Friday, 30 July 2021

Your letters

Fun maybe but not fair

Fun maybe but not fair

Sir, Congratulations to John Howell and his blue brigade on their recent lottery win (also known as the general election).

Fifty one per cent of the seats for less than 37 per cent of the vote was a really lucky break.

Also celebrating are the Scot Nats, who just managed 50 per cent of the vote north of the border but came away with almost all the prizes.

Commiserations to the unlucky losers, especially UKIP, whose army of 3.8 million voters managed just a single MP whereas the lovely Nicola [Sturgeon] needed a paltry 26,000 voters for each success. It was all a lot of fun and we don’t expect fairness in a lottery, do we?

However, I have a word of caution for our lucky winners. Another five years in the job is bound to make them unpopular, so they may like to remember the fate of their colleagues across the pond.

In 1993 the Canadian Tory government came up for re-election and woke up next morning with... wait for it, just two seats. From kings of the castle to wipe-out overnight.

We could, of course, abandon our much-loved lottery for proper elections like almost every other country but that wouldn’t be nearly so much fun. Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road, Henley

Now let’s get on with it

Sir, As chairman of Henley Residents’ Group, I would like to thank the voters of Henley for reaffirming their faith in HRG.

We increased our councillors on Henley Town Council from five to seven.

We now have a new set of councillors who bring energy, dynamism and great ideas to the council. We will work positively for Henley.

I would also like to thank the hard-working councillors who will no longer be on the council - Dieter Hinke, Pam Phillips, Elizabeth Hodgkin Jeni Wood and David Clenshaw. These councillors have done a great job for Henley and Henley should be proud of them.

I will also thank them from a HRG point of view. They dedicated many years to HRG.

I will also mention Joan Bland and David Silvester.

After many years, Joan has retired from the town council. She has worked hard for Henley and I look forward to working with her at district council level on behalf of Henley.

While I do not share some of David’s views, it must be said that he works hard for Henley through the Over-60s Club and the d:two centre.

He was a fastidious councillor on the planning committee, visiting every planning application site in person. We will miss him.

Now we have a new council so let’s get down to work. Yours faithfully,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak

Henley Town Council,

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Thank you for voting

Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the residents who came out to vote in the general and local elections, especially the ones who supported UKIP.Our figures show that since the 2010 elections our support has more than quadrupled, which is quite amazing for such an up-and-coming, young political party.One can only imagine that our “Policies for People” leaflet and manifesto had a large bearing on this.What the elections did show, and this has been well documented in your letters pages over the past few weeks, is with the likes of Councillor Akehurst standing in Sonning Common and Councillor Nimmo Smith in Woodcote, even if they are not known in these villages, residents will come and vote for the colour of a rosette! Finally, there are always successes and disappointments at election time, the major success being Stefan “The Legend” Gawrysiak being elected to South Oxfordshire District Council at the expense of Conservative William Hall.As this result came through at Abingdon, within a few minutes senior Conservatives were already talking about a by-election to get young Hall re-elected, so watch this space. Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Chairman UKIP Henley,

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Working hard for the town

Sir, I would like to thank those councillors who are no longer on our town council.They worked hard to make Henley the pleasant place that it is. I hope that the new council will work constructively together for the good of our town. Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road, Henley

As easy as 1, 3, 8...

Sir, Over the past few weeks I have had countless leaflets, emails and people at the door urging me to vote for their party.I knew that there was only one vote for an MP and in my naivety assumed that there would be only one or two votes for the district and town councils.I got a rude awakening when I received a leaflet from the Conservatives telling me that I should vote for all six of their candidates.Nowhere in the assorted leaflets could I find out how many votes I would have until hurrah for Henley Residents’ Group on their leaflet, the magic figures 1, 3 and 8 appeared (MP, district and town) so that I could plan ahead and avoid the confusion of long ballot papers with some names I did not recognise. Yours faithfully,

Dr A I Tiffin

Northfield End, Henley

My worries are over...

Sir, Firstly, may I offer my congratulations to our MP, John Howell.I was very pleased to hear he was looking forward to representing his constituents, especially as I’m not certain he understood that part of his job when he first took over from the beloved Boris.As he now knows, his job is not just to help run the country! Secondly, may I say how disappointed I am that David Silvester lost his seat on the town council. I spent a considerable amount of time and money finding and getting volcano insurance and tidal wave insurance, neither of which were readily available in this area, in case he was voted back in. I fear that I will not be able to get a refund. A very sad state of affairs! Yours faithfully,

Simon Brickhill

Goring Heath

Sad to leave but grateful

Sir, After feeling absolutely devastated when I knew I had lost my seat on South Oxfordshire District Council, and even worse when I knew I had lost my seat on Henley Town Council after eight years of devoted service, I awoke on Sunday morning feeling much more positive. A lot of tactical voting took place throughout the country, meaning people voted more for the party than for the person. But for an independent candidate like me, people can only vote for the person and therefore at least 764 people actually voted for ME they like what I have achieved and in what I believe. I have received so many emails of commiseration; I am really touched and feel I can move forward with my head held high.

I can, at least, point to a lot of positive things I have caused to happen in this town; few people can say that. The friends I have made, the huge amount of unselfish, big-hearted people I have met have made all the work worthwhile. I now realise, though, that in this town my dream of an independent council will, sadly, never come true.I should like to thank everyone who has supported me over the past eight years, all those who enjoyed my parade of hats, those dear friends who offered to put leaflets through doors and act as PR people for Pam, Liz and myself, those who have bothered to write to me and, most of all, those 764 people who voted for me. It means a great deal, so thank you all. Yours faithfully,

Jeni Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

Mudder is tough on us

Sir, Why does Tough Mudder need to attract 20,000 people, the capacity of the O2 Arena? I understand each entrant paid £100, so that’s a lot of money, even if Mr Schwarzenbach charges an arm and a leg for the use of his field.Couldn’t the organisers have held it for just 5,000 people? Then our lanes would not have been blocked and us locals out for different leisure activities, such as the Henley Arts Trail and May fair, would not have had our day ruined.Perhaps our fresh new town council could impose a toll for the use of the highway at Northfield End. Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Mill End

Water leak needs fixing

Sir, I have written to Thames Water twice regarding the continuous leak from the underground water meter at the top of Friday Street at the junction with Reading Road, Greys Road and Duke Street, Henley.It is an appalling waste of water and has been leaking since the completion of the gasworks at the bottom of Greys Road last month.I do appreciate that this problem is not the responsibility of the town council. However, I think an email of protest from the town clerk on behalf of the council at the waste of fresh water flowing into the Friday Street storm drain might give Thames Water the bad publicity and kick up the bum it obviously needs! I have to say the town is looking very good indeed at the moment and I am looking forward to seeing the hanging baskets. Yours faithfully, Steve Ludlow Station Road, Henley Novel idea of road repairs Sir, With the completion of the patchwork of tarmac at the junction of Greys Road and Duke Street, Henley, is it true that there are now 50 shades on Greys Road? Yours faithfully,

Bob Thomas

Western Road, Henley

Yellow lines idea illogical

Sir With reference to David Silvester’s letter defending Northfield End Stores against the proposed double yellow lines (Standard, May 8), I have noticed that New News has only a single yellow line in front of it and Regatta Wines, also a general store in Reading Road, has delivery access at the back.There is no such access for Northfield End. Double yellow lines, if enforced, are illogical.As residents of the “shop” corner of Northfield End, we are extremely concerned at the high-handed approach taken by highways officials at Oxfordshire County Council.

There is still a doubt whether the area in question is actually classifiable as “highway”. Some residents expressed this view at the Henley Town Council meeting on May 5. Yours faithfully,

Caroline Bowder

Northfield End, Henley

Better design idea ignored

Sir, At last week’s Henley Town Council meeting, I asked the following during public question time: “I wish to ask a question about the Tesco roundabout and the cavorting creature appearing on a sub-standard tripod.“Some while ago (I believe at the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012), the Henley Society submitted a design encompassing the roundabout and adjacent town council land on the corner. This showed as its highlight in the centre of the roundabout a waterfall feature echoing the nearby weir at Marsh Lock.“What consideration was given to that design? When will the adjacent bushes be cut back/trimmed down as then requested?” I received no immediate answers. Yours faithfully,

Valerie Alasia

Makins Road, Henley

No place for philistines Sir, I was saddened to read some of the letters relating to Rachel Ducker’s sculpture on the Tesco roundabout. We are all entitled to our opinions and contemporary art generates more opinions than many a topic.However, nothing gives us the right to denigrate the work of a professional artist with suggestions such as that the work should be sold to a scrap metal dealer. Such philistine comments have no place in an educated society.One would hope for more balanced comments from residents of a town such as Henley, hardly an educational or a cultural backwater.

The debate generated has prompted one idea among those who think about such things: the Tesco roundabout is a very prominent entrance to Henley, so how about making it like the now renowned Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square with an ever-changing piece of sculpture? (And if any philistines don’t know what the Fourth Plinth is then look it up.)

For practical reasons, a sculpture would need to be in place for maybe three months but that would be four different sculptures each year to delight or dismay and would certainly put Henley on the art map.At the end of the year, residents could vote for their favourite sculpture of the year. Maybe the town council could start an art fund with the help of wealthy local patrons and the Arts Council and thereby purchase the winning sculpture? And, dear editor, why encourage cheap jokes at the expense of professional artists by publishing such letters? I think grown men dressed in stripey tops and little shorts look pretty silly running around football pitches chasing a ball but I don’t make jokes (in public) at their expense nor do I expect you to waste valuable letters page space expressing my views of them. Each to his or her own.Let’s make this the start of the Henley Art Fund and the end of Henley philistines. Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser

Director, Barn Galleries

Shocked by sculpture

Sir, As a frequent visitor to Henley and someone who has come to enjoy spending time in your lovely town, I was a little taken aback by the new sculpture that adorns the roundabout near Tesco.I have been coming to Henley for 12 years now, at least six times a year, to visit my in-laws.I have always enjoyed these stays, not least due to the town’s natural grace and its near relationship to Father Thames.The boat that was on the island fitted this very well. The combination of the boat, indicating the town’s association with the river, and the decoration that adorned it was a reflection of the leisure and beauty of the river and of the town itself.

On this visit my wife requested that we stop off at Tesco to get some flowers for her mother and I agreed.I was not a little taken aback by the sculpture that now stands where the boat had previously been. My immediate comment was: “Why have they put up a sculpture of a woman being electrocuted?” When we returned to the island I was travelling behind several cars at a much slower speed, so I decided to get a better look.On closer inspection the sculpture showed a woman in a rigid pose, her limbs thrown back at harsh angles with fingers and hair standing on end, and this confirmed my initial impression. I now know that it’s meant to be a woman dancing but that’s not what it looks like. It looks like a woman being electrocuted.I know these decisions are often made by committee and as a result often wrong. On this occasion I’m not sure how much more it could have gone wrong.

Come to Henley, the town that will shock you! Please change it back or to something else. Anything else really a bunch of fading daffodils or a shark in formaldehyde maybe.The boat could be reinstated or perhaps there could be a poll of locals on what could replace it.

The thing that needs to be done is for the town council to admit that it was wrong and remove the sculpture. It will not happen though committees never admit they are wrong.I will, however, continue to visit this picturesque town and enjoy doing so, although I might not drive that route as often. Yours faithfully,

Paul Wharton


Dump that monstrosity

Sir, As someone who drives or cycles past the Tesco roundabout nearly every day, I feel compelled to comment on the new adornment. It’s a monstrosity.Henley is renowned for its rowing regatta, not some weird collaboration between the Wizard of Oz and Strictly Come Dancing. Bring back the boat for goodness sake.I wonder how much it has all cost and, more importantly, who is paying for it. Yours faithfully,

Mike Kempton


Wonderful arts trail

Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight and thank Jo Keiller who solely organised and chaired the Henley Arts Trail this year. This was no mean feat as it encompassed 25 different venues in and around the Henley area.

Jo even exhibited her own array of fine artwork in the United Reformed Church hall in Twyford.Without Jo taking on the reins this beautiful event simply wouldn’t have taken place.I have heard and witnessed first hand the amazing feedback from people who have followed the trail and uncovered the most beautiful paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewellery, prints and glasswear to name but a few.It’s a marvellous event for local artists seeking to have a place to show their creations.Thank you to all those artists who took the time and effort to exhibit their unique and beautiful artwork on the Henley Arts Trail. I already look forward to next year.

A special thank-you, too, to Terri Jones whose knowledge of the trail and space in venue 19 is second to none.I am sad to say that some events like these go past without those being deeply involved being thanked for all their hard work that has gone on behind the scenes months of preparation and organising. From us all, thank you. Yours faithfully,

Cat Cassell


Deflated competitor

Sir, I write in in response to this year’s Henley in Bloom competition.The decision not to include rear gardens has come as a great disappointment, not just to me but to many residents.Do the organisers not realise the forward planning that is involved in entering this local competition? The work begins a lot earlier than I think they realise, i.e. planting of seeds, design and cuttings.

As many of us do not have front gardens to speak of but love to enter this competition, this decision has left us feeling rather deflated.Some of the organisers are Henley Residents’ Group councillors but they seem unable to find time to promote this annual event that has been growing steadily by year, leaving me to wonder where their so-called local priorities lie. Yours faithfully,

D Thatcher


Councillor Kellie Hinton, who chairs Henley in Bloom, responds:

“It has been a busy year for Henley in Bloom with a number of new projects being taken on as well as maintaining the high standard of a town like Henley blooming throughout the year.The committee is made up of councillors and non-councillors and is very time-consuming for all volunteers involved. We have a member dedicated to competitions, who also contributes to Henley in Bloom in many other ways and is unable to commit to organising the back garden section of the gardens of Henley this year.The competition, along with the awards ceremony, has been the highlight of my time on Henley in Bloom and I can assure you that the decision was not taken lightly and the committee is just as disappointed as your correspondent.Despite having almost no input from any other party than Henley Residents’ Group, Henley in Bloom is not political and I am reluctant to drag politics into such a wonderful committee. If public opinion is so strongly in favour of us continuing with the back garden category, we will of course take this into consideration but with volunteers already at capacity workwise we would need more volunteers with gardening expertise to step forward and help.We will still be running our front garden and community garden categories as well as launching Blooming Together, encouraging communities to work together on improving their street scene as part of the Royal Horticultural Society campaign Greener Streets, Better Lives.”

Show some leniency

Sir, As head of development action at Wokingham Borough Council, Clare Lawrence has a responsibility to point out relevant regulations regarding use of land and planning laws.Hopefully, she also has the power to show some leniency where a strong case has been made by users of the Hare Hatch Sheeplands garden centre, including your correspondents Gordon Holmes and Maria Macdonald (Standard, May 8).

There have been some very persuasive requests for the council to reconsider its enforcement action.

We live in an age of increasing conformity where small individual businesses have quite a struggle to make a living. I would appeal to Ms Lawrence to show some compassion to allow this garden centre to continue in business. She has a right to insist on the restoration of some parts of recent development that should not have taken place but surely, with goodwill on both sides, this matter could be resolved.

Although I live in Henley, I have enjoyed many visits to Hare Hatch Sheeplands and what a pleasure it is to go to an individual garden centre instead the usual rather regimented multiple unit.

The local community would no doubt appreciate a rethink on this matter and would welcome a positive response from Ms Lawrence and the council. Yours faithfully,

Bruce Brown


Emotional diatribes

Sir, I write in response to Suri Poulos’ letter headlined “Selfish and short-sighted” (Standard, May 8).Mrs Poulos and others, who label people like me as blatantly selfish Nimbys fighting Gillotts School’s building plans, really should do their homework first. Emotional diatribes, unfounded accusations and snap judgements undermine their case.I have never been against the school’s plans for new buildings. It is the question of how to fund them that has been at the heart of my campaign.Had people listened from the beginning we would already have had 18 months in which to explore alternatives.

There is also a future window of at least another two years before any building work can start.I have lobbied politicians at every level, from local councillors right up to the House of Lords, in an attempt to persuade them to take ownership of the funding issue at the community level rather than leaving the search for a financial solution to lone campaigners.

My pleas had largely fallen on deaf ears until the subject became a local election issue over the last few weeks. I now I see a glimmer of hope. Fifty-three per cent of Henley residents voting in the recent neighbourhood plan consultation were against developing the site. Only 40 per cent were in favour.

The former, numbering 301, do not live in Blandy Road or Makins Road but come from all over the town.

They are no doubt opposed on principle to the disposal of school land, or the building of houses on a green field site, or both. They also probably feel, as I do, that this is too high a price for the community to pay for new school buildings.Are they also to be accused of being short-sighted and anti-community? And what has happened to the collective voice of Gillotts’ 1,800 parents? They don’t appear to be that interested. Yours faithfully,

Trevor Howell

Sustainable Funding Action Group,

Blandy Road, Henley

Sorry, wrong impression

Sir, It was absolutely not my intention to cast doubt upon Nick Walden’s personal integrity or probity in my letter last week when I asked whether his profession might have had any bearing on his enthusiasm for the proposed development at Gillotts School.

It has been pointed out to me that he has not had any involvement (other than through his consultancy work as a construction contract specialist) with any company carrying out construction work since 2010 (apart from a non-executive directorship of a specialist joinery company that ceased trading in 2012) and nor has any member of his family.

He has categorically told me that he has nothing to gain personally through the development of the land at Gillotts. Yours faithfully,

Jon Lake

Blandy Road, Henley

Please throw away rubbish

Sir, After all the debate and planning, we now have the skate park at Bishops wood in Sonning Common, not quite finished but all ages of the younger generation appear to be having a great time. Scooters, skateboards and mountain bikes are all called on to master the slopes and turns. It would also appear to be a good place to meet and socialise. Could there be a problem? Yes rubbish! Temporary black plastic bags on a wooden post have been provided to dispose of litter. However, all around the inside of the peripheral fence there are plastic bottles, drink cans, crisp packets and assorted discarded rubbish.

I have never seen any adults on the site, so could the parents of these young people please encourage them to either use the bags provided or take their rubbish home? They now have the facility they asked for; could they also learn to look after it? Yours faithfully,

Graham Dudman

Baskerville Road, Sonning Common

Celebrations on cine film

Sir, During our “Victory Parade” held soon after VE Day in 1945, during which we marched from the town hall down to St Mary’s Church for our thanksgiving service, a ciné film was made of the event, perhaps by a photographer from Geo. Bushell & Son in Hart Street (now, sadly, closed).

I have never seen the film but I know it existed and have been trying to find out where it might be in an archive.

I received a call from the Imperial War Museum which said they have the film and it was made by a man called Reginald Makin.

He must have been well known because there’s a Makins Road in Henley. The museum said they had three films by him, including the VJ Day celebrations and a party on May 13, 1945. Yours faithfully,

Miss Mary Burge

Lower Shiplake

P.S. I was in the Girls’ Training Corps at the time and would love to meet up with other old girls if there are still some living in the area now.

Lambridge Wood

Sir, Here are our beautiful beeches bathed in their chlorophyll light in lovely Lambridge Woods in Henley. The picture was taken on Tuesday last week. Yours faithfully,

Izzy Gann


Another floral treat at Greys Court

Sir, You have featured the bluebells at Greys Court in the last two weeks so perhaps you would like to give a turn to the wisteria, which is just coming into flower this week. Yours faithfully,

Hugh Archibald

Greys Road, Henley

P.S The white flowers near Upper Thames Rowing Club (

Henley Standard
, May 8) are Loddon lilies, also known as summer snowdrops and are local to the Thames between Maidenhead and Oxford.

Sir, The beautiful flowers pictured on your letters page last week are called Loddon lilies or summer snowdrops. They are quite rare but always grow in large numbers on this part of the river.

I have been admiring them at this spot for many years. Yours faithfully,

Philippa Harvey

Boathouse Reach, Henley

Sir, The flowers photographed by your correspondent Victoria Page are Leucojum aestivum, aka the Loddon lily. Yours faithfully,

Steve Goodrich

Head gardener, Shiplake

Have you lost teddy?

Sir, This small and seemingly well-loved bear was found in Blandy Road, Henley.

He has very kindly been given house room by Joan Bland in the window of Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop on the corner of New Street and Bell Street, together with an explanatory note.

If you could possibly find a spare column inch to mention this in the

Henley Standard
, I suspect that some young person’s life might be made complete again. Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

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