This week’s Herald letters page features a correspondent who has been given ‘aggravation’ in Stoke Mandeville Hospital car park.
WHAT CAN I DO?
While it was great to read about some positive areas for parking at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (July 29 – scoop disability gong) I have experienced two conflicting parking issues within the last six months.
I have to attend Stoke Mandeville Hospital on many occasions as I have rheumatoid arthiritis.
I often park behind the Mandeville Wing as this is where my clinic is held.
This car park is operated by a barrier. You take a ticket and pay when you leave. Unless you have a blue badge.
We swap our ticket for a ticket for a ‘get out free’ one at the reception after showing the staff our disabled badge, but these tickets are sometimes not available as they run out fast. So you end up having to track down a replacement from the main reception in the New Wing.
This is quite a distance when you have major walking problems. However, when eventually getting there I have been informed that I could of just given my blue badge number over the intercom at the barrier!
So on my last visit two weeks ago, after undergoing physiotherapy and not being near an exchange point I went straight to the barrier, only to be told in an aggressive tone that this was not the procedure. The lady was reluctant to take my details from my badge and wanted my registration number from my car as well. I couldn’t remember this correctly so I told her I would have to transfer into my wheelchair to get this information, to which she replied: “Next time do it properly!”
A few months earlier I received a ticket for parking in the same car park as I didn’t have my badge on display (because as I said earlier you have to show this at reception).
I have now taken a photocopy but not everyone accepts this as its not the original.
HELP! Just what method do we have to use?
It’s a worry to know that while receiving fantastic care and attention from the medical staff throughout the hospital, you may have a fine for you or aggravation from someone at the end of the phone.
Name and address supplied
The recent Disabled Parking Award for Stoke Mandeville Hospital can only be greeted by incredulity from spinal injured patients.
It does seem strange that UK Parking Control Ltd who assessed the disabled parking are the company contracted to control the parking and issue tickets there!
The number of disabled parking bays was depleted by 20 designated spaces when the Mandeville Wing was built on them but were replaced by 3 new ones opposite the building.
Since then the National Spinal Injuries Centre car park is allowed to be used by all Blue Badge holders visiting the hospital.
It is not unusual for spinal outpatient appointments being missed due to the lack of parking which costs the hospital additional expense and resources to say nothing of the frustration and detriment of patients who have endured long journeys to get there.
The building of the multilevel car park is for staff of whom very few are wheelchair users and so it has made no difference to the NSIC car parking.
As the hospital with probably the most wheelchair user patients in the in the UK, the average percentage of Blue Badge bays in car parks is quite different to other hospitals and should not be taken as criteria for this award.
Whatever happened to personal banking?
I have just received a letter from Nat West stating that the Jansel Square branch will close in November.
The reasons given are that the number of people using branches has dropped significantly in recent years, and many customers are now choosing to use Post Offices or go on line.
I am assured that the numbers at Jansel Square have certainly not dropped , and they are extremely busy with private and business customers.
There are always a number of customers whenever my wife and I visit the bank.
Using the local Post Office is not a viable alternative, as it only offers a limited range of services, and is always congested with customers carrying out other transactions.
I banked at Barclays until last year, when I visited the town centre branch and discovered that all the counter staff had been replaced by machines.
I complained to the Bank Manager in person (before he was replaced by a voice activated answering machine) and stated that I would be transferring my account to Nat West.
Banks are no longer interested in personal customer service, as they have an ongoing commitment to centralise and computerise all their services.
Apparently a branch bank in Wendover was recently threatened with closure.
However, as a result of customer pressure it was decided to keep it open on certain days a week.
I would urge all customers at the Jansel Square branch to make their protest against the closure in the strongest possible terms.
Please sign the ‘Save our Bank ‘ petition in Budgens Store, Jansel Square.
Northumberland Avenue, Aylesbury
Maybe I should leave it alone like Councillor Brian Roberts suggested in the Bucks Herald last week.
This seems to be the general message from the Tory dominated AVDC.
From ‘making mountains out of mole hills’ by Judy Brandis or ‘its only 50p’ by Mark Winn. Maybe Councillor Winn needs to go back to a foodbank for another humbling experience and ask people in need the value of 50p, or maybe he should ask low paid workers in the town that have to use the car parks regularly, what impact it will have on their lives.
Anyway, it’s nice to see our elected representatives belittling our concerns, you only have to look back at comments on Facebook pages, Bucks Herald, Mix 96 and talk amongst Aylesbury residents to see these concerns are not from the few.
It’s a shame to see during the recent AVDC meeting that all but Conservatives besides one,who abstained, agreed to push on with the parking rises. I will remember this when they reappear on our door steps asking for our vote.
Will we ever get open and honest debates where individual councillors from all parties are engaging in local concerns? Is it wrong to put forward concerns from residents or is it more important to play party politics and keep the status quo?
I wouldn’t go as far as Councillor Janet Blake’s version of Aylesbury Town Centre to say that it is‘thriving’. Maybe she visits from her rural home to peruse the charity shops, put a bet on, get a high interest loan and finish with a cheeky Nandos!!
I agree at some point we may need to put up parking, but let’s get Aylesbury town truly thriving before we address the supply and demand logic. Like Brian Roberts has suggested in a previous letter when he was having a pop at the Aylesbury Society about campaigning to stop the demolition of the old police station, ‘rather than criticise from a point of view of just one’s personal thoughts, please enter into the constructive dialogue that I mentioned above, or better still put your name forward to become a councillor, and then you might wish to then act in the interests of the town and the positive future it now has, rather than just run it down’.
I’m glad to see some councillors have taken your advice and are listening to the concerns of residents, being proactive in their wards and starting to question the status quo!
MAKING A PROFIT
Yet again AVDC is flying in the face of government advice (Mary Portas) and an AA report on the impact of high parking charges on the High Street and is raising car parking costs.
Central government is becoming concerned at the profits made by local authorities from car parking. AVDC in a recent year made about £250,000. Government has hinted that the use of car parking profits to reduce council tax may result in reduced contributions from central government funds.
AVDC are unhappy that motorists are using the Exchange Street car park in preference to those at Waitrose and Walton Street.
Instead of the stick approach of raising charges at Exchange Street why not use the carrot of reduced charges at Waitrose and Walton Street? If the evenings were free at these car parks this would benefit Travelodge, Waitrose, Waterside, cinema goers and diners in the area.
An evening charge at Exchange Street could continue.
During shopping hours the charges at Walton Street and Waitrose could be based on attractive long stay rates.
Chairman, Aylesbury Society
Regarding the rise in car park charges in Aylesbury town.
Having read the report on Mark Bateman opposing these charges, I commend him for speaking to people in the town and doing his research.
Obviously the Conservative councillors have not spent their time on this problem.
In fact, I don’t suppose they drive or shop in Aylesbury themselves.
I have personally lived in this town for 50 years. Having watched it go from thriving town to an almost ghost town is to say the least an absolute disgrace. It is becoming a commuter town and, yes, the majority of people do go to Milton Keynes or Wycombe to shop.
The rates are too high, plus car parking charges. This of course keeps businessout and also shoppers. No-one wants rows of charity shops. It is time someone had the get up and go to fight for Aylesbury people.
Whilst the Conservatives pat themselves on the back for turning it into a ghost town, may be they would like to get out there and find out what the people of Aylesbury really want and need.
That way, they can actually be seen to be doing the job they are getting paid for.
Mrs V Oakes
Taylor Road, Aylesbury
HEIGHTEN THE CRISIS
A High Court decision to strike down exemptions from affordable housing contributions for small developments will heighten the housing crisis.
This decision threatens to accentuate the housing crisis by casting a dark cloud on small local builders at just the time when these firms are beginning to show signs of real growth. In the 1980s, there were more than 10,000 small and medium-sized (SME) house builders in the UK building two thirds of all new homes. There are now fewer than 2,500 SME house builders and between them they build less than one third of all new homes. The reasons for this decline are complex, but the burden of planning obligations which has been placed on small sites and added to over time, is a significant contributory factor to this.”
This decision comes just at the point at which more and more sites are being subject to Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges.
Taken together, this will push up demands on small house builders to unprecedented levels. Up until only a few years ago, planning guidance contained a national indicative minimum site size threshold of 15 dwellings for affordable contributions. As such, the Government’s decision last year to move back to a ten unit threshold is hardly an unreasonable step.
Rather it recognised that the small firms which invariably build out small developments have proportionately higher costs and do not necessarily have the muscle or inclination to challenge local authority demands for affordable housing. The likely response is that they will avoid attempting to build on certain sites full stop and because of this, there will be less homes of all description.”
In the FMB’s 2014 House Builders Survey, half of all respondents said that there were sites which they would otherwise be interested in but which they believed would be unviable due to likely Section 106, CIL or other obligations. Small firms which invariably build out small sites will often prefer to avoid bringing forward developments rather than risk conflict with local authorities, with which they will need to work with on an ongoing basis. In addition, large numbers of small commercial sites with low current use values which would be more productively turned over to housing will now not come forward without this policy in place.”
I would urge the Government to stand its ground on the principle of the ten unit threshold. It could seek to address reasonable concerns which some local authorities have – for instance, there could be some flexibility allowed to local authorities with a very high proportion of small sites. However, the Government should strongly defend the principle of the exemption – it is not appropriate to impose the same level of obligations applied to large multi-million pound developments to the smallest of developments being brought forward by the smallest firms.
Chief executive Federation of Master Builders
STOP AID PAYMENTS
David Cameron comments that he intends to stay as Prime Minister for the full five-year term.
Sometime before the election, Mr Cameron stated that he was only staying until the referendum and that a new leader of the Conservatives would be elected.
It now looks like George Osborne has had his nose put out of joint, because Mr Osborne has called for one of UKIP’s policies – a trade-only European Economic Community (EEC).
This is UKIP’s policy and this is what the people of this country voted for, not the unelected dictatorship we have now found ourselves in. We have no control over our borders and it is time that this government put the control of the borders in the hands of our armed forces - the sooner the better.
This is where this government has failed to do. And yes, UKIP were right when they said that there were swarms of migrants trying to get to this country – it is time it was stopped.
We hear from both David Cameron and George Osborne that we must clear the debt of £1.8trillion, and yet George Osborne as Chancellor has borrow over £80billion this year alone and given £12billion in aid.
This is something we can no longer afford to do and this aid should go towards the debt if we do not want our grandchildren still paying when we are long gone.
We just cannot keep paying aid to over 145 countries around the world.
This aid has been going to some of the most corrupt governments, like Zimbabwe (£715.5million), Argentina (£83.7 million), Egypt (£412.2million), Pakistan (£3508.6million), and India (£3221.1million), which said that it does not want the money.
Yes, I could keep naming countries but that would take up too much time.
Let’s hope that the government comes to its senses and calls an In/Out referendum as soon as is possible, because David Cameron will return from the EEC with nothing that we can vote for.