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Yearly Archives: 2013
Over the years I’ve been involved in Christmas Street Collections as a member of Egham Round Table, and the Rotary Clubs of Chertsey, then Shepperton Aurora. Wanting to join a lunchtime Rotary club I transferred to Farnborough, and my first experience of one of their street collections was on Sunday! It was like a military operation. A dozen or so collectors were marshalled by one experienced Rotarian who knew every road on the route; our illuminated trailer blasting out carols and christmas music was towed by a Rotarian in his 4WD car – he must have been an expert in manouvering in and out of tight corners with a caravan in tow! Having knocked at a door and collected some money in my tin I found myself having to walk 100 yards or so to catch up! Santa, on foot, was everywhere! As soon a young children appeared on the doorstep there he was -and that – to me -is the sheer magic of taking part in these collections -seeing the wonderment in the eyes of youngsters when the meet the man who usually only comes down their chimney.
Nobody slammed the door in my face -something I experience when canvassing. Christmas brings out the best in people – and everyone seems to love Rotary.
Have YOU ever thought of joining? Ask me for information please.
Those of us who grew up in the years immediately following WW2 will know that the children of today receive so much more at Christmas than we did. Nevertheless Christmas was as wonderful and exiting than as it is for the children of today. The postman used to deliver parcels from my Aunties in Scotland -just the knock on the door was a cause for excitement. Nothing compared with the excitement of the night my Father lit the candles, (yes-real candles), on the Christmas Tree and they set the curtains on fire! Happy Days! My brothers and I shared one bedroom and how we looked forward to The Sunbury Rotarians coming round the streets, with Santa!
In due course I joined Egham Round Table; we had a wonderful old truck, painted red, which we called ‘The Runnymede Rocket’. At Christmas time we’d decorate it and do the rounds of the local streets with one of us dressed as Santa. Us young Tablers were welcomed by many of the young mums with perhaps a mince pie, perhaps a brandy, and perhaps -for Santa- even a kiss!
Later I joined the Rotary Club of Chertsey and, like most Rotary Clubs, we collected at Christmas. How I used to enjoy seeing the faces of the young children at their windows as we went by with Santa.
My experiences at Shepperton Aurora Rotary Club were similar. We were allowed to collect at Tescos and elsewhere, and on one night the Lady members toured the local pubs. One lady member was a curate at St Nicholas’s Church -she used to bring her Bassett hound on the street collections so that it had its evening walkie. I recall that one night we persuaded her to be Santa. Sadly one small boy was not fooled by her disguise! “You’re not Santa”, he yelled, “you’re Melanie”
And now I’m in the Farnborough Rotary Club, willing to collect, not so willing to play the part of Santa. Sadly, at our site in Farnborough yesterday, my two lady companions refused to be Santa – so I was lumbered. I’m afraid my grumpy old face and my reluctance to wear my beard (I have a cold) did not go down too well with them! No mince pies, brandy or kisses!
I did however have one memorable experience. A man came along with a younger person in a wheelchair who was clearly very disabled. The man asked if he could take a photograph of me with his companion. I duly stood behind the wheelchair and held onto the handles. The person in the chair took hold of my hand and pressed it against his face, where he held it for a few seconds. I imagine he could not speak – for me he didn’t need to speak at that moment. That brief experience reminded me that we don’t always need gifts, food or drink to make someone happy at Christmastime
Last Friday afternoon, (December 6th), Carol and I were walking to the Christmas Market in Park street at about 4-30 pm. We met a gentleman on the London Road Slip Road who seemed in a very agitated state and we saw that two parking wardens were on the scene. We also saw that several cars had parking penalty notices on their windscreens. The gentleman explained that he had already saved several people from getting penalty notices and that nobody realised that the parking arrangements had been changed. I told him that I was a Surrey County Councillor and I gave him my card. On the way back from the town Carol and I walked along the Slip Road – one warden was still present. I returned on Saturday December 7th -once again there were cars with penalty notices on their windscreens and a warden was in the road. I revisited the slip road on Wednesday late morning, December 11th; again a warden was in the road and cars had tickets.
Being extremely concerned about this situation I alerted all of my Surrey Heath county council colleague and sent information to groups, clubs, churches etc. trying to warn people about the new parking arrangements. I also used social media. I was pleased to hear that Rodney Bates had tabled a question on the matter at the SHBC full council meeting on December 12th.
Yesterday I had a telephone call from the gentleman Carol and I had met on Friday December 6th; he had decided to call me to explain what he was doing but after listening for a few minutes I asked him to please send me an email. This gentleman’s name is Michael Edwards and his email appears below -I have his consent to send it to whoever I want.
At the last count I gather that some 800 people had parked illegally in London Road Slip Road since the arrangements changed in Mid- October. Michael Edwards has ‘moved on’ another 100 potential victims. I can only agree with him, and many others, that the statutory public notice warning about these changes was inadequate. That being so I am firmly of the view that all penalties should be refunded for first time offenders, and that the process should start all over again. We are not infallible -we all make mistakes.
Please read Michael Edwards email -then tell me what you think,
From : Michael Edwards
Sent on : 13/12 13:17:45 GMT
Subject : Parking – London Road A30 – We met last Friday
Hello Mr Fuller
Thank you for our conversation this morning.
My experience , when we met, on Friday 6th December 2013 , and subsequently, has been, as follows:
-I was warning people not to park there as the traffic wardens are having a field day.
-My issue is that what they are doing is unfair – whilst legal – the signage is abysmal AND that there was no notice easily visible that this had changed – bearing in mind that also it gets dark early and people really cannot see these signs ontop of the poles.
-One person who was caught, put up some A4 flyers along the poster wall there, to say it had changed – the council took them down in a day – you try and get the council to move that fast when you want something.
-I was accosted by 1 warden, a black man of African appearance and dialect, who said what I was doing was illegal (warning people not to park or they would get a ticket) . I know that he was wrong (he could see his ticket count going down) and I stood my ground and told him that what he was doing was morally wrong – he got his walkie talkie and (unbeliveably) within 2 minutes – another 2 coloured men also of African appearance and accent appeared around the corner. They thought that the 3 of them would send me packing – it was the other way around.
They hid behind a large white van waiting for people to park – and then pounced.
-I know what they are doing is legal but its not right – Firstly – they should have painted “Resident’s Parking” on the ground along the white line – the same as they do for disabled. Also they should have put up – for some time a highly visible sign saying change of use.
Subsequent to the above:
-I had only got an acknowledgement E-Mail from the council and nothing further – after 2 weeks.
-I called last Friday – but their phones were not working -I have called them this morning – and spoken to various people and ended up with (Mr XXXX) who is one of the parking team (I believe a senior person) We had a frank and good conversation – I highlighed the above and what was it we can do – he was good in explaining that all signage must conform to the Highways Act – but that we can have temorary signage warning people not to park (Prevention is better than the cure in this case) He will E-Mail the sign to another department (how many are there!) and they will put them up – its not an exact science – so he is saying Monday / Tuesday – And I have said I will call Wednesday if there is nothing – persistence is the key.
So – my stance is as follows
1/. We do not have adequate signage – people have parked here for decades and do not know this has been altered / changed
2/. Traffic Wardens are not warning people – they are hiding / lying in wait and then pouncing
3/. The people they are catching are not criminals or chancers they just are not aware – and I feel my fellow residents should not be treated this way.
I hope the council will respond and do something – I do find the attitude should be different when doing this – the ticket count alone should have been enough for the council to realise they are doing something wrong – but putting profit over service and your own morals is a poor way to serve the community – who at the end of the day – pay your wages.
I have not had a ticket myself – I was lucky enough to see the flyers – so far I have warned and moved on about 100 motorists who could have received tickets.
Surrey Gu16 7JX
I make no secret of the fact that I hate litter and I hate litterers. My own road is a route home from Camberley for those enjoying the ‘night economy’. so on Saturday, Sunday & Monday mornings I find bottles, cans, half-eaten food, bags and containers and vomit on the way to collect my newspaper from the Town Centre. If anyone saw my Surrey County Council Election literature earlier this year they’d have seen THREE litter related photos, one being with the excellent ZILCH team from Camberley – I helped them clear litter at Frimley Railway Bridge -disgusting!
Today at Surrey County Council our Leader, David Hodge, announced our countywide anti -litter campaign and I’m delighted. Let’s hope we can penalise those dirty, selfish litters and by so doing create a cleaner Camberley and a cleaner Surrey
In March 2013 there was a proposal to limit free parking on this slip road in order to provide parking spaces for residents in the nearby flats. On August 29th the SCC Parking team advised that no objections had been received; they thus proceeded to give Statutory Notice of intended changes to the parking arrangements. I drove past this slip road at 8-35 am this morning. Before the parking changes were implemented there would probably have been no available spaces after 9-00am. This morning very few cars were parked and there was space for at least 15 and probably more cars. I visited the slip road during the late afternoon of Friday and Saturday evenings. On both occasions parked cars had received penalty notices and parking wardens were in attendance. Over the weekend I’ve been involved in a discussion with SHBC and SCC councillors responsible for local parking matters; I visited the slip road yesterday at 4-30 with my SCC colleague -whilst there we spoke to a lady who had no idea that the parking arrangements had changed. I understand that since those parking arrangements were amended approximately 400 people have infringed the rules. In the first two weeks there were I understand 170 infringements – but no penalties were levied in that period. I’ve requested accurate figures of infringements and penalties to date. Yesterday I asked the aforementioned SCC & SHBC councillors to try and call off the parking wardens and suspend penalties until an investigation into why so many people seem unaware of the changes has been completed. Is the number of infringements in a 200 yard stretch of road unusual? Do people want to be fined? Would so many have been fined if there were yellow lines on the road? I suggest that the height of the Parking Permit Area notices is a factor as is the fact that in one stretch of the slip road there is 30 minutes permitted, whereas at the other end no parking is allowed. I’m hoping for satisfactory answers and action this week. in the meantime please tell everyone you know to TAKE Care when parking in Camberley and to LOOK AT THE SIGNS
I stopped by at the ‘Bake-A-Wish stand in the Mall today. This was a nice little bit of publicity by the fantastic staff at the Make-A-Wish Head Office in Camberley. How many residents know that Camberley has been the home of this national -indeed international -charity since it was launched here in 1986? I was priveledged to have been a trustee in the very early days, and have tried to stay involved ever since. There are tens of thousands of children in UK with life-threatening illnesses; Make-A-Wish endeavors to grant wishes to as many of them as possible – but this requires money, volunteers, and very efficient and determined management and support staff. If you want to know more please visit the website -www.make-a-wish.org.uk. Or why not call them and ask to be shown around?
For some years my wife Carol, and her colleague Liz, have been running a science tutoring business. They’ve achieved some excellent results. Their website is http://www.tutors4science.co.uk. They are now planning to to go onto Facebook and Twitter, having seen how vital is Social Media to my role as a Surrey County Councillor. So watch this space -especially if you know anyone who wants tutoring in Physics, Maths, Chemistry or Biology, or if you know any potential Tutors.
Since 2009 I’ve had the pleasure of representing Surrey County Council on the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, which coordinates work in the Valley on behalf of the Local Authorities that border, and (in most instances) fund that Work. At the AGM held on November 8th I was elected as Vice-Chairman of the BVCP. The BVC Trust, a separate charitable organisation, was born out of the Partnership. I have resolved to do my best to spread the word about the amazing work carried out by the Partnership and the Trust on behalf of all of us who use the facilities and perhaps do not know much about what goes on. The Trust are seeking new members and more volunteers to enable them to carry out their valuable work. Both organisations are willing to send speakers to clubs etc – both have a story to tell. They want to be invited to attend events such as Summer Fairs.
Everything you need to know is on their websites of BVCP and BVCT. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Please do take a few minutes to have a look at what these Organisations do on behalf of us all and then think about how you may be able to help and support their work
I’ve heard quite a few people say that Fathers Day is a bit of a ‘Commercial racket’, intended as a money-making scheme but with no real meaning behind it, unlike Mothers Day, which has greater ‘meaning’. That may be so – and I do know that Fathers Day was ”invented’ in USA mainly because there wasn’t one, but with the intention of recognising that Dads did have a part to play in the lives of their children and were thus deserving of some ‘recognition’. Taking the ‘commercial’ angle first – I’ve no problem with an an idea that creates a few jobs, contributes to the economy, generates some good feeling and does nobody any harm. In terms of parents actually becoming parents in the first place, the role of the father is transient whilst that of the mother is laborious. Even during the process of growing up, and despite the fact that most mothers are working mothers to a greater or lesser degree, it is her influence that is likely to have the most effect on a developing child? In the case of my own children, I in the main had the ‘nice’ jobs to do. I introduced my son to a dozen or so sports and regularly took him to watch cricket, football etc. I played tennis with both of them, swam with them, took them out on their bikes -sometimes so that mum could have a rest or get on with the housework -but I never complained. I did many of the school runs and attended school events -often to their embarrassment! My own father was a pretty tough man – anyone with wimpish tendencies was not going to get much sympathy! I remember one occasion when it snowed -my brothers and I were taken into the garden and made to throw a rugby ball around -without gloves! I think it fair to say that, although we respected the ‘Old Man’, life was a lot easier when he was at work, at his allotment, running miles in Richmond Park regardless of the weather , stewarding at The Royal Festival Hall to earn a few pennies (but he loved classical music) etc. Our Mum was easy to get on with -but would we have been happier if he’d walked out ? I don’t think so! Did we send him cards on Fathers Day -yes! Am I pleased to have received cards from my son and daughter -even though I was, apparently, ‘a chip of the old block’? Of course I was!
What next? Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Although I am past the official retirement age, (yes -I know that is hard to believe), I cannot watch as much cricket as I’d like since I’m very tied up in the affairs of Surrey County Council. In addition, like approximately one third of the retired between the ages of 65 and 74, I am a volunteer. In addition to being a member of Rotary, a very successful public service organisation, I serve several other charities as a volunteer. In addition to those retired folk who give their time willingly, a further million or so act as carers. How much money do these people save the ‘State’ by giving their time free of charge, and often incurring travel and other costs which they cannot or decide not to claim? Among these millions of retired volunteers are some higher rate taxpayers who Ed Balls has decided to target by withdrawing their winter fuel allowance. As a Chartered Accountant I am flabbergasted that he is even willing to contemplate such an idea, given that it will be a bureaucratic nightmare for HMR&C. I suppose it will create a few jobs -perhaps that is what is motivating Ed – I cannot see it raising much money for the Exchequer. To me it is one of the worst examples of ‘gesture politics’ -ie a Labour Politician being seen to target the ‘rich’ in order to win a few votes. Last week at Lords I had the pleasure of sitting beside a gentleman in his eighties who, I imagine, is possibly a Higher Rate Taxpayer. Having ‘retired’ some years ago. this man saw the need for a particular service in his part of the country. In the major towns and cities we take this particular service for granted. Without it lives would be lost. In the country area areas where this gentleman lives the service did not exist -so he used his skill, his charm, his contacts etc and he raised the millions of pounds necessary for the service to be provided. He is now the unpaid Chairman of the organisation. The contribution this gentleman has voluntarily made to society is immeasurable; without it several people living today would not have survived if the service which he founded and he chairs had not existed. We all know that there are many ‘rich’ individuals who have repaid society in their retirement -yet Ed Balls wants to punish them by withdrawing their winter fuel allowance because they are ‘rich’. Would you blame a ‘rich’ retired person for deciding not to offer his time, skills, experience , money etc. to the charitable sector? What a way to disincentive potential volunteer for the sake of a few pounds -just to score a political point!