Friday, 29th May 2015 – 2 pm to 4.30 pm

Speakers: Mark Whyman of AGE UK and

David Brazier (KCC Cabinet Member for ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT)

Rockdale House, Rockdale Road, Sevenoaks TN13 1JT


SDSAF came into being in October 2010.  Most people, when they join, tell us of their concerns and we campaign on those things.  Recently, we analysed all the concerns expressed by Members on their membership forms.  We looked at what bothered us between 2010 and 2013, and then at the issues raised from 2013 to the present day to see if there was any difference.  The main difference is that the list has grown!  Whenever we meet Members we ask them about their concerns.

It’s time to do a survey of all Members to ask what your concerns are NOW.

This is a VERY important exercise as we have an election coming up, politicians need to be told what bothers over 50s, and this is critical because over 50s vote!

What we don’t want to do is put words into anyone’s mouth, so we are being fairly general in our survey but we’re hoping that you will be specific.

Some Small Examples – let’s imagine that you are unhappy with something about the roads where you are.  That might be parking, or pot holes, or the phasing of traffic lights – it could be lots of things.  In our survey we give general headings like PUBLIC AMENITIES (which includes roads, public toilets, benches and so on) but we want you to be more specific and tell us what it is about the roads or benches or whatever that bothers you.  You might not care about the roads, and your concern might be on health or scams or a dozen other things.  We ask you to rate the strength of your concern.  If it’s really high, no doubt you will give it a 10.  If it’s less important but still bothers you, you might give it four.

We don’t want to put words into anyone’s mouth, and we know that you may need time to consider your response.  We want you to be specific – but take a look at the list of concerns that Members have given us over the last 4 years!!!!!

This survey is so important that we are enclosing for postal members a reply paid envelope.  Whilst this is quite an expensive thing to do, we want you to be able to reply without it costing you anything other than a few minutes of your time.

What Kinds of Concerns Do Members Have?  All of the following have been mentioned to us in the past;

4×4 Drivers Cycle Routes Home Calls
Phone Scams Accessibility Deafness Planning
Pets A25 Cycling and Cyclists
Access Hospital Appointments Housing
Traffic Flow Traffic Lights Pollution
Hospital Parking Transport to Medicals Transport
Police Defibrillators Human Rights
Hospital Transport Dementia Integration
Transport Costs Active Travel Developments
Policing Transport Subsidies Isolation
Adult Education Deliveries Pedestrian Crossings
Potholes Transport to Hospitals Appearance
Allotments Animals Utilities
Disability Prescriptions Kerbs
Public Toilets Vandalism Art Gallery
Labelling Public Transport Quality of Life
Downsizing The Arts Elderly
Traffic Congestion Barter Rail Travel
Elderly Care Package Lakes Rates
Bell ringing Elderly Services Walks
Leisure Wheelchair Access Environment
Vulnerable People Benches Blue Badge
Library Renovations Emergency Planning
Fares Sports Bluewater
Lifts Wildlife Road Safety
Pensions Litter Yoga
Road Improvements Local Travel Loneliness
Crime Fire & Rescue Bus Routes
Sport Feeling of Community Market
Road Signs obscured Road Sweeping Schools
Walking Fly Tipping Rural Life
Bus Passes Cardiac Rehab Medications
First Aid Care Mental Health
Loss of Cheque Book Footpaths Shops
Roads Free Transport Security
Bus Services Food Banks Networking
Rubbish Medical Practices Small Print
SECAmb Help for the Elderly Mobility
Caring for Carers Neighbourhood Watch Graffiti
Sevenoaks Trades people Social Services
Cheque Books Gardens Cinemas
Chiropody Social Care Green Belt
Nature Conservation Community Facilities Over-Development
Traffic Calming HGVs NHS
Pembury Hospital Grammar Schools Communication
Old Age in the Home Speeding Health
Hairdressing Community Traffic
Theatres Parking Council Tax
Computing Health & Safety Care Costs
Pavements Vulnerable Adult Support Clinics
Street Lighting Parliament Voice Health Services
Parks Community Responders Competition

One member described himself as a Happy Bunny.  Good.

Please send your survey back to us and make sure that no one can claim that our Members don’t really care about anything.  Your Committee want you to pile on the work of reading the returned survey forms.  We have already allocated a couple of days for this.


Our next Members’ meetingwill be on Friday, 20th March at South East Dance in Egerton Avenue, Hextable BR8 7LG.  Members’ Discussions start at 11.00 am (preceded by a Committee Meeting, if Members wish to attend, at 10 o’clock).

lamp-post-webSTREET LIGHTS    Members may know that KCC has done a U-turn on switching the lights off.  Kent-wide pressure groups brought this about.

REWIRING PUBLIC SERVICES     Last time, we told you about grass verges being turned into wild flower verges like this one.  They are appearing all over the country but not really in Kent.  Through the efforts of SDSAF, KCC and Swansea local government officers are now in touch to discuss the possibilities for the idea in our home county.  According to the website of the Kent Wildlife Trust, this seems like a very good idea.

EXPERT GROUPS    Geoff Parsons wants to begin an Expert Group on Integrated Care.  We would like to strengthen the opinions we present to the big decision makers and with over 600 Members we have dozens of people who have rich experience and expertise. Could we tap your experience?  Do you have an understanding of Integrated Care and could help to form this Group?  We have Members who have had to deal with someone needing a great deal of care.  Perhaps they, or our Doctors, Nurses and Consultants, retired or not, could advise on how best to communicate Members’ opinions to the right people.  Even if you feel your expertise is a little old hat now, you still know more about it than most of us.  Please help us to be truly effective. As always there is no obligation for anyone to be involved but here’s an opportunity to make our voice even stronger.

AND WHO WANTS YOUR OPINION ANYWAY?   The Chairman of SDSAF has been invited to address a sub-committee of the Sevenoaks District Council in late April on the concerns of older people.  We said we would listen to your concerns and relay them to the decision makers – and we are!

SCAMS – YET MORE SCAMS        People claiming to be from the Tax Man, HMRC, phone you up, tell you there is a tax rebate coming your way and ask for your bank details.  Then they rob everything out of your bank account.  Don’t let them fool you.  Or how about this official looking notice;





We have had reason to carry out work in your area recently due to roof deterioration in relation to varying weather conditions. The manufacturers only give a fifteen-year warranty on performance and durability on properties such as yours. Tiles do not last forever.

This is a scam.  Can you tell?  It’s often very difficult to know,

that’s why SDSAF constantly has information on scams on this website.  Keep your eyes open.

MEMBERSHIP DETAILS     In October, we had 586 Members, up from 304 in twelve months, and wondered when we would reach Member 600. We concentrate on town and villages fairs so the winter months are quiet ones for our Membership drive.  In late February, our membership stands at 636. Members registering their email addresses with SDSAF have risen from 50% to 65%.

FOODBANKS Swanley Food Bank sends us info but we would be happy to know about the others. Contact c.hatch1@sky.comfor the excellent and quite astonishing Swanley Food Bank newsletter.  I read it and learned a LOT!

ANOTHER STEALTH TAX ON YOU?     Did you know that Life Assurance Premium Relief is being dropped from April?  The Government used to give tax relief on our premiums.  A £10 premium cost £8.75 but from 6th April 2015, we will now have to pay the full £10.  A removal of a previous tax relief amounts to a new tax.

KENT ASSOCIATION FOR THE BLIND Committee Members visited the Maidstone office of KAB for advice on how SDSAF might best help visually impaired Members.  If you need us to communicate with you in a particular way, please let us know and we will see what we can do.  Meanwhile if you access the web, do look at their very helpful and most excellent website at
The West Kent Dementia Action Alliance is seeking help from people living with dementia, their families and support networks, and from anyone with anything to contribute to the idea of a Dementia Friendly Community.  Even better, if you would like to meet with Project Leader, Tracey Schneider, to share your experiences of living with dementia in our community, what you have found works well and what changes could significantly improve your wellbeing.  The case studies will be anonymous and will significantly help to shape future policy and funding decisions.  In the Sevenoaks Area, you can write your thoughts and ideas on “How to make Sevenoaks Area more Dementia Friendly” on posters in community buildings or contact the group (details below) to add your feedback. DEMENTIA FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES

The next Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community meeting will be taking place on 17th March from 2.30pm at the Sevenoaks DC Offices, Argyle Road.

If you like to find out more, please get in touch with Symone Salwan, co-chair of the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community Forum on 01732 759854 or  via email







 OUR NEXT MEMBERS MEETING will be on Friday, 21st November at 2pm at the Sevenoaks Community Centre near Bat and Ball.  This will be a Committee Meeting to which Members are invited. Daniel Shaw from the District Council is also coming to speak to us about the Sevenoaks Switch and Save – see the next paragraph.  If you would like to see if you can save money, bring your energy bills along and Daniel will help you there and then!  You could save a LOT OF MONEY.

SEVENOAKS SWITCH AND SAVE   Unlike many other comparison sites, this one is totally impartial. They compare all the energy suppliers in the UK highlighting where you could switch suppliers and save £££s! It’s quick, impartial and straightforward. call 0800 410 1147 today and start saving! It’s as easy as switching on a light, putting on the toaster or making a cuppa!  Simply enter your postcode, personalise the search and start comparing! Savings on average have been £148 per year – that’s worth having! The maximum saving someone made was a massive £1744. Grass-verge-webREWIRING PUBLIC SERVICES     They tell us there’s no money.  A couple of SDSAF people went to the Rewiring Public Services event put on by Sevenoaks District Council.  Local authorities need to find new ways of doing things to save money.  These new ways can be better ways – not just cuts.  Grass verges like this one are appearing all over the country.  Are they in Kent yet?  I’m told they save a lot of money.

SCAMS – YET MORE SCAMS     Unbelievably(?), someone has been making phone calls and pretending they are from the District Council Tax Department.  Then of course, they ask for your bank details and then they rip you off.  BE AWARE that Councils and other similar groups never make phone calls like this.  Hang up.  Call the Council.

EXPERIENCE GROUPS  We would like to strengthen the opinions we present to the big decision makers.  With nearly 600 Members we must have dozens and dozens of people who have rich experience and expertise. Could we tap that experience? Would you like to be a part of an Experience Group?  Perhaps our Doctors, Nurses and Consultants, retired or not, could advise us on how best to communicate Members’ opinions to the right people.  Perhaps you know about Transport and could advise on our Transport to Hospital Campaign? Even if you feel your expertise is a little old hat now, you probably know more about it than most of us.  Please help us to be even more effective. A

ND WHO WANTS OUR OPINION ANYWAY?   Our Members know that we listen to their opinions and pass them on to decision makers.  Some decision makers want our opinions and some get them anyway. Right now, we talk to all these; Clinical Commissioning Groups; Dementia Groups; Medical developments like internet links for diagnosis; Air Quality advice for COPD sufferers; Information on health services and their availability; Healthwatch Kent; The Health Action Team at Sevenoaks District Council including NHS, CCG, mental health charities, the Library service, Churches Together, West Kent Extra; The Inclusion Hub Advisory Group of SE Coast Ambulance Service; Several parish councils concerning public access defibs; one-off meetings at which committee members represent the Forum, e.g. at Edenbridge ARA, Rockdale, and Town and Parish Council annual meetings; the Sevenoaks Children’s Local Operational Group (a child protection group) which includes local councils, Social Services, Police and more. Our newsletters are also delivered to a huge list of people whom we feel need to know what our Members are thinking, including; Age UK and Age Concern; Rockdale Housing; Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce; Sevenoaks District Council; Churches Together; North West Kent Volunteer Centre; CROP Kent; Kent Police; Kent County Council; Family Mosaic VAWK; Kent Fire & Rescue Service; Michael Fallon, our Member of Parliament; West Kent (including Lifeways Emerald Service). Our Membership Secretary also sends out the newsletters to lots of other organisations – sorry no room for all of them this time.

DEMENTIA EVENTS    A Memory Event will be put on in Swanley on the 13th November and a Swanley Dementia Friendly Community event at The Orchards Academy in Swanley on Friday 15th December.  If this area of work is of interest to you, put a note in your diary and look out for more details.  Indeed if you receive this newsletter by mail, you may find flyers for various events included.

CONSULTATIONS   Members will be aware that the Committee of SDSAF pass on Members’ views to decision makers whenever we get the opportunity. We are also asked to contribute to consultation processes.  Sometimes this can be a problem if it looks as though decisions or firm proposals have been made already.  One wonders why we are being asked for our opinions!  At the moment, there is a very important consultation on Community Wardens – see elsewhere in the newsletter.  The details are so firm that they are detailed proposals being put forward by Council Officers.  If you want your County Councillor to change them say so NOW!

END OF LIFE CARE    We have been asked to ask you if you would like to contribute to a consultation on this difficult subject.  There are four questions at or you could call Ferne Haxby on 07768 428328.  Have you planned ahead?  Those who have had to make arrangements for our loved ones know the importance of this and how even more stressful it is when arrangements have not been made.  Ferne’s article is in the Trident magazine for the Eynsford, Farningham and Lullingstone areas. AGE UK

KNITTERS AND KNOWLEDGE     The Big Knit campaign from Age UK and Innocent drinks is looking for 800,000 bottle top hats for February 2015.  A 25p donation will go from each to help AgeUK’s Spread the Warmth Campaign.  Call AGE UK advice on 0800 169 6565 or go to their website for further details.

TRANSPORT TO HOSPITAL     Our Transport to Hospital survey showed the difficulties that older (and younger) people have in getting to Darent Valley, Pembury and Maidstone Hospitals.  At our meetings with the health authorities, we refer to our survey time and time again.  It is really important that we keep this pressure up.

HAVE YOU AN EXAMPLE OF DIFFICULTY YOU CAN GIVE US?  Is it easy to get to your appointment?  Please contact Merilyn Canet, our Vice Chair, to tell her your experience so that she can hammer this point home.  Contact details at the end of the newsletter.

BUS PASSES, TRAIN PASSES AND UNFAIR GRANTS      Do you feel strongly about travel passes?  Part of the reason that Kent older people do not get the freedom of travel that Londoners get is the fact that London is given a much more generous amount of money that Kent receives.  London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is quoted as saying ‘Hard-working people who have done the right thing and paid their taxes in expectation of free travel on retirement are right to be annoyed at those who seek to take that away.’   Tell us your point of view. Our MP is a senior figure in Government and he has the opportunity to influence this kind of thing.

ELEANOR CATTON UNDERSTANDS!!!  Eleanor Catton is the writer of The Luminaries and was born in 1985 so she’s not 30 yet.  Here’s a line or two from her book… ‘I’m sorry to say that there were no young ladies on the ship, ma’am…There was a Mrs Paterson travelling with her husband, and a Mrs Mader, and a Mrs Ewers… but they’re all on the wiser side of forty.’

MEMBERSHIP DETAILS     We have 586 Members, that’s up from 304 twelve months ago.  Meet us at Sevenoaks Library on the 15th of November between 10 and 4 to tell us of your concerns.  Bring along your friend who isn’t a Member yet.  600 beckons!

ARMCHAIR YOGA?        Some of us have seen this done.  Some of us do it!  Taster sessions and programmes are available in some parts of the District; Farningham, Horton Kirby South Darenth, Fawkham, West Kingsdown, Hartley and New Ash Green.  They are part of Sevenoaks District Council’s initiative Be Inspired Be Active project which is funded by Sport England.  Contact

COMMUNITY WARDENS       This is a very important consultation.  SDSAF reflects the views of its Members and this issue is new to us.  We encourage you, whether you have a Community Warden or not, to take part in the consultation.   KCC have put forward proposals which you can read on the web. The document says that no formal decisions have been made. This means that the Council has not yet finally agreed the proposals which are to reduce 79 Community Wardens to 40, 3 managers to 2, 4 admin posts to 1, and 12 supervisors to 6.  KCC has to save £1.28m in this service but doesn’t say who decided that.  See;

SEVENOAKS ALLOTMENTS  Some allotments will be available soon for residents of Sevenoaks town. Always useful for anyone looking for a new hobby and for those keen on proper fresh produce.  Several SDSAF members have allotments and they are a helpful bunch especially if you are new to the game.  Contact or David White on 01732 469350

TEA DANCES AT THE STAG         Before this newsletter has gone out, there will have been a Tea Dance at The Stag in Sevenoaks.  I know that’s not very helpful but it seemed worth mentioning so that you can watch for any posters or adverts coming up. Tea Dances can be such fun for individuals, couples or groups!

ELECTORAL ROLL         The District Council now holds two versions of the Electoral Roll; The Electoral Register and the Open Register.  The first is the full version with all voters on it.  It is private to the Council.  You can opt out of the second one, the Open Register.  The Council can sell this list to companies who want to distribute information to you.  If you value your privacy and do not want strangers to know your details, you have to ask the Council to be taken off the Open Register.  01732 227000.  For those of you on the web, click Free Health Advice – Sevenoaks Library 15 November 10am – 4pm  BOOK IN ADVANCE – 01732 227000

PROMISES TO MEMBERS     We make some very important promises to you such as; we will not pass on your contact details to ANYONE!  We respect your privacy so we don’t sell our mailing lists. We promise that we will not bombard you with emails.  However, as we have grown, more and more organisations ask us if they can communicate their messages to you.  We are not the agents of any of these groups so we usually say NO but most weeks we now receive urgent warnings and requests to communicate with you.  For instance, there are warnings about scams and, sometimes, late notices about important meetings.  So we need your help.  Apart from the newsletter (about 4 times a year) and the permanent website what would be okay for you?  A monthly or weekly update on these important things?  Should we email as fast as possible every time when these items come in?  What is acceptable?  Sorry, obviously, this can only apply to internet Members. SDSAF

SECRETARY               Gill Fittock has been our Minutes Secretary for some time and has passed the baton to Derrick Bateman.  Many thanks, Gill, for converting our ramblings to sensible minutes.  Good luck Derrick.         

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