… and I know much of it pretty well. My favourite stretches are through Wiltshire and the West Country. As for the rest of it – it is grossly over-used and can be a nightmare. This afternoon, driving (legally) down A30 Camberley in the much-hated Bus Lane I was almost side-wiped by a car in the centre lane. Why? He wanted to turn left into The Avenue. Clearly he had not seen a peak hour programme on National TV a couple of years ago which described the A30/Avenue junction as one of the most dangerous in the South of England. In December 2009 I arrived at this junction just after a bus had collided with the passenger door of a Ford Focus. The Focus driver was clearly making the same mistake as the driver who may well have collided with me – but fortunately I’m all too familiar with the perils of this accursed stretch of road, and a BLAST of my horn prevented the accident today. There have been many such accidents at this junction; there will be many more until the powers that be have the commonsense to rid us of this nightmare.
So what mistake was the other driver guilty of today? I’m pretty sure that he will be telling people about the idiot who today nearly caused an accident because he was driving in a bus lane. He probably does not know that the bus lane only operates on weekdays for a few hours in the morning and evening. He believes he cannot use it -so he turns straight off A30 from the middle lane into a side turning -regardless of who is on the bus lane -which may well have been a bus!
Shortly after becoming the county councillor for this area I had some white arrows painted on the bus lane to encourage people turning left into The Avenue to get into the bus lane before turning left. Few do it.
People, understandably, are very upset at being inconvenienced by the Bagshot A30 roadworks. Fortunately this should be all over by the Summer. But – consider this: the powers that be decided that a perfectly usable two lane stretch of A30 along the edge of Camberley should be reduced to one lane – to allow buses to reach their destination earlier. So if you are held up by the A30 Bagshot roadworks, do not expect sympathy from the poor working people who have to endure the traffic queues on the A30 approaching the Meadows Roundabout -every evening! And do not expect sympathy for the residents of The Avenue, Woodland Road etc. who have to endure rat-runners trying to get away from the A30 queues.
And take a look at who are occupying the buses – indeed when they are occupied. Schoolchildren and people of my age -probably not paying much of anything for their ride. And who are being inconvenienced by this political bus lane? The workers who are paying the taxes and contributing to the UK economy.
I have no problem with bus lanes in London. If I choose to drive in London I must accept being inconvenienced -there are enough trains and buses for me to use instead of my car. However, most of us who use our cars to and from Camberley do so because we have no choice. It is practically impossible and definitely impracticable for me to get to County Hall Kingston other than my car.
I hope we have the sense and courage to rid ourselves of the A30 bus lane. let’s follow the example of Liverpool!
I’ve not played since before Christmas. The weather has been dreadful! My family have had to deal with the illness and subsequent death of my 28 year-old niece , Samantha – she fell ill with the very rare Wegerers in November and she passed away on Christmas Eve. And then I’ve been ‘crusading’ along with several colleagues and residents, not least the excellent Rev. Bruce Nicole, to sort out the awful problem of unclear parking signs in the new Permit Holder Only areas. I believe that between Mid October and 31st December nearly 1400 people have broken the law on the London Road Slip Road – a stretch of road long enough for only about 35 cars. The Permit Holder only area has space for about 12 of those cars. 1400 offenders? This is beyond fiction!
So after a decent lunch at my Rotary Club (Farnborough) I drove through the downpour to meet my old mate Pete at Blackwater Golf Centre. We decided to drive a couple of buckets on the range, by when the rain had eased – so we tossed a coin and decided to slither round the waterlogged course. Two equally barmy people were ahead of us -we were the only four players using the course this afternoon.
For Pete and I we actually played pretty well! Peter potted an impossible put from the edge of one green; he lost one ball at the second but found two more -he remained in credit all the way round – very unlike us! Then we reached the short but difficult eighth -about 130 yards but narrow with a lake on one side and a ditch on the other; and the hole on a small raised plateau. Pete hooked left. I actually drove quite straight, using my six iron. Pete found his ball plus another one in the undergrowth -so drove them both. Then – wait for it…………….
…………I chipped my ball straight into the hole! A birdie!! I very rarely par this hole. Often I’ve lost so many balls in the trees on this hole that I give up in disgust.
We teed off on the ninth – it was almost dark -the heavens opened -we picked up our balls and left. A good afternoon!
However, people are still parking on the London Road Slip Road near the Old Thai House Restaurant, even though a small stretch of the road, long enough for approximately 12 cars, became a ‘Permit Holder Only’ Zone a few weeks ago. Hundreds -many hundreds of people have been penalized. I called in to the Dry Cleaners – 45 of their customers have received penalties -people who have been parking FREE and dropping in their clothes for cleaning for many years. Over the past few days I’ve heard similar stories from H&M supplies and the other nearby businesses.
Over the past month ago, since the complaints started coming my way, I’ve done some occasional lurking -not as much as the excellent Michael Edwards, who has moved on more than 100 people who were intending to park in the Permit Holder Only Zone.
Len Goodman would have been proud of me! How many people did I educate in just 10 minutes this afternoon? SEVEN! Most looked at me as if I were barmy, until I pointed at the new notices -above head height. Having reluctantly left the area I looked back, and saw two more cars pulling into the Zone to park.I felt guilty! Quite possibly the drivers are now £35 worse off now! Will they come back to Camberley to shop? Would you?
Rev. Bruce Nicole has published a petition on the Surrey County Council website. Details etc. can be seem on the Surrey Heath Residents website.
Please spread the word on this. I’ve no sympathy for people who park illegally on yellow lines etc and get tickets. The hundred who have been penalized on London Road are not blind? Not stupid? Something is not right here!
I well remember the day I was interviewed with a view to Fuller Spurling becoming the auditors of one of our best loved and respected local charities, Frimley Fuel Allotments. The interview took place at the home of the Treasurer, a delightful retired Brigadier; the Chairman was also present. Having been an accountant in practice for many years I was well used to ‘beauty parades’; however this particular interview is one that I’ll not forget.
To anyone who is not familiar with the history of FFA, what they do etc., might I suggest that you visit their website (www.frimleyfuelallotments.org.uk); also do listen to the podcast dated August 2nd 2013 between Cllr. Josephine Hawkins and the FFA Chairman Bill Andrews which can be found via the Surrey heath Residents’ website.
I satisfied my interviewers that I was familiar with FFA and that my firm were properly qualified to undertake the required role. Then came the leading question: did I have any experience of Charities? Of course I had, and I reeled them off; I was a Rotarian; a former Trustee of The Make-A-Wish Foundation UK etc. and – Oh Yes – I was on the board of trustees of The Ramblers Association, serving as Honorary Treasurer. In hindsight I should have perhaps been a little more sensitive; as it was I confess that the reaction surprised me. ‘THE RAMBLERS!!* was the explosive response. I then recalled of course the much publicised battle between Pine Ridge Golf Club, (situated on FFA land), who wanted to divert a footpath; and The Ramblers Association, who strive to retain our much -loved network of footpaths, some of which are hundreds of years old. I did of course remember that the associated legal fees at the time we not insubstantial.
Despite this ‘blemish’ on my CV I’m pleased to report that Fuller Spurling were appointed, and indeed remain in post.
As reported in Camberley News and Mail today, the current FFA Hon. Treasurer, Frank Smithen , is seeking to retire, at the rather premature age of 80. As Bill Andrews has stated, Frank will be a hard act to follow. He is a man after my own heart who believes that any of us with a particular skill or experience should endeavour to benefit the community in some way or other. (I only hope that I will have the health and energy to be able to emulate Frank).
So – do YOU know anyone out there who might be willing to take over from Frank? I can assure you that the role is interesting and rewarding. If anyone is interested and is reluctant to contact FFA directly in the first instance, please feel free to speak to me. I don’t want to be repeating this appeal on Franks 90th birthday!
The main debate over the dinner tables over Christmas period was ‘poverty’, with specific reference to food banks. The younger generation, idealistic as they should be, suggest that we should never have got into the state that we are in with with such a demand for food banks. Others, including me, believe that there has always been ‘hardship’ in UK, and food banks are one of the current ways of helping people. Had more food banks existed twenty or thirty years ago more people would probably have used them. Instead there were other forms of relief.
In 2014 I would like to see a wider acceptance that there is a difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. We may all ‘want ‘ smart phones, but do we ‘need ‘ them. I would also like there to be more acceptance that ‘hardship’ is not ‘poverty’.
I heard a man of my generation on BBC Radio 4 yesterday saying that as a child he was not allowed to get down from the table until he’d finished what was on his plate. If there was any left-over food it would be fried up as a meal on the following day. Exactly! Last night we had guests dining with us and staying overnight. The left-over food which I scraped into the re-cycling bin would have provided a pretty adequate meal for us at lunchtime today! How many younger people today have ever heard of Bubble and Squeak, let alone cooked it or eaten it?
As a boy growing up after WW2 I regularly had to eat tripe and onions, or the cheaper cuts of meat. on occasions we had little food in the larder. Fortunately my Father kept an allotment and grew vegetables and fruit in our small garden. On rare, special days we had chicken
So far as I recall, the only ‘fast -food’ outlets were the fish and chip shops – but we could only afford that treat occasionally. Nowadays the High Streets are full of such food outlets -and they are not particularly cheap. For the price of a chicken, burger or pizza take-away meal my wife can provide a dinner for both of us for two days using a gammon joint with parsley sauce, plus mashed potatoes and a vegetable.
I hope, and suggest , that our politicians stop using ‘poverty’, ‘hardship’, food banks etc as political footballs. There are many reasons why we are where we are today; we cannot blame any particular government, or the bankers, or the EU for the situation. It has arisen as a result of a combination of factors. Politicians can argue and debate many issues including The EU, Defence, Health, Welfare, Transport, Education. Having been to a South African township and seen real ‘poverty’ I don’t accept that many people in UK are ‘poor’ or ‘below the breadline’. I do accept that many – too many – are experiencing hardship and have to make unacceptable choices as to how to spend their available money.
So I urge our politicians to agree to work in harmony in order to alleviate the hardship. I’m sure that by redirecting their energies and working with charities, churches, community groups etc. they can alleviate many of the problems we see and hear about today. Perhaps, by avoiding the unacceptable food wastage that doubtless exists, (Tesco’s wasted 30,000 tons of food in the first six months of 2013) , we can even eradicate the need for food banks, thereby permitting those praiseworthy volunteers who manage the food banks to re-direct their valuable efforts to other deserving causes.
Happy new Year to everyone