The next Members’ Meeting will be held at the Village Hall at Penshurst

18th March at 10 am.

PENSHURST MEETING   We hold our committee meetings around the District because our Members come from all round the District. Our next Committee Meeting is in Penshurst and we invite Members to attend and contribute to our decisions. We won’t have a speaker, we are just there to do the business of the day and listen to the concerns of any Members who come along.

FEELING GOOD?   West Kent Mind keeps in touch with us and their current mailing is on First Aid and Mental Health. All the events have fallen between our newsletter dates but if any mental health issue is of interest to you, take a look at their website or call them on 01 732 744 950. Their office is at 34 St John’s Road Sevenoaks TN13 3LW .

More people suffer from mental health difficulties than you might imagine and men are less good at dealing with it than women. Headspace Men’s Group meets in Tunbridge Wells from 21st April. Call if you think they may be able to help you.

SDSAF AND PLANNING      Members, especially those in Swanley, will know that the District Council has arranged that a planning appeal process for land off Beechenlea Lane has been arranged to take place in Swanley. We understand that this is unprecedented but follows representations from the Forum to the Council that local people, especially older local people, were being denied democratic services by insisting that the appeal over this same piece of land was held last time in Sevenoaks. This was hugely convenient of one or two Council officers but not to local people. Thank you, District Council, for putting this right. Now all you have to do is win the appeal on behalf of those same local people. Are we not all fed up with the way that developers appear to be able to trample all over the wishes of local people? What is fair about that?

LOST DRONE LAW?   Geoff in Swanley asks us to look into our crystal ball this month (although crystal ball technology might be somewhat out of date!). Did the world really spend £35 billion on robot technology in 2015? Apparently we did. Do you have a robot vacuum cleaner? Or a robot alarm clock? Apparently these clocks run away from you when they ‘go off’ and you have to get out of bed and chase them to stop them shouting at you! No, it’s not a Disney film. And will you be receiving your shopping by a drone flying in over your garden, landing its parcel, and then flying off? And what IS the law on drones? Has it been written yet? Or will it be written after this nine day wonder has lasted forty years?

BROMLEY PENSIONERS Our Member Diana continues to bash our MP on travel concessions and rightly points out that London councils receive far more in grants than Kent councils. KCC Councillors and colleagues fringing the capital are pressurising Government over these unfair grants. Their report ‘Fixing a Broken System’ shows how London is given better treatment so Bromley pensioners living literally yards from Sevenoaks District residents get free travel in abundance. They have bus passes and more – and they have buses!

MULTI-AGENCY AUTISM GROUP   Did you know there is one of these in North Kent? Their invite to attend a meeting in Dartford came in too late to be added to this newsletter but anyone who has loved ones with Autism knows that there is always a need for support. Contact for further details. Sorry, the NHS seems to think that everyone uses the internet so                                                                                they haven’t supplied a telephone contact.

PETITIONS   This one is also just for the Internet but… if you have an interest in petitioning the Government, the website to look at is At the moment, there are 6845 petitions for you to look at, so put your feet up and start whenever you’re ready. Giving the Meningitis B Vaccine to ALL children currently has 814,000 signatures – but was refused, 580,000 + people want Donald Trump banned from entry to the UK. You only need 5 people to start a petition and the Government is REQUIRED to take a petition seriously if more than 100,000 people sign it.

COMMUNICATING WITH OUR MEMBERS As we hope you know, we try very hard NOT to blast you with lots of emails – we don’t want to be pests but occasionally something comes up which seems to be important and should be communicated to you as soon as possible. Please forgive us if your judgement is different to ours but we do have a quick committee discussion if something like this comes up and we don’t email you unless we think that a significant number of Members would like to know about whatever this might be.

KENT CC CUTS SDSAF’S GRANT   We knew it would happen! We knew that KCC would want to cut our money at some stage but we were surprised by the way they did it! They asked US how we wanted to be starved to death. How much could we reduce by? They were not prepared to decide the cut. They would not take that responsibility. We had a reduction of just over 10%. At first, we would not play ball and refused to suggest an ’acceptable cut’. We are a bit like our MPs, some of them have refused a pay increase – we began by refusing a cut.

THE SENIORS ACTION FORUM SYSTEM   There is a Forum in most of the Districts across Kent although we understand that one of them has folded.  In recent times, colleagues across the County have been called together by Kent County Council about every six months.  Members will know that for the 2015 AGM, we contacted senior County Councillors responsible for matters concerning older people but not one was available to attend and they took months to fail to respond.  We were not impressed.  David Brazier stepped in late in the proceedings to represent Kent Highways as a County Councillor and Chair of the Highways Committee but shortly before the AGM he left that chairmanship and was no longer authorised to speak on behalf of that County responsibility. Our Forum colleagues in Tunbridge Wells, supported by us, has tried to persuade KCC to run another of these County-wide meetings but have so far failed to get any useful response.  This year our grant from KCC was cut by just over 10%.  Where is the commitment of KCC towards older people at the moment?

USING YOUR SKILLS?    Do you have marketing skills? Or writing skills? As SDSAF has grown, the workload has grown too and we really could use some help with our newsletter, web site, lobbying and marketing. What’s your background? Could you help? You don’t have to join the committee or do other stuff you would find boring but we could do with some help. Please don’t be shy!!! Give us a call, send us an email…

THE PERMANENT SCAM COLUMN   The Which organisation has reported a scam in which a telephone caller claims that everyone MUST have a new boiler by the end of 2016. NOT SO. It’s a scam.

MEMBERSHIP . . .We are at 854.   A thousand for the 2016 AGM?

SDC STRATEGIC PLAN OLDER PEOPLE’S SUBGROUP  Steve Plater attended this meeting on behalf of Members of the SDSAF on 17th February.  The meeting is of a sub-committee of the District Council’s Strategic Plan Committee.  This parent group is one of the highest committees of the District Council and is as close to the decision making of the Council that we can probably get as an organisation.  The meeting covered topics such as; the housing needs of older people, safeguarding and well-being issues in public service and trying to ensure that anyone who spots a problem will share their concern with all relevant authorities, and the Care Navigator Project (more on this next time as this looks very good but needs more room that we have in this edition).

DEFIBRILLATORS AND COMMUNITY FIRST RESPONDERS   The work on defibs goes on with Geoff Parsons busily encouraging the pulling together of the map and database of where all the machines are sited and Geoff and Steve Plater responding to requests for information and help on defibs around the district.  The Community First Responders (CFRs) are real and active partners in this and do very valuable work.  Their dedication to their work is awe inspiring.

Community First Responders   These days, if you call for an ambulance, you are liable to find that a CFR gets to you first.  It is always good to help people who are as dedicated as they are.  So, the CFR organisation is having a fund raising concert, on July 9th at Otford and SDSAF is contributing to the effort!  Yes, you can see the odd SDSAF committee member putting on a completely different hat and entertaining the troops!  NOTE TO COMMITTEE – Three line whip on attendance at this event?

THE SEVENOAKS DISTRICT COMMUNITY PLAN 2016-19   The District Council has published a draft plan and are looking for your reactions to it. The draft plan has been put together after much consultation and the Council would like to hear responses now from individuals across the District.  This is an important plan. The District Council were pleased to see some 1200 people visit the recent Swanley consultation which will eventually result in a consultation plan for the area.

There are two distinct views on these local authority and NHS consultations; that they really want to know people’s views AND that they have already made their minds up and the whole thing is just a paper exercise to make it look as though they have listened.  Either way, if we don’t respond, we can’t argue with what they do.  It is clear that if the weight of public opinion is in one direction, then a local authority is hard pressed to justify a decision if it makes it in the other direction.  Sevenoaks DC has been known to listen – see the paragraph elsewhere on Swanley planning issues. The closing date for responses is Thursday 31 March 2016. Look at the or email or call them on 01 732 22 7000.

2016 AGM   The AGM is due to be held in Swanley but where can we go? We can’t afford the new Swanley Town Council rates. Disability friendly venue required.

HEALTH ACTION TEAM   We attend the District’s Health Action Team and do our best to highlight the needs of older people. This time the Health Action Team meeting covered; mental- a social and activity based group for older men, the impact of Oyster Card extensions, coming to Swanley and the impacts thereof, and a possible Health Club in the town centre, services for the frail and elderly,  the information sessions run by the Matron at Pembury Hospital, the value of the very popular Health Check events at libraries, the defibrillator now installed at Edenbridge,

and a search for a volunteer trustee at a new day nursery near Rockdale in Sevenoaks,

So, there’s a lot going on there and SDSAF is present at their meetings.




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