily, we saw two meteors.

Sadly, I did not get a photograph of a meteor but the picture of the hedgehog made up for this. — Yours faithfully,

Colin Mather

Rowan Close, Sonning Common



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