Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Your letters...

Don’t give up independence

Don’t give up independence

Sir, — Considering the vast issues and the great importance to our country of the EU in or out vote, I ask how have our politicians arrived at the decisions they have?

I have asked our local member a number of times to let me have a list of the sanctions David Cameron was seeking and would he himself support in or out. Surprisingly, nothing has been forthcoming.

The childish infighting, especially in the Tory party, gives one no peace of mind — more so when most of us do not clearly know what we are voting for.

Mr Cameron’s attitude in gagging some of his cabinet, sacking one, and he and his supporters’ scaremongering tactics give little faith if their intent is the best for our country.

Furthermore, offering elevations one assumes to swing support for his “very much” stay in attitude is to swell his party in the upper house.

As far as I am aware not one of the concessions Mr Cameron is said to have been granted is guaranteed.

It stinks. I am a “come outer” and to think I voted to put them in because I thought they would safeguard the country’s best interests.

While one of the issues is the financial aspect being unpredictable, there are numerous critical factors that are so important to our wellbeing regardless of one’s colour or creed — much unpalatable laws from non-elected Belgian officials, our NHS, schools, housing all unable to cope with the considerable increase in our population and real border controls that prevent undesirables entering our country.

The country’s giveaway money could finance much of these issues.

Generations of our forebears have fought for us to keep our independence; don’t let’s throw it all away without really understanding what we are voting for just to satisfy the personal whims of certain politicians whose motives are questionable. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Hammant

Springwood Drive, Peppard

My case for Brexit

Sir, — I read with interest the letter from David Thomas (Standard, March 11).

I should like to assure him that I am not confused by the debate on the EU nor, as he suggests. “cherry picking” to validate my argument.

On the contrary, I set out five key points in “A case for Brexit”:

1. Forty-plus years ago the UK agreed to join the Common Market, supposedly a mutually beneficial “free trade” area for member states/countries. This has morphed into an essentially political union with the disastrous Eurozone currency area without — until now — any authority having been sought from the British people. This referendum is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take back control of our own country.

2. The sovereignty of the Westminster parliament would be restored — in place of the unelected, faceless bureaucrats in Brussels addicted to “power creep” with their often ridiculous laws and directives. What to make of the Europhiles’ abject surrender? It did “a dishonour to the greatest generation” that the freedoms defended by our gallant Tommies in the Second World War were being eroded by our EU membership.

3. The UK now pays  £12 billion per annum for EU membership and for what? The EU is essentially an undemocratic organisation where no auditor worth his/her salt has been prepared to sign off the accounts for at least a decade (FIFA appears a well-run professional organisation by contrast). These significant funds could be invested instead in the NHS and/or UK infrastructure  projects.

4. UK borders would be restored so that the Government alone determines who has the right of entry and residency. The Schengen agreement is in tatters, totally impractical and wide open to abuse and exploitation by terrorist organisations. The summit of March 7 of 27 countries supposedly to resolve the migration crisis has produced a mind-boggling draft agreement with Turkey but then realistically how can any meeting of 27 individuals with their own self-interests ever be other than a talking shop?

5. The UK has an annual £59 billion trade and services deficit with the EU and the suggestion that EU countries would discontinue trading with the UK is therefore fanciful. Business and financial markets would adapt to Brexit as they have always adapted to change in the past — unlike politicians and bureaucrats who fundamentally seek more and more power and control. Yes, there will be uncertainty in the short term and some element of risk. In the medium to longer term, however, with both sovereignty and independence restored and with the fifth largest economy in the world, we should be free to negotiate our own international trading agreements and to forge our own future. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Sayer

Queen Close, Henley

* The economic straitjacket that the single currency imposes has led to several countries in the Eurozone having double digit unemployment with deflation and negligible prospects of economic growth. The worst of all worlds!

Be pragmatic and vote out

Sir, — While I am grateful to David Thomas for putting me straight about how I should vote in the forthcoming EU referendum, I think it is unfortunate for him that his windy letter appeared last week together with one from Daniel Hannan, our MEP and therefore someone with lengthy first-hand knowledge and experience of the EU and who nevertheless advocates Brexit, although he personally has a lot to lose (his job) if the UK votes to leave.

The EU is essentially a coercive organisation, which Margaret Thatcher once described as “socialism by the back door.” More recently her press secretary Sir Bernard Ingham said, and I quote, that the EU was “useless”. I am inclined to agree.

The flagship EU policies, the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, the Euro and now Schengen have been, by any reasonable yardstick, utterly disastrous.The former governor of the Bank of England and his predecessor have both recently made highly critical statements about the Euro, which is wreaking havoc in southern Europe and which they think will ultimately fail.

On the EU’s own admission (see the official EU statistics website) unemployment in the much-vaunted single market now stands at around 23 million with no end in sight and with youth bearing the brunt, I believe. How can this be seen as a success?

We are often told that by leaving, we would be denied access to the single market. The words “tariff-free” are usually omitted, for extra effect. The likes of Nick Clegg (who?) are also fond of adding that this would cost us “three million jobs”.

I think this statement is quite ludicrous, an insult to our intelligence and part of David Cameron’s “Project Fear”. Politics may be about emotion but trade is about money.

It is often claimed that our EU membership somehow “guarantees our security”. It is NATO, i.e. the US, which does that, not the EU, with its multitude of relatively small armed forces, ours included.

Anyone who doubts that should take a look at the American armed forces. The UK’s membership of NATO has nothing whatever to do with its membership of the EU.

The EU is seriously undemocratic; its corruption is a matter of historical record; it is financially incompetent (its accounts have never been signed off), wasteful, unaccountable and protectionist.

I can’t think that this is an organisation which any pragmatic (that word again) person would wish to join. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Emmett

Peppard Common

Out with the diatribes

Sir, — It’s high time you heeded the plea from James Watkins and others to keep letters short.

The EU diatribe from David Thomas was a short novel. I happen to think we should leave the EU because it is undemocratic, corrupt and inefficient: just three words.

The editor should place a limit on all letters, say 400 words. Anything submitted above that would be binned. — Yours faithfully,

Rolf Richardson

Wootton Road, Henley

Misleading messages

Sir, — The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has no idea how to communicate in the 21st century.Emma Torevell, the group’s project director, is paid many thousands of pounds per annum to preside over a dogs’ dinner of communications with the community. Since its birth in 2011, this group has not learned that Henley people like the unvarnished truth.

You do not have to be a genius to see the cause of many problems — the commissioning group’s few messages are sent through many channels, are broad and lack precision.Because its statements are open to interpretation, they raise different expectations for all people and then disappoint when the reality is revealed.Eventually we all punish them when we find out the truth and then the Henley Standard runs lurid page 1 headlines like “Deceived”.

Finally, that dispenser of oil on troubled waters, our multi-tasking MP Mr John Howell, is sent into bat to play a barrage of bouncers from a community he is supposed to represent.

Regretfully, he lacks technique and his style has been found wanting so that he could well be dropped from the team and play no further part in the series.

Looking at the detail, when the care home eventually opens in August will it be with eight or nine beds, or 11 or 12, or 15?

What are the staffing numbers for these respective beds as conventional staffing ratios do not apply in care homes in comparison to hospitals?

Who has the ultimate responsibility for spot purchase of beds and at what point would they be activated? Would we need to be at the start of a flu epidemic or in the middle of the epidemic when patients are queuing at the door?

What happened to the good idea of calling the area that will be housing the beds Peppard ward? Has this been quietly dropped as raking old sores?

We are told that the rapid care access unit will open in May at the earliest but the beds, which are key to the unit, will not be in place until August. So where do the patients go from May to August? Only our “masters of the universe” can answer this enigma and so far they offer little in response.

As in everything the commissioning group touches, the devil is in the detail. Boris might classically summarise, “caveat emptor”.

Finally, may I ask why members of the Townlands Stakeholder Reference Group are all smiling in their photograph of last week when, by the Henley Standard’s clandestine account, it seemed like the commissioning group’s responses were, “No, now what is the question?”

Perhaps, as impotent messengers of the commissioning group, they are smiling at the question: “How many beds did you say? You must be joking.”

The trouble is that the joke is on us Henley people. — Yours faithfully, Barry Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

Smoke and mirrors

Sir, — With reference to last week’s front page story about Townlands.We now have the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the Townlands Steering Group and the Townlands Stakeholders Reference Group.

We only need Timmy the dog to be in the plot of one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five secret society stories. Do smoke and mirrors come to mind? — Yours faithfully, Kaye McArthur

Ancastle Green, Henley

Nothing to smile about

Sir, — Being fully aware, over the years, of the unfortunate saga in respect of the re-development of Townlands Hospital and having read the contents of your lead article entitled “Deceived” (Standard, March 11), it is inconceivable that it should be accompanied by a photograph which one would have expected if the aims of the Townland Stakeholders Reference Group had been achieved.

Having read the individual comments of a number of the members of the group, one has to ask what have they to smile about?

No photograph would have been more appropriate under the circumstances. — Yours faithfully,

Nick Plunket

Ravenscroft Road, Henley

Overstretched GPs need help

Sir, — This is an open letter to John Howell.

I do not doubt for a minute David Cameron’s emotional feelings about the NHS.

The family’s experience with their son Ivan is well documented. We all have strong feelings when our loved ones are in need of care.

But the Government has a clinical and financial responsibility to the NHS.

Our care at the Hart Surgery in Henley has always been unbelievably kind, cheerful and professional.

But now their staff and resources are being strained towards a limit. They are struggling and stressed in their ambition to provide the care their patients expect.

What can you do and what are you going to do to support them? — Yours faithfully,

Jennifer Swallow-Dahlin

War Memorial Place, Henley

Plan must be made to work

Sir, — Now that the referendum on the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan has, thankfully, been won, we can turn our attention to deficiencies in the plan and to the essential conditions for implementing it.

In your edition of March 4, Ken Arlett asked what had changed my mind about houses on Highlands Farm.

The answer is that I have not changed my mind but have simply had to bow to Government and South Oxfordshire District Council duress.

Perhaps Ken missed the Government examiner of the district council’s proposals saying that he could not see how Henley could take 450 — let alone 500 — new dwellings — without using Highlands Farm, from which followed the compulsory inclusion of Harpsden parish in Henley’s plan.

In fact, my personal view remains that Highlands Farm would be a better site for one or more institutions, whether medical or educational, plus supportive housing, than for an intensive housing estate and only then with major improvements to Gillotts Lane and Sheephouse Lane, plus measures to reduce parking in Greys Road. — Yours faithfully,

Kester George

Chairman, Harpsden Parish Council

We’re trying to be helpful

Sir, — We feel it would be helpful to respond to the letter last week from the chairs of Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Women’s Regatta concerning housing their competitors.

We were the “crew hosting service” they mentioned from the town council’s quarterly magazine and we agree fully with the letter.

The magazine made a mistake and we wrote to them as soon as the edition arrived at our house.

When we originally heard of the proposed article we made contact with both regattas, suggesting they contribute.

We told the magazine of the services for competitors provided by the regattas and we were keen for our contact to be added regarding our services for visiting crew parents and supporters.

This is the majority of our work as the regattas do not offer this service. We are not one of the organisations claiming any official connection with the regattas. — Yours faithfully,

Ed and Maggie Atkinson

Queen Street, Henley

Try following my lead...

Sir, — I am responding to your poor correspondent EP of Shiplake, who struggled to understand why the planet failed to come to a standstill when their errant terrier charged off after a runner and dog.

Hidden among the tsunami of nanny diktats sweeping across our once great country lurk a couple of intelligent nuggets.

In fact, one of those goes something along the lines of “If you decide to take your hound out in public, then it must be under control at all times” (presumably to prevent something tiresome happening, like savaging small children, chasing after things or generally annoying folks).

That box appears to have been left unchecked by your correspondent. To heap misery upon the tortured soul, rather than spending the next half an hour recapturing said creature, the runner took time out of their life to explain that they were in the middle of a training run rather than simply hoofing the tedious object into the middle of the Thames.

Well, dear soul, fear not! As the owner of a terrier myself (named Clive for reasons too surreal to go into), who has taken it upon himself to treat all four-legged creatures — be they mouse, fellow dog or rampaging elephant as “fair game” — I have stumbled upon a solution.

Before leaving the house, I attach a lead to his collar, leaving it in place until we return home, thus ensuring that the only pain that I have to endure is that of the public wondering why I am exercising a snarling, four-legged floor mop that seems to be intent on throttling itself.No, please press no gratitudes into my palm. You can have that “pro-tip” for free. — Yours helpfully,

Captain Obvious  (aka Kevin James)

Luker Avenue, Henley

P.S. I may have done Clive a small injustice. Our cat has four legs and has made his white list, athough I suspect that it may have something to do with the potential-serious-injury-inflictable per kilo ratio that the cat enjoys.

Let’s honour unsung heroes

Sir, — D J King, jewellers and watchmakers of Henley, recently “re-modelled” a small clock of mine, which I had assumed was unmendable.

Their well-informed and helpful service made me think that Henley probably has plenty more excellent and expert craftspeople — the unsung heroes of a small town.

Might you be able to find space in the Henley Standard, even once a month, for a listing of bouquets and brickbats for local shops and tradespeople?

It could be something as amazing as D J King repairing my clock or even a sales assistant who was extra helpful. Let’s hope the bouquets would far outweigh the brickbats. You could even award a monthly bouquet.

Such a listing would not only be a way to acknowledge good service (or highlight rubbish service) but would strengthen support in the town for our local businesses. It never hurts to say thank you — and we don’t say thank you nearly often enough, do we? — Yours faithfully,

Bridget Fraser

Director, Barn Galleries

The editor comments: “I would be very happy to hear from other readers with  bouquets for local businesses.”

Traffic ruining once quiet rural lanes

Sir, — This photograph shows the concerns of the residents of Gillotts Hill and Gillotts Lane, Henley, about the future of this once quiet area.

Members of Harpsden Parish Council are shown surveying the lane with residents, inspecting the severe erosion that has occurred as a result of the amount of traffic now using these narrow roads

This will obviously increase in the future if the development of 170 homes at Highlands Farm goes ahead wth possibly further development at Gillotts School.

The residents suggested kerbing would be helpful to prevent more damage.

They were grateful to the councillors for their concern and for considering their views and for actually walking the lane with the residents to view for themselves the damage and traffic difficulties. — Yours faithfully,

Odette Moss


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