Friday, 23 July 2021

Your letters

Please will the police ticket this car?

Sir, — This car was illegally parked in Ancastle Green, Henley, for a week without receiving one parking ticket.

The owner’s lack of consideration made it awkward for people to get in and out of their gates and garage.

The question I ask is do any parking enforcement officers ever visit our street or do they have to be requested to do so?

I really cannot believe that the request for proper traffic wardens is always refused due to the cost. There is about £200 a day to be made in fines on this street alone.

Until some proper parking enforcement is introduced the yellow lines painted on the road sides in this town are a waste of taxpayers’ money. — Yours faithfully,

John Wakeford

Ancastle Green, Henley

Immediate questions

Sir, — I felt deep unease last week after Councillor Ian Reissmann’s attempt to pour oil on troubled waters (Standard, November 20). I buy into the fact that but for his and the Townlands Steering Group’s efforts “we could have ended up with a much worse result than we now have”. What I do not buy into is his statement that we have the next few months in which to grapple with the question of how the steering group tackles the issue of monitoring and scrutinising the provision and commissioning of healthcare in and around Henley. Time is now of the essence. The fact is, Ian, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has no intention of allowing you to do any such thing. They have already shown their intentions to sideline the group by allowing only one representative out of a group of nine to be on a proposed committee considering the new rapid access care unit. This person will be the only person from Henley. The overview of the implementation and running of the ambulatory care system is simply not on the commissioning group’s agenda. They prefer to set the agenda, keep us in the dark, smudge over the problems and, above all, only tell us about the non-contentious aspects of healthcare. Therefore I suggest for the immediate present Ian and the steering group warm up with some direct questioning of the commissioning group now, with urgency, on the relevant points below and then communicate answers before Christmas to Henley and local parish residents. Questions such as:When will the hospital be open for receiving patients? How long will Henley be without any hospital facilities during the transition period for departments and what are the alternative arrangements for physiotherapy, accident and emergency and consultants? What are the car parking arrangements for the hospital and what is their impact on the town? What happened to the War Memorial Garden and the artwork? What date shall we see operational healthcare beds in the care home? What was the distribution and location of patients at the closure of Peppard ward? How many patients who were sent home have been re-admitted to hospital? Which hospitals are currently being used for overflow patients? What happened to the relative travel compensation scheme? Who is monitoring the present situation? What will the distribution of staff between hospitals, ambulatory home care, the rapid access care unit and other occupations be after closure of the site? What is the proposed situation on staff in the care home? What procedures are in place to inform residents of the town about the progress with the hospital and care home? Are all contracts signed and in place for Townlands Hospital and the care home? What proof is there of long-term sustainability for both buildings and services? Should the answers to these questions be forthcoming it will show the steering group is still essential as a positive force for healthcare in our community. Should these questions not be answered, it will show the political blows of a year ago were terminal and that the steering group should indeed be put out of its misery. From here on, Ian, probably a little less soothing diplomacy and a little more street fighting of the type that won us the early battles to keep Townlands Hospital would be the order of the day. Why not take a lead from that direct-speaking Scottish comedian Billy Connolly: “We want the truth and we want it now!” — Yours  faithfully,

Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road,


Pots and kettles...

Sir, — Almost exactly on the first anniversary of his abrupt and much regretted (by me) defection from Henley Residents’ Group, Dieter Hinke criticises me for “playing politics” (Standard, November 20).

Defecting without discussion or notice six months before an election certainly is playing politics but criticising the MP for doing a rotten job is not. Unlike Dieter and the many other selfless people who serve the community, John Howell actually gets paid to represent Henley’s interests. Think what could have been achieved if only he had been open and transparent over Townlands; if only he had called meetings to persuade us of the rightness of his views; if only he had worked alongside the Townlands Steering Group instead of behind their backs. On Dieter’s other point about me not being a resident (for those who don’t venture out much, I live just inside Buckinghamshire, about two miles (for crows) from Henley town hall), Henley is a market town, an integral part of the community around it. Marlow is not half as good as Henley for shops and doctors and dentists and theatres and the Regal (saved by HRG), a naughty mayor and Russell Brand and all the other lovely people who live in and around the town. And, believe me, the Henley Standard is way, way better than Marlow’s Bucks Free Press. Oh, and by the way, if I may be permitted a grouch, your readers may not be surprised to hear that “they” had to send an ambulance more than 40 miles from Aylesbury to collect my elderly neighbour from the Royal Berkshire Hospital and deliver her to her home just 100 yards over the border from Berkshire because... but don’t get me going. People don’t live in counties, they live in communities. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher

Mill End,


Blame Tories over hospital

Sir, — In response to letters from Dieter Hinke, a former Henley Residents’ Group councillor and now chairman of Henley Conservatives, and Conservative South Oxfordshire district councillor William Hall, who referred to “political posturing” and “playing politics” against John Howell MP (Standard November 20), I would beg to differ. Between 2002 and 2009 our then Conservative MP Boris Johnson was a magnificent supporter of the Townlands Steering Group, never being afraid to put his head above the parapet and help lead from the front for a new Townlands with an 18-bed ward. I can remember Boris helping to present a petition to 10 Downing Street from the people of Henley and surrounding parishes.What we have now is an MP who will only follow Tory policy and hence this has led to no beds in the new hospital, the main reason being insufficient funding rather than what is best for patients.We have a Tory government making policy and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group implementing that policy, all to the detriment of the residents of this area. No, Mr Hinke and Councillor Hall, this is not political posturing or playing politics, but a matter of fact. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Elizabeth Road,


Travelling for treatment

Sir, — I have just received, by email, a consultation document from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which earnestly solicits responses from “stakeholders”. On Saturday, I spoke to a neighbour whose grandson had been sent from Townlands casualty to Stoke Mandeville (Buckinghamshire), while he himself had been offered an appointment in Thatcham (Berkshire). I do wonder how that fits into the “closer to home” model. — Yours faithfully,

Patricia Mulcahy

Milton Close,


Disturbingly ignorant PM

Sir, — The recently leaked exchange of letters between the MP for Witney and the leader of Oxfordshire County Council displayed the said MP’s abysmal lack of understanding of the county council, its works and obligations and, most importantly, the financial constraints imposed upon it by government. If the MP in question were mere “lobby fodder” one might not have been too surprised at his ignorance. The fact that he has a day job, as First Lord of the Treasury, in which he is ultimately responsible for our nation’s finances, casts a worrying light on his ignorance and one can only wonder about how easily he is bamboozled in other spheres.

He has blithely accepted the desperately flawed “business case” for spending what will turn out to be up to  £100million to build HS2 and seems not to have questioned the value of the billions being poured out by the Department for International Development as overseas aid. Neither does he seem to understand the risks to our island nation of not having even one aircraft carrier for at least a decade. Could he in any way comprehend the emasculation of our armed forces by cuts plus the pretence of being able to recruit thousands of reservists and at the same time outsourcing services recruitment under a failing contract?

How will he respond to the likely failure of our electricity grid in the winter due to the folly of the 2008 Climate Change Act — by buying up yet more “farms” of diesel generators to provide “back-up” at a massively increased cost and with huge air pollution?

I am sure that your readers can supply an infinity of other questions.We used to talk of the blind leading the blind but here we seem to have an example of the blind leading the partially sighted. Other than his two immediate predecessors and, perhaps, Edward Heath one cannot recall a Prime Minister, for that is who he is, of any stripe since 1940 who would have countenanced such failure to understand the importance of getting the basics right for the nation as a whole.

If he had ever held down a real job he might be better informed about the world at large. — Yours faithfully,

Philip Collings

Peppard Common

Let’s stay in our bubble

Sir, — When I returned home to Henley on Wednesday night last week I went to Greys Road car park to leave my car, as I do every evening, and, as usual, struggled to find a space. Often the car park is very busy if there is a event at the town hall.So why, oh why, was there a kebab van parked across three bays? Really, whose idea was it? I honestly can’t think of a worse place to put a kebab van.Now the precious few spaces residents and visitors have is even fewer. Not to mention the van was blocking access to the car park, so motorists were having to pull through spaces, putting pedestrians in danger. Only a mere 30 second stroll away is Istanbul kebabs, which provides enough mess and litter for the good council people to deal with.Not to mention the noise of drunks and puddles of vomit that often litter the surrounding pavements on a Saturday or Sunday morning. And are we comfortable having our cars parked nearby with all the pleasantries that a kebab van will attract? I would be interested to hear other people’s opinions. My partner and I moved into Henley town for many reasons.

I really feel that kebab vans are not in keeping with the special magic we have here. Yes, Henley is a bubble and isn’t it great? Let’s do what we can to keep it that way. — Yours faithfully, Thomas Ford Duke Street, Henley Thoughtless parkingSir, — The problem of cars parked in Mount View, Henley, has existed for years but it has now escalated and I fear could go on indefinitely.Our bins have not been emptied for weeks due to the cars parked on both sides of the road and on the corner so the refuse lorry cannot get round to half of the street.

The pavement is taken up with green bins as residents leave them there in the hope they will get emptied one day!I would say 90 per cent of the cars belong to workers in the town as you can tell their place of work from their uniforms, e.g. Waitrose, Sainsbury’s etc.

There are a lot of elderly residents in Mount View and at times I have seen ambulances struggling to get to where they need to be.

No one wants to take responsibility for sorting out this problem. I called the council who told me to ring Biffa, the refuse company, and they told me to ring the council! I even had a workman from Townlands Hospital park over my drive with a dropped kerb. He came back at lunchtime and started to eat his lunch in his car, so my husband went out and asked him if he was planning on staying there.

He replied, ‘yeah, I was” so my husband said, “do you know what a dropped kerb means? If not, pop down the police station and ask them.”

The parking has got so bad on more than one occasion I have not been able to get into our drive. — Yours faithfully,

Carol Russell

Mount View,


Don’t object in my name

Sir, — After reading the letters about Thames Farm (Standard, November 20), I am unsure how the campaign to prevent housing development there is being funded. If it is being paid for with taxpayers’ money then I, as a local resident and taxpayer, object most strongly and say not in my name.I understand that Thames Farm is not green belt land, an area of outstanding natural beauty or a site of special scientific interest and I consider it very suitable for housing development.As has been stated many times before in the Henley Standard, Thames Farm has good transport links, both road and rail. Lower Shiplake has some great facilities, a shop, post office, butcher and garage. There are three wonderful public houses/restaurants in the vicinity, one within easy walking distance. The Tesco supermarket is close by and do not forget the wonderful town of Henley itself, where businesses are always crying out for more customers, which a housing development would generate.

Primary schooling may be problematic but there are schools in Henley as well as Shiplake.

The issue of road safety on to the A4155 has also been raised but one must remember that the demised garden centre adjacent to the site once generated a considerable amount of traffic on to and off the A4155. Moreover the planning authority could append conditions to any development consent requiring appropriate highway modifications to the A4155 at the developer’s cost. This could also be designed in such a way to have beneficial calming effects on traffic entering Shiplake from Henley, alleviating an ongoing concern.

I do not know Clare Engbers and have no knowledge of her particular “vision” for the development of Thames Farm but if the proposed properties are to be offered within a reasonable price range attainable by the average purchaser, such as those who have grown up in the village and currently have little prospect of setting up home here, then I am in full support of development of the site. Surely we can be a less selfish and more welcoming community so that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity of living here and continue to love and contribute to Shiplake as my generation do?I am particularly concerned as to the limited section of the community the “no” campaigners and their battalions are representing and apparently doing so with the aid of my taxes. I was born in the village and feel on this issue of housing shortage I must stand up and be counted. — Yours  faithfully,

Diane Simms

Shiplake Cross

Homes to let people stay

Sir, — I went to school in Shiplake and Henley and use the Reading Road every week but I live in Emmer Green, so have no personal axe to grind on planning issues.

The Thames Farm site is a dilapidated eyesore and becoming worse all the time.Here’s a radical suggestion — build on the land but nothing larger than three bedrooms and all “affordable”. That is what is needed for local people who would like to stay in the area. — Yours faithfully,

Melanie White

Emmer Green

This system is a farce

Sir, — Could someone please explain to me why, when submitting a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council, it can be opposed by all the neighbours, by the parish council and the district council, but the objections can be ignored by the Planning Inspectorate and an appeal granted? It makes a complete farce of the planning system — and, I suspect, is very costly for the district council. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs J I MacGregor

Tokers Green

If one hole causes chaos..

Sir, — I note that an application to redevelop Thames Bridge House has been made to Wokingham Borough Council (Standard, November 20).

Last week a hole was dug between this property and the headquarters of Henley Royal Regatta, causing a second set of traffic lights to be installed on the bridge and utter chaos for traffic in the centre of the town.

If one hole caused so much chaos, what is envisaged if permission is granted for such a development? — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road,


Community at heart

Sir, — I am writing in response to the article regarding Peter Richardson (Standard, November 20).

Peter has worked tirelessly to improve the amenity of Howe Hill and to address anomalies which Watlington Parish Council has either failed to recognise or chosen to ignore. Unfounded implications from members of the council, past or present, that Peter’s motivation was for personal gain are inaccurate, unprofessional and unbecoming of anyone in public office. Until Peter’s intervention, Howe Hill was not recognised as a designated settlement, which made deliveries and visits by those unfamiliar with the area very difficult.The road which passes through our community was subject to the national speed limit despite dangerous sections on which accidents have occurred, including a steep hill with adverse cambers and narrow, winding bends at the lower end. Thanks to Peter, we now have signs to indicate the location of Howe Hill and a 40mph speed limit, although ideally this should be lowered to 30mph.

However, comparable neighbouring communities, such as Greenfield, which has fewer houses and a relatively straight and flat road, have long had both signage to indicate where they are and 30mph speed limits in place. Where is the logic in that? Peter continues to work hard on our behalf and is close to securing superfast broadband for communities in the area which currently have broadband speeds of 1.5 Mbps and no prospect of being included in government broadband initiatives.

It is unconscionable to suggest that such a community-spirited individual’s motivation should be for personal gain. I urge Watlington Parish Council to issue an unambiguous statement to clarify this fact and to give its support for the work that Peter continues to do. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Edwards

Howe Hill,


I’m seeing things...

Sir, — I think I need to make an appointment to see my doctor.

The problem is that since the announcement that bus services in the Henley area may end I keep seeing things.

Can it be possible that the parts of Henley I walk around have got two new bus shelters? No, of course not, I’m hallucinating.With the cutbacks I read that whatever little money is available must be used for vital services. There’s no way they would waste it on things that may never be used.

What would make me think such a thing? It’s off to the doctor for me. — Yours  faithfully,

Mr I Gurdon

Rotherfield Greys

Campaign or give up?

Sir, — I note that the charity Combat Stress, which helps army veterans with mental health problems, is to have its government funding cut from £2.8million to just £750,000 a year.I am undecided whether mental health campaigners such as myself should step up our campaigning or simply give up. Perhaps your readers might like to advise. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Farmer

Wensley Road,


Fighting meningitis

Sir, — I was saddened to read that a member of staff at The Henley College was taken to hospital with bacterial meningitis (Standard, November 20).

Everyone at Meningitis Now wishes him a speedy and full recovery.

Meningitis Now is fighting back against the disease on all fronts by funding pioneering preventative research, raising awareness and supporting those affected with lifelong help and care.

We distribute a range of awareness materials highlighting the common symptoms and the need to act quickly, which can mean the difference between life and death. We have community support officers in the area, ready to help anyone touched by the disease.

For a free symptoms information pack, including wallet-sized symptoms cards, or support, please call our freephone helpline on 0808 8010388 or visit — Yours faithfully,

Sue Davie

Chief executive, Meningitis Now,


Do you know my saviours?

Sir, — I wonder if any of your readers may be able to help me thank the people who came to my help in Mapledurham recently. I was taken ill while driving home after arranging the flowers for the harvest festival at Mapledurham Church on Friday, October 2. I became disorientated and was found by two cyclists on a Mapledurham Estate bridle path which was blocked by a fallen tree.

One of them used his mobile phone to call my husband, who was out, while the second, who I know was called Dominic, very kindly offered to drive me home in my car to Emmer Green. Try as well as I can, I have been unable to contact either cyclist since.

Dominic told me he lived in Caversham Heights and had a wife named Kate but that is all I can remember. I was so touched by their thoughtfulness, I would really like to say thank-you to both of them in person.

I was subsequently diagnosed with a chest infection and was incapacitated for some time.

I therefore have even more reason to thank my “good Samaritans” whose assistance I do consider went over and above all one could hope for from a stranger.

I would be so grateful if any of your readers could help me trace them. — Yours faithfully,

Elisabeth (Lis) Nealon

Emmer Green

Prank made me chuckle

Sir, — I was interested to read about the “camp site” on the Playhatch roundabout (Standard, November 20) but the prankster had also struck nearer to Sonning.

An uneven surface road sign below the 30mph speed limit sign as you leave the Sonning Eye roundabout and drive towards the small bridge on the Playhatch Road has been altered to resemble a supine woman’s bosom and somebody has mounted a sign beneath it which reads “Wahay!” It makes me chuckle every time I drive past it! — Yours faithfully,

Anita Rathgay

Meet the Freemasons

Sir, — I would like to let readers know that members of Thames Masonic Lodge No 1895, which meets in Henley, will be manning a stall in the Market Place during the Christmas Festival next Friday from 4pm to 9pm. We will welcome anyone who may be interested in knowing more about us and what we do. Ladies may be interested to know that Freemasonry is also available to them.

On the same evening, our Lodge rooms in Reading Road will be open from 6pm to 10pm to welcome those who have perhaps have often wondered what goes on there but have never thought to ask or find out. We wish to dispel the often quite erroneous views about Freemasonry and encourage men living locally to consider joining us. We look forward to meeting you — it’s good to talk! — Yours faithfully,

Jim Hurst

Master, Thames Lodge No 1895,

Province of Oxfordshire,

Norman Avenue,


Icy Noah’s Ark for insects perhaps

Sir, — I went out to feed the birds on Sunday morning and found this ice boat on my bird bath.

I have never seen nature make anything like this before. Is it Noah’s Ark for any insects that may fall in? — Yours faithfully,

Janice Tomlin


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