Saturday, 31 July 2021

Your letters...

Vote for our grandchildren

Vote for our grandchildren

Sir, — The UK vote to remain in the European Union will be the gift from one remarkably generous Englishman.

In 1989 he changed all our futures and especially those of our children and grandchildren.

Sir Tim Berners Lee’s gift of the world wide web to the world has also fundamentally changed every voter’s future and that of our descendants and the future of this country.

It will be internet voter registrations by younger voters that affect the final vote. It will be social media that influences the majority of voters as TV debates irritate us all, amplified by print media. The internet has changed our future.

Voters are trying to understand and evaluate the conflicting claims and reach a decision. Older voters in Henley tend to want us to leave in the hope that we shall remain more English, more British.

In just 27 years the internet has changed everything. However, the real changes to England will be in the future. They are outside our control.

I realised this recently when my three-year-old granddaughter Layla, tired of waiting for me to read her a book, picked up her mother’s smart phone, accessed the internet and downloaded her favourite cartoon story all on her own. For Layla this is quite normal!

Layla’s parents and their peers all use the internet constantly. Everyone is accessing information in ways and for purposes unimaginable even 10 years ago.

It is this same internet that also makes new jobs possible and creates new IT-based industries. It also makes old businesses obsolete. This is the UK’s future.

England, the UK and our economy are dependent on the way we are seen by the rest of the world via the internet.

England’s and the UK’s future are influenced by social media owned by a few multinational firms. For them and other multinational firms, England is a soft touch as we are seeing with BHS and other recent scandals which EU rules highlight.

Increasingly, the EU’s rules are the only force powerful enough to protect our long-term future. Multinational firms will switch future investment and jobs from the UK if we leave the EU as will many Commonwealth and Asian firms because they all need the EU market of 500 million, ideally from a UK base but only if we are in the EU.

Politics was originally called “political economy”. Sadly, too many emotional politicians ignore the UK economy whose future is the most critical factor for Layla’s future and that of all our grandchildren.

The UK’s leading authorities and businessmen whose judgements we have trusted in the past are now being ridiculed by politicians whose own education and knowledge of finance and world business is questionable.

Would you let a politician handle your own personal investments? No. We choose experienced and highly educated people to make investment judgements for us, such as the governor of the Bank of England and his trained advisors.

The majority of these trusted and experienced financial and business leaders are all agreed that, on balance, England and the UK will be better off inside the EU, working to improve the way the EU works and benefiting from our unique status. England and the UK within the EU already have the best position.

We are an island and not in the Schengen area, so we are able to control immigration much better than other EU countries.

Sterling is stronger while the UK is a member of the EU but not in the Euro. If we leave the EU sterling will be sold and devalued overnight. Monthly interest payments and mortgage costs will increase immediately.

The costs of leaving the EU will affect each one of us immediately. We already see this in the value of sterling, which fell when Brexit seemed likely.

All existing EU members want the UK to remain within the EU. They have made serious concessions to encourage us to stay.

The UK can and should focus on leading the EU into a stronger relationship with growing Asian markets where we have powerful and effective historical links. We should take advantage of new technologies in communication and social media and create and build new multilingual IT-based service industries.

Above all, we can and should improve the rules of the EU from within and we could do this.

Within the EU there are many of the newer and smaller EU members who respect our UK values of common sense, honesty and integrity and who prefer to use English as their second language. We do have real influence.

If the UK votes to leave the EU we shall lose these benefits and our influence will steadily diminish worldwide. This is not fair to our children and grandchildren.We should listen to the younger people whose future is yet to come and for whom we have a responsibility. They understand the potential of the new technologies and the majority wish their parents to vote to remain in the European Union, so that their future is more secure and they will have a chance of improving the rules and regulations from within. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Binfield Heath

Good reasons for staying in

Sir, — Bored of the exaggerations? Fed up with the fiction? Had enough of the dramatisations? Me too... on both sides.

However, let me, as a mum, give you a snapshot of why I’m voting to stay in.

Before EU toy safety laws were introduced children were licking and chewing on toys covered in lead-filled paints from abroad, not to mention the choking hazards.

That little egg (et al) you give them for breakfast... thanks to EU food hygiene laws you can rest assured they can now be fed full of goodness.

School trips? Your children (and grandchildren) will sit on a coach fitted with seat belts and adhering to crash impact standards, all laid down in EU law.

Holidays coming up? Perfect for getting away and spending time on an (EU blue flag) clean beach.

And as your kids grow up it’s cool to live, study and work abroad. Is this a good time to mention cleaner water, higher environmental and animal welfare standards and improved rights at work? If that’s what is meant by red tape then bring it on!

I don’t profess to be an economist but the head of the European Central Bank is telling us that our economy is safer “in” and I think he’s best placed to know.

In our region alone, the chief executive of Siemens and BMW have both warned against Britain leaving the EU. Other major local companies like Vodafone, Blackberry and McAfee all need access to the European single market.

These are real jobs, your children’s jobs and families’ livelihoods that are linked to our membership of the EU.

That’s why I’m voting to stay in; to protect jobs and secure a better future for all of us and our families. — Yours faithfully,

Mrs A Collins

Norman Avenue, Henley

EU is good for our health

Sir, — I would like to express my views and share my experience as to why Britain should remain in the European Union.

The EU was built on the back of the harrowing experience of the Second World War to provide a haven of peace and prosperity for all its members and this is what has been driving the EU up until today.

As a French citizen, I am lucky enough to have been spared the horror of European wars — unlike my father, his father and indeed his father.

Thanks also to the “free movement of people”, I was able to come to work as pharmacist for a pharmaceutical company in Berkshire 10 years ago, bringing my skills and enthusiasm to Britain.

Despite being unable to vote (but I do pay my taxes!), there is so much at stake with this EU referendum and I feel it is important to step in to the debate.

I will focus my argument on hard facts through my personal experience of working in the UK pharmaceutical industry and its relationship with the much-loved NHS.

There is understandably a lot of concern about the ever-increasing pressures the NHS is facing but I want your readers to fully understand how the EU today helps support the NHS through better and quicker access to medicines.

The pharmaceutical industry, and by implication the NHS, has significantly benefited from EU regulation:

• We now have a centralised procedure to approve innovative drugs in complex disease areas. This mechanism brings together EU-wide expertise and offers a first or better treatment option to patients with cancer, diabetes or rare orphan conditions ( i.e. a condition that affects less than 250,000 people in the EU).

• There has been harmonisation of clinical trials requirements. This means the days are gone when each of the 28 member states had separate trialling processes and methodologies. Today, thanks to the EU, we have the same regime everywhere, thereby simplifying the running of clinical trials and speeding up access to innovative medicines.

• This philosophy has been extended to paediatric care to ensure children can also benefit from these medicines. This system is unique to the EU and we should be very proud of it.

• Again, thanks to the EU, we have Europe-wide disclosure of clinical trial data to the public.

I hear the complaints about the “red tapefrom Brussels”. It is true, there is always room for improvement.

However, all these pieces of legislation have completely changed the healthcare landscape in EU and Britain for the benefit of our health.

Britain, thanks to its expertise, has been at the forefront of these changes. Brexit would remove Britain from this Europe-wide process. There is only silence from the Leave camp on this subject.

These examples of EU regulation clearly demonstrate the benefits of EU membership. We all need the best medical treatment solutions, whether as patients or the relatives of patients. The EU is able to offer this in a very efficient and collaborative way.

I urge you to vote to remain in the EU on June 23. — Yours faithfully,

Matthieu Levée

Lower Road, Cookham

Job, growth, investment

Sir, — The Labour Party supports remaining in the European Union.

Not because it is a perfect organisation but because it gives real benefits to our region and can be best reformed through participation.

The UK can and should be more effective in using our role in EU decision-making.

We reject the myths promoted as “facts” by UKIP or as banana and teabag stories by Boris Johnson.

Membership of the EU currently has a net cost of £8.5 billion per year or less than a pint of beer per person per week.

The vast majority of our laws are still made in Westminster and we are a sovereign country.

Membership of the EU does not stop us fishing in our own waters or trading with non-EU countries.

As a result of EU membership our borders are open to EU citizens but the borders of the 27 other member states are open to UK citizens. There is two-way traffic and there has been ebb and flow over the years.

We are arguing in Europe for rules to be tightened up so foreign workers can’t be paid less and given worse terms and conditions than British workers by unscrupulous employers.

Access to the EU single market isn’t just an abstract idea, it’s what persuades big, international companies to decide they want to set up shop in the South-East and what allows small local businesses to get started in the first place and then keep growing.

Research suggests that here in Oxfordshire more than 40,000 jobs could be dependent on trade with the EU.

Britain is better off in Europe. It is clear that being in the European Union brings us jobs, growth and investment. Vote to remain on June 23. — Yours faithfully,

David Winchester

Secretary, Henley Labour Party, Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

Think about accountability

Sir, — The key issue of accountability in the EU is one that Remain supporters should carefully consider.

As the EU moves inevitably towards even closer political union, probably with its own armed forces, at what level will political decisions, perhaps of international importance, be made?

The UK, now excluded from “ever closer union”, would have little or no influence at this level but would have to abide by decisions made.

In this situation what happens to our historically hard- won rights as citizens of a democratic country to try to influence key issues that affect us? Who do we contact? UK MEPs would be irrelevant.

As things stand, we have no idea who decided to invite Ukraine into closer links with the EU, rightly or wrongly ignoring Russian paranoia about encirclement and resulting in the annexation of Crimea. — Yours faithfully,

Douglas and Yvonne Kedge

Lea Road, Sonning Common

Think of it as joining

Sir, — For anyone still undecided in regard to the referendum, try — as Liam Fox MP suggested on The Andrew Marr Show last weekend — to think about it not as a vote to stay or leave the European Union but as a vote on whether to join it.

Because we are essentially joining, not for ourselves, but for the next generation.

The EU might seem like the “safe” option now but remember, the institution you’re voting to remain in won’t necessarily be the one we’re a member of in 20 years’ time.

The European Union started off as a steel and coal trading bloc with six countries. Even when we joined, almost two decades later, we were just one of nine and it was a mere “economic community”.

In the 1975 referendum, hearing Tony Benn and Michael Foot warn of common currencies and visa-free travel would have seemed about as likely as Cameron and Osborne’s warnings of World War Three do today.

But no matter how you vote on Thursday, life will be exactly the same next Friday.

Plagues of locusts aren’t going to drop out of the sky if we leave, nor are we going to wake up £350 million worse off with boatloads of Turkish migrants on our doorsteps if we stay.

The only danger we face is not voting and letting the perils of a low turnout decide the result.

At the end of the day, the EU is run by people who write 7,000-word documents on banana curvature, so it wouldn’t surprise me if a decade after a vote to leave we still partially remained at the centre of it, sorting out the small print.

Oddly, it’s even possible that a Leave vote wouldn’t result in us leaving at all. Last summer the Greeks voted overwhelmingly against the EU’s bail-out package in their referendum. Today they’re deciding whose pensions to cut in order to comply with that same bail-out package.

Vote, but don’t vote tactically. Don’t vote to remain because Boris would be a bad PM and don’t vote to leave because Cameron is one.

General elections are every five years but referendums on institutions that have to be dragged to the ballot box kicking and screaming? Not so much. — Yours faithfully,

Georgina Edwards

Crowsley Park, Harspden

Don’t believe establishment

Sir, — Rather than believe Tim Edgar’s inaccurate and flawed points and who agreed what in the EU’s history (Standard, June 10), it is more important to understand the well-documented fact that in 1945 the architects of the project deliberately concealed from the public the real purpose.

Their intention was to take by stealth the democratic rights of the people and replace them with unelected elite bureaucrats, appointed by the political class and mega-wealthy.

The EU’s chief architect, economist and financier Jean Monet, wrote: “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.”

The Remain camp is following this recipe with daily scare stories about trade, house prices, tax black holes etc., with no basis in fact.

Treasury reports that purport to give accurate quantitative predictions of our post-Brexit economy are the output from computer models that are fed a recession as a starting point. As with all computer models, “doom in, doom out”.

A respected economist said recently that it is only possible to make economic forecasts, with any accuracy, for just three months ahead.

John Howell says that staying in is a vote for certainty.

Certain to get worse that is, with new laws and directives on the EU to-do list, such as the EU army, and the seven countries lined up to join; then add our ever-stretched health, transport, education, security, housing etc services. The truly sinister pointer to our future is the EU intention to apply sanctions to Poland, whose people had the temerity to vote for a right-of-centre government critical of the EU.

Do people not understand that the EU is already taking over the democratic rights of the people of sovereign nations? To stay is to further lose our right to govern ourselves.

Why is the establishment so pro-remain? Most of the political class, bureaucrats, diplomats, heads of quangos, judges and, in the private sector, bankers, financiers and heads of large corporations.

It’s about power, money, prestige and privilege. If we left, they would lose a place on the gravy train. Do you really think they would vote out if it was good for us but not for them?

Mr Howell’s claim of a market of 500 million people is untrue as 65 million of that is ourselves, which gives 435 million. Subtract a further 20 per cent for the economically inactive, such as children, the very old and the unemployed — usually 20 per cent of the total.

This further reduces the single European market to 354 million. If one then makes a reasonable allowance for the lack of buying power in the poverty-stricken countries in the east and south, it reduces to about 280 million, comparable to America, with whom we trade quite freely.

Outside the EU there are seven billion people in countries with which we will be able to trade completely freely due to our full membership of the World Trade Organisation, which covers 94.6 per cent of the world’s trade.

Unlike the EU, many of these countries are growing fast and have huge natural and human resources. Massive improvements to communications and transport have made trading with the world so much easier.Inside the EU we cannot make trade deals with them but as soon as we leave, the sky’s the limit.

So on Thursday vote Leave and return sovereignty to our nation and the hope of a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. — Yours faithfully,

M Reid

New Road, Lower Shiplake

Gravy train has halted

Sir, — How disappointing it was that our Prime Minister David Cameron, on his visit to Henley on Monday evening, was not prepared to meet the residents of the town but rather a selected few Conservative Party members at Phyllis Court Club after the meeting in the town hall had been cancelled.

As news of the meeting in the town hall had reached the residents of the town, it was obvious that Mr Cameron did not wish to take questions from just “ordinary” people but rather the selected few. What kind of leadership is this?

On the other hand, we had Boris Johnson in town on the same day, walking around the streets, talking to local residents, answering questions and showing true leadership qualities.

It is only a few weeks ago that Vote Leave had the pleasure of John Redwood MP at the town hall. He gave an excellent speech about why we should leave the EU, then took questions from both Vote Leave and Remain residents.

The EU dream is finished. Our annual trade deficit with Europe is now £71billion, plus the other £10billion donation that we make. This is a figure we cannot sustain.

Hospitals, schools, doctors surgeries etc are all bursting at the seams and we have insufficient housing, all caused by our membership of the EU. Cameron’s dreams of reform, whatever they may be, will never happen. He has already wasted two months of his time trying to do this.

It’s over — the gravy train has run out of money and we do not need any more bureaucrats or “cash cows” to govern us. We need new leadership.

Vote Leave on Thursday and look forward with pride. We need to go from Cameron’s “Little Britain” to our view of a Great Britain once again. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Chairman, UKIP Henley,

Elizabeth Road, Henley

Co-operation, not isolation

Sir, — If you are a Brexit supporter and it’s all about taking control of our borders, I have a few suggestions.

There is a potential problem regarding the border between southern and Northern Ireland. The solution is simple. Take a tip from Donald and build a wall and get the Irish government to pay for it.

Should Scotland decide to break away, the problem is much simpler as a wall already exists! True, it is in need of some patching up, but the idea and foundations are sound.

Should Wales decide to follow Scotland, there is a natural river barrier but it would have to be widened and made longer. Unfortunately, immigrants are not much deterred by water, so it may be necessary to build another wall.

There is a rumour that the Cornish population (bless them) plan to build a corn wall, not only to keep the EU out but the English as well.

However, the Mayor of Penzance has denied it and said there is not a grain of truth in it.

Castles could take on a new role and you should also consider land mines and barbed wire along the south coast just to be sure.

We could become the protestant Vatican, isolated from the rest of Europe with Boris in his fantasy mobile, worshiped by the masses.

Yes, this is all nonsense of course, but that is my point.

Even if we vote to leave the EU, it will take time and most likely years to put effective border controls into practice.

Meanwhile, there would be an uncontrolled invasion of EU workers flooding in to beat the deadline. We need co-operation with our partners, not isolation. — Yours faithfully,

Ted Hallett

Longfield Road, Twyford

We can’t ‘take control’ alone

Sir, — The Leave campaign urges us to “take control”.

Among the problems we need to deal with are climate change, intercontinental migration flows, increasing inequality and sluggish economic growth worldwide and the failure of multinational companies to pay their fair share of the tax that funds the infrastructure (transport links, an educated workforce, a legal system etc) their businesses rely on.

Can we seriously believe we can control these global problems better on our own than as a member of the world’s largest trading block? The UK must remain in the EU to get these problems tackled effectively.

We have probably heard from enough economists in recent weeks but I hope your readers will forgive a quotation from J M Keynes, writing in 1919 about international co-operation.

He says “must we not base our actions on better expectations, and believe that the prosperity and happiness of one country promotes that of others, that the solidarity of man is not a fiction, and that nations can still afford to treat other nations as fellow creatures”. — Yours faithfully,

Jane Smewing

St Mark’s Road, Henley

For peace and prosperity

Sir, — Those whom I have asked why they support Brexit seem to fall into certain categories: not knowing anything about the EU and so claiming ignorance as a reason to leave; those among us “oldies”, thinking we are still fighting the Second World War or at least the Germans and that the 19th century with the glories of empire can still be reclaimed; some having gripes and grumbles about the NHS, farming and immigration etc, all blamed on the EU and convinced that leaving it would solve all problems at a stroke; and the conclusion of others that Europe never listens to us, although much of the positive legislation has come directly from our own legal system.

All this is cheered on by a Right wing, sensationalist and biased press that wants to sell its newspapers and any positive good news does not do that!

Setting up the Common Market after the war was a determined effort by former enemies to prevent any future wars in Europe.

Churchill himself, together with the British judiciary, had already set up the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, ensuring that everyone, good or bad, had the same basic rights (though whenever it makes a decision not approved by the general public, it is automatically confused with and blamed on the EU — these two are separate institutions and work independently).

The EU has either been ignored or taken for granted over the past decades by a younger generation which has benefited from the peace, trade and unparalleled opportunities afforded it in its own advancement and success.

The EU is fundamentally a force for good, for peace and prosperity and for the sake of our future generation we must remain members. — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

Only chance to get out

Sir, — I’ve already nailed my colours to the mast regarding the EU referendum.

Rather than go over the various argument, let me present another thought.

Politicians are a fickle lot. They present their manifestos, make promises, ask, even beg, for your votes.

And, as we know, when they win and take up office, promptly and without exception, all renege on those promises.

But, and here is the clincher, they all claim they have a mandate from the people and go on to do whatever they deem fit.

Now the big problem with the EU referendum is this. If we, the people, vote to stay in the EU, Brussels and the other European leaders will claim we have given them a mandate to lord it over us and will never change their ways to accommodate our needs.

Our position will be, with that mandate in place, even worse than it currently is. This will be a one-off referendum, not a five-yearly electoral term with a chance to change those who lord it over us.

This time all the arguing, negotiating and pleading will come to nothing. We would have given away everything.

For once I hope I don’t utter the words “I told you so”. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski

Crisp Road, Henley

Shameful intolerance

Sir, — We put up a poster on our fence in favour of remaining in the EU.We have just found that poster in our rubbish bin. Someone removed it from our fence and threw it away.

The message is a clear one. Whoever made it is telling us that we do not have the right to express our opinion in public.

I presume that it is someone in favour of leaving the EU and it illustrates the intolerance which this referendum has made prevalent and which has made people abandon British values.

We shall be putting up further posters. — Yours faithfully,

Paul and Michele  Whitehead

Mill Lane, Henley

Republic of Europa...

Sir, — The Remain campaign is sleepwalking towards a republic of Europa. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Willson

Pound Lane, Sonning

Meaningful tourism

Sir, — At a risk of repeating myself, blaming the internet for shop closures is pointless (Standard, June 10).

If Henley is to have a vibrant shopping centre, then the only way to do it is to bring in tourists by the coachload every day.

Tourists bring pocket money to spend and they would spend it in Henley if the town council had the ability to organise meaningful tourism and not just people coming to picnic by the river and feed the wildlife on the river.

There is a good-sized car park at the station for coaches and a drop-off area by the bus stop in Hart Street.

Does Henley have to lose all its shops before the council wakes up?

I volunteer with the Blue Cross charity shop in Duke Street and its busiest time is during the regatta when people who do not normally come to Henley are visiting the town and taking home “memories” they bought in Henley’s shops.

What more proof does the council need to prove that visitors spend money if they are allowed to visit in the first place? — Yours faithfully,

Gloria Wright


What are you two up to?

Sir, — I assume that there are two people representing our lovely town of Henley-on-Thames.

The first is our Mayor, who, until recently, was Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who will best be remembered for appearing in your esteemed newspaper, on average, three times per issue, always beaming and always face on to the camera.

The second representative is John Howell MP.

At the moment this town is confronted by major traffic problems, with huge lorries using our streets as a cut-through.

In Marlow, in order to cross the river bridge into the town, are massive iron bollards which serve to restrict the width of vehicles and to slow them down.

Could not such simple devices, carefully positioned, at least give drivers cause to consider their route plans?

Perhaps Mr Howell, wearing a gas mask of course, could spend some time in the streets of Henley breathing in the delights of a stroll through the town?

I do realise he knew about some sort of traffic survey some months ago, which he deemed to be unsatisfactory.

I do hope that he is not suffering from insomnia to add to his burdens as aeroplane flights over Henley have increased massively.

I counted 12 flights, at low height, and extremely noisy, between 6am and 6.30am on Wednesday last week.

Perhaps he will consider the massive escalation of flights that has occurred over the town in recent months. — Yours faithfully,

Deenagh M Reynolds

Badgemore Lane, Henley

Switch off  bus engines

Sir, — This paper regularly carries articles and letters urging its readers to come forward with solutions to the town’s serious pollution problem.

It has been reported that Arriva Buses are regularly parked at the Starbucks’ corner in Bell Street with their engines left ticking over for several minutes and often with no driver in the bus or anywhere to be seen.

The council has acknowledged from tests that a significant percentage of the town’s pollution problem results from buses and lorries.

Why is it then that the simple step of buses switching their engines off when stationary is not being put into practice? — Yours faithfully,

Rod Whitlock

Reading Road, Henley

More trees, less tarmac

Sir, — I am sure that everybody is very pleased to hear that our town bus service has been saved thanks to our local councillors putting a lot of effort into this.

It made absolutely no sense to cut down on public transport on the one hand and worry about ever-increasing exhaust fumes from more cars on the other.

Can we, however, make sure that the diesel buses are replaced by electric ones, taking the opportunity of using some of the money from the “planning obligations” accruing from the imposed housebuilding quotas of the neighbourhood plan to achieve an essential, environmentally friendly public transport system?

Another way to improve the air would be to plant shrubs and trees, wherever there is room.

A fascinating talk given to the Henley Society recently by landscape architect Moira Hankinson showed examples of three of the entrances to the town where there is room, mostly now taken up by too much tarmac.

The northern entrance, where Northfield End and Bell Street join, is one example. The 1878 Ordnance Survey map shows various green islands there but only the triangle in front of 96-102 Bell Street is still green with trees.

The other one opposite, in front of the elegant, Grade II* listed Northfield House, is a bare, mainly concrete paved track, edged with double yellow lines on both sides. What is the point of that?

To add to the sad visual experience, which detracts so much from the attractive historic buildings on both sides of the street, is the tall, wide “steel crash barrier” in the road centre (more usual on motorways).

This is now decorated with flower tubs (a good effort) but why not get rid of it and make the road narrower, just a two-lane avenue with trees planted on the spaces gained from all that surplus tarmac, concrete paving and the steel barrier?

The other two examples were on the west side at the wide set of junctions where Deanfield Avenue joins Greys Road (plenty of room here to replace a lot of road surfaces with trees) and at the south entrance, at the Tesco roundabout. This has so many hard stone, concrete and steel surfaces and is not at all welcoming.

Greening this, maybe with an oak at its centre, might help to relate this entrance once again to our historic market town, its earliest vernacular buildings, its traditional trade in timber shipped down to London.

It would not only soften the town’s entrance but by planting a tree a long-term solution to the question of what to put on that roundabout would have been achieved.

No more discussions of statues versus boats; an oak would be here to stay, for many Henley generations and visitors to enjoy. — Yours faithfully,

Ruth Gibson

Vicarage Road, Henley

Unsuitable site for homes

Sir, — Dieter Hinke was correct to say that Thames Farm was removed from the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan at the behest of the South Oxfordshire District Council (Standard, June 10). However, his decision to refrain from comment “as to whether Thames Farm would have met all the criteria or not” could be misunderstood.

When the housing working group began its work, members drew up a list of nine criteria for choosing sites, such as brown field rather than green field, impact on traffic, integration with Henley etc, and applied these tests to 17 sites submitted by their owners.

On this basis Thames Farm came 16th, being rated “very bad” on five counts and “good” on only one (for not being a flood risk).

At a later stage in the discussions more emphasis was placed on minimising congestion on each route into Henley and it was noted that with up to 55 dwellings assigned to the old Jet garage site and the possibility of more at 357 Reading Road, adding more houses at Thames Farm would increase the risk of gridlock at peak hours, thereby further diminishing the claims of Thames Farm.

In short, I can endorse DC Whitehead’s statement (Standard, June 3) that “the site was considered during the preparation of the plan and was deemed less suitable for housing than other sites for various reasons” before the district council pointed out that it could not approve a site that was excluded from its core strategy. — Yours faithfully,

Kester George

Chairman, Harpsden Parish Council

Silenced by a boundary

Sir, — Dieter Hinke stated that the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan working group held an exhibition in the town hall giving details of the Thames Farm plan (and many others) and that it received a positive response.

This is not surprising since those most affected by the scheme were not consulted.

I went to the town hall and saw the plans but was not allowed to leave any comments since I did not live within either of the two parishes.

The Harpsden/Shiplake boundary ran along the bottom of our garden and I lived the wrong side of it. — Yours faithfully,

Simon Fairthorne

Bolney Trevor Drive, Lower Shiplake

Hospital staff forgot me

Sir, — I have been very unhappy about so many aspects of the new Townlands Hospital, supporting marches and attending numerous meetings.

However, it is here, so when I needed a routine chest X-ray I made an appointment to have it done on Wednesday, June 1 at 4.30pm.

I arrived early as I had concerns about the parking facilities. I booked in with two other patients. There were two members of staff, a man on reception and a female radiographer. The first patient went in and 10 minutes later I was shown into the changing room.

I heard the first patient being told that he was finished with and I expected to be called.

A quarter of an hour passed, then half, so I went back to reception to see what was happening. The two staff were just sitting in the office. They looked very surprised and clearly had forgotten me.

The radiographer rather feebly said that they had had problems, which was quite untrue!

As a former nurse, I would have been reprimanded or dismissed for forgetting one of my patients. I am so disappointed with my first visit to Townlands. What does the future hold for the hospital? — Yours faithfully,

Sheena Rand


The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust responded: “We are very sorry that Ms Rand was kept waiting without being informed of the delay.

“The radiographer was called urgently to assist with an injured patient in the minor injuries unit but we should have let Ms Rand know that her appointment would be slightly delayed and we would like to apologise for that.

“We do thank Ms Rand for her feedback, which has been shared with the team and this will help improve patients’ experiences of this service in the future.”

Our service was excellent

Sir, — Last Saturday I had to take my wife to Townlands Hospital as she was not at all well.

I have to say the service was excellent. The staff were kind and helpful and kept apologising for the wait due to having to treat the victim of a serious road accident. Even so, we only had to wait a little over an hour, a quarter of the time in most accident and emergency units. Well done, Townlands, keep it up. — Yours faithfully,

Adrian Vanheems

Baskerville Road, Sonning Common

Kenton vote was correct

Sir, — Unfortunately I was unable to attend the annual meeting of the Kenton Theatre last week but was concerned to read your article, headlined “Theatre trustees row” (Standard, June 10).

It would seem that a number of the members failed to appreciate that the election of trustees is in no way akin to a local or general election and that they were, in fact, attending the annual general meeting of a company.

As such, its proceedings are governed both by its articles of association and general company law.

It is not correct to say that the constitution of the Kenton does not provide for members to be given an opportunity to vote against a particular nomination, as a former trustee apparently claimed.

The constitution expressly states that the appointment of any new trustee has to be approved by the members at a general meeting. Company law governs the way such approval is given and provides that a resolution of a company is approved if (and only if) the majority of those who vote, vote in favour of it (abstentions do not count).

To assess whether a majority have voted in favour it is necessary to count both those in favour and those who are not (i.e. how many votes there are against the relevant resolution).

If a vote is taken in writing, rather than by a show of hands, the voting form must allow members to indicate whether they wish to vote “for” or “against” each motion, otherwise members are not being provided with a genuine opportunity to vote.

The same would be true if a vote is taken by a show of hands: members should be asked to indicate how many people are in favour by raising their hand and a separate count taken of how many are against.

The procedure adopted this year was not “deplorable and disgraceful” but was, in fact, perfectly proper and in accordance with the constitution and the law.

The point is that members have a right to vote against any resolution, including the appointment of any particular person as a trustee.

They are not compelled to accept a person merely because they have been nominated and seconded.

That would not constitute “approval by the members” as required by the constitution and company law. — Yours faithfully,

Rosalind Fox


Curious  business

Sir, — Further to the “Theatre trustees row” article, I would like to quote from Hamlet: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark [or theatre]”.

Even more apt are Alice’s words “curiouser and curiouser” as some 122 new members and 115 mysterious new proxy votes appeared on the Sunday prior to the annual meeting. — Yours faithfully,

Mike Huntington

Swiss Farm, Henley

Not just for amateurs

Sir, — We were not able to attend the Kenton Theatre’ annual meeting but have since learned of the unpleasant and personal nature of comments directed at the chairman.

We became supporters of the Kenton, firstly under the chairmanship of Alan Pontin and then under Ed Simons. Indeed, I (Lady Macclesfield) have recently been encouraged to become a bar volunteer by Annie-T Simons.

We have seen at first hand how the theatre has developed from a purely amateur venue to its present day professional venue, hosting multi-talented performers and international stars such as Marti Webb and Michael McIntyre, while still presenting the local amateur groups such as HAODS, the Henley Players and other talent.

Those members who wish to see it return to its former incarnation do not, in our opinion, represent the views of the vast majority of members and volunteers.

The Kenton Theatre and all its productions should enable the populace to enjoy a wide range of entertainment. — Yours faithfully,

Earl and Countess of Macclesfield

North Stoke

Fireworks will happen

Sir, — Huge thanks are due to all who have rallied round and donated hard-earned cash to make the Henley Summer Fireworks happen.

Even more thanks are now due to firstly, Fantastic Fireworks, who spotted the “perfect field” and secondly, the Copas Partnership, who own it and have offered it as a firing site.

So the Henley Summer Fireworks will go ahead, being fired from the hill that is part of Temple Island Meadows events venue, above the Remenham Club.

It actually looks as if it is behind the regatta site but, importantly, the fireworks will be easily visible from the whole of Henley and as far as the Barn Bar, the whole of the Temple Island Meadows and the Stag and Huntsman venues.

So on Tuesday I believed we had failed and that the fireworks wouldn’t happen after all and now we are full steam ahead. We just need a bit more money…

The Mayor Julian Brookes, Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton and Richard Reed have done sterling work persuading people to contribute; now we hope those along the Remenham bank who supported us last year and the new operators along the Remenham bank and opposite will support us, knowing that their customers will get a good view of the fireworks.

Providing the site works well this year then the Copas Partnership has offered to consider this location ongoing. — Yours faithfully,

Lady McAlpine

Fawley Hill

Feeding a problem

Sir, — One cannot deny that red kites are beautiful birds, their flight and call are magical, and in this area we have an abundance of them.

It is a myth that they take carrion — animals and birds that have been killed, perhaps, on roads.

Friends have seen them hunt live leverets and we have witnessed them killing live pheasants.

One of our hens had to be taken out of her group as she had a bad claw and limped badly, so in a “house” on her own she coped and sat in the garden all day, waiting for us to pick her up to be put in at night.

Although she never went far, she was happy and if the weather was bad we popped her back into her “house”. This was her life and she accepted it.

On Monday, after it was too late for us to intervene, two kites dive-bombed her. By the time we got to her she was dead and instead of putting her to bed as usual we are left with dealing with her body.

The problem is that because these birds are fed in gardens etc they do not disperse as is natural so have to compete for food and take live prey, which is not natural to them.

We are used to looking out for foxes, particularly at this time of year as they are feeding young, which is another problem, but it is no consolation as we go out tonight to shut the others in safely and realise we have another predator to worry about. — Yours faithfully,

Diana Jackson

Homer Farm, Ipsden

Worrying sighting

Sir, — I was surprised and somewhat alarmed to read in your Diary of the capture of an Asian hornet in Henley (Standard, June 10).

This is a non-native species of hornet which is considered a serious predator of honey bees, quite capable of destroying a hive in prolonged and concerted attacks, and although not noticeably aggressive to humans, builds large nests housing possibly several thousand individuals which are considered dangerous if disturbed and provoked to attack.

As far as I am aware, there have been no confirmed sightings in the UK but as it is present in France its arrival is considered inevitable.

The official initial response of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to a confirmed report of its presence here is, with the co-operation of the property owner and other interested parties such as beekeepers, to try to find and destroy the nest so as to prevent or delay its establishment in the UK.

Defra has published an official alert which can be found at and requests any sightings be reported to them or the National Bee Unit (

If any of your readers spot an Asian hornet (the sites mentioned before or a simple internet search will provide identification), could I please ask them to report its presence? It is important to the health of the native bee population. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Guy

New Street, Henley

Pest should be reported

Sir, — As a beekeeper, I was concerned about your Diary article on the sighting of an Asian hornet as this is a notifiable pest not currently present in England and needs to be reported to the authorities.

In fact it’s not possible to tell from the photograph in the paper whether it really is an Asian hornet, or a European one, which is bigger. — Yours faithfully,

Meryl Toomey

Anna Smith, who found the hornet, responds: “I did send photos to the relevant authorities (and I have kept the body) but they seemed not too worried as they thought it had come either in a plant I had bought or a painting I had been sent, both from France.”

Gruesome photograph Sir, — I don’t think it was necessary to show that photograph of the fox with the squirrels in its mouth. We know this happens but the photo was completely unnecessary and rather gruesome. — Yours faithfully,

Scott Moncrieff


Generous shoppers

Sir, — On behalf of the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre in Reading, I would like to thank the staff and customers of Tesco in Henley for their warm welcome and generosity during our charity collection held at the store on Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15.

We were delighted to raise £1,181.15 over the two days (with the top box containing more than £160), which will be put towards the provision of therapies, services and information for local people with MS.

I would also like to thank the 15 volunteer collectors who gave up their time to help us raise money for our centre. — Yours faithfully,

Tracy Watkins

Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, Reading

Backing for Bethlehem

Sir, — Our recent showing of the film Open Bethlehem raised more than £800.

When we asked its director Leila Sansour what we in Henley could do to support Bethlehem, she said: “Visit. Buy Palestinian products, lobby your politicians to keep the pressure up to find a solution to the Palestine/Israel struggle, or we may find that there are no more Christians in Bethlehem.”

This is a challenge to our MP John Howell and I hope that he will use his influence to help bring peace in the Holy Land. — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Bowder

Northfield End, Henley

Wonderful open gardens

Sir, — Thank you so much to those who opened up their gardens to the public in Hambleden on Saturday.

They were an absolute joy to see and a great deal of hard work had been put in.

A very British occupation on a very British weekend. Well done! — Yours faithfully,

Minnie Wilson

Nicholas Road, Henley

Brexit’s ultimate nightmare scenario

Sir, — This piece of artwork is doing the rounds on the internet and was apparently produced in Bristol.

It shows the ultimate prospective post-Brexit nightmare scenario, namely Donald Trump as American president and Boris Johnson as the UK prime minister.

“Nightmare” since one can imagine Boris squealing like a stuck pig as “the Donald” gives him the bad news that he is out for America first, second and third in any and every trade or defence (or save-the-planet) discussion!

It makes President Obama’s “back of the queue” warning sound positively benign.

Stranger things could happen but not much... I suggest to vote “Remain” if you want to avoid it!

Meanwhile, your correspondent Enid Light labelled my letter of May 27 “sexist”, presumably without being aware that the headline “Children are a credit to Boris” was written by the Standard (as per normal practice) and was not known to me prior to publication.

The body of my letter text specifically commended both Mr and Mrs Johnson.

The larger point I’d make, however, is that my being overtly ignored by Boris when he turned up late for his own party was very bad manners by most people’s standards.

If BJ does that to me (a person not then known to him) then he’ll do it to anyone and that is just one of several behavioural attributes that would make him massively unsuitable to become prime minister. Entertainer yes, PM definitely not. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Why do I have to sweep the road?

Sir, — Here are two photographs, before and after, of the gutter and drain in the road outside my home.

I spent some time one afternoon scraping, sweeping and collecting a large wheelbarrow full of gravel, stones, sticks and dust.

I did not quite finish the section I intended to do with another 10 yards or so to go but, at close to 70 years of age, I am not as fit as I was.

I don’t know what authority is responsible for keeping our roads and drains maintained but they are doing an extremely poor job of it.

Whenever we have heavy rain debris washes down the road and blocks all the drains, causing a large flooded area on the carriageway.

Very occasionally a drain clearance vehicle comes along to suck out the drains but as the gutters are never cleared the debris simply washes down with the next rain and blocks the drains again.

It can be seen from my “before” photograph how much vegetation was growing in the gutter. That should indicate how long it was since it was cleared. (It’s approximately a year. I tidied it then too.)

To deflect the expected health and safety panic, I am this age because I have the common sense to survive.

I worked facing the oncoming traffic and used my hearing and sight. Whenever a vehicle approached I stepped well back on the verge so that no driver needed to take even the slightest avoiding action.

No doubt I have broken some council rule or EU regulation by cleaning the public highway. If so, perhaps the people who are supposed to be keeping the roads clean will be in touch to let me know.

Alternatively, they might like to send me a cheque for the one-and-a-half hours’ work I did that they have failed to do.

They may also like to check the rest of the village, and other villages around the county, as they all need the attention of a road sweeper. — Yours faithfully,

Martin Hoare


Look who came to our party

Sir, — I thought you might like this photograph from the Binfield Heath celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Someone has taken up residence in our new phone box, which was installed to mark the occasion! — Yours faithfully,

Elisabeth Ransom

Dunsden Way, Binfield Heath

More News:

POLL: Have your say