Sir, — I am most grateful to the kind folk from Henley Round Table who bring this happy show to us every year. — Yours faithfully,
Blandy Road, Henley
Plan open to challenge
Sir, — Now that the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan is out of the hands of the local community, it appears to have become distanced from the much-promised “people’s plan”.
Could South Oxfordshire District Council now tell us precisely what the plan’s current status is, given that we are now required to build 500 new homes rather than the original 400? Why has the council accepted this without question? Its 2011 core strategy specified 400 new homes, plus an extra 50 if suitable sites could be found. The examiner has unilaterally raised the total number to 500, ruling that reserve sites are by definition deliverable and therefore should be developed anyway. Where “up to” a certain number of homes has been specified, this has been changed to “around”, leaving the newly-inflated total further vulnerable to expansion creep.Housing and other working group members have not been consulted for many months or been offered the chance to review revised versions of the plan. Consultation results have been ignored by the consultants Nexus, the plan governance committee, the district council and the examiner.
Does the examiner have the authority to exceed the requirements of the 2011 core strategy document? Surely the latter can only be superseded by a new core strategy.This being the case, what guarantee do we have that sites rejected by the plan will not be developed anyway? Bloor Homes will almost certainly continue to seek planning permission to build on Lucy’s Farm, even though this was one of the rejected sites. Meanwhile, the new owners of the LA Fitness site, which is not in the plan, have made an application for a care home, as has the purchaser of Henley Youth Centre site, which is the plan. Plus the former Jet garage site appears to have changed hands to McCarthy & Stone, a company specialising in developments for retired people. This implies a significant change of use from the original, since the site was initially approved for inclusion in the plan on the basis of the design submitted to the working groups by the previous developer. This then begs the question of how much notice will be taken of the provisions of the plan when planning applications are considered since a principal tenet of the plan was that there had to be a mixture of housing types, not a predominance of care or retirement homes.
Reverting to my opening remarks, wasn’t the main point of neighbourhood planning to empower local communities to determine the location of new housing? This doesn’t ring entirely true in Henley. Final decisions have been made by Nexus and the plan governance committee, rubber-stamped by a newly-elected Henley Town Council sitting for the very first time and now by an examiner with the apparent powers of a Secretary of State. No one wants to delay the referendum but by rights the plan should be put out to consultation again since it has been significantly redacted and the baseline 450 houses increased by 11 per cent with possible implications for the validity of the much-debated and costly traffic study. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that there are legal challenges. While these also risk adding delay, they nonetheless serve to underscore how essential it is that the neighbourhood plan presented to Henley voters is one that they both recognise and support. — Yours faithfully,
Blandy Road, Henley
Young people need homes
Sir, — Can someone please explain to me the meaning of “affordable” housing in Henley?The young people with low-paid jobs, such as shop workers, have not got a hope in hell of ever being able to afford a home here. Why don’t councils build council housing anymore? I know it is a Tory thing that everyone has a right to own their own home but if their wages are not sufficient to cover mortgages and all the other bills that come with having your own home then how on earth will they ever manage?Council houses need to be built — just for rent, not for sale and it is important that these houses are for the youngsters who live and work in the Henley area or perhaps something like Swiss Farm but for the younger community.It’s all very well providing accommodation for the elderly with care homes springing up everywhere but who is going to work in the shops if there is no housing? — Yours faithfully,
Mrs J Hadley
Leaver Road, Henley
Why are we still waiting?
Sir, — Sitting in the public gallery at a meeting of Henley Town Council’s transport strategy group, it was so sad to observe the lack of sensitivity to sensible guidance.The main case in point came when appointing a chairman. The Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire district councillor was nominated and there were several comments about being sensitive to apparent conflicts of interest from the Mayor (she did speak well) and another Conservative councillor. However, the nominated chairman would have none of it. When the discussions moved on to what areas the group may look at his first words were: “I will ask the county council what they advise.” This is from someone who has been sitting on a request from the town council for a traffic regulation order concerning heavy goods vehicles to combat through-traffic for nearly two years. Just as with the promises for the neighbourhood plan of “infrastructure before housing” from our MP, nothing will be done, especially when the examiner excluded some of it, saying it was not necessary.
I have just visited Oakley Wood household recycling centre and just cannot understand why such a good facility will be put to waste.
Last Christmas I said all we wanted was a Santa to bring a transport regulation order but I fear that letter will have to be used again next year with the addition of several other requests.
Best wishes to you all for good health in 2016 — you will need them if you follow diesel vehicles. — YoursÂ faithfully,
St Katherine’s Road, Henley
Incapable ‘after care’
Sir, — The new Townlands Hospital concept of outsourcing care to bedrooms within the community rather presupposes there are medically trained family or neighbours available who are capable of “nursing”. To undertake post-operative monitoring of patients who have undergone surgery requires a bit more than ejecting them into the streets to find their own way home with an instruction to somehow return a week later to have their dressings checked, or, as I was instructed, to go to accident and emergency if there were concerns. This “care in the community” is unacceptable in the extreme and Townlands wishes to expand the concept?I have just retrieved a non-ambulatory, post-operative patient from an open-air hospital car park (fortunately it wasn’t raining) from wheelchair to back of my car, with instructions to keep one leg raised for the journey home. Being alone, it took me 25 minutes to insert the patient on to the back seat of my car without causing further pain or distress, illegally strap the patient in sideways and undertake an hour’s drive in order to reverse the sequence (up steps this time) into the patient’s home. This is the first stage of after care in the community provided by the NHS.
Once “home”, I have a patient in a high level of distress with high blood pressure and pulse rate, the effect of painkillers wearing off and a compendium of tablets to administer as I see fit. Overnight blood pressure and pulse fall off the clock but there is no help other than “hopefully it’ll be all right by morning”. Do I dial 999 or remove patient from bed, re-insert in car and take to accident and emergency? This is the second stage of after care in the community provided by the NHS.
I am now informed that until our local surgery 50 yards away is officially informed (by 2nd class letter?) of the patient’s return home and condition (my own word as a former paramedic and carer is obviously dubious) if I need help I should make an appointment and wheel the patient down the road. Of course this only applies during opening hours and certainly not at night or weekends.In all my 50 years of travelling around our planet I have never ever come across such an uncaring and incapable medical “after care” organisation. At ground level the expertise and care available within our hospitals is second to none and I must applaud them but without good after care this is all wasted, very traumatic and ultimately very dangerous. I wonder how many death certificates state “heart attack” rather than the more truthful “lack of NHS after care”? — Yours faithfully,
Kennylands Road, Sonning Common
In praise of our NHS
Sir, — We all read too much criticism and negative comment about the NHS.It is our NHS, so let’s give praise where it is due.My wife recently fractured her wrist when we were in Scotland. The wrist was examined and set by the NHS in Fort William and they told us to have it re-examined at our local hospital.We have been to the orthopaedic department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading three times since and on each occasion we were seen with minimal delay and friendly efficiency and were full of admiration for the hospital, the staff and the system. On our last visit we were there less than 20 minutes.So let’s stand up and be counted: bravo, our NHS. — Yours faithfully,
Church Street, Henley
Helpful and considerate
Sir, — I was saddened to read your article on Tony Stevens and his battle with cancer (Standard, December 4).
I first met Tony and his colleagues at the Jet Service Station in Henley. He and his staff were always helpful, polite and considerate.
Later I met Tony a couple of times at Dunsden village hall, where he was working as the caretaker. I was recovering from a hip operation, so he found me a very convenient parking place and arranged for some refreshments as my partner and I were early for an exhibition.
I trust that when my time comes I will have the strength shown by Tony. — Yours faithfully,
Nicholas Road, Henley
MP should be deselected
Sir, — It seems to me that the views expressed in the correspondence columns of the Henley Standard only confirm the lack of confidence within the town that our MP is properly representing the interests of the constituency.
There are two solutions. Firstly, we could cast our votes in favour of a different political party. Alternatively, a process of deselection could take place prior to the next election. I would favour the latter. — Yours faithfully,
You’re losing votes, John
Sir, — I read with interest the recent letter from John Howell and the angry responses from Henley Standard readers.I recently sent an email to Mr Howell expressing the disgust that my wife and I felt for the comment the Prime Minister made describing those MPs who were thinking of voting against bombing in Syria as “terrorist sympathisers” when all they were doing was expressing genuine concern about the possible consequences of such action. I went on to say that we thought it was the most abhorrent remark we had ever heard from a British Prime Minister. I asked Mr Howell to pass on our comments to the Prime Minister.The first three words of his reply were: “Utter rubbish, David.”Clearly there is only one person in the Henley constituency who has a right to an opinion.
I agree with Michael Emmett, from Peppard Common, in that I can never imagine Michael Heseltine or Boris Johnson being so rude to their constituents. Two more lost votes. — Yours faithfully,David GealyBaskerville Lane, ShiplakeDon’t litter countrysideSir, — I went for a walk with my wife in Stoke Row and Checkendon on Thursday last week only to see the roads and countryside littered with South Oxfordshire District Council’s Christmas waste collection notification cards.
I cannot imagine a more ridiculous waste of time and pollution of the environment, given they are made of plastic-covered card.I guarantee that no one reads these, although the council will tell me they are to show people the coloured bin rota has changed to take account of Christmas rubbish, all of which is an unnecessary nonsense.
Sticking to what people expect in terms of bin types and collections is far more productive on every level, as in black/grey one week and green the next. I also guarantee that no one will know which week is which now the council has muddled it up.
Instead of wasting time and energy littering the countryside with even more plastic, it would be helpful if a few of the thousands of huge potholes in Checkendon and the surrounds into which many of these stupid cards have fallen were filled instead. — Yours faithfully,
Great prize for cousin
Sir, — Thank you for the Tesco hamper that I won in you competition. I have have given to my cousin Sally who will be entertaining 18 guests at Christmas time. Great prize! -— Yours faithfully,
East View Road, Wargrave
Sir, — I was being served in a well-known establishment in Henley when the assistant (who, by the way, had a very large parrot on his shoulder), said: “Hello, how are you?”“I’m fine, thank you, how are you?” I replied.
He said (the assistant, not the parrot): “How long have I known you now?”I said it was about 39 years and he asked how old I was.
I asked asked him to guess and he said “72”. I replied: “78”.
He said: “I thought you were...”I said he could call me auntie and he replied: “
Well, no, I thought you could be my big sister.” — Yours faithfully,
Henley Hawks need your support
Sir, — Having been promoted last season, the Henley Hawks find themselves in a relegation scrap as a result of injuries and the non-availability of academy players.Tomorrow (Saturday) they have a chance of escaping when a bonus point win against fellow strugglers Cinderford could see the Hawks leapfrog clear. To encourage all to come down to Dry Leas and cheer them on, tickets are available at the ground at the reduced price of £10 with free admission for under-16s. Kick-off is at 3pm and we would love to see you there. Go the Hawks! — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, Henley Rugby Club
This photograph of the Christmas lights in Henley market place was taken on Sunday by Christopher Skeet, of Sherwood Road, Winnersh