Sir, — There seem to be two problems which frequently occupy many column inches of your fascinating letters page.
1) The closure of LA Fitness. I was not a user of this obviously well used/well liked facility in the town and probably should have been! Obviously many of your readers are very sad to have been deprived of this facility.In your letters page there is frequent mention of a very large floor in the new Townlands Hospital building which is to be left vacant.
The reason for this profligate waste of taxpayers’ money is shrouded in mystery and I have lost patience with the explanations/excuses of various committees, councils and experts, none of whom shoulders any responsibility for this massive overspend.
Could I suggest that this vacant floor in a centrally situated building in the town be made available as a public health facility with a gym, changing rooms and whatever else is required?
2) Parking in loading bays. This must be a real problem for the knights of the road who keep our shops/chemists etc fully supplied with the goods we all need. It cannot be easy for them when the bays designated for deliveries of these supplies are occupied by the cars of local people who are too lazy or important to either walk or use the ample supply of car parking provided at very small cost in the town centre.
Sir, — I agree with Barry Wood and Ken Arlett concerning the parlous situation regarding Townlands Hospital (Standard, November 27).In particular I agree with Mr Wood’s criticism of some of the actions of the Townlands Steering Group.
Councillor Ian Reissmann and his committee are an honourable group of people and have been fantastic over the years and totally committed to the principle of a new hospital.However, I agree with Mr Wood and feel that over the months and years they have rolled over to get the hospital at any cost, irrespective of what is actually needed.
Councillor Reissmann, or whoever is going to be allowed to represent the people of Henley, needs to step up to the plate and get the questions outlined by Mr Woods answered immediately as it seems our wishes have been totally disregarded. The hospital is fact now and not a distant dream but I am still not convinced that we will ever see any beds provided in the new nursing home to replace those on Peppard ward.We will all know who to blame when the services promised do not come to fruition but I can guarantee that those who have dealt these crushing blows will not be in office when the day of reckoning comes and it all falls apart. Finally, as to Mr Arlett’s letter concerning our illustrious MP and his help in fighting for his constituents on this matter, what did he expect? — Yours faithfully,
21st century healthcare
Sir — The letters page of your paper last week was dripping with the negativity we have come to expect from some of your correspondents.
Leaving aside Ken Arlett’s personal attack on me, he was as usual talking through his backside. What he would like us all to believe is that the future of Townlands Hospital has been a party political decision dictated by the Secretary of State for Health and that Henley has been hard done to by this action. This is complete and utter nonsense.
Townlands has been driven by clinical evidence and the opinion of clinicians. Seventy per cent of people would prefer to die at home, yet almost 60 per cent currently die in hospital. This has to change, as it has in the Netherlands, for example.
We now have a new building and a new hospital and it is one that I personally intervened with ministers to make sure it happened.We also have a new model of healthcare which makes new and different provision for meeting healthcare needs.
In this context, I have helped with health facilities across the constituency, negotiating with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to keep up to 14 beds in Henley associated with this hospital and to ensure that they have excellent medical cover. I would happily do so again in delivering a 21st century hospital, not just for Henley but for a large part of southern Oxfordshire.The rantings of the usual suspects who write to your paper will not change that. — Yours faithfully,
John Howell MP
House of Commons
What’s point of bombing?
Sir, — With his well-publicised opinions on bombing, firstly, the Syrian government in 2013 and latterly his subsequent reversal to bomb the UK/US created and backed al-Qaeda “rebels” (now renamed Daesh/ISIL) in 2014, may I respectfully ask John Howell MP why is his ethical and moral stance on how bombing innocent civilians in yet another sovereign country we have not been invited into (which is of itself a war crime under the Nuremberg standard) preferable to the following more realistic options:
1) Securing the Turkish border;
2) Stopping the Gulf states selling weapons to Daesh/ISIL;
3) Reducing the ability of Daesh/ISIL to sell oil or gain funds? — Yours faithfully,
Beware of threat to us
Sir, — After the Paris terror attacks, you can bet your life that somewhere in Britain there will be devious people planning a similar attack somewhere in our country.
I hope I am wrong but please be aware. — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — I write to express my concern about drivers who overtake on Fair Mile in Henley by driving through the solid white markings that demarcate the two oncoming lanes of traffic.
I narrowly avoided becoming a victim of an accident on Thursday last week and feel sufficiently shaken by it to write and raise awareness of the potential risks.
I was driving out of Henley at 4pm in dark and wet weather. I noticed that drivers in both directions were overtaking by using the central area that is clearly marked with solid white lines, indicating that traffic must not cross it.
I myself was concerned with finding the driveway on the right hand side that indicates the entrance to a children’s nursery and the Cat’s Whiskers cattery.
As I indicated and slowed down prior to entering the exit point among the white lines, I noticed ahead of me an oncoming car heading towards the same spot.
I was forced to slow down and remain in my lane until that car returned to its own lane.
During this time I was only too aware of the van driving close behind me; somehow the driver managed to narrowly avoid me as he passed by on my left.
I then found myself awkwardly placed in-between two lanes of traffic, effectively in the “overtaking lane”. A split second of hesitation or misjudgment would have resulted in a nasty accident.My hope is to highlight these risks and discourage drivers from overtaking across the white lines.
I suggest a low-cost solution could be placing pretty hedging or floral displays between the two lanes. This would certainly enhance the approach to the town and complement the Henley in Bloom theme beautifully. — Yours faithfully,
Sir, — You may be unaware that despite a number of objectors, including Streatley Parish Council, planning permission has been granted to dramatically extend The Granary, which is by the riverside on the left as you go over the river bridge from Goring into Streatley.
Before work has started to take this permission forward, a new application has been made to demolish The Granary and build a much larger new property on the site.
This would have a major impact on the view of the Streatley riverside enjoyed by not only the many local residents who make multiple journeys over the river on a daily basis, but also the many people who visit our beautiful villages.
The building is specifically mentioned in the Streatley village design statement as being at the boundary of zone 1 and visible from the towpath along the River Thames (a national trail as well as a public footpath) and is an integral part of the entry to the village, attracting tourists as well as being aesthetically pleasing for residents.
The villages successfully fought the proposed development of the riverside in Streatley some years ago and it is important that we ensure that piecemeal developments such as this do not change the look of our riverside forever.
The Streatley Conservation Area Appraisal specifically refers to this building in paragraph 8.3 thus: “Another building of historic interest is the one-and-a-half storey building known as The Granary at Mill House, which may date from the 18th century and is important as a rare survival of a riverside industrial building at Streatley.“
Its close proximity to the site of Streatley Mill suggests that it originally functioned as a warehouse or store for the mill.“
The store is a timber-framed building with brick plinth and panels. The half-hipped roof is clad using plain clay tiles but may originally have been thatched. The building provides a visual reminder of Streatley’s commercial relationship with the river and makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the riverside zone of the conservation area, despite its unsympathetic fenestration.” The West Berkshire principal conservation and design officer made this comment prior to the previous application being granted: “
The proposed alterations to the existing building, particularly to its east elevation — the most visible from public viewpoints — will completely swamp this elevation, with little or no evidence of half-timbering remaining visible to public view.“Accordingly, the proposals are considered not to meet the recognised test of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of the building or the conservation area in which it is situated (and views into it).“An alternative approach with much less intervention into the important east elevation is therefore called for from a building conservation point of view.” We wish to share our concerns at the complete demolition of this one-and-a-half storey 18th century property — the last remnant of Streatley Mill to be replaced with a modern two-storey timber-framed, “vernacular style” homage to what is currently there.
Wood Cottage, which morphed into the property on Streatley Hill, visible from miles around, was subject to a series of planning applications which slipped under the radar until it was too late. This application will not be as visible from so far an area but will be much more visible in a key part of the village.
The planning application reference is 15/03055/FUL and the closing date for objections is December 7, so if you wish to make your opinions known prior to the application being decided by the planning department of West Berkshire Council, you need to write in now. — Yours faithfully,
Example of ‘doublethink’
Sir, — I write in protest against Digital Cinema Media’s ban on the Lord’s Prayer, which is unlawful, discriminatory and racist. From the perspective of modern history, I see this ban, like the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, to be a consequence of following the diktats of the post-Communist EU and of “political correctness”, as anticipated by George Orwell in his concept of “doublethink”. Although late, it would seem that his “1984” has finally arrived.
As a member of the Polish and Catholic community, I am shocked by this ban.
As a British subject, I can only ask whether we live in the United Kingdom or the Kingdom of Moronia? — Yours faithfully,
Fawley Court Old Boys Association
Don’t support binge eating
Sir, — In a country which has a major problem with obesity and eating disorders is it right to give virtually a whole page to glamorising what can only be described as “binge eating” (Standard, November 27)? Would you give the same space to a competition called “Man v smoking” i.e. to see how many cigarettes one could smoke in a short space of time? I think you would probably see that as a health risk — just as is eating large quantities of high cholesterol food.Had one of those participating dropped dead with a heart attack from an overdose of fat I don’t think it would have been seen to be such an achievement and I am surprised at Graham Bell taking part when, as a former skier, he would have taken eating for health very seriously.
As it was, his stomach told him it had had enough! He felt ill afterwards and had trouble sleeping. Madness! — Yours faithfully,
Good to have Mo back
Sir, — Thomas Ford’s letter last week reminded me of the cantankerous Victor Meldrew railing against everyone and everything in the sitcom One Foot In The Grave.Mr Ford is obviously new to Henley because Mo’s kebab van has been in Greys Road as far back as 1990.
It was an institution where young and old could get a snack late at night, after restaurants had closed, and considerably cheaper too.
It was also established years before the Istanbul kebab shop and its chicken shop next door. To suggest that one kebab venue is enough is ridiculous. At the last count there were at least seven takeaway pizza outlets.Unfortunately, Mo had to return to Iran following a family bereavement in 2005.
He returned to Henley in 2009 to find that his monthly direct debit for renting this site had been cancelled by South Oxfordshire District Council and his van, which had been parked near his home, had been taken away because the licence was out of date and then crushed! With regard to car parking, everyone knows that this is one of, if not the greatest, problems Henley faces. It is a reflection of how successful the entertainment side of Henley is at night.
Until such time as money becomes available to build a double-decker car park we will have to put up with it.
You can always use the Goodall Close long-term car park, just the other side of Greys Road, or the station car park, though both might require you to exercise your legs more to cover the extra couple of hundred yards.After countless refusals to renew his licence by the district council earlier this year, at a recent Henley Town Council town and community committee meeting it was unanimously agreed that Mo had been most unfairly treated and their approval was sent back to the district council. It has taken him years to get his livelihood back.Every evening since he started again people have come up to congratulate him on his return. I suggest you try one of his kebabs, if you know what it is, or burgers, hot dogs etc — quite delicious! Good on you, Mo. I hope you can build up the business again without too many old grouches like Victor Meldrew complaining. — Yours Â faithfully,
Celebrating GB victory
Sir, — I am thanking Almighty God, with all my heart, for granting Great Britain victory in the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936.All credit to Judy Murray and her (sadly) estranged husband for producing a Wimbledon singles champion and a Wimbledon doubles champion to do the job.
Thanks, too, to the All England Club, the Lawn Tennis Association and British Tennis for their part in the process.And to the Professional Tennis Coaches Association of Great Britain, who have stuck to the often thankless, and often strongly opposed, task of producing everything from grassroots club players, to world class Davis Cup players against every possible discouragement over 79 long years of often unaccountable losses and humiliation.
It only goes to show three things:
1 The truth of the adage “If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again”.
2. The truth of another less polite adage: “Don’t let the b*****s get you down”.
3. The truth of the SAS motto “He who dares wins”. — Yours faithfully,
Former LTA/SRA professional coach,
Memories of my ‘home’
Sir, — Looking on the Henley past and present Facebook page, it takes me back home to the town I loved growing up in. I am reminded of how wonderful things used to be in the post-war era of my childhood in the Fifties and Sixties.
Many children brought up in this period lived in the council houses of the town, on estates like Gainsborough and Abrahams with their working class parents, many of whom had returned from war to build a new life for themselves.These included people from Poland and the Commonwealth who had fought together against Hitler’s Germany and who became our friends and neighbours.
Everybody worked together to rebuild the country and their lives. They supported and cared for each other and made the most of their community without the availability of widespread wealth.The local environment was the playground for so many of us growing up during this period. We didn’t have electronic games and computers or even a TV.
I spent hours away from home with other local children playing in Freeman’s Field, roller skating on the smooth freshly surfaced roads of Luker Avenue and the like.We would venture up to the wooded area known to us as The Mount where we would explore or play hide and seek in the box wood.As many of us grew, we became drawn towards the river which offered a new and exciting playground. We swam, fished, boated and explored the many miles of towpaths and adjacent fields that the valley provided.
The “Prom” had a bowling green, a putting green and tennis courts where I played with one of my school pals.At regatta time the town came alive with the excitement, flags flying and the crews in their boaters. The variously coloured blazers brought a new vibrancy to our town and we were all immersed in it.
Access to all areas other than the royal enclosure was free and I remember the thrill of being able to see all the beautiful racing boats racked in the tents below Leander Club on my way to the fairground at the far end of the field.
Here we shared all the fun of the fair with all classes of people and when the roar went up that a race was nearing we would all run unrestricted to the riverbank to cheer on the rowers. Henley Regatta was for everyone.The regatta appears to have become a social event rather than a sporting occasion where the riverside is adorned with corporate villages along the length of the race course and onlookers are there more to be “seen” than to see.
It is with great sadness that I see so many comments talking about the Henley of today being for the wealthy and of some feeling excluded.
I see very few faces and names of my childhood that appear to live in Henley any longer. We are spread across the globe.
I could not afford to return to the town after my time in the Royal Navy as the cost of housing had gone through the roof but, like many others who loved this home town of their childhood, we still harbour a passion for the place of our roots and enjoy sharing it online with those people lucky enough to still live there. The pictures and comments bring us home. Thank you, all. — Yours faithfully,
Ian Phillips Stoford,
Searching for relatives
Sir, — I am writing to kindly ask your assistance with a project I am working on.
I am writing the operational history of the Boulton Paul Defiant, a two-seater turret armed fighter which was used in frontline service between 1939 and 1942.
Part of the manuscript includes a roll of honour to those lost flying the type and I am attempting to locate as many images as possible of those lost airmen. One I am looking for is Flying Officer Derek Keppel Coleridge O’Malley, of 264 Squadron, who was killed on September 4, 1940.
His parents were Barret and Lorna, his widow was Rachel Mary and the family hailed from Henley. I would be most grateful if any of your readers could help me to make contact with any surviving family members, or anyone who may be able to supply me with photographs of O’Malley.
If so, could they please get in touch? I can be contacted at the address below or by email at defiant1940@virginmedia.Â com — Yours faithfully,
71 Staverton Road,
Successful Poppy Appeal
Sir, — We are most grateful for the coverage you gave to events over the Remembrance period.
Once again the people of Henley and area have been exceptionally generous in their support of the Poppy Appeal. Our collection total from all sources amounted to more than £25,000. This money will make a real difference to the lives of members of the armed forces, veterans and their families through a wide range of practical help, for example, giving advice to a young widow or providing dementia care for a veteran. The appeal was launched by the Mayor Lorraine Hillier with Sam Brown and her fabulous ukulele players who gave a hugely enjoyable concert in Market Place, a community event which typifies the Henley spirit.
We are indebted to Connie Butt for organising another highly successful dance in the town hall, to the Sound Force Big Band and their excellent music and to all who donated raffle prizes. This event raised £5,000.
One of the most encouraging aspects of this year’s appeal was the involvement of young people. We wish to thank all the local schools for their enthusiastic involvement. Our special “Kids’ Packs” in the primary schools proved popular and made a significant contribution to the appeal. We were privileged to be involved in the event at Makins recreation ground on Armistice Day when local schools assembled a giant poppy which was photographed from the air by a drone.
It was heartening to see so many cadets, scouts, guides and brownies participate in the Remembrance Sunday service and parade after which a junior member of the each of the sea, army and air force cadets was presented with a framed certificate of formal affiliation to our branch of the Royal British Legion by the Mayor. We look forward to closer ties in the future. Our next event is the Living Advent Calender at Leander Club tomorrow (Saturday) at 5.30pm. Do come and join us. — Yours faithfully,
John Green Chairman Henley and Peppard branch,
Royal British Legion.
I remember wood obelisk
Sir, — With reference to your Hidden Henley item about the obelisk in Mill Meadows (Standard, November 27), I lived in Henley in the Seventies and Eighties and there was a wooden obelisk moved around the town to find the best place to locate it.
If my memory is correct, it was made by students at the Henley Technical College. — Yours faithfully,
Happy to see old Squires
Sir, — I attended the Squire car presentation at Phyllis Court Club in Henley (Standard, November 27).I was the official guest of author/historian Jonathan Wood and, I believe, the only American in attendance.
I had been in contact with Mr Wood since the early Nineties and was his stateside research assistant on his massive book on the car. My article is in the book under the Squire Corsica chapter. — Yours faithfully,
Mark E Blunck
Sir, — I took this photo of Bisto our Labradoodle on the Ridgeway — posing as usual! —Yours faithfully,