Friday, 30 July 2021

Your letters...

Whinges from a motorist

Whinges from a motorist

Sir, — The loss of the Jet Garage in Henley may have provided the opportunity for us to benefit from some new homes being built but it also deprived us of an alternative and challenge to the Esso garage in Reading Road which, despite the continued low price of fuel, now charges a relatively exorbitant rate.

The two garages were always in potential competition over petrol prices. Now Esso has a monopoly and is exploiting it shamefully, charging £107.9 a litre, when the relatively remote garages at Remenham Hill and Nettlebed are four pence a litre less.

I suppose being an only-choice service in a town like Henley invites businesses to profiteer at our expense. It’s almost worth shopping and refilling in Reading where petrol was still available for £1 a litre last week. Would the manager at Esso care to explain?

One further whinge. Our excellent town council makes every effort, at considerable expense, to ensure the approaches to our fine town are pleasing on the eye, for example, Henley in Bloom and the beautiful daffodils along Fair Mile.

Would you please, please, prevail upon the highways department at Oxfordshire County Council to make the town equally pleasing and less dangerous to drive/ride through?

The potholes and broken road surfaces are a total disgrace, particularly as one enters the town from Shiplake, just past the Newtown mini-roundabout in Reading Road.

If, in order to allow room for a bus or lorry, I were to wreck my car’s suspension on this huge pothole, I would most certainly claim for the repair. — Yours faithfully,

David Gobbert

Elizabeth Close, Henley

What about bus users?

Sir, — Oxfordshire County Council has little idea how many people use some of its subsidised buses.

It published passenger data before its March 15 cabinet meeting. For many routes, including several in South Oxfordshire, it has totals for only six months.

For Arriva route 800 through Henley, its only data is two years out of date.

White’s Coaches is a commendable exception, supplying very complete data.

The Henley town routes 151–154 carried nearly 50,000 passengers in 2014/15, 10 per cent more than in the previous year. The Woodcote-Henley 145 route carried more than 27,000 in 2014/15, a healthy 18 per cent increase.

Data for routes run by Thames Travel is incomplete.

The Henley-Wallingford 139 route carried more than 37,000 passengers in the six months from October 2013 to March 2014 but barely 13,000 in the six months from April to September 2015.

Data for the intervening 12 months is missing.

October to March includes two of the three school and college terms, whereas April to September includes the Easter and summer holidays. I hope that explains the huge difference between route 139’s two totals. Since 2012 the county council has cut bus subsidies from £5.5million a year to £3.7million.

But this is our money and still enough to merit monitoring to see what value we were  getting.

The Government is giving the council £9 million to mitigate some budget cuts for 12 months.

At their February 16 budget meeting, councillors rightly allocated £5million to save some health and wellbeing centres, some children’s centres, some day services and transport to day centres. But they failed to save any subsidised buses.

On March 15 a few opposition councillors pleaded with the cabinet to save subsidised buses. The cabinet declined and decided only to release its incomplete bus data to the public.

The council seems determined to cut buses and little cares how many people rely on them. — Yours faithfully,

Hugh Jaeger

Chairman, Bus Users Oxford, Park Close, Oxford

Good reason for buses

Sir, — In your article about plans for assisted living flats on the site of the former Jet Garage in Reading Road, Henley, (Standard, April 18), McCarthy & Stone stated that the flats would generate less traffic as assisted living residents tend not to drive.

The developer also claimed there would be a boost for the local economy as the residents were likely to spend a higher than average proportion of their disposable income in Henley’s shops.

Surely this is another very good reason to keep our much-needed local bus running? — Yours faithfully,

Margaret Thompson

Reading Road, Henley

Don’t forget Churchill

Sir, — I note that recent letters in your paper concerning the European referendum seem to be predominantly in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

Is this, I wonder, because the Henley Standard supports these views or because you have not received letters expressing the contrary view?

Henley returns a Conservative MP to Parliament with a very large majority. Have local Tories forgotten that it was Winston Churchill who, in 1945, supported the idea of a European Union, proposing for Europe “a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom — a kind of United States of Europe”?

Have they also forgotten who actually took us into Europe? It was another Conservative prime minister, Edward Heath, in 1973.

So David Cameron’s support for remaining in the EU follows his eminent prime ministerial predecessors.

I fully support these pro-European views. Yes, there are things wrong with the EU, as indeed there are things wrong with our own governmental system.

The scandal over MPs’ expenses revealed a cynical and deep-rooted corruption in our public life.

But I would prefer to remain a member of the EU and seek reform from within rather than leave and give up on the ideals which led to the formation of the EU in the first place. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Ducker

Gallowstree Common

Look at it this way...

Sir, — The EU vote seems to be confusing a lot of people. There are strong arguments on both sides for all the main issues — security, economy etc.

A good way of looking at the EU vote is to turn the question on its head. Imagine we were not in the EU and were voting to join or not. Would you have chosen to join the current EU or stay outside?

Looking at it that way makes the vote on June 23 about whether we want more of the same or a period of short-term uncertainty and long-term opportunity. — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road, Henley

Please can we swap homes?

Sir, — So St Leonard’s Church in Watlington appears to have finally got its own way regarding the demolition of the church hall (Standard, March 25).

As my 85-year-old father and I will have to endure the noise/disruption (having the house nearest the development), I offer the following solution: for the duration of the building work (a year?), the rector Rev Christopher Evans should swap properties with us, thereby ensuring he would be conveniently placed to oversee progress of the work while we at the rectory (a mile or more away) could enjoy peace and quiet. — Yours faithfully,

Ian Bell

The Meadows, Watlington

Horrifying opinion

Sir, — Correspondence last week prompted us to read, for the first time, Lt Col Peter Blaker’s “Thought for the Week” (Standard, March 18) and we were absolutely horrified.

We accept an individual’s right to hold and express views, however abhorrent, but we cannot possibly think what possessed the editor of a reputable newspaper to deem it appropriate to publish such an offensive and distorted justification of child abuse and in a quasi-religious setting too. We can only assume that no one read the article before it was published. — Yours faithfully,

Nick and Helen Walden

Cromwell Road, Henley

Disgusted by article

Sir, — Please can you explain why you published the inflammatory, criminally irresponsible and disgusting Thought for the Week article by Lt Col Peter Blaker?

I am all for free speech but the views expressed should not be given a platform. — Yours faithfully,

Fiona Barber

Reading Road, Henley

The editor responds: “The weekly Thought for the Week column is written by a different person each week, usually someone connected to a church (of all denominations).

“The rota of writers is organised for us by the churches and Lt Col Blaker has been on it for a number of years.

“These columns in no way reflect the opinion of the newspaper, which is independent and non-political.

“With hindsight, it was a mistake to publish Lt Col Blaker’s column unedited.

“While I defend his right to free speech, I believe that he overstepped the mark and his comments were not only wrong but distasteful and insensitive and I apologise to any reader who was offended by them.”

Keys found, thank you

Sir, — Further to my letter of February 26, I am happy to say that my keys were returned to me thanks to a lovely lady who took the trouble and had the common sense to take them to the police office round the corner from where they were found.

I would like to thank the charming male volunteer who telephoned me to let me know the keys had been handed in and returned them to me when I called in.

He was only able to contact me because the previous lady volunteer had taken my details, albeit incredibly reluctantly, but I thank her for doing this.

Had I followed the advice of Thames Valley Police and advertised my identity and the loss of my keys on social media, there is a chance that somebody could have worked out which house or car to try, had they found my keys.

Alternatively, had the lady who found my keys followed the police advice and handed them into any old business in town, I would have had absolutely no chance whatsoever of finding them, just as I would have had she followed the advice of the first volunteer and “kept” them!

I appreciated the letter from Richard Pengilley, retired police officer, who seemed to concur with the rest of us that the police advice was ludicrous. Thank goodness!

My advice would be to use the police office whether you find or lose anything but choose the helpful volunteers! — Yours faithfully,

T Hirst

Sonning Common

Enjoyable tea parties

Sir, — I have just returned from a lovely tea party hosted by FISH volunteers in Sonning Common village hall.

This is a monthly event, much looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed by those of us living in and around the village who are in the “upper” age group.

Tea, sandwiches and home-made cakes and biscuits are served by a great band of volunteers. There is also a free raffle ticket for all with several prizes.

Various entertainments have been provided by generous people giving of their time and talents.

We were all very impressed after being entertained by a group of pupils from Sonning Common Primary School and their music teacher.

They played and sang to a very high standard and the amount of talent shown, both vocal and instrumental. was amazing from such young children. The fact that they were a jazz group was a bonus.

It was wonderful to see such enthusiasm — every good wish to them and their possible future careers in the music business.

A very big thank-you is due to the organisers of the lovely FISH tea parties. Long may they run. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs P K Colin

Peppard Road, Sonning Common

Walking football

Sir, — Good news — walking football is now available in Henley and we actively need some more members.

Walking football is, as the name implies, aimed at people who like football but are not so good at the running bit any more. The accent is absolutely on fun.

This being Henley, of course, we respect the broad principles of walking football but add our own twists. We welcome players over 40 and we embrace ladies.

We meet at Henley leisure centre on Fridays from 7.30pm to 8.20pm. It’s £3 per session and the first session is free. The next session is tonight. For more information, please call the amiable and efficient Rhys on 07432 847902.

So come along if you think you’re fun enough. There is absolutely no need for shin pads. I look forward to meeting you. — Yours faithfully,

Tim Bedwin

Victoria Court, Henley

Remember the date, folks

Sir, — May I be the first to applaud the long-awaited decision by Oxford and Wokingham Councils to name our bridge “The Boris Johnson Bridge”, as announced this morning.

I look forward to the closure of the bridge to facilitate the official opening celebrations for the entire June 25 weekend, with royals and VIPs present.

That occasion coincides with Mr Johnson’s birthday and the EU referendum. Particularly exciting are the plans for the two-day bridge party with the hog roast, bunting and buskers, the Land of Hope and Glory river pageant, complete with floating symphony orchestra and choir, the spectacular Rule Britannia-themed fireworks and the best of British organic farmers’ market — all now, rightly, to be Lottery-funded.

As a lifelong Henley resident, and unlike some of my fellow constituents, I see no reason why the announcement should impact on the forthcoming referendum vote whatsoever.

It is high time for us, as a town, to recognise and celebrate the sterling work of our erstwhile MP, his tenure as London Mayor and, no doubt, his future premiership. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Burness-Smith

St Mark’s Road, Henley

Following rules on advertising signs

Sir, — Perhaps the over-zealous enforcement officers from South Oxfordshire District Council who pounced on the landlord of the Flowing Spring at Playhatch and his harmless signs (

, March 25) might have followed clear guidance in the Government’s “Guidance to Outdoor Advertisements & Signs — A Guide for Advertisers” before doing so? Alternatively, they could focus upon the garden centre a mere few seconds along the same road as the pub which had obviously read the guidance. — Yours faithfully,

Pat Doyle


Crazy weather worth talking about

Sir, — I thought you might like these two photographs, which were taken within about half an hour of each other on Easter Sunday.

At least, being British, the weather gives us something to talk about! — Yours faithfully,

Terry Allsop


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