Sir, — Over the past few months I have attended several public meetings with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and nothing I heard at any of those meetings has changed my mind about the fact we need at least 18 beds at the new Townlands Hospital. This week I heard that a dear friend has fallen badly and desperately needs home care herself, especially as she is the carer for her husband, who is an amputee due to diabetes problems, and his driver to Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) three times a week for dialysis.
She recently came home from hospital to find there was no homecare in place for her or her husband. Where then is the homecare going to be for those people sent home from hospital who do not have a partner or young family close by who are willing to drop everything and put their own family’s lives on hold to pop in and look after sick or needy parents?The question I have asked at many meetings but have not had fully answered is: why on earth do the OCCG not see the fact that Sue Ryder pulled out of renting the top floor at Townlands as a huge blessing and use the two floors now available for patients who need services locally, that is, one floor for the 18 beds and the other for the new ambulatory services, with all the diagnostic machinery necessary for that service? Why are the OCCG not grabbing at this big chance?In the consultation there have been a lot of figures bandied about that most of us know are not true, about the low number of beds required for patients living locally who need to be moved from RBH to free up beds for patients needing treatment in the wider area. Patients need to have friends visit while recuperating — but when those friends have to travel to Reading or Wallingford that is not so easy if those friends do not drive. Bus services to and from Henley to Reading and Wallingford are difficult and take forever.
In the meantime our local people are probably bed—blocking because there is no where they can be transferred locally.I was privileged to be invited by the Orders of St John to attend the foundation stone laying at the new nursing home on the Townlands site. One of the guests who does not live anywhere near Henley asked me where ordinary old and frail people are cared for in Henley when Chilterns End is full. I was very I embarrassed because I could not answer the question honestly.
Henley has an ageing population. Where are we all going to be cared for when we become too frail to manage but want to remain in an area we know and love and where our friends can visit us? We are being told that extra beds required by Townlands can be borrowed from the new care home — how?
When there are not enough care beds now, and that is before we take into account all the new people we can expect to move to the area shortly; are those people never going to age like the rest of us?When questioned closely about the homecare available to look after the people who are sent home after ambulatory care, we were assured by OCCG at our village meeting in Peppard that we need not worry because if professional carers were not available that care would be provided by family, friends and kind neighbours. That would probably have been true in centuries past when women were not expected to work 24 hours a day, when families stayed close and neighbours never moved away, when people had time to care for others. It is not that people are not kind in this area, quite the opposite, but very few of us are actually trained as carers and a lot of people living on their own who are frail in body and increasingly in mind require a lot more care than a kind neighbour popping in. We really, really do need at least 18 beds at Townlands and proper professional care for our older and frail population. This whole question of just what is going to happen at Townlands is a great worry to so many people. So come on, do the right thing by the people of Henley and surrounding villages, give us what we have fought for and been promised over all these years when we were at the mercy of so many changes in administration in the NHS and primary care trusts, grab the chance to use more of that hospital building, stop wringing your hands and asking what we can do with that top floor. Just use it. Do not tell us there is no money available for that because we all know how valuable the land around the hospital is, and that land was given to the NHS by the people of Henley years ago. Use the money from the sale of that land to developers to pay for the use of both those floors in Townlands. Let us have the best of both worlds. We need it and with careful financial management can have it. — Yours faithfully,
Stoke Row Road,
Thanks for beds support
Sir, — Thank you to the Henley Standard for your continued support for Townlands Hospital and the Save Our Beds campaign. It was uplifting to see so many people attend the march. Thank you everyone who came along and joined in or gave their support as we marched past. Through the Townlands Steering Group we continue the campaign to complete the hospital build as we would expect and need for Henley and district — more beds. While I am about it, let me record how very fortunate we are to have such an abundance of wonderful festivals in Henley. The Henley Festival was bigger and better than ever. I was one of the lucky ones to have been there on the Lionel Richie evening. He was amazing, his energy on stage, his rapport with everyone
.Well done for attracting such superstars! The biggest surprise was the Henley choir on stage singing with Lionel at the end. Who will forget that — the icing on the cake! The family day — the first this year, I am sure will go from strength to strength and is a lovely addition to the festival. — Yours faithfully,
Mayor of Henley
Tread warily on beds issue
Sir, — I must compliment your newspaper of July 17 for its excellent coverage of the Townlands Hospital march, and for its Save the Beds campaign.The march was impressive and, if not as large as the march of 10 years back, nevertheless provided good pictures of all those one has come to expect to be present on occasions of this nature. However, I believe on this occasion its existence may well have been ill—advised.
In my letter to the Henley Standard of June 5 I voiced my support for the principle of ambulatory care, but while voicing my disquiet at the attitude of some to those explaining the proposals to us, I acknowledged the need for some local beds.Whether these were to be 18 beds gradually reducing in the main hospital, or five to eight beds guaranteed in the care home seems to me ultimately a matter for the medical experts. Even in the interregnum, as long as those needing beds get them I see no great problem.
Clearly, experts at national level, such as the King’s Fund and others, have been involved in reaching the commissioning group’s conclusions.
Moreover it would not surprise me if the Minister of Health himself, or at least his department, have been involved.I acknowledge that local GPs are opposed to the proposals, but on the other hand, the very experienced GP and former county councillor Dr Peter Skolar wrote of his support for them in another of your recent editions.
The brickbats that are already being thrown at our MP, John Howell, are not fair. Conservative Henley elected him to represent them with a huge majority, and if the Townlands matter represents the new Conservative medical policy he is hardly in a position to go against it, even if he wanted to. Otherwise he would be branded a troublemaker. My conclusion is that we would do well to tread cautiously on this matter. We need to remember who owns the new building, and to remember that the owners will always have the option of selling both the building and the site for office space or even accommodation.
Jaw jaw is always better than war war. And taking the matter to court is fiendishly expensive. — Yours faithfully,
Oxfordshire Independent Party
Is MP with his voters?
Sir, — In May John Howell MP was re—elected by the electors to represent the views of his constituents.The Townlands Steering Group has passed a resolution to support the 18 beds going into our new Townlands Hospital. The question to be asked is this: is John our MP going to privately and publicly back this stance?His constituents want the beds to serve a catchment of 90,000 people. At the moment John has been silent in his support for the beds at Townlands Hospital. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are meeting next Thursday [July 30] to decide. We would like to publicly know John’s views. — Yours faithfully,
Henley town and district councillor
Our MP has work to do
Sir, — I was surprised to read in the letters columns last week criticism of John Howell MP for not being at recent Townlands meetings held mid—week.
Allow me to explain something of the working pattern of our MPs which seems not to be understood. When the House is sitting all MPs are expected to be in Westminster. When in session the House usually sits from Monday afternoon through to the end of Thursday. During this time the work carries on through to the end of the evening.There will be debates, question times and statements in the chamber, debates in Westminster Hall, meetings of select committees, and many other meetings going on during this time covering a wide range of subjects and issues. MPs have to juggle their time between these competing demands. When we elect our MPs we send them to Westminster to take part in the wide range of work that Parliament covers. If they are to be there to carry out this role on behalf of all constituents it is simply not possible for them to keep popping back to their constituencies for various meetings mid—week.
On Fridays and at weekends John, like other MPs, is out and about across his constituency attending meetings and events. It is perhaps also worth remembering that the constituency stretches from the edge of Reading to the edge of Bicester, with the Buckinghamshire border marking the boundary to the east and the River Thames to the west.In addition to the two towns of Henley and Thame there are more than 100 smaller settlements in which the majority of constituents live. In the limited time available there is a lot of ground to cover.
I hope this will explain that not being at particular meetings does not indicate lack of interest but simply human limitation of not being able to be in two places at once. — Yours faithfully,
Constituency office manager for John Howell MP
Gershwin do a disaster
Sir, — I must compliment Trevor Howell on his excellent and accurate review of the Gershwin Spectacular at this year’s Henley Festival.
My father—in—law came all the way from Ireland for this concert and was unimpressed, as were many people I spoke to afterwards.
Firstly, I had never heard of the soap opera actress Shona McGarty, and thought it a bit presumptuous to have her make her singing debut in front of an unsuspecting audience, but what was most shocking was that she put in the best vocal performance of the night, eclipsing the two vaunted headline stars.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh to Gregory Porter, but if he had any respect for the audience and the material he would lose the ridiculous hat and put on a tie. A singer of his supposed calibre shouldn’t need a gimmick.
As for Laura Mvula, I still have no idea why she was on that stage. She had no feeling for or knowledge of the music, and was very obviously reading all of the lyrics. It must have been hard to sing I Got Rhythm when she plainly didn’t. The orchestra were excellent but the arrangements really strangled the life out of the music. Difference for the sake of difference, and obviously a vanity project by the two conductors.On a final note, I must agree with Laura Beales (Letters, July 17) about the ridiculous rubber wristbands. I didn’t buy a new tuxedo and get it tailored to fit just right only to stick a purple rubber ring around my cuff. Mine stayed in my pocket for the duration and I didn’t see too many others on display. — Yours faithfully,
Black tie is smart casual
Sir, — Mike Kempton of Shiplake calls for Henley Festival to relax its dress code to allow “smart casual” (Standard, July 10).
Whilst I would love to see some photos of Mike modelling his “smart casual” fashion ideas, I must point out that black tie is the “smart casual” alternative to formal white tie and tails. This issue featured prominently in the last series of Downton Abbey, when the Dowager Countess of Grantham got in a terrible state about young men wearing the new jazz—age style dinner suits at the evening dining table.
There is a place for “gardening clothes” but surely that’s Royal Ascot and Wimbledon not Henley, which is a bulwark of British tradition set against the drab tide of ‘international dressed—down designer casual’. So Henley Festival naturally celebrates the new and exciting alongside the old and timeless — in a sort of ‘hip—hop meets hip—op’ sort of way.
My father always did DIY in a collar and tie, and grandfather wore a top hat down the allotment. They didn’t relax their dress code — not even under fire in the first and second world wars. My wife has a photo of herself aged four on the beach at Scarborough with her father, who is dressed in three—piece tweed suit, polished leather shoes and watch & chain. How glad we are now that he didn’t relax his dress code to include a ‘mankini’.I bought my dinner suit 37 years ago off the widow of a chap that died in it, and few other styles reflect the same virtues of thrift, charity, recycling and sustainability as black tie. When my time comes I hope to similarly honour the outfit for which I am the temporary custodian. Glass—in—hand and face down in the Eton Mess, I’ll certainly know if I’ve gone to hell â?¦ everyone will be wearing “smart casual”. — Yours faithfully,
Garden for George tops
Sir, — I have just read the mayor’s proposal for a memorial garden for George Harrison. I feel this is definitely a very good way of celebrating our famous Beatle, especially as George was a passionate gardener himself. In fact my son, who has worked for an agency at Friar Park in the past, would love to be involved in this project. He is self—employed, and like George is also passionate about gardening. Please pass on my thoughts to our mayor, and if my son can help with ideas please pass my details on, and I will pass over my son’s contact details. — Yours faithfully,
We’re county outcasts
Sir, — Edward Bunting wrote from Burford on the state of the roads in Henley and neighbouring villages (Letters, July 17).
Burford is also in Oxfordshire but Mr Bunting underlines what I have long thought â?? that we live in the forgotten corner of the county.
My own impression is that road surfaces are far better maintained in the north and west of the county. He mentions Bell Street and New Street as examples, to which I would add Gravel Hill which must be one of the worst roads in the county.
Because of a complete lack of regular maintenance, Kennylands Road in Sonning Common is to be closed completely for seven working days later this month for what Oxfordshire County Council describes as “road patching work”. Kennylands Road is a major bus route, yet the council has allowed its surface to deteriorate to such an extent that closure is necessary. “Patching” will not solve the problem and will only delay the inevitable.
It is many years since any road in the immediate vicinity was resurfaced. Another related problem is also ignored â?? that of street cleaning, with veritable forests of weeds growing in road kerbs. Eventually, kerb stones will become loose and present another problem with an expensive solution.
Are any of our elected representatives concerned? — Yours faithfully,
K B Atkinson
Red House Drive,
Plants hit by budget cuts
Sir, — I wonder how many of us have noticed when travelling on the recently updated section of the A4130 at Bix the excellent engineering work of Oxfordshire County Council?It was finished with a selection of various hedgerow shrubs planted in the centre section (an obviously costly exercise).
But it has not been followed up by the necessary watering of these young saplings during this hot, dry summer, leading to these plants dying in their hundreds along a mile—long length of road. A parish councillor friend reported this matter to county hall and was politely told by the highway engineer that unfortunately there was no money in that particular budget for “maintenance” of this type. — Yours faithfully,
Stick to rules on waste bins
Sir, — Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they do not take reasonable measures to ensure that their waste is lawfully disposed of. Repeated fly—tipping may result in an anti—social behaviour order (ASBO) being made against an individual.A fixed penalty of £100 can be made against any householder who fails to comply with a notice issued for failing to properly use the facilities available to them to legally dispose of their waste. This includes failing to follow publicised collection arrangements, leaving waste out on the wrong day and/or at the wrong time or in the wrong receptacle. The local authority will need to ensure that collection arrangements have been well publicised and are reasonable. Most local councils provide waste disposal sites and recycling centres where you can safely and legally dispose of unwanted items. There may be some residents of Henley who are not aware of this regulation. I refer to those who repeatedly place their bags of rubbish alongside or overload street litter bins. — Yours faithfully,
Nottakwire singers tops
Sir, — May I, through your letters page, pay tribute to Margaret Moola, Elaine Williams and all the singers in Nottakwire?
Their wonderful concerts have once again endowed various local community groups with cheques which will make a difference to every one of them.
Club SC, the Community Youth Club based at the sports hall at Chiltern Edge School was given £300. This will enable the young members of the youth club to enjoy a treat or get some new equipment — whatever they decide.
Nottakwire is the most cohesive entity in Sonning Common and its surrounding villages. It unites all community groups and all community groups work with Nottakwire. Thanks to Margaret and Elaine for the inspiration they are to us all. — Yours faithfully,
Club SC management committee chairman
Nepal quake appeal cruise
Sir, — On June 18 I organised a charity fund—raising cruise aboard the New Orleans to raise money for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal with the help of Otto Stromfelt. We would like to thank all the people who purchased tickets and to Tom Michell and Brett Fuller for providing live musical entertainment on board, Otto for his delicious fusion catering and all the local businesses who donated prizes for the raffle.
Also, thank you to Pete Smith for donating a rare Pink Floyd album print that raised £350 in the silent auction. It was a fantastic evening which we may repeat next year as the appeal will need funds for the years to come.
In total the event raised £3,319 to be donated to Joanna Lumley’s Freedom Matters Nepal charity. Thank you to everyone who participated. — Yours faithfully,
Hobbs of Henley
Waves of appreciation for best ever festival
Sir, — The Royal Barge
gave an impressive view in front of the Henley panorama. Here is a picture I took on Sunday. — Yours faithfully,
Harpsden Way, Henley
Sir, — Pauline and I went to the Thames Traditional Boat Festival last Saturday for the first time.
Oh, what a surprise and joy to discover such a wonderful event right under our noses.
To see so many superb old boats was special but to watch the Little Ships of the Dunkirk fleet, that did so much for the country, go by was a rare treat.
Everyone was very friendly and we were even invited aboard one of the boats for the sail—by up the river and learnt so much.
Sadly Blue Bird broke down before her return but we saw and heard her V12 engine burble down to the start. Well done the organisers. — Yours faithfully,
Mark P Hatt
South Stoke Road, Woodcote
Sir, — May I use your pages to most sincerely thank the Mayor, town council and the people of Henley for their enthusiastic support for this weekend’s boat festival.
We think it was the best ever, with record attendances and a general feeling of people, young or old, boating enthusiasts or not, wanting to have a good time.
It was a fitting reward for my great and hard—working committee.
Thank you Henley and we look forward to seeing you at the festival next year. — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, Thames Traditional Boat Festival
Sir, — Here are two pictures of Little Sid, one of my many resident squirrels.
The main photo shows Little Sid inside my squirrel—proof feeder and the other shows him having a nap in the sun on the top rail of my fence.
I’ve been in the habit of firing conkers at him with my catapult, a Black Widow, from some distance, missing him by wideish margins.
I do this in the knowledge that the tree rat is regarded by many as vermin. Little Sid was untroubled, however, by the laying down of this withering fire but took careful note of where the conkers landed, found and then peeled and ate them. I suspect that he wishes that I would deliver these snacks at a lower speed. — Yours faithfully,