Archive: 2015


Old items from the News and Campaigns pages

The most recent items are towards the top of the page

MP Joins COV

25 November 2015

 photo of Jim Cunningham, Abtar Sanga and Moira Pendlebury

Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South, visited the premises of Age UK Coventry in November, and called in at the COV office. While there he met Abtar Sanga (COV Secretary) and Moira Pendlebury (Head of Services, Age UK Coventry). Abtar lost no time in enrolling Mr Cunningham as a new member of COV!


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Changes at Lidice Place

15 October 2015

Photo of Lidice Place

Most Coventrians will be aware of the significance of Lidice Place, which commemorates the destruction of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice, and the massacre of its male inhabitants during the Second World War. It was rebuilt after the War, and is now twinned with Coventry.
Lidice Plaque. Coventry UK COV has expressed concern that the brick paving compass and two commemorative plaques in Lidice Place have been removed. COV member Albert Frazier has contacted Council officers on the Group's behalf, and has appealed to the three Saint Michael's Ward councillors to support the restoration of the compass and plaques.







Image of plaque by Amanda Slater (Flickr: Lidice Plaque. Coventry UK) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


A Response from the Council (reproduced verbatim)

For the attention of Mr Albert Frazier - Update on Lidice Place

Action from the St Michael's Neighbourhood Forum on 22nd July 2015

Mr Frazier, Barry Hastie has received the following response from the relevant Council department

Response from Head of Traffic and Transformation - 21st September 2015

It is proposed to reset the plaque on a sandstone plinth close to its previous location within Lidice Place. This will be done hopefully in the next couple of months or so and will make it a feature within the new scheme and give it an improved visual setting.

In terms of the old compass shaped paving layout. It has not been possible to retain such a shape in the new design which is focussed primarily on improving pedestrian connectivity and providing the maximum amount of green space to help encourage pedestrian footfall in this part of the city centre and hopefully boost trade. The new layout complements the old, including providing a better setting for St. John's Church, whilst at the same time helping to continue the regeneration of the city centre.

If you have any further queries about this matter, I advise you to make contact with one of the three Ward Councillors for St Michael's Ward.

Kind regards

Gemma Tate

Support Officer for St Michael's Neighbourhood Forum


Update 1: A Letter to St Michael's Ward Councillors

22 December 2015

Having made verbal approaches to the St Michael's Ward councillors on the question of Lidice Place, and the removal of the plaques and brickwork compass, with little effect, we sent them the following letter, which was also published in the Coventry Telegraph:

I hope that most Coventrians will be aware of the significance of Lidice Place, which commemorates the destruction of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice and the massacre of its male inhabitants during the Second World War. It was rebuilt after the war and is now twinned with Coventry.

Coventry Older Voices (COV) has expressed concern that the brick paving compass and commemorative plaques in Lidice Place have been removed.

COV member Albert Frazier contacted council officers on the group’s behalf on several occasions and appealed to the three Saint Michael’s Ward councillors (Messrs Akhtar, O’Boyle and Welsh) to support the restoration of the compass and plaques.

The head of traffic and transformation said that it had not been possible to retain the compass design, but that it was proposed to reset the ‘plaque’ (singular) close to its previous location.

We would like to express our disappointment that this memorial was so abruptly removed, as far as we are aware, without any public consultation.

It may be that the destruction of the brickwork compass is a ‘fait accompli’, although the installation of a smaller version in the area between the Town Crier pub and Saint John’s Church has been suggested to councillor Akhtar.

However, the plaques should be restored as a matter of urgency.

We would also suggest that in future the opinions of people in Coventry are sought before decisions of such concern to them are taken.

Anne Lakin, Coventry Older Voices.

Update 2: Good News from Councillor Naeem Akhtar

05 January 2015

Following COV's relentless lobbying that included letters to Councillors, articles in the website, and newsletter and a letter in the Coventry Telegraph, to have the commemorative compass design marking the massacre at Lidice Place to be reinstated – we finally have a result. We are grateful to have received the following letter from Councillor Naeem Akhtar:

Dear Mr Frazier,

Further to your request for the reinstatement of the compass at Lidice Place, I am pleased to inform you that it has been decided to reinstate the compass.

The original design did not allow for a compass to be put back (the plaque was always to be reinstated), however following various meetings and requests the council will incorporate this into the scheme. Please note it will not be to the same scale.

The compass and plaque will be installed in the landscaped area outside T J Hughes (near the original location).

I hope this is satisfactory, however, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Naeem Akhtar.

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COV Advises on Wayfinder Totems

10 December 2015

Picture of John Porch looking at a Wayfinder Totem



John Porch (right) was one of several COV members who recently took part in acceptance testing of the new Wayfinder Totems, installed in the City Centre to help citizens navigate their way around the town.


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COV Members Visit Retirement Village

19 November 2015

Photo of COV members at retirement village reception

Members of COV visited the Earlsdon Park Retirement Village to meet with Lesley Blowers and Mary Higginson to view the show homes and discuss the other facilities that will be available to residents from next Summer.

The Village will be home to over 350 local older residents, with 262 apartments for affordable rent and purchase and a host of social and leisure facilities to enjoy.

The Village will be located on the site of the former Butts Technical College, occupying three acres of a newly-created re-development area. The site also includes a refurbished theatre, proposed restaurant, Premier Inn, food store and café. COV would like to thank ExtraCare for hosting us on the day and look forward to developing joint work in the future.
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Transport and Community Safety Meeting

18 November 2015

This meeting was arranged because COV members were experiencing problems with roadworks taking place in the city centre. They had also expressed concerns about the dangers of bikes and skateboards being used in pedestrian areas.

        

Cllr Rachel Lancaster (Cabinet Member for Public Services), and Liam Nagle (Offender Management Strategic Officer, Coventry City Council) agreed to speak to us about these issues, at a meeting in the Council House. The meeting took place on 12th November, and was attended by about forty COV members.

Both speakers gave short talks about their responsibilities and recent activities, and took part in a lively question-and-answer session.


Councellor Rachel Lancaster, Anne Lakin, and Liam Nagle

A brief outline of some of the questions that were asked, and their responses, follows:

Questions to Councillor Lancaster:

When will the current road and pavement works in the City centre be completed?

    -    By the end of December.

Why is so much work taking place at the same time?

    -    Several bids for European funding were made, and more of these than expected were successful. The work must now be done almost immediately to qualify for funding.

There is a lack of information about forthcoming road and pavement works. This causes considerable disruption, especially to public transport, and great inconvenience to older Coventrians.

    -    The Council does try to keep people informed, including using the Council website, and the Citivision newspaper. Information about buses is the responsibility of Centro, who are not very good at providing it. I (Councillor Lancaster) will speak to Councillor McNicholas, the Centro Chairman, about this.

Cannot something be done about parking on pavements?

    -    The police say they can do nothing about this, unless vehicles are blocking drives.

Many pavements are in poor condition, and this is often caused by contractors using jacks to lift their vehicles. What can be done.?


                    -    The Council can and do take action on this sort of thing, but it needs members of the public to report incidents to them.
            

Questions to Liam Nagle:

silhouette of skateboarder

Is cycling in pedestrianised areas illegal?

    -    It may contravene bylaws, but these are so old and fines are so low (e.g. £2) that it is not worth enforcing them. However, the Council may soon introduce “Public Space Protection Orders”, which would give them greater powers.

Is there any evidence that Public Space Protection Orders will prove to be effective?

    -    It is not possible to give assurances about this, especially as it depends to a large extent on the resources available. This is as yet unknown, but may well be a problem in the current financial climate.

Can Police Community Support Officers do anything about people who cycle in pedestrianised areas?

    -    It is not in itself currently illegal, but riding in a reckless fashion or without due care and attention ARE offences. Police Community Support Officers are not able to make arrests but should speak to offenders.

Should there be designated areas in the City centre for skateboarders?

    -    Skateboarding is not discouraged in the whole of the City centre. Key areas, such as Cathedral Square, are prioritised, and greater effort is made at certain times.

There were also questions about:

In addition, Kam Kaur, who is managing the Age Friendly Coventry programme (covered in several other places in this website), gave a brief update on recent developments.

Anne Lakin, Chair of Coventry Older Voices, thanked all the speakers on our behalf for a lively and informative debate.
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Traffic Disruption at the Belgrade Plaza

07 May 2015

COV has written to Chris Young, Senior Project Manager at Coventry City Council, about the disruption in the City Centre caused by the Belgrade Plaza scheme road works. The group is particularly concerned about what it sees as a lack of information, which can be a major problem for older people, many of whom rely on public transport.

You can read a copy of the letter here

Update 1: A Response from the Council

17 June 2015

COV has received a response from the Council, in the form of a letter from Councillor Rachel Lancaster, the Cabinet Member for Public Services. She explains some of the efforts made by the Council to inform the public when schemes such as this are implemented, and some of the difficulties faced.

Read the full text of the letter here

Councillor Lancaster also offered to attend a meeting with COV members, which will be arranged as soon as possible.

Update 2: More Meetings

15 August 2015

On 21st July the COV steering committee met with Hakan Bikim (recently appointed Project Manager for the Belgrade Plaza project) and Louise Varney (Assistant Project Manager).

A variety of issues were discussed, especially the disruption to traffic and pedestrians caused by the road and pavement work currently taking place. We appreciate that such work (and therefore the disruption) may be unavoidable, but we still believe there is often insufficient notice of such events. This was not the direct responsibility of our guests on this occasion, who promised to pass on our concerns to their colleagues.

We believe that further disruption caused by road works in the Fairfax Street/Whittle Arch area, and in Gosford Street, is imminent, but little information has been made publicly available.

Other issues discussed included parking between Pool Meadown and the Gala Bingo hall, which Mr Bikim assured us would remain, seating in bus shelters, and problems with shared pedestrian/traffic spaces.

Update 3: Meeting Date is Changed

16 October 2015

meeting with Councillor Rachel Lancaster, the Council Cabinet Member for Public Services, has been arranged for 12th November. Please note that this is a change of date from that originally posted on this site. The meeting will take place in Diamond Room 2 in the Council House, and we hope to see you there. However, because of space limitations it is necessary to reserve a place to be able to attend. You can do this via the Contact Us page.

NOTE: This meeting has now taken place - see the report dated 18th November here.

COV is also developing an Older People’s Transport Group for the Age Friendly Cities Project – would you like to be a member and help to identify problems and create solutions to traffic problems in the city? If so please Contact Us


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Older People's Day 2015

16 November 2015

People are living longer and 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035 - UK Older People’s Day is on 1st October every year to coincide with the UN International Day of Older Persons. The main aim for the day was to be a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. Older People’s Day supports the campaign to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

Coventry Older Voices took part in the celebrations at Central Library where there were information stalls and demonstrations from other organisations throughout the day. The celebrations and activities also promoted healthy life styles, gave opportunities to combat loneliness, and encouraged volunteering and sharing skills with different generations. After all nearly everyone is an Older Person to someone! Joining in an Older Peoples Day event is a fantastic chance to meet new people and to try something new.

photo of new member signing up



Kate Brown signs up another new COV member at the event.






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A Consultation on the West Midlands Combined Authority

14 August 2015

On 11th August, members of the COV steering committee met with Faye Cockayne (Major Projects Community Engagement Officer with Coventry City Council), to discuss the creation of a “West Midlands Combined Authority”.

Ms Cockayne delivered a short presentation that was interesting and informative, and she was most helpful in answering our questions. She stressed that a combined authority would have powers and resources devolved from central government, especially in the areas of transport and investment. However, the existing councils of which it would be composed would not lose their authority over local issues and finances. Joint decisions would be made on the basis of one vote per member council (regardless of the size of its population), so that a disproportionate influence of the largest would be avoided. The plan is not for a “Greater Birmingham”!

There was an in-depth discussion lasting several hours, and the following is an attempt at a summary of the views of the committee:

  1. We were pleased that COV was invited to take part in the consultation process. However, we think that City-wide consultation should have taken place at an earlier stage. We strongly suspect that a decision to go ahead has already been made. Evidence for this can be found in a document entitled the “Launch Statement”, in which can be found a “Statement of Intent”, containing the words: “There will therefore be a process of consultation and engagement between now and the formal launch of the West Midlands Combined Authority in April 2016.” In other words, regardless of the opinions express in the consultation, Coventry will be part of the combined authority - whether we like it or not!

  2. The appointment of an elected mayor was rejected throughout the West Midlands in the recent referendum. We suspect that (because of the enthusiasm of central government) it may still happen.

  3. Much of the detail of how we will be affected on a day-to-day basis has either yet to be decided, or has not been revealed to us. For example, could we expect our transport services to be comparable to Transport for London? This could be regarded as a point in favour of a combined authority – for example the provision of talking buses for the visually impaired.

  4. We wonder why Warwickshire does not want to be part of the combined authority. What do they know that we don’t? And if we join can we then leave if we don’t like it?

You can find out more about the West Midlands Combined Authority proposals, including how you can attend drop-in sessions or take part in on-line discussion forums organised by Coventry City Council here.

And if you want to share your views on this issue with other COV members, why not do so using the COV Forum?

Update: A Message from Martin Reeves

03 December 2015

Click here to read a message from Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, about a proposed devolution deal for the West Midland Combined Authority"


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Meeting Invitation

16 October 2015

COV members have raised the problems they are experiencing with roadworks taking place in the city centre. The biggest impact is on the changes to bus routes and bus stops and the lack of information that is made available in advance of the roadworks taking place.

COV members are also concerned about the number of bikes and skateboards being ridden in the city centre and the lack of attention being shown to pedestrians as well as other community safety issues that affect older people.

COV have therefore organised a free event that gives an opportunity for us to get an update on the City Centre Roadworks and Community Safety Issues that are affecting older people.

Cllr Rachel Lancaster (Cabinet Member for Public Services) will be available to answer questions on the improvement schemes taking place in Gosford Street, Lidice Place, Queen Victoria Road and the Belgrade Square.

        

Liam Nagle (Offender Management Strategic Officer, Coventry City Council) will answer questions on Community Safety issues such the legal status of bikes and skateboards being used in the city centre.

The event will take place in Diamond Room 2 in The Council House, Earl Street, CV1 5RR on 12th November 2015 from 10:00 am and till 12:00 noon.

It is free to attend but places are limited to 50 and allocated on a first come first served basis.

If you would like to attend you can reserve a place by emailing The Secretary or calling 024 7643 3050.

If you have a question that you would like to ask on the day please email it to Abtar.

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Exciting Developments at Drapers Hall

09 March 2015

Photograph of Drapers Hall

The creation of a state-of-the-art centre for music and performance by the Drapers Hall Trust is welcome news. Designs for the transformation of the derelict Drapers Hall building in Bayley Lane are now being developed and finalised by the Birmingham based PCPT Architects. The Trust was set up by the Alan Edward Higgs Charity, along with Music Coventry, which will oversee the on-going management of the facility, and the project is supported by Coventry University.

COV is concerned that bringing this building "back to life" should benefit both younger people and those that are not so young. The project offers opportunities to further lifelong learning and social cohesion, and COV has offered to engage with the partners to develop these aims.

More on this item shortly ...

Update: No Update!

27 August 2015

In response to a query about the progress of the Draper Hall development, we received the following from Cllr Alan Andrews, who has been corresponding with the Planning Department:

“The Council has agreed to lease Drapers Hall to the Drapers Hall Trust for the creation of a music hub. The project is being run by the Trust – who are due to meet next week about taking the project forward and further fundraising required.

The project is some way from physical implementation (late 2017 planned) – so the enquiry is likely to be premature about future users until it is established and progressing on the ground.”

That seems to be about as much as we can get for the moment!


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COV at the Hustings – A Report

26 April 2015

Age UK Coventry’s recent hustings event at Warwick Road United Reform Church Centre (Friday 24th April), was attended by local candidates from all of the main political parties. A large proportion of the audience were COV members, who contributed to a lively exchange of views and set the politicians some challenging questions. The candidates each first spoke for a few minutes, before the question-and-answer session.

Photograph of the candidates:  Geoffrey Robinson – Labour, 
                Matthew Handley – Green, 
                Moria Pendlebury - Chair, 
                Michelle Lowe – Conservative, 
                Avtar Taggar – United Kingdom Independence Party, 
                Russell Field – Lib Dem.
Left to right: Dave Nellist - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Geoffrey Robinson – Labour, Matthew Handley – Green, Moria Pendlebury - Chair, Michelle Lowe – Conservative, Avtar Taggar – United Kingdom Independence Party, Russell Field – Lib Dem.

The short speeches made by each candidate concerned the policies and issues that you would expect. They tended to follow “the party lines”, which have been widely publicised in other media, so they will not be repeated here.

The first question from the audience, which was asked by Anne Lakin, the Chair of Coventry Older Voices was: “Are you aware that Coventry is striving to become an Age Friendly City, and what would you do to ensure that the whole country follows suit?”

It has been necessary to abbreviate the responses quite severely, to keep this report within the desired length, but it is hoped that what follows provides a “flavour” of their content:

The meeting was chaired by Moira Pendlebury (Head of Services at Age UK Coventry), who at this point asked the candidates to answer the questions put to them, rather than making more general points.

Other questions put to the candidates included:

Photograph of the audience

Although the meeting overran slightly, time ran out before everyone who wanted to ask a question was able to do so. The level of interest in this event was good to see, and Coventry Older Voices would like to thank Age UK Coventry for organising it.







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Age UK General Election Rally

01 April 2015

On Tuesday 24th March, Age UK held a General Election Rally to give older people the opportunity to hear from the five main UK political parties about their policies to make the UK a “Great Place to Grow Older”. The Rally was part of Age UK’s campaign ahead of the General Election.

COV sent two delegates - Anne Lakin (COV Chair) and Fred Foster, to question the five speakers, who were:

Each of the five speakers had the chance to lay out their policies regarding older people, before answering questions on issues including the NHS, free bus passes and the level of the state pension.

Photo of Anne and Fred meeting Mark Reckless

Anne and Fred were also invited to meet with Mark Reckless (MP for UKIP) to ask him questions about his commitment to older people’s issues. For an entertaining and informative description of the trip, see Fred’s account in the Forum.


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COV Participates in Care Cap Consultation

22 February 2015

Now that the Care Act has become law, the Government has been consulting on how the various aspects of the new care system will work in practice. The latest phase of this has been to consult on the lifetime cap in care costs, otherwise known as the Dilnot cap.

The Dilnot commission reported in July 2011. It suggested that the cost of care to an individual should be capped at £35,000 - £50,000. In theory this would have meant that where an individual reached the cap, the Government would take over their care payments. However, in a time of austerity, the lower cap was considered to be too expensive and the Government decided to set the cap at the significantly higher level of £72,000, which will rise over time with inflation.

Age UK hosted a consultation event at the Methodist Central Hall on 12th February, to find out the views of older people about the cap on care costs. A number of COV members were invited to take part, and to represent their views to the Government. A lively and constructive discussion took place, details of which will be reported here shortly.

Update: Have Your Say

01 April 2015

You can contribute to the discussion by completing an online survey via the Council's website at:

http://www.coventry.gov.uk/news/article/1225/care_act_consultation_-_have_your_say

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COV Members Demonstrate Against Council Budget Cuts

25 February 2015

COV members were amongst those taking part in a demonstration against cuts in the Council budget, which took place on Saturday 21st February, outside Coventry Transport Museum. The demonstration was organised by trade unions and local community groups, who claim that if the budget cuts go ahead, the consequences will include the removal of school crossing patrols, the closure of the Priory Visitor Centre, and the reduction of parks activities and opening hours. They also say that 24 children’s centres and 12 libraries throughout the city face closure.

COV is particularly concerned about the closure of libraries, and the effect that this will have on the friendship groups run by Age Concern Coventry, who use libraries as venues.

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