Readers’ letters - February 10

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THIS past February weekend a high level EU Budgetary Review Conference was held at Wiston House, Steyning. The first item on their agenda? You guessed it... ‘How large should the EU Budget be in an age of austerity?’

It seems that the predatory and avaricious nature of the EU appetite for spending increasing amounts of the 27 nations’ taxpayers’ money knows no bounds and is set not only to increase but to introduce an additional tax burden with a new taxation and revenue stream upon the UK.

Saturday’s agenda explored EU Expenditure and Revenue prospects. Not content with obtaining Eurozone bailout funds of several billions of pounds from the UK, in addition to the current VAT funding, there are more and new innovative taxation ideas in the pipeline.

We are already facing up to UK Government cutbacks on an unprecedented scale during the next five to ten years. David Cameron is ‘wet behind the ideas’ when it comes to the EU and we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Marta Andreasen is a lone voice as a former sacked EU chief accountant. She knows the unpalatable truth and as our South East UKIP MEP now sitting on the Budgetary Control Committee in the European Parliament has stoically been arguing the case not only for REDUCTION of the EU Budget, by tackling the prolific irregularities and fraud, corrupt practice, but also for the UK to get out of the EU altogether and as soon as possible.

Our coalition Government and PM in the meantime appear wedded to the EU with the most solemn of vows. Where did David Cameron’s categorical promise (2009) for a referendum disappear to?

At Wiston House on Friday February 4 four Horsham UKIP members, all intending to stand for Horsham District Council at the May elections, mounted their placard protest at the roadside drive entrance.

They were frequently applauded by the passing traffic with thumbs up and the hooting of horns. ‘NO EU taxes in the UK’ and ‘No increase in EU Budget’ were our protest themes for our times of austerity.

Let us quit our enforced membership of the EU as soon as possible is our message and Horsham electors can make their views known during the coming May district council elections.

Members of the public were effectively excluded from observer attendance by a charge of £995 levied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosts, now truly under the thumb of the recently installed EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

GRAHAM HARPER

Stane Street, Adversane

Impact of more development

WHAT is it about politicians of whatever persuasion and level?

They promise their constituents the earth and to represent them in every way possible and then once elected their main concern appears to be how can we increase our allowances and expenses.

I am sure it is not just the residents of Billingshurst, Broadbridge Heath and Southwater who are against the building of thousands of new houses, but the majority of residents in the Horsham district.

The promises of community benefits are in the main worthless or irrelevant, but more importantly what serious thought has been given to the consequences of thousands of new people living in the area?

The effects on already overcrowded schools, overcrowded roads and railways, a water supply and drainage system that already cannot cope, hosepipe bans guaranteed.

And jobs. A once busy job vacant section in the County Times is now reduced to a single page for carers and school assistants and the position in Crawley, once a magnet for new business, is no better. Just recently the County Times reported the loss of 300 posts at Sussex Police force.

The introduction of new housing to an area is supposed to be for the benefit of the existing community. It is impossible to understand how thousands of new houses will benefit anyone with the exception of the major supermarkets and the take-away restaurants and, of course, the local councillors who are no doubt already banking on increased allowances and expenses.

Come the May elections, the local councillors need reminding that their duty is to serve the community, not the other way around.

R. BISHOP

Broomfield Drive, Billingshurst

Experiences of care

WITH regard to the article about the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and impact on the disabled, elderly and their family carers, here is a reply I received about home adaptations and grants for disabled people.

On average it can take up to a year, with a lot bureaucracy, from the first enquiry and the procedures and time scales are different in parts of the county.

If it is the desired aim of local authorities to support people to live independently as possible in their own homes (a human right) then this service needs to be improved and better managed, and made disabled friendly, across the county. Here’s the reply below.

‘I read your article in the WSCT and can appreciate where you are coming from. I work as a carer for a lady with MS. This lady spent three years going through planning and a planning appeal process to adapt her home in order that she could with assistance stay in her own home for life.

‘Before I started care work I was employed as a surveyor/project manager in the construction industry for over 30 years (I will say however that my new role is much more rewarding and an absolute necessity for disabled persons living independently).

‘When this lady - let’s call her Miss D - was approved for a disabled facilities grant we found that there was a lack of procedures to getting companies in to quote for the works and a distinct lack of knowledge of these companies in the awareness of disabilities.

‘What I have experienced is that OTs (occupational therapists) do not have the time to carry out the assessments and also produce detailed plans and drawings showing clients the schemes/layouts of the facility that would be suitable. This is where the bottleneck is.

‘Having recognised this bottleneck I decided what could I do to help? I researched the industry to see what was available to speed up this process. After nearly two years of research I found a company that provide software specifically to design disabled facilities from a small bathroom adaptation through to a full service scheme to include through floor lift, pocket doors (doors that slide into an existing wall). I bought the software and attended several training seminars and courses so as to be able to provide a service that was needed.

‘I then wrote to Horsham Social Services occupational therapist department and offered to them my services on a no fee basis. The reason for this was that I felt strongly that once they visit a client then they have to produce drawings and sketches where we could provide different schemes for the facilities.

‘This would allow the OT to visit more clients and therefore speed up the assessments and build these needed adaptations in a more timely fashion.’

Please send me your stories - contact details below - about your experiences and views on home care and such matters as we need your involvement in trying to improve matters for the vulnerable locally.

We also need to debate what is a reasonable level of support in the home. At present it seems it’s two to four, half hour visits for personal care only that is funded for those that meet the criteria. Is this reasonable?

On another matter, and as an active participant in the West Sussex Local Involvement Network (LINk) I was pleased to see the publicity given to stroke care in the county (County Times January 27) as the issues raised are of concern to the network (which exists to raise people’s health and social care issues with commissioners and providers in order to improve services).

Specifically, we have been working to produce a short DVD programme to raise public awareness of the causes of strokes, how to prevent them and to show local stroke services that are (or not) available.

It follows the journey from the initial signs of a stroke happening to ‘life after stroke’ told by local medical professionals, carers, support group leaders and stroke survivors themselves — in their own words.

The DVD is being produced for us by media students from The College of Richard Collyer in Horsham - in their own time - making this both a cost effective exercise for the LINk and providing these young people with valuable video production experience.

Following a formal launch later this month, the DVD will be made available to patient participation groups and other clubs and societies throughout West Sussex to raise awareness and stimulate discussion about this important subject.

If anyone would like a copy of the DVD or has issues or concerns about strokes or any other aspect of health or social care services, they can contact the LINk by phone (0300 111 0102), email (westsussexlink@makesachange.org.uk) or via the website (www.makesachange.org.uk).

LILIAN BOLD

Equalities and Human Rights Commission rep

53 Hillside, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1NE

lilianbold@btinternet.com

Council is good value

I WAS surprised to read Mr Jerome’s letter in the County Times of January 21 about Billingshurst Parish Council’s costs. I hope that I can reassure him that we are a prudent council.

Especially in these times of hardship for many, the parish council has been keen to keep its costs down whilst still providing good services as might be expected of a Quality Council.

Over the last two financial years and in its budget for the next year the parish council’s element of the council tax has reduced each year; in 2009-10 by 0.1 per cent, in 2010-11 by two per cent and for 2011-12 by 2.1 per cent.

Seventy-five per cent of parish council staff costs, to which Mr Jerome draws particular attention, are for those staff covered by national pay rates.

Increases in these rates over the first two years were 0 per cent and 0 per cent and for the coming year are budgeted to remain unchanged again. The national private sector average increase and market rates are used as guidelines for lower paid staff.

Mr Jerome refers to the proportion of staff costs compared to overall costs. For the parish council this varies as it does for other organisations largely depending on the way they operate.

For example currently HDC contracts out litter warden services to the parish council so HDC staff costs reduce and the parish council staff costs increase but the resultant overall council costs for both councils remain largely unchanged.

Simple comparisons year on year can be misleading.

Overall the parish council has aimed and continues to aim to provide good services, mainly through it staff, whilst controlling its costs – an objective we all know is increasingly difficult.

Incidentally, this letter costs the council, and thus the council tax payer, nothing as it written by a councillor and councillors are not paid nor do they receive allowances in Billingshurst Parish Council.

ALAN GRANT

Chairman, finance and general purposes committee, Billingshurst Parish Council

Roman Way, Billingshurst

Reasons to vote in local poll

I AM standing as a Lib Dem candidate for Horsham Park in the coming local elections. John Gregory asked for one good reason why he should vote for me and that he should be spared any empty rhetoric.

I am standing because I believe passionately that local government is there to act in all our mutual interest, that it enables the community as a whole to do those things that we cannot do as individuals.

The council is entrusted with our funds which it must manage well in order to deliver the services which we require. Much of what the council has to do may be specified by whichever government is in office nationally, but there is still scope to ensure that the rules are applied in the best interests of Horsham.

I cannot make promises or commitments beyond those that will be in the local Lib Dem manifesto, but I can say that my own main focus is on supporting the elderly and disabled in the town. As a councillor, I wish to address three main areas:

l Protecting Horsham Hospital as a resource for the community.

l Working with local charities to support the community.

l Keeping Horsham town, including the town hall, as a vibrant hub at the centre of the community.

As an accountant, I have experience in the private, public and charity sectors. I have previously campaigned against housing in the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley.

I have the time, energy and experience to work on behalf of the community; that is the reason why I am standing for election.

I hope that Mr Gregory will find that acceptable and be able to give me his vote.

FRANCES HAIGH (Mrs)

Winterbourne, Horsham

Aiming for a new club

STEYNING and District Diabetic Club has closed because the present committee members are unable to do the organising required for their monthly meetings.

Lucy Peacock, volunteer development officer for Diabetes UK, will be organising events to bring together diabetics and interested members of the public with a view to launching a new club in the summer of 2011.

Anyone who is interested in helping with and/or joining the new club can contact her on 01372 720148.

DEIRDRE RAMSDEN

John Street

Shoreham