Monday, 20 September 2021

Your letters

We deserve much better

We deserve much better

Sir, — I was appalled when attending the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group meeting on Thursday last week to learn that, firstly, the reduced number of beds (five from 18) would be within the care home and not in a medical ward and, secondly, that Peppard ward would be closed from November 1 with Henley patients being sent to Wallingford for six months.

According to Oxford Health, there are only 22 beds at the hospital in Wallingford. Will it really be able to take the extra patients from Henley?

Last year, both my parents had to stay in the Royal Berkshire Hospital days longer than necessary as there were no beds available in Peppard ward.

I wonder what the bed management staff at the Royal Berks make of this proposal to have no beds in Henley from November 1 and, at some future date, only five?

The new ambulatory care model being proposed has some benefits and the integration of social services is to be applauded but there are some conditions that require nursing, physiotherapy and convalescence.

For example, when my mother broke her thigh, she had surgery in the Royal Berks, four weeks of excellent nursing in Townlands and then the re–ablement service and carers at home.

You really can’t skip the middle stage, especially for those who live alone.

Home carers can’t be on hand round the clock to get the patient to the bathroom or provide meals and hot drinks. Neither can carers fix catheters or administer medication. District nurses are needed for that.

And are we to believe that there will be a full team of district nurses ready for action in November? How many carers will be needed to drive round Henley tending to sick people?

The commissioning group was unable to give a single documented instance of this model working, other than to say that it was “working in Abingdon and Witney”.

They gave us a transition chart with no dates on it and a chart on their proposed rapid access care unit with vague reference to care beds and community step–up beds.

The nursing staff and physios at Townlands are wonderful, as is the care they give.

This is a precious resource in Henley and should be preserved and enhanced, not cut back in favour of an unconvincing new model with no guarantee of success.

The people of Henley deserve better than this. — Yours faithfully,

Lynne Alderson

Lovell Close,


Support our doctors

Sir, — We are very fortunate in Henley to have the Bell and Hart surgeries with doctors and staff who work to support their patients and provide the best service possible within their resources.Your correspondent Soren Nielsen (Standard, May 22) made comments about the fact that our GPs provide clinical support to patients at Townlands Hospital which they have done for many years without detrimental impact to the rest of their patients. In fact, the close proximity of the surgeries and availability of local GPs has been a positive factor in patient care while in hospital.

There can be difficulties with appointments on occasions, however I can only comment on personal experience of my family over the last year.Only last week my husband was offered an appointment within an hour, despite him saying it was not an emergency.On other occasions, appointments have been within a reasonable timescale for a non–emergency. In fact, despite being a private patient of my dental practice, it is far more challenging to secure an appointment there within weeks.As chair of the Bell Surgery patients participation group, I admire the way staff on reception work hard to accommodate requests and to match the needs of patients to GP appointments.

They do sterling work and get very frustrated with those patients who are allocated appointments and then do not attend, blocking others from getting to see a doctor quickly.Bell Surgery staff do listen, I can vouch for that.Last week’s paper described the new arrangements for appointments which has been thought through by doctors and staff in response to feedback from the recent patient survey and feedback direct from patients.As members of the panel, we welcome positive and constructive feedback on services and, of course, patients are encouraged to speak to surgery staff directly if they have concerns.Well done to all the doctors and staff and we look forward to hearing how the new appointments system settles in over the coming weeks. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Waters Chair,

Bell Surgery patients participation group,

Western Road,


Town merits art of merit

Sir, — Oh dear, I do seem to have trodden on some toes. Of course, I would defend free speech and the right to one’s opinion about contemporary art or anything else.My point was that there is no call to make cheap jibes at an artist’s expense. That’s not free speech, that’s plain rude.A dictionary definition of “philistine”, by the way, is a person who is “smugly indifferent or hostile to art and culture”. Some of your correspondents were indeed hostile to Rachel Ducker’s sculpture. What more can one say? The correspondence on “that sculpture” may yet prompt discussion of an enlightened and exciting public art programme for Henley — the town merits work of merit. — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser LL.B FRSA


Barn Galleries

More than just boats

Sir, — Like it or loathe it, the scupture on the Tesco roundabout has certainly prompted a varied response from your readership.It has also raised the subject of art appreciation locally. Clive Hemsley (Standard, May 22) suggested we appoint an art director in the town. What a good idea. I suggest that the first action should be to build on the response to Rachel Ducker’s art by utilising the roundabout in the same manner as the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and holding an annual competition to create an artistic display there, possibly to reflect different aspects of Henley.

We have a new town council and here is a new venture for it. This would welcome locals and visitors to our town and show there is more to life in Henley than just boats and boaters. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Huntington

Swiss Farm,


Time to scrap sculpture

Sir, — Please can we start a petition to have that sculpture removed as soon as possible? The costs would surely be minimal and may be covered by the scrap value.We townspeople could then start to consider a replacement befitting this marvellous, world famous Thames–side town. It is not necessary to mention the multitude of events, people, the river and history we have to celebrate in the pages of your excellent newspaper. — Yours faithfully,

Deenagh M Reynolds

Badgemore Lane,


Difficult to direct too

Sir, — Presumably Clive Hemsley, who offered to be Henley’s art director (Standard, May 22), believed that taking exams wasn’t difficult either, hence one O–level? — Yours faithfully,

R Murray–Leach

Binfield Heath

Election shambles

Sir, — I always vote. I have virtually never missed voting at an election, be it a local, general, European, or a by–election.I never miss and always get disheartened when I see the percentage of people who choose not to vote.

Universal suffrage in an albeit imperfect democratic society was hard fought for by many and is still not enjoyed by millions of people throughout the world and I consider it a privilege to have this right.

As my husband and I are now retired, we go to France quite frequently so this year, for the first time, we applied for a postal vote. In the event we were not away at the time of the general and district council elections which, as it turned out, was very fortunate. On April 27, three lots of voting papers arrived at our house, two for my husband but only one for me — my local and district election papers just did not arrive.

To me, local and district elections are very important and more interesting than general elections — I know some of the candidates, there is a wider choice of people to vote for and for those who do not vote for candidates of one particular political colour, there is a chance that one or more of the people they choose might actually be elected. Frantically, I telephoned the election helpline at South Oxfordshire District Council. I now know the number by heart, having called it so many times. Finally, on Friday, May 1 at 9pm I received a call from one of the election team telling me that the papers had been reissued and would arrive in the post on the following Tuesday. They actually arrived on Wednesday, so I was able to cast my votes, seal them in the envelope provided and take them to the polling station on the Thursday, not exactly the way a postal vote is supposed to be registered but no matter. Other people, however, who actually were away (I know two myself) and had registered for a postal vote have effectively been disenfranchised by the inefficiency of the election team at the district council, which I think is outrageous.Various excuses have reached my ears — the inevitable one about the offices being burned down, troubles at the printers, the delivery van breaking down et al.For heaven’s sake, does the election team not have a contingency plan? Do they even know what a contingency plan is ?If, in the 21st century, they cannot organise a postal vote system better than they have done, can they organise anything? I am not planning a social event in a brewery at the moment but if I were, I most certainly would not be asking the election team at the district council to organise it for me. — Yours faithfully,

Marion Mawdesley

Lauds Close,


Re–open this fine pub

Sir, — As a one–time regular at The Horns, Crazies Hill, I have been following the ongoing correspondence in your paper with some interest. How can such a delightful and potentially viable pub have been left unoccupied for so long, especially during what have been quite a few months of near–summer weather? I understand that two representatives of Brakspear attended the Crazies Hill Residents’ Association annual meeting earlier this month and, although I did not attend, reports from some who did suggest that nothing of consequence was revealed and little hope given for the future.What can be done about the problem? It’s a pub, so Brakspear either runs it or closes it and seeks alternative use. Why not an initial rent–free period (it’s getting nothing now and the pub’s still a cost with rates, insurance etc)? Then how about some form of turnover rent that the tenant pays relative to income? Brakspear has access to all the books and records and monitors the beer flow so has plenty of control, plus it doesn’t take seven months to assess whether you have genuine candidates.Brakspear’s website still advertises The Horns as a “recently refurbished, delightful destination food pub with the benefit of a large well–equipped trade kitchenâ?¦.with a good sized bar to attract the village drink trade”.Why doesn’t it make it lettable and re–open it for the benefit of all, including itself? — Yours faithfully,

Rhodri Williams

Burchetts Green

Opportunity wasted

Sir, — It was great to see the article on Nettlebed in your Homes section (Standard, May 22) but it was very disappointing to see four inaccuracies as follows: “The Field Kitchen, just off Watlington Street, which was created when the village school moved to new  buildings...” The Field Kitchen is actually just off High Street and is situated in the old church hall. The previous primary school buildings were knocked down to make way for new housing.“Even (has) a windmill!” — No it doesn’t, unless you count the one that burnt down in 1912! “Number 4b Watlington Street, Nettlebed’s main street, which is also known as the high street”.Watlington Street and High Street are two separate streets, with arguably High Street being the village’s main thoroughfare. The property described is actually on Old School Green. Finally, the property featured as forming part of the old Bull Inn with “two bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs”.Even a cursory glance at the particulars will tell you that there is one bedroom and ensuite upstairs with a second bedroom and shower room on the ground floor. An opportunity to promote a great village was wasted by shoddy fact–checking and lazy journalism. I expected more from the Standard. — Yours faithfully,

Zoe Woodhouse


Gift from a lovely lady

Sir, — I walk into Henley most days and for months now have become acquainted with a lovely lady. I haven’t seen her for about six months. I do happen to know she hasn’t been well.

Today, I met her quite unexpectedly. Her face was a picture. She was so pleased to see me. In her bag she had a Christmas card for me. She had had it in her bag for six months. It was such a lovely moment and, yes, I have her 2014 Christmas card up in my house! — Yours faithfully,

Jo Andrews

Gainsborough Road,


Perhaps not so beautiful

Sir, — May I invite the readers of your excellent paper to search “chem trails” on the internet to discover for themselves what the criss–crosses which stay and expand over our skies really are? — Yours faithfully.Val Stoner Wyndale Close, HenleyMemories of Eighties WalesSir, — We are producing a newseries for BBC1 Cymru Wales on life in Wales during the Eighties and we’re keen to speak to people who were there then and can stories tabout some of the dramatic changes that took place. From the miners’ strike and vast unemployment to changes in gender roles, it was a decade of upheaval. Please call me on 0117 925 8589, email or write to the address below. — Yours faithfully,

Pete Vance

Testimony Films,

Great George Street,

Bristol, BS1 5RH

Sir, — I took this photograph while on a walk with our Labradoodle Bisto recently. It shows oil seed rape fields and a farmhouse near Swyncombe. — Yours faithfully,

Terry Allsop


Sir, — The flowering wisteria at the Cherry Tree in Stoke Row is rather beautiful this year.

I thought your readers might be interested in this photograph that I took a few nights ago. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas Ullah

Main Street,

Stoke Row

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