Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Your letters

Sir, — I was interested to read your article regarding the young Captain A J Walker,

Sir, — I was interested to read your article regarding the young Captain A J Walker, who was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 7, 1915, and whose parents donated the land on which the former Henley War Memorial Hospital was built (

, July 31).

By chance I was visiting the casualty department of Townlands Hospital the other day and spotted the War Memorial Hospital’s honours board in the entrance hallway behind an assortment of wheelchairs, walking frames, chairs and a large notice board.

Your readers may be interested in seeing this photograph that I took after removing these obstructions.

The board lists those men who gave their lives by individual district, Bix, Fawley, Hambleden, Harpsden, Henley, Highmoor, Nettlebed, Remenham, Rotherfield Greys, Stonor-cum-Pishill and Shiplake. Capt Walker’s is among the Henley names.

The inscription at the top says: “The Henley-on-Thames and District War Memorial Hospital” and the inscriptions at the bottom read “This hospital was erected by public subscription in grateful remembrance of the officers and men from this town and district who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918” and “Their name liveth for evermore”.

As we all know, the War Memorial Hospital was sold by the NHS with the promise that the money would be spent on improving the facilities at Townlands.

Certainly it was not spent on Townlands and all the money raised by the sale of the site in Henley donated by Capt Walker’s family and built upon with money donated by the townspeople just disappeared.

I hope you can draw the attention of members of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to these facts since, as far as I can ascertain, none of them lives, or has lived, or worked in the town.

It is important that they realise the contribution, both in lives and money, that the people of Henley have made in order to have a hospital fit for the town.

“Their names liveth for evermore” and so should their hospital, be it with a different name and on a different site but within Henley and for the people of Henley-on-Thames and district. — Yours faithfully,

Brian Triptree

Ancastle Green, Henley

Water firm is wasting it

Sir, — Thames Water has just made a courtesy call about the completion of work on a leak outside my house in Binfield Heath, which sounds like good relationship management. The reality is very different.

On Thursday evening, August 13, the mains water pipe in Gravel Road broke beside the junction with Heath Drive. It began to pour more than four gallons a minute, downstream along Gravel Road.The pressurised water carried with it sand and gravel from the area around the damaged pipe and washed this road material into the nearest drain, which became partially blocked.

So the higher level of water crossed the road and ran down that side, raising the groundwater level in a nearby well by more than one metre, over six days, while nothing was done.Many people called Thames Water who duly sent someone to look at the damage and mark the spot where the repair needed to be done.

The engineer arrived on Friday, August 14. He marked the spot to be repaired and, when asked when the repair would take place, said he did not know.Each day several Binfield Heath people called Thames Water and were politely fobbed off when they asked when the repair would be done.

We had a mostly dry week while the water continued to pour out of the damaged pipe, carrying sand and gravel along the road, day and night, for six days.On August 19, just as it began to rain, Thames Water’s repair team arrived and, in fairness, worked really hard.However, when it rained heavily they took shelter for a while. This delay caused them to have to continue to work until 12.30am the next day using Tarmac-levelling equipment at 11.45pm and again at midnight. Why? Since Thursday, August 12 we estimate that more than 30,000 gallons of water was lost, totally wasted by Thames Water. This need not have happened.Worse still, the gravel under the surface of Gravel Road has been steadily washed away which will inevitably cause long-term problems in the future.

Already another area of Gravel Road is starting to crumble, about five yards downstream from the original broken pipe. It will continue to degrade. Why? Because many heavy goods vehicle drivers use this junction with Heath Drive to turn their trucks around in Gravel Road. This is probably what caused the original damage to the pipe.The junction of the two roads carries heavy lorries, several times each day, right across the area where the gravel has been washed away and the surface of the damaged road is beginning to crumble.

So Thames Water, a private utility, is wasting 30,000 gallons for a typical pipe breakage and also damaging a local road’s underlying infrastructure which your readers, the local council taxpayers, will have to subsidise when the local damaged road needs to be repaired, as they inevitably will. This is because of Thames Water’s inefficiency and its cavalier attitude to these incidents and to local residents’ sleep.

Surely it cannot be legal for a utility such as Thames Water to use Tarmac-consolidating equipment outside domestic properties until 12.30am, especially having done nothing for the previous six days? — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Binfield Heath

Thames Water responds: “Leakage from our 20,000-mile pipe network is down a third since its peak in 2004 and we’ve hit our regulatory leakage reduction target for the last nine years in a row.“The leak on Gravel Road was assessed the day after it was reported but we have to prioritise, so those affecting customer supplies or causing significant flooding will always be dealt with first.“We’re sorry for the noise from the late-night work but once we start to repair a pipe, the job has to be finished as it would be unsafe to leave it incomplete.”

Officials are the waste

Sir — Well done to Oxfordshire County Council, or shall we rename it Oxford County Council, as their latest proposal to close four waste and recycling centres, including Oakley Wood, clearly demonstrates they have forgotten about the “shire”.

The residents of South Oxfordshire have gone the extra mile to minimise landfill waste, hence we have the highest recycling rates in the country.

So do the bosses at Oxfordshire County Council just assume that we will really go an extra 52 miles to dispose of our waste responsibly? Why would we spend that £15 to £20 in petrol, sit in extra traffic and damage the environment to boot? Yes, the council has to make spending cuts, so here is a novel idea. Why don’t they get rid of the excessive number of managers at County Hall who are paid £40,000-plus to sit in meetings and think up these moronic ideas? That way Oxfordshire can keep the facilities residents need and continue to employ the staff that actually do the work and provide the services our council tax pays for.

In the meantime perhaps they should hold another meeting and discuss the likely consequences of their proposal. — Yours faithfully,

Julia Wheeler


Do they want fly-tipping?

Sir, — I fully agree with your correspondent Andrew Hawkins about the possible closure of the Oakley Wood waste and recycling centre (Standard, August 21). Whenever I go there, about every two or three months, it is busy.

Where does Oxfordshire County Council suppose that all the stuff taken to Oakley Wood will be put if the centre is closed? I have no doubt at all that a great deal of it will simply be distributed around South Oxfordshire with Harpsden Woods being a very popular spot! I know that this service is paid for out of our council taxes but I, for one, would be happy to pay a small fee each time I go there rather than having the site closed. Or perhaps the opening hours could be reduced to save money. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs S Wickenden Periam Close,


P.S. Henley Town Council’s traffic survey money could have been put to better use on recycling!

Thoughtless parking

Sir, — Despite the Henley doctors’ surgeries having only fairly limited parking available for patients, it is clear that some people are still parking their cars there, not to visit the doctor but to visit the shops.

On Monday, in heavy rain, I drove to the Bell Surgery as my son had an appointment there. As is often the case, there was no room to park.While I was sitting in the car considering my options, I saw several people who were trying to visit their doctor but were unable to park.

They included elderly people forced to walk through the rain and wind and young parents pushing buggies through the puddles. I dropped my son off, as time was of the essence, and parked in the Waitrose car park instead.However, as I dashed back to the surgery I followed two women — both carrying shopping bags — all the way back to their vehicle which they had parked at the doctors.

I have seen this sort of thing happen several times before in this car park but have never wanted to invite the unpleasant confrontation that I knew would be likely to follow any comment on it.

This time, however, I felt brave enough and exasperated enough to challenge it.Predictably, and rather grimly, far from being embarrassed, the women were completely furious with me for my “attitude problem”.

The driver angrily insisted that she had every right to park there, having had a doctor’s appointment earlier on that day and only having gone to the shops after that. It didn’t seem to occur to her that she should have moved the car once her time at the surgery was over.

I was wet, cold and in a hurry so I’m sorry if they found me rude. They were rude to me, too, actually but I don’t care about that.

What I do care about is that patients, i.e. those who need to park close to the surgeries (especially the elderly and those with young children), seem to routinely run the risk of being forced out of the designated car park by selfish and able-bodied shoppers.

Am I alone in considering this behaviour indefensible? — Yours faithfully,

Lisa McDonald


Why was this kept quiet?

Sir, — Thanks to a Freedom of Information request submitted on behalf of the Townlands Steering Group, we now know that Jean O’Callaghan, chief executive of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, wrote to David Smith, chief executive of the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group, in June expressing her “significant concerns” at the proposal not to re-provide the current inpatient beds in the new hospital (Standard, August 21).Furthermore, she went on to stress that “removing rehabilitation beds from Townlands is likely to lead to a significant increase in delayed discharges from acute hospital beds, to the detriment of patient care”.

Why has the commissioning group felt it necessary to withhold this important submission made by one of its senior influential colleagues for over two months, when the letter supported the views of so many others in the  Henley community, including our own clinicians, who have been expressing identical  concerns? The video of the discussions at the July meeting of the commissioning group’s board demonstrated that there were several members who expressed similar reservations.

Why was the letter from Mrs O’Callaghan not disclosed at this meeting? Could it be that the commissioning group does not welcome any views, from whatever source they may come (even if they are from its own senior clinical colleagues), that do not agree with its own proposals? To its credit, the commissioning group has now agreed to a pause to reconsider a number of outstanding issues.So it now has an opportunity to reflect on its current plans and to listen to the views of those who will be actively involved in dealing with the repercussions if their current shortsighted proposals are implemented.

Alternatively, it could arrange for the erection of a compound on the development site to house the “large white elephant” which has already been seen wandering in the area. — Yours  faithfully,

Peter Reader

Western Road,


Don’t be petty about signs

Sir, — Here we go again. Why does Henley Town Council seem to think that so many signs on the town shops are all so wrong and out of character with Henley (Standard, August 21)? Henley is no different to many other small towns around the country, which I am sure do not make all this fuss and bother when a small business wants to introduce a new sign.Personally, I really don’t think that people have enough time in their busy lives to make a song and dance about them as Henley Town Council does.Over the years, we always seem to be hearing about so called “incorrect and out of character” signs —the Kenton Theatre, Marc Antoni, Paperchase (with the wrong colour blue) and now Henley Glass to name but a few.

Come on, Henley Town Council, surely there are more important items to discuss about the town than something as petty as this? — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Hollings

Sonning Common

Downside of toll increase

Sir, — I read the article about the Whitchurch Bridge toll rise and how it might affect Goring (Standard, August 21).Kevin Bulmer is a county councillor and is therefore responsible for other parishes besides Goring.

Had he taken more interest in the meeting held by the secretary of state regarding the increases in the tolls his influence may have meant that the tolls could not rise by 50 per cent and there may not have been an increase in traffic through Goring avoiding the toll bridge.Increased traffic may occur if and when the 143 bus service is removed. This is another of the county council’s proposed cuts.

Your article mentioned congestion in Goring while the toll bridge was repaired — any congestion was caused by illegal parking at The Arcade because double yellow lines were painted in High Street in Goring and Streatley and traffic flowed better than than it does now.

Regarding the one-way system that Councillor Bulmer is proposing for Goring, he needs to check the archives and find out why it has not been given the go-ahead in the past.

Regarding Ann Ducker, she was a district councillor for many years and a memorial to her would be well supported.A road named after her is not a suitable memorial to a lady who had time to listen to her constituents and was involved in many groups. She was fair and honest with her advice. There should be a memorial to her for all her work, maybe on the village hall. She should not be forgotten. — Yours faithfully,

Barbara Tappern

Whitchurch Hill

Flow wrong way round Sir, — As Thomas Octavius wrote in last week’s Standard Diay: “There is always someone who enjoys pointing out mistakes. Unfortunately, I am one of those people.” Well, so am I.

Even the Henley Standard cannot make the Thames flow upstream from Sonning to Henley, as stated in the Diary item about the Russian film-makers. To check the direction of flow, you can always play Pooh Sticks from any of the bridges along the way! — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hawkins

Berkshire Road,


Dennis the dog likes  a drink!

Sir, — I thought you might like this photograph of my dog Dennis, a four-month- old cavapoo, who runs to the garden tap for a drink every time he gets home from a walk. — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Paton

Paradise Road, Henley

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