Saturday, 31 July 2021

Your letters

Stop fouling college fields

Sir, — I read with interest the letters regarding vandalism in Henley recently, particularly the incidences around Henley Tennis Club and our neighbouring fields.

The Henley College has spent a not inconsiderable amount of money trying to ensure that the college’s playing fields are fit for use by our students.

We have several very popular sports programmes, with some students progressing to play sports at a professional level, and many of our students undertake sports enrichment activities. Our playing fields along with the other college sites are in fact private property. However, despite putting up various forms of barrier, these have been damaged or ripped down.We have an ongoing issue with dog dirt where dogs have been walked on the fields but the owners have not cleared up after them.

When staff have alerted members of the public that they should not be on site they have often been met with quite hostile responses.

As readers can imagine, being covered with dog dirt while you are playing sport is at the very least unpleasant and more seriously can cause serious health issues.

While I am delighted that Henley residents see the college as an integral part of the community, its facilities and premises are for those that attend or work at the college or rent premises from us and our sites are private property.

While we have a community evening class provision, the majority of our student cohort are aged between 16 and 18 and need to be safeguarded as children. It is the college’s responsibility to do this.Within that student group, we have a number of groups of students who are vulnerable and would find strangers on site extremely upsetting.

In short, as with any other public institutions or indeed private organisations, we have a responsibility to those who study or work with us and this includes being aware of who is on site.

As this is the case, staff will now be approaching anyone on site who is not wearing a college lanyard.

I acknowledge that litter from our students can be an issue. A member of our premises team now litter picks daily, particularly in the Tilebarn Close area. However, I can see that there are still improvements to be made.

Once again, I would like to thank those members of the Henley community who have in the past valued the college and its premises as much as we do and may have used them as informal recreational facilities.

However, in order for us to best support our students, we would request that the community respects the privacy of our sites and playing fields and in that way helps us stop vandalism and misuse of those sites and facilities.

— Yours faithfully,

Jayne Davis

Principal, The Henley College

Giving off wrong image

Sir, — Three weeks ago we took our grandchildren to hockey training at Jubilee Park in Henley.

It was very disappointing to see that where the surface of the pitch meets the surround and the boundary by the fence is full of weeds.

In addition we picked up no fewer than six discarded water bottles on the side where the dugouts are sited. There is no bin there so no encouragement to dispose of rubbish properly. The bins that were on the spectator side were full to overflowing.

Last week we returned as our granddaughter was playing in a tournament hosted by Henley. The other participating teams all came from local clubs.

Regrettably, the weeds were still there and the bins still overflowing. The town invested quite a sum in this wonderful facility and it is such a shame to see it looking so scruffy due to lack of basic maintenance.

It’s hardly the image of Henley that we want to portray to the other clubs, or anyone else for that matter, and a poor tribute to a long- serving monarch.

— Yours faithfully,

Angela Woolfrey

Birch Close, Sonning Common

Selfless and pioneering

Sir, — My daughter has competed twice at the Henley Women’s Regatta and I am therefore well aware what a truly special competition it is.

Women come from all over the world, from unfamiliar places and from the finest universities, to compete and to experience Henley.

The professional organisation is first class thanks to hundreds of volunteers and fine leadership and the atmosphere and spirit epitomises all that is good in sport.

It was surprising, therefore, to read the suggestion of a Remenham resident that this world-class competition should be moved to Dorney (Standard, October 9).

It was even more disappointing to read the criticism of the regatta chairwoman, Miriam Luke. I have known Miriam for a long time and she is selfless and modest. She is an Olympic hero and, even more importantly, a pioneer.

Early in her rowing career, when Miriam made it to a final at the world championships, one of her coaches told her to enjoy it because she would never get there again, such was the lack of expectation of success in GB women’s rowing at that time.

She went on to win a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics, the first ever GB women’s rowing medal.

It is thanks to people like Miriam that more women now participate in more sports to a higher standard and to wider public appreciation than ever before.

Competitions like Henley Women’s Regatta inspire and recognise women.

I hope the Remenham residents embrace the generous spirit of Miriam’s own letter and sort out their differences in private rather than spar on the letters pages of the Henley Standard.

Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Edwards

Queen Street, Henley

Don’t give up on our beds

Sir, — Citizens of Henley, don’t give up.

When the War Memorial was sold we were promised a rebuild of Townlands. Peppard ward’s 14 beds have given excellent care on the spot in our town for many years. Much-needed, 24-hour nursing care was there. Now we are told that end of life care, if it is to be in hospital, is to be at Wallingford or further away. This is just the moment when people need their nearest and dearest to be close at hand.

To say they should be at home with intermittent visits is not good enough — a lone family member cannot be left to look after a dying person through the dark small hours. The stress is enormous. Peppard ward was a tower of strength.

There must still be people in Henley whose relations contributed after the Great War to the Memorial Hospital and who should be able to look to new Townlands for end of life help.

How would members of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group like to be told their nearest and dearest must go miles away when there is a building in their home town which could and should provide this help?

As a long-time resident of the Henley area and supporter of the Townlands Steering Group, I appeal to everyone to stand up for what we were promised — 14 beds in a proper ward as supported by local GPs and one of the senior doctors at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, the latter requiring relief of bed-blocking from recovering patients.

— Yours faithfully,

Mary Romanes

Market Place, Henley

Let’s build new hospital

Sir, — I’m sure a lot of people of my generation are upset that our War Memorial Hospital was closed, sold and not replaced, as promised.

Before my grandfather went off to serve in the First World War, he was a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade. These people were very important to the town before the NHS.

One day, he came home after attending a meeting in Henley and told his young daughter, my mother, that their was great concern that Henley hadn’t got a much-needed hospital and it was agreed that money should be raised by the people of Henley and surrounding villages.

After a long time this was achieved with the help of Mr and Mrs John Walker, who donated the land, in memory of their son, Capt John Walker, who was killed in 1915, aged 19.

People donated by laying pennies in a line, going up Harpsden Road.

As children, we respected the hospital. It was a lovely building with several wards, an operating theatre and even a mortuary.

In the grounds they grew their own fruit and vegetables. Dr Landsdell was the anaesthetist and operations took place every Wednesday — my brother had his tonsils removed there.

It was a very busy hospital, looking after all generations of local people.

As children, if we hurt ourselves, Matron Massey looked after us and she, too, fought in vain to save the war memorial hospital.

I read in the papers that Henley is a rich town, full of millionaires. Perhaps it’s time we built our own hospital again.

— Yours faithfully,

Jean Smart,

née Barlow


Don’t abuse parking space

Sir, — I write in response to your article in which shoppers were urged to stop using the car park at the Bell and Hart surgeries in Henley (Standard, October 16).

Many of the patients of both GP practices have experienced poor parking outside the marked bays and too few spaces available generally.

It is an ongoing problem which is currently being exacerbated by the builders working on the Townlands Hospital site also parking there.

The GP surgery staff are aware of this problem and have made calls to the management of Vinci, the main contractor, to ask them not to park in these spaces, which are specifically provided for patients attending appointments at the practices.

This is not the only problem, however. As a patient participation group at the Bell Surgery, we are concerned especially for those patients that have difficulty walking and need a space in the car park.

Our GPs are asking for the co-operation of all drivers attending the surgeries to consider the needs of others and not to park for longer than they need to.

It is tempting to pop into town after an appointment rather than move to a designated car park in town. No one is being hounded but if we all do our bit to keep the car park flowing, with patients removing their cars immediately after their appointments, it will make life a little easier for all our patients, particularly those who have limited mobility.

— Yours faithfully,

Janet Waters

Chair, patient participation group,

Bell Surgery, Henley

Financial extravagance

Sir, — With reference to your article headlined “Ideas to offset growth in traffic from new homes” (Standard, October 9), I am staggered at the £50,000 cost of the transport study and report.

I, and doubtless many others, could have come up with the same outcome on the back of an envelope, but I must admit I would have estimated at least 450 cars passing through, or around, the town at peak hours, connecting the proposed 450 (probably two-car) new homes, rather than the 120 cars passing through town that Peter Brett Associates rolled out.

My objection is not to new homes, but the financial extravagance borne by local taxes. This at a time when we are continually being told that there is no public funding available to do this and that.

— Yours faithfully,

Bob Nancarrow

White Hill, Remenham

Keep the big lorries out

Sir, — What a typically robust and well-informed letter from Justin Bowles on Henley’s traffic pollution and what to do about it (Standard, October 16).

As he says, “Why don’t we just introduce a weight restriction traffic regulation order (HGV restriction)?”

In the same edition you reported that an HGV driver was fined £300 for violating the Watlington HGV ban and tha Whitchurch was closed for over an hour by another HGV driver trying to go over the 7.5-tonne limit bridge.

It’s my experience that one can usually count on Watlington being obstructed by an HGV or two. Oxfordshire’s trading standards office is supposed to check “across the county” but clearly can’t.

Many other counties have set up lorry watch services and I would like to volunteer and do my shifts for a watch for Henley as and when an order for Henley is approved. I ask Justin or anyone to make sure this gets done. In due course we might expect to get automated number plate recognition equipment and systems.

It is ludicrous that HGVs go through South Oxfordshire’s lanes and villages — and a few of Buckinghamshire’s — when we are enclosed by a dual carriageway box — the A404, M40, A34 and M4 — with 50mph and 60mph speed limits, one roundabout and only four sets of traffic lights.

— Yours faithfully,

David Parry

Greys Road, Henley

Enough of green lobby

Sir, — Although agreeing with Andrew Hawkins’s plea for “cleaner” air in Henley (Standard, October 16), I don’t agree with his solutions.

Green lobbying of the EU to reduce CO2 levels was principally responsible for the Volkswagen et al diesel car scandal. Manufacturers, unable to comply with EU regulations, decided instead to cheat.

The consequence was a massive switch from petrol to diesel, with 50 per cent of cars in Europe now using diesel.

Thus, in order to reduce levels of CO2, a harmless trace gas essential to life and proven over the last 19 years to have no measurable effect on the climate, diesel-powered cars pour out unhealthy nitrogen oxides into our towns.

The last thing we need now is more lobby-inspired government meddling through grants, subsidies, taxation and laws to interfere in our energy supply.

What is the point of electric cars when not only do we not have enough electricity for cars but are warned to expect power outages this winter due to low generating capacity, itself a direct consequence of the Climate Change Act.

Not to mention, for the same reason, the disappearance of our steel industry.

Mr Hawkins promotes hydrogen but hydrogen is almost all produced from natural gas, with CO2, a gas that he does not like, as a by-product.

Even hydrogen is hampered by government interference, again at the behest of the green lobby, which has delayed exploitation of shale gas by at least three years, even though it has been proven safe for more than 60.

The electrolysis method of producing hydrogen gas using water appears clean but, oh yes, it requires electricity.

There is nothing wrong with essential and/or new innovative industries being given tax breaks. In time they will either succeed or fail on their own merits.

What is wrong are grants and subsidies given from the public purse and/or taken from viable, but unfashionable, rival industries and the public’s utility bills. For example, coal-fired power stations were shut down early by carbon taxes in order to subsidise expensive electricity from useless windmills, northern hemisphere solar panels and bio-fuels.

Our only hope for Henley in the short term is for diesel cars to be cleaned up and/or petrol cars to be phased back in.

— Yours faithfully,

M Reid


Right place for housing

Sir, — The residents of Shiplake and Harpsden have reacted to the proposed 110 houses at Thames Farm like all good Nimbys: they don’t want them.

However, we have a problem. For years we’ve had what amount to open borders, millions of extra people pouring in, all needing roofs over their heads.

Henley has been saddled with finding room for a proportion of these and there’s not much we can do about it. We just have to decide on the least bad option.

You describe the plans as being on “farmland” whereas the solicitor for Claire Engbers says it is “ideal for housing as it is not green belt”.

I suspect that most disinterested people driving past would agree with Mrs Engbers.

There will, of course, be problems of access, which governments habitually ignore, but Thames Farm, lying as it does on Reading Road, is far better placed than most of the other suggestions — imagine the chaos in Gillotts Lane if Highlands Farm is developed.

I suggest we support the Engbers application.

â?? Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road,


Dangerous development

Sir, — Having read the article regarding Keith Darvill’s comments on the proposed development by T A Fisher at the junction of Stoke Row Road and the B481 Gravel Hill in Peppard (Standard, October 9), I should like to comment.

His comments appear to be about short-term inconvenience rather than the longer term effect of the finished development on the infrastructure.

There was also an error in the article stating that the current approved outline access to the houses is via Peppard Hill whereas in fact it is already in Stoke Row Road.

The crossroads with Stoke Row Road, Blounts Court Road and the B481 is very busy at most times of the day with many vehicles exceeding the 30mph speed limit.

Any vehicle exiting from the two semi-detached bungalows currently under construction at the top of Gravel Hill will have to come well out on to the B481 to get a clear sight of traffic ascending the hill from the Caversham direction.

To add another exit adjacent to this is just willing for a major traffic incident to happen and allowing it would be, in my opinion, extremely foolhardy.

— Yours faithfully,

Colin Garnham

Rotherfield Peppard

I don’t want ‘tat’ back

Sir, — Two weeks ago you published my photograph of Station Park, Henley — an uncluttered oasis — which was vastly improved when the copulating frogs statue and that tatty floral engine were removed.

Now I see former mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin wants the floral engine reinstalled because it “lifts the area” (Standard, October 16).

She does not live anywhere near Station Road and those of us that do live here most assuredly do not require her tatty engine to give us a “lift”. It’s new park benches that are needed, not tatty “floral engines”.

However, I have no doubt her engine would look fabulous among the plastic garden gnomes of Mrs Hodgkins’s Nicholas Road neighbourhood.

The former mayor needs reminding that we live in Henley-on-Thames, not Henley-on-Disney.

— Yours faithfully,

Steve Ludlow

Station Road, Henley

Unwelcome distraction

Sir, — My wife and I visited the Regal cinema in Henley, recently to see a wonderful production of Giselle, filmed live from the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

On arrival we were handed a leaflet advertising a “New Screen arts picnic box... to enjoy in the screen at opera and theatre events for £4.50.” The box included filled rolls, crisps and grapes.

When I pointed out to the manager how distracting it would be to hear the unwrapping of packaging and the munching of crisps etc, not to mention seeing the movement of someone eating from a box, he replied that some people already took their own sandwiches into the performances.

Over the last two years we have seen most of the ballet and opera presentations and only once have we been distracted by someone nearby eating.

It is sad that the current management appears to have no understanding whatsoever of the special atmosphere at the Regal during its ballet and opera presentations: the audience is almost without exception a sophisticated one.

In order to make a little extra profit, the Regal is prepared to encourage crass behaviour by the very few that would mar the pleasure of the many.

— Yours faithfully,

Douglas Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

A spokeswoman for the Regal Cinema responds: “As some of our Screen Arts events are very long with up to two intervals, we have introduced, in response to customer feedback, a snack box available for collection in the café to enjoy at the interval.”

Callous to cut tax credits

Sir, — Does this Government want to punish the poor and take away incentives with its clampdown on tax credits? That’s how it seems.

Maybe the people in power have no idea how it feels to struggle to pay rent and bills. The Government has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society but it shows a callous disregard.

People will suffer and the need for food banks will increase.

— Yours faithfully,

Susan Roberts

St Anne’s Road,


Hawks need to show guts

Sir, — I went to the Henley Hawks’ match on Saturday expecting rugby entertainment but now am thoroughly confused.

In the first half I might as well have stayed at the Triangle watching Henley Town FC. After all, the Red Kites often score more than three.

Plus, the entry fee with a programme is £5, not £15 without a programme. In other words, spare change, even with food and drinks.

Then, after about five minutes of the second half, I realised a rugby score was on the cards.

But, lo and behold, what did we get? A veritable cricket score!

I emailed confuseddotcom who suggested changing the name of the ground from Dry Leas to Wet Leas and and then tightening the defence by appointing Conservative town councillor Sam Evans’s solid and reliable dog Humphrey as full-back.

If not, new round ball converts will return to the Triangle, hot foot. At least there they display guts!

— Yours faithfully,

David Silvester

Luker Avenue, Henley

Dad’s days on rugby field

Sir, — My cousin kindly sent me a cutting from the Henley Standard dated September 25 with the picture of the Henley Grammar School’s rugby 1st XV in 1939.

My father, Geoff Dolphin, was in the front row.

He went on to study physics at Reading University and to fight with the RAF in Burma. He worked at Harwell in the latter part of his career and lived in Abingdon. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1979.

Henry Wagner in the back row was a long-standing friend of the family and was still in touch with my mother until she died seven years ago.

Thanks to Tim Corbishley for sending in the photo.

— Yours faithfully,

Philippa Dolphin


Little lady who mattered

Sir, — When visiting Henley two weeks ago, I was intrigued to see that Uri Geller had put up a sculpture in memory of himself.

Having spent my early years in the town, I should like to put up a sculpture to my aunt Jean whom some senior citizens may remember as a stalwart of Phyllis Court Club and the Peppard Reading Circle.

I expect Mr Geller’s representatives will say she was just a “little person” (she was in fact 5ft 5in), so unworthy of a monument.

But at least she didn’t go around bending people’s cutlery.

— Yours faithfully,

Henry Mackerell

Well done to hairdressers

Sir, — I wish to commend the Marc Antoni team on their successful bike ride from London to Paris that took place from September 17 to 20 (Standard, September 25).

Bruno, his three brothers and four of the company’s managers made this epic ride to raise money for the Bloodwise charity. They raised more than £21,700, which I think is an amazing amount of money that is going to an extraordinary charity.

Well done to the Marc Antoni team.

— Yours faithfully,

Patricia Havenga


Mindless sign vandals

Sir, — I would like to address the mindless idiots who threw a sign, which informs the public of future road restrictions and temporary traffic lights, over the fence into our gardens:

“You should not be roaming these streets on your own, you need help!”

— Yours faithfully,

Bernd Altenburg

Reading Road, Henley

Eminent physician

Sir, — In your article about the Sue Ryder art competition winners (Standard, October 9), I think you misreported the name of the patient’s choice award.

The name of the eminent physician from Sonning is Ramesh Naik, not Naik Remesh.

— Yours faithfully,

Judith MacBeth

Highdown Avenue, Emmer Green

Height of laziness

Sir, — I took this photograph near Remenham barns.

Polite words fail me.

— Yours faithfully,

Robert Warner

Ramsbury, Wiltshire

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