Monday, 02 August 2021

Your letters

Keep fighting, join the march

Keep fighting, join the march

Sir, â?? Last week, the Oxfordshire health overview and scrutiny committee cleared the way for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s proposal to introduce an ambulatory care/rapid access care unit in place of the planned 18 beds at the new Townlands Hospital currently being built.It did this despite informed and impassioned appeals from town councillors David Nimmo-Smith and Ian Reissmann on behalf of the large number of Henley area residents who clearly feel very strongly about this. The Townlands Steering Group, on behalf of the community in and around Henley, intends to resist the commissioning group’s intention not to reprovide these beds by taking the following actions:

1. Asking the Government’s Independent Recongfiguration Panel on proposed changes to NHS provision to rule that the consultation process used has been inadequate and the resultant commissioning group’s decision is therefore invalid.

2. Demanding under the Freedom of Information Act the data on patient numbers, bed blocking in other local hospitals and the modelling, all of which the commissioning has failed to provide.

3. Preparing an application for judicial review of the commissioning group’s decision as soon as it is formally announced after its July 30 meeting and for an injunction to stop the planned closure of the beds in Peppard ward by November.

We call on everyone to show their support for the steering group’s campaign by attending the march planned for 10am tomorrow (Saturday) in Henley.

We are determined to ensure that the tens of thousands of people who depend on Townlands receive properly planned and executed healthcare provision based on correct, reliable and publicly available data, sound thinking and forecasting and a seamless transition process which maintains patient safety. To do this we need volunteers to help the campaign in the form of a fund-raising  co-ordinator and a legal adviser with relevant knowledge of judicial review.

Please contact one of us if you can offer these or other practical support. â?? Yours faithfully,

Councillor Ian Reissmann, chairman, Townlands Steering Group,

Councillor Lorraine Hillier, Mayor of Henley,

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Henley Town Council and Oxfordshire County Council,

Councillor Julian Brookes, Henley Town Council,

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, Henley Town Council,

Dr Peter Ashby, retired GP,  Nettlebed,

Barry Wood, Stoke Row Road, Peppard,

Mike Stanton, Deanfield Avenue, Henley,

Ron White, Milton Close, Henley

We can’t lose hospital again

Sir, â?? Having attended the recent public meeting involving the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, I could but conclude that their idea of a straight answer was on a par with certain well-known politicians.We were fed a load of irrelevant nonsense dressed up as relevant facts with, for example, much said about the effectiveness of an emergency medical unit only to find out from our local GPs that we are not getting one of those. We were told we’re not getting similar facilities to Abingdon because we are much closer to our main hospital â?? ignoring the two minutes’ difference in journey time between the centre of Henley and the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and the centre of Abingdon and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

We were also told that (as a result of incredibly abysmal phasing) we will be without any beds for “some months” from November. The mind boggles at such ineptitude and mismanagement.Such ducking and weaving demands action. This weekend the town will march in protest against the end of in-patient bedcare in our local hospital.It will have taken only 30 years to go from a town with bedcare in two hospitals to one with no bedcare.

At the last open meeting I said that in an evening we seemed to have gone from an emergency medical unit (EMU) to a rapid access care unit (RACU) and are going to finish up with a DODO, i.e. hospital in-patient bedcare in Henley will be a thing of the past.

We need real answers, not just opinion, guesstimates and twisted quotes from the commissioning group. We want to know where the money budgeted for our hospital has gone.

If they will not come clean and present a full, long-term financial statement of the options to the Townlands Steering Group, and to us, I believe a fighting fund should be established to take their decision to judicial review.We had one hospital stolen from us, we don’t want it to happen again. â?? Yours faithfully,

Mike Romans Cromwell Road,


Here’s what we may face

Sir, â?? I have just returned from Largs, Ayrshire.People living there who need hospital treatment have a choice of going to Crosshouse Hospital in Irvine, 25 miles away, or Inverclyde Hospital in Greenock, 13 miles away.

While out on a walk, I fell into conversation with a lady with a leg problem.

She said most people referred to Inverclyde Hospital ended up in a Glasgow Hospital, which is 40 miles from Largs.

She had just been persuaded by a plastic surgeon to transfer from Inverclyde to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. She was just going home to await a taxi. I wondered later if she paid for the taxi and if she was using a taxi to make the 40 mile trip back home â?? the time and hassle involved makes it all an unpleasant experience.

A contrast to this lies opposite Largs on the small island of Cumbrae with a population of only 1,500. The island has a 10-bed hospital, the Lady Margaret, with an integrated NHS/local authority day service staffed by local GPs and regular visiting specialists. If Henley fails to retrieve its 18 beds we will all fall into the former category with all its attendant horrors. â?? Yours faithfully,

Sam Brown Western Road, Henley

An ode to our hospital

Sir, â?? I wrote the following on the eve of the Townlands Hospital Save Our Beds march. â?? Yours faithfully,

Martin Eggleton Gainsborough Crescent,


All of Henley must stand up and fight 

To win the battle of Townlands with all our might. 

We must all march together and show our strength 

But show the OCCG we will not lose our Peppard ward at any length. 

The wonderful staff who run the Peppard ward should be looked after, cherished and get their reward 

By giving them 18 new beds and a state-of-the-art new ward.

We lost our other hospital, the War Memorial, 

But we must keep our Townlands and all stand tall. 

Our sick and elderly folk will be sent wide and far, 

How will their loved ones visit without a car? 

The rapid response unit will be open three days a week 

The other four days, times look bleak. 

They promise transport with dedicated ambulance and car,

 How will this service work â?? would the journeys be near and far? 

Our poor overworked GPs and district nurses 

Will be even more snowed under and sending their curses. 

They say when a water infection is found a couple of tablets will suffice 

Perhaps they are wrong and should get futher advice. 

Your new systems we do not buy, It all sounds like pie in the sky. 

How long will the carers’ visits be? 

A quick wash and get dressed; will there be time for tea? 

For the existing staff what have you in mind? I doubt if you know, you seem to be running into this blind. 

Build the new hospital with the 18 beds as you promised us, 

If you are right and we do not need 18 beds, we will be ready to discuss.

Please save play scheme

Sir, â?? I am writing to ask for the assistance of the Henley Standard to save the Henley Outdoor Play Scheme, known as HOPS.

It is two weeks until HOPS week 2015 (July 27-31) and, unless some Henley parents step up, it is likely to be the last one.

I would like to assure everyone that HOPS will be running as usual this year and it is going to be brilliant as always.HOPS has been running for more than 35 years and Henley should be very proud of it. All the children have a wonderful time and, at only £15 per child â?? less than £4 per hour â?? it is extremely good value. Thirty teenagers each year get some valuable work experience for their CVs and many local clubs get to showcase their activities to lots of new customers.

Generations of children have benefited from HOPS, which is inclusive. We offer assisted places and will do everything we can to make sure all Henley children have a wonderful time.

After two years in charge, I am stepping down as leader at the end of this year’s HOPS week and at present there is no one to take my place. The treasurer is also stepping down due to work pressures and there is no one willing to take her place either.

We have written to all the local schools asking for parents to join the committee but have had no response. We have advertised on Henley Parents, Facebook and Twitter but are having to face the situation that parents in Henley are not going to support HOPS by giving up one week and a few evenings of their time.

The current committee members are not in a position to take on more. When there are a lot of people on the committee there is really not that much to do â?? the admin work can be spread out and it is great fun planning the activities for the children to enjoy.

It would be a terrible loss for Henley but there is a harsh reality to be faced.

HOPS is on a reasonably secure footing financially. A non-profit making enterprise run for the good of the community, it only has to generate enough income to pay for the next year’s activities and the helpers. Instead of financial problems it is going to disappear through the apathy of the local community.Please help to save HOPS â?? it is well worth fighting for. â?? Yours faithfully,

Vanessa Lakatos Chairman, HOPS committee

Sickening opera scene

Sir, â?? On Sunday, Rossini’s opera William Tell came to the Regal cinema in Henley in the form of a live cinema transmission from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

These live transmissions of operas to our local cinema are a huge treat for opera lovers, at a good price for very comfortable seats.

As it was due to last about four-and-a-half hours, I did my homework on the opera, in advance, by watching an Italian production on DVD.

It was clear that a rather nasty war was going on for much of the time but none of it was unpleasant to watch. It was a very enjoyable production of a rarely performed opera.

The first night in Covent Garden in June was roundly condemned in the media and booed by the audience to such an extent that the performance was stopped for a few minutes â?? unheard of during an opera in this country.

This was during Act 3 when a group of soldiers was involved in a vile rape scene in which the victim was previously taunted at length.For subsequent performances at Covent Garden the production was toned down somewhat, although the director had said, initially, that it wouldn’t be.So, approaching the time of the live filmed transmission on Sunday, the British Film Institute was clearly worried about the awfulness of some of the scenes and revised the intended classification from 12 to 15.

But what they didn’t realise was that, if the scenes were so objectionable when observed in the opera house, from the stalls or further away, they would be very much more objectionable observed in close-up when it was filmed.During the taunting of the victim, which was just sickening, I walked out of the cinema to take refuge in my excellent DVD at home.

This experience just added to my raging against some opera directors who frequently devise productions which are designed to outrage, as in this case, and, generally, have little regard for the audience.It also made the point that, even if a production may not be objectionable in the opera house, it could well be when seen in close-up in the cinema. â?? Yours faithfully,

Michael Hollas

Queen Close,


Grateful musician

Sir, â?? I am writing to register my gratitude and thanks to all the kind, supportive people who sponsored me for my performance of the cello solo at the start of Rossini’s William Tell Overture, which I performed in London on Thursday last week.

It only remains to be said that my solo was a resounding success (I was informed!)Thank you so much, everyone, and huge hugs all round. â?? Yours faithfully, Clare F Deniz


Relax festival dress code

Sir, â?? As a music lover with a broad taste, it’s good to see the diverse range on offer at this year’s Henley festival.

However, what I can’t understand is why this wide range of music has to be matched with such a narrow dress code? By all means keep formal dress as an option, but why not allow smart casual dress as well? I think the festival might well sell more tickets â?? I’d certainly buy two! â?? Yours faithfully,

Mike Kempton


Missing commentary

Sir, â?? For some years now one of the highlights on our calendar has been taking our little boat down to the boom and watching the racing at Henley.

Outside of being in stewards’ enclosure, this cannot be beaten for atmosphere and excitement and key to this has been listening to the commentary on Regatta Radio as the race progresses towards us.

With the absence of Regatta Radio, we knew that things might be different this year but went prepared with our smartphones to get the stream in the middle of the river and listen to the commentary. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Despite multiple network choices and 3G and 4G service, we were thwarted by gremlins. Saturday was particularly impossible.I presume that with so many people the phone networks were flooded. Add to that the delay when it did work and often the commentary was 10 to 30 seconds behind the action. The TV coverage is an excellent new initiative but can we please request that the audio be broadcast on FM next year as well? Sometimes old technology still has the edge! â?? Yours faithfully,

Nick Wills


Where were strawberries?

Sir, â?? I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank Henley Royal Regatta and Her Worship, the Mayor for such fabulous hospitality in stewards’ enclosure last week.I would, however, like to raise a small point for improvement. I was startled by the recipe of the pitcher of Pimm’s I bought in the enclosure.They had omitted entirely the strawberries from the traditional strawberries, orange, mint and cucumber mix. Instead I found lemon, cucumber and orange in my drink. It was strange and a little tart

.Henley should be showing the world how to do Pimm’s properly, so let’s. â?? Yours faithfully,

Helen Chandler-Wilde

St Andrew’s Road,


Visitors need toilets open

Sir, â?? Last Friday and Saturday, we came across countless poor regatta visitors in all their finery squatting behind the car park hedges in Mill Meadows in broad daylight as there was no obvious alternative toilet provision.

Many of them were returning for coaches at the end of the day, or had just got off river boats.

As a local resident, I felt quite embarrassed on the town’s behalf that this was the only option available to them.

Closing public toilets at 6pm on the busiest days of the year is hardly very hospitable of Henley, is it? I can understand that the measures are there ordinarily to discourage Mill Meadows becoming a night-time “hang out” but surely for the regatta and the festival we could extend the toilet hours until 9pm or 10pm? â?? Yours faithfully,

Jo Edmondson

Cromwell Road,


Consultation forgotten

Sir, â?? Dieter Hinke, former chairman of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, would have you believe the plan was written by volunteer working groups (Standard, July 3) but this is not the whole story. The plan got off to a brilliant start with ideas and aspirations contributed by non-partisan volunteer working groups. However, all these groups (except housing) have not met for the past 18 months and furthermore were refused permission to reconvene.

I think it is important to inform you that the disbanded groups were not consulted on the final draft plan, which has already been submitted to the South Oxfordshire District Council. So much for it being “the people’s plan”. â?? Yours faithfully,

Catherine Allan-Notaras

Elizabeth Road,


Time to go, councillor

Sir, â?? In response to Councillor Dylan Thomas’s reply to my letter week, I would correct him as follows: I did not shout at the Mayor, I just brought to her attention the political slur he had made against both UKIP and Henley Residents’ Group with his “racist” remark.He stated that he did not know who I was, yet at the “public participation” agenda item, which was before the debate on the neighbourhood plan, I stood up and gave my name and address before making a statement.Cllr Thomas went on to say that it was his democratic right to express his political opinion and that his comment was an off-the-cuff little political joke. He appeared to imply that HRG councillors and UKIP members are “racists”. No, Councillor Thomas, This is not democracy, just political filth.If it had been a UKIP councillor speaking that way, everyone would be asking for their resignation and quite rightly so. Perhaps it is time for our ex-army councillor to fall on his sword? â?? Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett Chairman,

UKIP Henley,

Elizabeth Road,


Leave jokes to us, David

Sir, â?? I had rather feared that David Silvester’s drubbing at the hands of the Henley electorate might have led him to withdraw his opinions from the public forum.But, behold, nothing can keep our man down and all the better for Henley that we get to share in his comical views (Standard, July 3).After suggesting a helicopter alternative to HS2 and explaining the cause of the Thames Valley flooding, we have now moved back on to immigration. It is a shame, however, that his latest missive is short on comedy but long on scaremongering.Perhaps if David is so keen on the Daily Mail, he could send this sort of vitriolic letter to them and leave the really funny stuff for the clever electorate of Henley to enjoy. â?? Yours faithfully,

Tim Dickson

Greys Hill,


Come and join the fun

Sir, â?? As an artist, I relish opportunities to paint outside in the summer and Henley and the Chilterns offer so much subject matter but I thought it worth following up your Diary item last week to encourage artists to come to the Thames Traditional Boat Festival next weekend (July 18 and 19) and paint anything from Gloriana or Bluebird to crusty old sailors and pretty young girls.

Ian Cryer is president of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and great fun. He will be painting prior to judging at the end of each day.Finished work will be hung in the Golden Ball pub and Time for Tea on site and prizes will be presented on Sunday for children and adults. Perhaps the Henley Standard will publish the results in the coming weeks? I realise that I am biased, but the Traditional Boat Festival is actually in “Henley”, not Wargrave or Remenham, and I want the town to regard it as a “town” festival.Saturday night is party night and on Sunday we will be entertaining the international judges for the Entente Florale competition in which Henley is representing Britain â?? yet another reason to be proud of Henley and those who work tirelessly to make it such a terrific little town.Don’t forget that the Kenton Theatre is offering prizes for the gentleman and lady most suitably attired in keeping with the old boats, although maybe Gloriana will attract a Queen or two. â?? Yours faithfully,

Lady McAlpine

Fawley Hill

Thank you for support

Sir, â?? On behalf of South Oxfordshire Mencap Society, may I saw a very big thank-you to the wonderful people of Henley for supporting our charity collection on Saturday, June 20.We collected the magnificent sum of £736.88, which will be used to help provide our members with learning disabilities to have mainstream contact in our community.We arrange discos, outings and support our Meter Club, which meets weekly, providing opportunity for social contact for our members and respite for their carers and families.We are a local charity based in Henley and are always seeking volunteers to help and funds to support our activities. Please pass on our thanks to all our helpers and contributors. â?? Yours faithfully,

Brian Connolly Honorary treasurer, South Oxfordshire Mencap Society,

Church Street,


How I enjoy this paper

Sir, â?? May I just say how much I enjoy my local paper, the Henley Standard.I have had it for many years â?? since I married in 1954.I live in the lovely Hambleden valley, not many miles from Henley, and I always look forward to all the local news.

The paper has changed a lot over the years but it is my favourite when the weekend arrives.Thank you, Henley Standard. May it continue with all our local news for a very long time. â?? Yours faithfully,

Mrs H E Austin

Unnecessary misery for residents

Sir, â?? These photographs show a fairly typical consequence of Henley Royal Regatta for local residents in Remenham.

I hate to be a killjoy, but all the jollity that goes with this event also comes with severe costs and consequences for those who have to live with it for many weeks, unseen by all the revellers who have left.

And it could all be avoided.

People who live in the vicinity of events in Remenham are denied the normal use (and legal entitlement) of their homes for several weeks as events are set up and taken down due to heavy lorries trying to negotiate what are totally unsuitable roads for this kind of activity.

Huge articulated lorries trying to pass each other on a single-track road â?? impossible.

However, this does not occur during regatta. Why? Because a one-way system is enforced for the five days and everything works fine. This system needs to be in place for at least the week before and after regatta, as well as during the week of the event.

Why does this not happen? Because no one wants to pay for it, so residents pay the price.

What needs to happen is that the regatta stewards, event organisers, the police and the local authority need to get together and work out a solution that will involve them investing some money in a three-week enforced system in the same format as the regatta.

They cannot simply wash their hands of this, which currently all of them do.

And a word of warning to this group of people â?? one day this gridlock will prevent emergency services reaching a property with potentially very severe consequences. â?? Yours faithfully,

R Emerson

Remenham Lane, Remenham

Sir, â?? I thought you might like this picture of two beauties in the same dress at the regatta.

I am one in the hat. The other girl is Natasha Quirke, from Bristol.

We had never met before and we couldn’t believe we had the same dress but decided to celebrate our excellent good taste in fashion! â?? Yours faithfully,

Joelle Cowley

St Mark’s Road, Henley

Sir, â?? I thought you might like to see this picture of Henley Royal Regatta. It is called

Deckchair Racing.

I really enjoyed seeing the river and riverbanks transformed last week with the boats, tents and people out enjoying the sunshine. I find it very inspirational for my art and created this scene of the regatta using fabric, which is then machine stitched. â?? Yours faithfully,

Kate Findlay

Lower Earley

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