Sep 202016


Newsletter 24         August/September 2016

The meeting place for the interests of people aged 50 plus

At 25 August 2016,

our Membership stood at 978

and is this SDSAF Member the last surviving

member of the Sevenoaks Pensioners Group?

Garden HedgesA painful story came our way!  One of our Members who can barely see was making their way along a pavement tapping their stick left and right as usual and walked straight into an overgrown shrub that was hanging way over the pavement.  The tapping stick would not of course have found the shrub but his face did.  If your garden hangs over the pavement, please be aware that this may give a real problem to people walking by.

and Road SignsMotorists in Kent will have a similar problem with vegetation.  These days it hides so many road signs.  Clearly our Highways Authority, Kent County Council, has cut back on cutting back!  The same problem is all across the country.  When someone has a road accident (as our partially sighted Member had a pavement accident) and sues the County Council for allowing a warning sign to be hidden, maybe KCC will do something.  Meanwhile, they will continue to cut public services based on the risk they undertake in doing so.

 Taking Your Neighbour to HospitalSDSAF continues to pressure transport bosses about bus routes and free travel. Members will know that we have consistently been on the case (see Issue 1 below).   Meanwhile, can you do a neighbour a good turn and take them to the Doctor’s or to the Hospital for their checkups?

Hospital Parking Here is a much better bit of public relations!  At least the Medway Maritime hospital people are explaining what happens to some of the income from exorbitant hospital car parking charges.

Kent County Council Transport Consultation

Recently we highlighted the farce of Freedom of Information when Kent CC refused to give us information because it would take too long and be too expensive, though how they came to that calculation I will never know!  We asked KCC how much they spend on consultations and they would not tell us.  From the facts we do have (KCC has undertaken 521 consultations since 2013, and the recent Library consultation cost £45,000) this could mean some £23 million or £7,000,000 plus per annum of our Council Taxes. What difference did any of this money make to the final recommendations?  They have now asked us to be involved in a travel consultation and want a meeting with us.  We have of course agreed so we can tell them what you tell us! See Issue Groups below.

Babs Watsonis the SDSAF Member photographed on page one. She wrote:

Yes, I am the last surviving member of the Sevenoaks Pensioners Action Group, which was very busy in the community during the 80s and 90s and part of the National Pensioners Convention.

I am very glad to be a member of the SDSAF and receive your newsletter, though I can’t be active at 96, but well aware of the commitment of your committee.

I should like to refer to the issue of DRONES in the last newsletter and am aghast that 35 billion is being spent on this technology.  I think robots should be banned as a public hazard but also they are being used in warfare, killing innocent people. I think our MP, Mr Fallon could throw some light on this. And, is there a drone law?

Thank you for highlighting the health issues we have in old age and giving us the confidence not to feel alone and call for help.

As a suggestion, please could we have a postal address to send letters to in the future as not everyone has a computer.  (Sorry we seem to have forgotten to put that into the newsletter, Babs)  Very glad for the SDSAF, Babs Watson.

Thanks for writing Babs, and for the encouragement!

Robert Brookbank, the Swanley Town, Sevenoaks District and Kent County Councillor died recently.  Anyone who stands for public office is taking on a difficult job and we should be grateful for their work.  SDSAF is non-party political and hopes that whoever puts themselves forward for election for any one, two, or three of these positions will bear in mind the needs of older people.

Issue GroupsFrom nothing to three in one go!  You may recall that Issue Groups have been mentioned before without anything really getting off the ground.  In August, the Committee agreed to alter the way SDSAF is managed.  There will now be a small group that gets through the administrative business we have to do, checking the accounts and so on, and a bigger group responsible for getting things done i.e. following up on the concerns that Members express when we meet them.  They will work through Issue Groups.  Three Issue Groups are getting under way focussed on; Bus Transport in Kent, The Disappearing Public Toilets of the Sevenoaks District, and The Swanley Development Plan.

Issue Groups can be two people upwards and will need the support of SDSAF to work on behalf of Members.  We don’t recommend that they get too big, as they could merely become unwieldy committees.  We don’t expect them to be too formal with minutes and vice chairmen – all we need is that they examine an issue, make proposals on what to do about it, and start trying to influence the decision makers.  The Committee will help, we promise.  The ideal Issue Group could easily start with a cup of tea and a biscuit but could finish with powerful people changing their minds!

Issue Group 1 – Bus Transport: Kent County Council has invited SDSAF to meet with their officers for a discussion.  Four Members from New Ash Green, Hartley, Eynsford and Sevenoaks have offered to help with this one.  If you have views, we would be happy to receive them on or through Roger Bryan – contact details on the back page.

Issue Group 2 – Public Toilets: not something to laugh about especially if you are one of the many older people who need to spend a penny fairly regularly. Local authorities do not HAVE to provide public toilets but the people need them!  Our local authorities do lots of things they don’t have to do.  Most of our  councillors in Parish, District, and County are of an age where they probably need them too but they don’t want to spend thousands of pounds per year maintaining them.  What can we do?  Will our GPs help us?  Is it a priority or not?

Issue Group 3 – Swanley Development Plan: there are big plans for Swanley whose residents, like those of Edenbridge, constantly tell us that they feel ignored by Sevenoaks District Council.  The District Council has spent millions buying property in Swanley already with more to go.  But how will our older people fare?  When the town centre was last redone, block paving was put in but the ground was not levelled with the result that wheelchair users and mobility scooter users are faced with something more like a teenagers’ skateboard park. They also missed the chance to make sure that the shops could be accessed without going up a step.  This group should help to make sure that the needs of older people are taken into account.

If you would like to join Groups 2 or 3 or would like to contribute your thoughts to Group 1, please contact any of the committee through the contact details on the back page.

Now you see it, now you don’t.  Member Alan Dean took these photos of the Swanley Club, one of the sites owned by and earmarked by Sevenoaks District Council for redevelopment.  Join Issue Group 3 and help to form the District Council’s plans.



Financial Bureaucracy SDSAF gets a grant from KCC to help with its costs.  Because of this, we are, quite rightly, held accountable for the use of these public funds.  However, the extent of the record keeping and the details we are expected to keep have increased over time even though KCC reduced our grant in a most cowardly fashion this year.  We expect these grants to be reduced further.  We have consistently offered to meet with them so they can understand that we do not need to be a thorn in their side, we want to be a good positive partner.  KCC also seems not to understand the difference between volunteers like us and local government officials.  They expect that we will act like those officials and not like the volunteers we are.  We can see a future where KCC will lose all its volunteers because whilst they look on us as cheap workers (free) they demand that we act like employees.

Something wrong here!  And we offer AGAIN to meet with officials and councillors to discuss this imbalance of expectations.

101 Have you tried ringing the Police on 101?  101 takes the weight off emergency teams so they can concentrate on the big crimes but has 101 worked for you?

Don’t be a Money Mule Geoff Parsons and e-Watch remind us this week that if you take anything abroad for anyone else, you will be held responsible for it, so, if you break this or another countries’ rules on what you are carrying for someone else, you could find yourself in trouble.  If you have any doubts at all, ask your Bank about the rules on carrying someone else’s cash and avoid doing a favour for a friend that you having doubts about.

Stroke Consultation Have you, or anyone you know, had a Stroke?  Let the NHS know about the treatment you received.  Did it help?  Better than you expected? Leave you disappointed? Phone 03000 424941 for more information about meetings being held in Kent; the nearest to our area being Tonbridge on the 29th September 2016.

The Jasmine Programme and Mental Health First Aid Training West Kent Mind are holding a two-day First Aid training course at the District Council Offices in Sevenoaks on Monday 7th November and Friday 11th November at a cost of £120 per person; details from Ruth Brown on 01732 744950.  Ruth is also the person to talk to about the Jasmine Programme, which looks like a great help to anyone suffering from anxiety or other like difficulties.  Don’t be put off from getting help.  West Kent Mind are lovely people and they are there to help.

Help in Senior Yearsis the special day organised by the Oaks Surgery in Swanley on September 20th. They will be hosting at The Clocktower Pavilion from 2:30pm to 5:30pm.  Experts will be on hand throughout the afternoon to advise on Dementia, Falls, Osteoporosis, Making a Will and the Power of Attorney and so on.  Just turn up!

Just Room for a Few Words from Kent Fire and Rescue  Mealtimes can be a busy time for families and often residents find themselves juggling many tasks whilst cooking for everyone.  Distractions can cause you to take your eye off your cooker. The phone may ring.  A text message comes in.  There is a knock at the door.  Sadly, as Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) knows only too well, unattended cooking can lead to a serious fire and severe damage to your home and may put you and your family at risk. Over half of all the fires KFRS attends start in the kitchen.  The majority are caused by unattended cooking, a build up of grease and fat on the cooker, or by kitchen mishaps, where items such as tea towels and chopping boards have been placed on a hot hob.”

Contacting SDSAF Committee People (Please note the changes):

ChairmanFrank McConnell

Vice Chairs:Merilyn Canet01732 461397

Steve Plater01732

SecretaryDerrick Bateman

TreasurerDavid White

Committee Members:  Eileen Murray Giles, Jean Bentley, Anna Durrant, Brian Gasson

Membership SecretaryRoger Bryan07470

Write to us via Membership Secretary, Roger Bryan, 10 Greenside, Swanley, BR8 7ER

SDSAF Membership Forms are available online:

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