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About this Forum

Letters, articles, comments etc. in this section are submitted by members of Coventry Older Voices (COV), and members of the public. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of COV as a whole. Your contributions are welcome. Please send them via email using this link:

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Show letters by date

  • August 2018 (1)
  • April 2018 (1)
  • March 2018 (1)
  • January 2018 (1)
  • December 2017 (1)
  • November 2017 (1)
  • September 2017 (4)
  • May 2017 (1)
  • April 2017 (1)
  • December 2016 (1)
  • November 2016 (1)
  • September 2016 (1)
  • June 2016 (1)
  • May 2016 (1)
  • April 2016 (5)
  • April 2015 (1)
  • March 2015 (1)

Show letters by topic

  • The Spon Street Bench (1)
  • A letter to Faye Abbott (1)
  • The Gilbert Richards Centre (1)
  • COV is an Active Arena (1)
  • Get It Online! (2)
  • Problems with Taxis (2)
  • Winter Fuel Payments (1)
  • Inspirational Messages (1)
  • Pedestrian Crossings and Audio Signals (1)
  • Cycling and Skateboarding in Pedestrian Areas (3)
  • Lidice Place and Twin Towns (1)
  • Saving the 360 Bus Route (1)
  • Station Crossings (1)
  • Station Bus Stops (1)
  • Public Toilet Closures (4)
  • Age UK General Election Rally 24th March 2015 (2)

Topic: The Spon Street Bench


A letter from John Walsh    [11 August 2018]

The situation concerning the spon street bench (see the article here) is an absolute disgrace. It proves the point that older people are not being listened to. Who was responsible for this? Who are these “young people”? Why were they involved? It looks absolute **** and is in the wrong locality. There should be benches in Broadgate or will this spoil the overall effect. Never mind the pensioners and other vulnerable folk. You know what the council are like. Can something be done about this. People need to be called to account. I am willing to help on this.



Topic: A letter to Councillor Abbot


This is a copy of a letter sent by COV member Christopher L Smith to faye Abbott, who is the Labour Councillor for the Wyken ward    [29 April 2018]

Dear Ms Abbott

I have read your election address and note its noteworthy causes, however I am disappointed as I am with the Labour council that pensioners requirements and recognition are once more not being addressed. Pensioners, it appears are not be recognised, seen or heard within the city, for consideration of ameimities , such as adequate provision of public toilets and suitable “rest stop” stratigicly spaced bench seating (other than Godiva Square) throughout the city, is sadly lacking. With regards to new buildings, perhaps access doorways and corridor widths to assist wheelchairs users and the disabled could be announced and included in their design, for there is never any statements within the announcements within the projects of such provision.

Perhaps as the future City of Culture, a more considerate and friendlier approach could be adopted to all citizens.



Topic: The Gilbert Richards Centre


A letter from Frances Petrak:    [03 March 2018]

I have just heard that AgeUK are talking of giving up their centre of activities at The Gilbert Richard Centre.

I am completely devastated by the news as I have been enjoying the Woodwork group for several years and have made many friends among the fellow woodworkers. Some of the items I have made have gone on sale and added to the AgeUK revenue. I also learned to spin in the handicraft group which has given me over 20 years of pleasure and the largest wardrobe of knitted hand spun garments in the country. I use this skill to go out demonstrating spinning all over the area. My husband learned to use his ipad in one of the classes.

I believe there are over 300 pensioners who use the facilities at the centre which is centrally situated and has ample parking for those who drive. I feel that this is important for those of mature years to get out and socialise while learning and practicing a new hobby or just improving an old one.

The centre provides groups for all manner of activities from painting to dancing, computers to sewing, languages and pottery. So many would just give up and just sit at home getting depressed if their centre were closed.

Please can you try to help keep it open for us?



Topic: Cycling, Near-Misses and the PSPO


A letter from Kate Brown:    [28 January 2018]

Re Mick Rees's letter (Forum, December 2017)

Coventry Older Voices Management Committee have been liaising with the local council, and they have asked us to provide evidence that cycling is a nuisance and danger to the public, before the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) is reviewed later this year. [You can read about the PSPO in the “Campaigns” pages of the website, here – Ed]. COV’s PSPO sub-committee (of which I am a member) met this week, and it is apparent that cycling in the City centre is an ongoing problem. We do still have complaint forms for near-misses, and have been requested at an accessibility meeting to complain about any incidents to the Council direct.

I would encourage Mick Rees either to contact his local councillor or to put in a “What are we doing wrong form” to Customer Services at the Council House (and to encourage others to do the same). We will also be contacting Deliveroo about the use of pedestrian areas by their cyclists. If Mr Rees would like a COV form to fill in in respect of cycles on pavements then I am sure our secretary will oblige.



Topic: Cycling Nuisance


A letter from Mick Rees:    [10 December 2017]

Since when has it been acceptable for cyclists to ride on the pavements? I am amazed by the number of bikes that you can see riding around Broadgate and no police are in sight. I ride a mobility scooter from Bell Green. The number of cyclists on the pavement is unbelievable and their attitude is that they have the right to do it and that pedestrians have to get out of the way. WHEN will the police and people in power do something about it?



Topic: COV is an "Active Arena"


Here is a letter from Bert Frazier, who is a member of COV’s Management Committee:    [14 November 2017]

COV’s September-November 2017 Newsletter included a front page report headed “Ward Forums are Discontinued”, following a COV enquiry to the City Council, and its response.

Mindful that the Older People’s Partnership meetings have been suspended, it is important that other opportunities for the public to engage with public bodies are highlighted:

  • Age UK Coventry is seen as a major “service provider”.
  • Coventry City Council’s leaflet headed “Getting in touch” is available from the Council House and libraries, stating “What you can expect from us and how to tell us your views”.
  • COV’s goal is to improve the lives of older people by:
    • giving people over 50 a stronger and more influential voice in the City
    • representing the views of older people on important issues, such as transport and health
    • enabling older people to participate meaningfully in the planning and provision of services locally
    • building links with public bodies and private companies both locally and nationally, to influence policies and developments in the City.

Readers may know about “think tanks, talking shops, and whispering galleries”. COV has been and is an “Active Arena”, with people who are knowledgeable and skilled at engaging with those who hold responsible positions, to enable mutually beneficial outcomes to be realized.



Topic: A Response to "Get It Online"


Bridget Harper replies to Irene Shannon's letter    [21 September 2017]

One of the things I personally value most is the individual’s right to free speech. However when sharing information through newsletters and websites, as Coventry Older Voices does, I also believe we have a moral duty to be factually as accurate as possible in order to avoid confusion or distress to anyone who might read the articles.

I therefore became very concerned on reading Irene Shannon’s account [COV website Forum, 08 September] of her friends visit to the Registry Office remembering how vulnerable I was after my late husband died in 2012. In my grief I did not always hear what people were saying to me. I do however recall how sensitive and helpful the staff were, both in person and on the phone.

To say that the Certificates are ‘Private personal information’ is not quite accurate. Certificates of Births, Marriages and Deaths are in fact public documents held in the Public Records / Archives of the local Registry Office and the National Archives at the General Registry Office in London. It has not been possible for many years to receive copies of past Certificates immediately on request. It is necessary to order them prior to a search being undertaken.

So last week on behalf of COV members I phoned the Registry Office to clarify the current procedure for obtaining copies of documents. The Clerk was very helpful.

  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO ON-LINE although you can if you wish order one that way. A request can also be made in person or over the phone.
  • The copies will be posted out by standard delivery or within 24 hrs as a priority order.
  • It is also possible to order copies at the City Council Customer Services Centre at the top of the Precinct (adjacent to the River Island store).

I do feel saddened and frustrated by Irene’s view that ‘going on line’ is always such a barrier for older people. I am registered visually impaired and five years ago my family encouraged me to buy an iPad. The touch screen facility has been my life line in numerous situations. It has restored the lost joy of reading books, two way communication with others whether public, private or personal material. It enables me to play an equal part in meetings, workshops and lectures. I even use it for Bible passages if I am asked to read during a Service at Church. The list is endless but that’s another story for another day!!!



Topic: More Problems with Taxis


A Letter from a COV member    [15 September 2017]

Do we have too many inconciderate taxis in this City? Now we have an influx of so called 'Uber cars' if you notice they are registered in Wolverhampton. Moseley Avenue seems to be the hub of taxi owners , including the breakdown vehicle to service them is parked constantly on the west side of the road. The cabs are lying in wait for customers in the Holyhead Pub Car park only to drive straight out onto the main road, often doing 'U' turns into the vehicles waiting for the lights to change. Parking on double yellow lines opposition the entrance to the Pub. Causing an extra obstruction as traffic have to give way as 2 lanes reduce to a single lane just before the bus stop.They seem to think they have the right above everyone else.

Surely they are to obey the Highway Code like the rest of us, The motorists etiquette we were all brought on seems to have got lost these last few years.



Topic: Parking of Taxis


A COV member sent us a copy of his email to the Parking Services department of Coventry City Council    [09 September 2017]

Sirs

Photos of parked taxis

Can you explain why, on a daily basis the taxi drivers of this City are allowed to openly flout parking regulations?

This picture was taken from Fleet Street at 16.30 today. Not only is there a taxi parked on the pavement but also one inside the disabled bay taking up 2 spaces.

This is not an usual occurrence and indeed it is rare to see so few taxis there.

I have seen 8 taxis parked on both sides of the road at any one time. Three in the allocated bay outside New Look also one squeezed on to the adjoining dropped kerb. On the other side of the road were four more taxis in the disabled bay or the pavement. I understand the owner of the Town Crier complains regularly about this.

They are also despoiling the pavement with oil from their leaky engines.

While your wardens are loitering to catch some one who is a few minutes late in a legal space, they would be better served removing the taxi menace. It seems a total injustice you are increasing parking fees in this area when the taxis can park anywhere for free.

I await your comments



Topic: Get It Online!


A Letter from Irene Shannon    [08 September 2017]

“Get it online”; “do it on line”. How many times have we all been told that in the past couple of years? What's happened to the Civil Service and good customer services we all grew up with in Coventry and the UK?

I should imagine the majority of over 60's can't afford £25-30 a month for broadband and don't have the expertise to “surf the net” for the much-needed money saving deals, let alone buy a laptop or smartphone to " GO ON LINE".

I've had enough. Have you?

I have now heard the latest and it made me so angry. A close friend went to the Registry Office in Coventry and registered her husband’s death. While she was there she asked for copies of their birth and marriage certificates to deal with all the paperwork after a bereavement.

"We don't do them here any more" she was told, and was given a slip of paper with the website address, so that she could "go online, and save time". What about the time wasted going into the registry office and being told “if you haven't a PC go to the library they'll do it for you, or get a grandchild or friend to do it for you”?

That is not the public service we expect today. Private personal information being given out to others is not how we were brought up.

If one hasn't a PC how are we as senior citizens going to get the cheaper gas and electric deals? Banks are expecting us to 'Go online' too. I recently tried to pay a cheque into my account, and once again it was not straight forward. My local branch had closed down, so it’s into the town branch. Not being clever on my feet, how do I get there? I have to park in a traffic free zone and get a ticket. “Use the machine in the wall, or go to the Post Office”, the teller said.

How do the pensioners get what they really deserve in this City? Service and civility with face to face service would help. Communications have broken down in this wonderful “Techno Age”.

Are we being discriminated against?

Topic: Winter Fuel Payments


The writer of this letter wishes to remain anonymous    [25 May 2017]

My concern is the new government idea of stopping winter fuel payments for Pensioners not on Pension Credit. I am in this category and having worked from 15 yrs old to age 65 and paying my tax and Nat Ins for over 50 years and paying into a private pension I now find I am not entitled to be warm in the winter.

I bought my own home to my deterement and have to maintain it as if my roof falls in I can't just ring the council as those who never put a penny into the system can. If I need care I have to sell my home to pay for it, yet those who chose never to work have it for free! Where is the Govenments incentive for future generations to have a work ethic when those who did are now being denied warmth in the winter. Does this sound like a fair system. Without the winter fuel allowance my heat wont be able to go on. Dispite my years of paying into this system. Surely we can fight this!!



Topic: Inspirational Messages


A Letter from Bert Frazier    [20 April 2017]

I thought I would share two inspirational messages that I noticed while travelling around Coventry. The first was outside the Hope Centre in Sparkbrook Steet: "Someone can't do everything - Everyone can do something."

The second was on a banner at the entrance to a Coventry School: "Together Everyone Achieves More (T-E-A-M).



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A Letter from Mick Rees    [11 December 2016]

Regarding the closures, I live at Bell Green and unfortunately I can't use the toilets as I am disabled BUT everyday I see people urinating outside the doors of the said toilet and at night it gets worse as they also urinate in the shop doors. I commented to one individual and was told that if they opened the toilet 🚽 it wouldn't happen. Being in a shopping arcade I would have thought they would have kept it open.



Topic: Pedestrian Crossings and Audio Signals


A Letter from Margaret Emerton    [03 November 2016]

Reading the latest copy of the COV Newsletter I noticed your comments about audio signals on crossings.

Blind or partially sighted pedestrians can face a problem at dual carriageways with separate signals on each carriageway. When the audio signal is triggered, he/she cannot tell which carriageway is clear to cross. However, under the signal activating box there is a large nut that twists when it is safe to cross. I hope this helps others like myself cross a road more safely. There is certainly a need for more crossings.

I agree that every voice should count (as on the back page of the Newsletter) but we do need to get more people to participate and more local activities.

I went to the Ideas Café organised by Coventry’s two universities, about which you sent an email, and was disappointed. It was just another talking shop and the presenters did not even think about the needs of the audience. We need less talk and more actions!



Topic: Cycling and Skateboarding in Pedestrian Areas


A Letter from John N Mills    [05 September 2016]

Having read a letter today from Kate Brown (on behalf of Coventry Older Voices) in the Coventry Telegraph and then reading your comments in the campaign section of your website, I thought I would impart a little information to you.

A while ago while making my way to the Council House, I was very nearly knocked down by a cyclist in the High Street. Still fuming over the incident I saw no other than Councillor Ann Lucas walking towards me, so I stopped her and vented my anger and frustration and was amazed by her response.

She told me that Coventry unlike some towns and cities did not have any laws or by-laws to prohibit cycling on footpaths and therefore it is neither illegal or against the law to do this in Coventry. I was astounded by her comments to say the least as I always believed it was against the law to do that, however, she explained that she regularly attended meetings in London with other councils who had similar issues. When I asked her why it was not possible to bring in a new law or local by-law to prohibit cycling on footpaths, she went into lengthy explanations as to how costly and time consuming these matters can be and the fact that it could take years to accomplish.

On that basis, your comments on your website about the Police having neither the manpower, the time or the will to do anything about it seems quite unfair, as without either laws or by-laws in place, they are actually unable to do anything about it. Also, Kate Brown like many other members of the general public assume these cyclists and skateboarders are breaking the law, but, she is wrong in her assumption that the practice is illegal and as for her statement that it could end in court proceedings, the Police have no powers to do anything and would not do anything unless there was an accident or injury.

I asked my local MP at the time to look into this and she confirmed that what Ann Lucas told me was correct, so on that basis, perhaps you might consider lobbying Councillors and MP's to bring in such laws and by-laws.



Topic: Lidice Place and Twin Towns


A Letter from Barry Greener    [08 June 2016]

The articles in this website on Lidice place, and the removal and restoration of the commemorative plaques and compass, caused Barry Greener to recall his involvement with Coventry’s twin towns:

Coventry has two Czech twins partly because Lidice is so small whereas Ostrava being a large industrial town is more like Coventry. Of course all delegations from twins in countries in the Warsaw Pact (until the democratisation after the fall of the Berlin Wall) were members of the then dominant communist party, but the feeling here was that contact/ reconciliation was important.

Once when there were delegations from Kiel (then West Germany) and Dresden (then East Germany) we hoped the two would meet. Sadly, the latter would not agree. It was also sad when newly elected councillors after democratisation tended to send to Coventry those who had preceded them despite their efforts at twinning!

From 1979 to 1993 I was involved with cultural, sporting and youth exchanges. Also with planning programs for inward visitors from them and escorting them. This once included in the 1980's escorting the mayor of Lidice, Marie Jaresova (a survivor) when she accompanied a delegation from Ostrava.

In 1979 I was appointed to the staff of Civic Affairs at the Council House and when I retired in 1993 I was assistant international relations officer. During the second half of the 1980's when the rest of civic affairs officers transferred to a new Department of Economic Development and Planning, I was attached to the Lord Mayor 's office until a new International Relations office was set up partly to prepare for the events of 1990 (50th anniversary of the Blitz). This subsequently ceased to exist, partly as a result of Government legislation.



Topic: Saving the 360 Bus Route


A Letter from Kate Brown    [09 May 2016]

I thought COV members might like to know that Change.org is running a petition to try to save the 360 bus route to Walsgrave Hospital. Newspaper articles seem to suggest the decision has already been made to alter this service and the news has come as a shock to those who need to use it. The proposed new services do not seem to cover the same routes that the existing one covers.

You can read about the petition, and perhaps sign it, here.



Topic: Crossings at Coventry Railway Station


A Letter from Diane Hackford    [18 April 2016]

I am a COV member who is a representative on the Age Friendly Cities Transport Theme Group and attends other Council committees and meetings. I have expressed concerns to them about the crossings at the Coventry railway station. These are very difficult for the elderly, less mobile and those with a visual impairment. According to one committee last week, work should be starting this week to improve the crossing from the station entrance directly to the Boulevard linking it to the town centre. I understand that other work to improve the safety for people in this general station front area is to be considered.



Topic: Bus Stops at Coventry Railway Station


A Letter from Barry Greener    [14 April 2016]

Has anyone complained about the above? Before the stops were moved I don't think thought was given to safety of the elderly, disabled or students with heavy cases. Now users have to walk further crossing incoming and outgoing traffic (very busy with all buses, cars, vans and taxis approaching and leaving the station). The previous stops were adjacent to the station so you got off the bus straight into the station without having to cross roads.

Also, whereas passengers getting on and off the buses did so under cover before, they now get soaked if it is raining! The extra time needed due to the new stops being further from the station and because travellers sometimes have to wait to cross the two-way traffic to get to / from the station, means the difference sometimes of rail passengers catching/missing their bus, and of bus passengers catching/missing their train!



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A letter from B Townsend    [11 April 2016]

I fully agree with your letter in the Coventry Telegraph today about the closure of all the public toilets outside the city centre. This council thinks nothing of the citizens of Coventry. I was in Jubilee Cresent this morning and went to use the toilets only to find them closed. I was lucky I managed to get home without having an accident. With all the toilets closed I can see people urinating and defecating in the street.



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A letter from Les    [11 April 2016]

If the Council don't take the needs of us older people into account I certainly won't come to Coventry from Rugby to shop



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A Letter from Mike of Stoke Green    [01 April 2016]

Hi Norman. Thanks for your letter in Monday's Coventry telegraph about the closure of public toilets in the City. [Ed: see this article]. Well done!

I had a letter published last month when the closures were announced:

Read more ...

"Someone once said that there were only two certainties in life, death and taxes. Well he omitted to include going to the toilet! Maybe he was from Coventry, where they are proposing to close six more toilets! I am surprised that there are that many left as all the ones I have used have been closed years ago."You should go before you left home" I heard a lady recently remark when a man went behind a tree. Hardly welcoming to day-trippers coming from out-county". They omitted "As one of the many people who are on water tablets I too find being out of the house more than a hour can make me desperate."

I have been nagging the local residents association about getting the council to reinstate the toilets on Stoke Green (without response). I had suggested an automated cubicle. However I read recently that Cardiff had removed 6 automatic toilets half way through a 20 year contract as the low use was costing £16 a visit! Recently the council removed an area of shrubbery (off Humber Road) as it was been used a urinal, if they applied that to local parks there wouldn't be tree or hedge left.

Even in today's newspaper (page7) where I read that Camden is closing its toilet blocks a local man is offering to rent out his toilet to bus drivers for £20 week.



Topic: The Age UK General Election National Rally on Tuesday 24th March 2015


A Report by Anne Lakin (Chair of COV)     [01 April 2015]

We were met at the venue The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre by two Age UK London staff who took us to the conference room.

Read more ...

The first speaker was the Prime Minister Mr David Cameron whos was cheered as he arrived. He was not listed as a speaker but it was impressive that he was the only leader of the three main parties who considered us important enough to speak to.

He didn’t promise the Earth but said that he hoped to put a lot more money into main services now that the economy was under control but would have to take measures to ensure that we didn’t fall into recession again. He was shouted and jeered at when some of his answers didn’t suit the audience but on the whole I thought he was a very impressive speaker.

The second speaker, Mr Paul Bristow (Liberal Democrat) seemed to think that the country coming out of recession was all down to the involvement of the Lib Dems. He made several promises of what his party would do if elected but did not say where the money was coming from.

The third speaker, Liz Kendal (Labour) said a vote for Labour would bring stability to the country and more money would be put into vital services. Again no mention of where the money was coming from.

The fourth speaker, Natalie Binner (Green Party) spent most of her allotted time talking about reducing the speed limit to 20mph.

The fifth speaker, Mark Reckless (UKIP) again spoke about putting money into the NHS, with no indication of where it was coming from.

We then went to meet Mark Reckless on the “sofa” to ask questions. I asked him what his party would do to help isolation in elderly people, and his answer was that in his community they all looked after each other. He obviously doesn’t live in an inner city!

My conclusion was that none of the parties had any particular interest in the problems of the elderly or the future of Age Friendly Cities. It is therefore up to COV to push our local MPs to do more to make Coventry an Age Friendly City, and a good start would be to have something similar to the COV Launch event, inviting all Coventry MPS and other parties such as those responsible for local transport.



Topic: The Age UK General Election National Rally on Tuesday 24th March 2015


A Report by Fred Foster     [31 March 2015]

Thank you for the opportunity to attend this rally.

My day started early, and with a washed face and clean shirt I headed to Coventry Railway Station to meet up with colleagues.

Read more ...

The train journey to London is always exciting as once past Rugby Railway Station we enter the splendid Kilsby Tunnel. A fine example of engineering dating back to the 1830's. This tunnel, designed by Robert Stephenson, has two main air/ventilation shafts as it was built in the days of steam trains, and without them all the passengers would have been choking. The main air shafts are so large that as the train passes at the bottom you can see a flash of light from each one.

And you can see a statue of the designer outside Euston Station.

If you want to see the top of one of the main chimneys then you can drive down the M45, and on the left, just before joining the M1, you can see one.

We arrived at Euston and on the Underground we travelled to Green Park on the Victoria Line and then changed to the Jubilee Line to get to Westminster.

Leaving the tube station and into the daylight we were greeted by the sight of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We then walked past Westminster Abbey and took note of all the new Routemaster red London buses with their three exit/entrance doors rather than the usual two. Our destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre at SW1P 3EE.

CAROLINE ABRAHAMS - CHARITY DIRECTOR AGE UK

Caroline opened the meeting and welcomed us all..

The main objectives of Age UK would be for the speakers to talk about later life for older people without money worries and the best possible health. With care and support, when it is needed, and a society that values older people.

And then we waited.

And then we waited.

And we waited some more.

At that time we were waiting for the first speaker, but all that we knew was that it would be someone from the Conservative Party.

THE RT HON DAVID CAMERON - PRIME MINISTER

David Cameron told us of the great success of his last five years and that everything was good and the future would see all and any problems sorted and solved. with more money being spent on everything.

Things were fine until David Cameron took questions and then the shouting and jeering started. The usual comments of "Answer The Question" were thrown at him and a number of "Liar" could be heard, and the usual "Rubbish".

He was humiliated and heckled and the fury of the pensioners could be felt and heard, as he fidgeted on his back foot.

Much shouting and arms waving when he was asked if it was such a shock to him that we had a growing older population and why had he not supported more Nurses ? more Doctors ? more Housing ? more Schools ? at a time when we have seen such an increase in the population?

And he was asked about zero hours work contracts. Great for old people, but not suitable for the young who have regular bills to pay. And how many of the new jobs that he has created are in this category.

I feel that David Cameron expected an easy ride at a rally of pensioners and perhaps he felt that these were his voters and he had these people in his pocket. I wonder if David Cameron would have been late if he was meeting the Queen?

More shouting when David Cameron was asked two questions from a reporter of the Sun newspaper. The first was about David Cameron's third term, and has he learnt the example of Tony Blair and the money that can made? and the second question was about the Russian commitment to supply arms and planes to Argentina.

Treating the audience as fools, well it was a Sun newspaper reporter, we were told that Argentina was close to the Falklands Isles.

David Cameron said that he wil take all necessary action to protect the people of the Falklands Islands. This might start with a new air defence system.

PAUL BURSTOW MP - LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY.

Paul Burstow told us that all the successes of the coalition were due to the involvement of the Liberal Democrat Party. I am not sure that the audience were really listening.

LIZ KENDALL MP - LABOUR PARTY.

Liz tells us that Labour are the party to vote for and all will be okay.

NATALIE BENNETT - THE GREEN PARTY.

When Natalie Bennett spoke there were plenty of claps and cheers and she had to stop now and then as the noise was so loud. She really knew what the audience wanted to hear.

But perhaps things had not seemed to have been thought through.

20mph speed limit is one item that sounds great but if this was implemented too soon the cars and trucks would create even more air problems/pollution, as their torque is not designed for continuous low speeds.

MARK RECKLESS MP - UKIP.

Mark Reckless told us about bringing back democracy/controls to our shores and also quoted the money/value that his party felt was necessary for the NHS etc.

CONCLUSION

I do not think that any of the invited speakers actually said anything that was not expected by people who listen to the radio, or watch the television, or read newspapers. It is the three main political parties that have brought this country into the present situation and I do not think that anyone should vote for any of them.

I was given the opportunity to speak to Mark Reckless and I asked about the future of UKIP. Despite some problems I think that this party will capture the votes of the young who have suffered from the lack of homes and the immigration pressure to push wages down. But what does this party offer the older people? The silent majority? The pensioners?

If I am right, and UKIP were to have a good voting response, but few MPs, would Mark Reckless's party push for Proportional Representation where every vote would count for something. Marks Reckless thought that they would stick/stay with the first past the post system that we currently have. Shame, as this could be the time for a real change.

Even Russell Brand might vote?

UK asked for my comments on the supply of Electricity and Gas. This is another area where the coalition has allowed big business to confuse the customers. You can go into Tesco and see the price of a product, and if you do not like it you can walk down the road to Asda and check the price there. Why has energy become so complicated. Me ? I have a life to live rather than spend so much time on the telephone with people who want me to change suppliers. And later change back again. And it is so hard to find clear unit costs.

Was I the only one to notice that at an Age UK rally, where one would expect pensioners, you could hear so many peole having to ask what was in the sandwiches at lunch time. There was a sandwich selection menu board but the writing was so small that most people could not read it.

During the whole day there seemed to be little interest in Age Friendly Cities.This could be so useful to the aging Coventry City population and help with the problems of loneliness which can effect health. Coventry Older Voices trys to keep this subject to the fore. However, Age UK and Coventry City Council and Coventry University have worked together on this subject and it seems to be an afterthought that perhaps it would be a good idea to have an older person at their meetings.

There are reports that 44% of older people are not on line and yet Coventry City Council seems to continue down the road of www. only.

There is talk about having a meeting/rally in Coventry, similar to the one in London, and I would suggest that a couple of changes were made/considered. If a speaker is late, then lock the door to keep them out, and we can talk to, and jeer the empty chair, and each speaker is only allowed to talk about their own policy and not talk about what another party would/would not do. Each speaker in London was allowed to talk for 30 minuites, including questions. Except David Cameron who seemed to go on and on repeating what we had already been told. Unfortunately we may be old, but we are not all doolally.

We used to call it the rote system when I was at school.

I think that a 10 minute talk time should be enough as the most important part is the questions from the floor.

Thank you to Age UK for arranging this General Election Rally.



Topic: The Spon Street Bench


A letter from John Walsh    [11 August 2018]

The situation concerning the spon street bench (see the article here) is an absolute disgrace. It proves the point that older people are not being listened to. Who was responsible for this? Who are these “young people”? Why were they involved? It looks absolute **** and is in the wrong locality. There should be benches in Broadgate or will this spoil the overall effect. Never mind the pensioners and other vulnerable folk. You know what the council are like. Can something be done about this. People need to be called to account. I am willing to help on this.



Topic: A letter to Councillor Abbot


This is a copy of a letter sent by COV member Christopher L Smith to faye Abbott, who is the Labour Councillor for the Wyken ward    [29 April 2018]

Dear Ms Abbott

I have read your election address and note its noteworthy causes, however I am disappointed as I am with the Labour council that pensioners requirements and recognition are once more not being addressed. Pensioners, it appears are not be recognised, seen or heard within the city, for consideration of ameimities , such as adequate provision of public toilets and suitable “rest stop” stratigicly spaced bench seating (other than Godiva Square) throughout the city, is sadly lacking. With regards to new buildings, perhaps access doorways and corridor widths to assist wheelchairs users and the disabled could be announced and included in their design, for there is never any statements within the announcements within the projects of such provision.

Perhaps as the future City of Culture, a more considerate and friendlier approach could be adopted to all citizens.



Topic: The Gilbert Richards Centre


A letter from Frances Petrak:    [03 March 2018]

I have just heard that AgeUK are talking of giving up their centre of activities at The Gilbert Richard Centre.

I am completely devastated by the news as I have been enjoying the Woodwork group for several years and have made many friends among the fellow woodworkers. Some of the items I have made have gone on sale and added to the AgeUK revenue. I also learned to spin in the handicraft group which has given me over 20 years of pleasure and the largest wardrobe of knitted hand spun garments in the country. I use this skill to go out demonstrating spinning all over the area. My husband learned to use his ipad in one of the classes.

I believe there are over 300 pensioners who use the facilities at the centre which is centrally situated and has ample parking for those who drive. I feel that this is important for those of mature years to get out and socialise while learning and practicing a new hobby or just improving an old one.

The centre provides groups for all manner of activities from painting to dancing, computers to sewing, languages and pottery. So many would just give up and just sit at home getting depressed if their centre were closed.

Please can you try to help keep it open for us?



Topic: COV is an "Active Arena"


Here is a letter from Bert Frazier, who is a member of COV’s Management Committee:    [14 November 2017]

COV’s September-November 2017 Newsletter included a front page report headed “Ward Forums are Discontinued”, following a COV enquiry to the City Council, and its response.

Mindful that the Older People’s Partnership meetings have been suspended, it is important that other opportunities for the public to engage with public bodies are highlighted:

  • Age UK Coventry is seen as a major “service provider”.
  • Coventry City Council’s leaflet headed “Getting in touch” is available from the Council House and libraries, stating “What you can expect from us and how to tell us your views”.
  • COV’s goal is to improve the lives of older people by:
    • giving people over 50 a stronger and more influential voice in the City
    • representing the views of older people on important issues, such as transport and health
    • enabling older people to participate meaningfully in the planning and provision of services locally
    • building links with public bodies and private companies both locally and nationally, to influence policies and developments in the City.

Readers may know about “think tanks, talking shops, and whispering galleries”. COV has been and is an “Active Arena”, with people who are knowledgeable and skilled at engaging with those who hold responsible positions, to enable mutually beneficial outcomes to be realized.



Topic: A Response to "Get It Online"


Bridget Harper replies to Irene Shannon's letter    [21 September 2017]

One of the things I personally value most is the individual’s right to free speech. However when sharing information through newsletters and websites, as Coventry Older Voices does, I also believe we have a moral duty to be factually as accurate as possible in order to avoid confusion or distress to anyone who might read the articles.

I therefore became very concerned on reading Irene Shannon’s account [COV website Forum, 08 September] of her friends visit to the Registry Office remembering how vulnerable I was after my late husband died in 2012. In my grief I did not always hear what people were saying to me. I do however recall how sensitive and helpful the staff were, both in person and on the phone.

To say that the Certificates are ‘Private personal information’ is not quite accurate. Certificates of Births, Marriages and Deaths are in fact public documents held in the Public Records / Archives of the local Registry Office and the National Archives at the General Registry Office in London. It has not been possible for many years to receive copies of past Certificates immediately on request. It is necessary to order them prior to a search being undertaken.

So last week on behalf of COV members I phoned the Registry Office to clarify the current procedure for obtaining copies of documents. The Clerk was very helpful.

  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO ON-LINE although you can if you wish order one that way. A request can also be made in person or over the phone.
  • The copies will be posted out by standard delivery or within 24 hrs as a priority order.
  • It is also possible to order copies at the City Council Customer Services Centre at the top of the Precinct (adjacent to the River Island store).

I do feel saddened and frustrated by Irene’s view that ‘going on line’ is always such a barrier for older people. I am registered visually impaired and five years ago my family encouraged me to buy an iPad. The touch screen facility has been my life line in numerous situations. It has restored the lost joy of reading books, two way communication with others whether public, private or personal material. It enables me to play an equal part in meetings, workshops and lectures. I even use it for Bible passages if I am asked to read during a Service at Church. The list is endless but that’s another story for another day!!!



Topic: Get It Online!


A Letter from Irene Shannon    [08 September 2017]

“Get it online”; “do it on line”. How many times have we all been told that in the past couple of years? What's happened to the Civil Service and good customer services we all grew up with in Coventry and the UK?

I should imagine the majority of over 60's can't afford £25-30 a month for broadband and don't have the expertise to “surf the net” for the much-needed money saving deals, let alone buy a laptop or smartphone to " GO ON LINE".

I've had enough. Have you?

I have now heard the latest and it made me so angry. A close friend went to the Registry Office in Coventry and registered her husband’s death. While she was there she asked for copies of their birth and marriage certificates to deal with all the paperwork after a bereavement.

"We don't do them here any more" she was told, and was given a slip of paper with the website address, so that she could "go online, and save time". What about the time wasted going into the registry office and being told “if you haven't a PC go to the library they'll do it for you, or get a grandchild or friend to do it for you”?

That is not the public service we expect today. Private personal information being given out to others is not how we were brought up.

If one hasn't a PC how are we as senior citizens going to get the cheaper gas and electric deals? Banks are expecting us to 'Go online' too. I recently tried to pay a cheque into my account, and once again it was not straight forward. My local branch had closed down, so it’s into the town branch. Not being clever on my feet, how do I get there? I have to park in a traffic free zone and get a ticket. “Use the machine in the wall, or go to the Post Office”, the teller said.

How do the pensioners get what they really deserve in this City? Service and civility with face to face service would help. Communications have broken down in this wonderful “Techno Age”.

Are we being discriminated against?

Topic: More Problems with Taxis


A Letter from a COV member    [15 September 2017]

Do we have too many inconciderate taxis in this City? Now we have an influx of so called 'Uber cars' if you notice they are registered in Wolverhampton. Moseley Avenue seems to be the hub of taxi owners , including the breakdown vehicle to service them is parked constantly on the west side of the road. The cabs are lying in wait for customers in the Holyhead Pub Car park only to drive straight out onto the main road, often doing 'U' turns into the vehicles waiting for the lights to change. Parking on double yellow lines opposition the entrance to the Pub. Causing an extra obstruction as traffic have to give way as 2 lanes reduce to a single lane just before the bus stop.They seem to think they have the right above everyone else.

Surely they are to obey the Highway Code like the rest of us, The motorists etiquette we were all brought on seems to have got lost these last few years.



Topic: Parking of Taxis


A COV member sent us a copy of his email to the Parking Services department of Coventry City Council    [09 September 2017]

Sirs

Photos of parked taxis

Can you explain why, on a daily basis the taxi drivers of this City are allowed to openly flout parking regulations?

This picture was taken from Fleet Street at 16.30 today. Not only is there a taxi parked on the pavement but also one inside the disabled bay taking up 2 spaces.

This is not an usual occurrence and indeed it is rare to see so few taxis there.

I have seen 8 taxis parked on both sides of the road at any one time. Three in the allocated bay outside New Look also one squeezed on to the adjoining dropped kerb. On the other side of the road were four more taxis in the disabled bay or the pavement. I understand the owner of the Town Crier complains regularly about this.

They are also despoiling the pavement with oil from their leaky engines.

While your wardens are loitering to catch some one who is a few minutes late in a legal space, they would be better served removing the taxi menace. It seems a total injustice you are increasing parking fees in this area when the taxis can park anywhere for free.

I await your comments



Topic: Winter Fuel Payments


The writer of this letter wishes to remain anonymous    [25 May 2017]

My concern is the new government idea of stopping winter fuel payments for Pensioners not on Pension Credit. I am in this category and having worked from 15 yrs old to age 65 and paying my tax and Nat Ins for over 50 years and paying into a private pension I now find I am not entitled to be warm in the winter.

I bought my own home to my deterement and have to maintain it as if my roof falls in I can't just ring the council as those who never put a penny into the system can. If I need care I have to sell my home to pay for it, yet those who chose never to work have it for free! Where is the Govenments incentive for future generations to have a work ethic when those who did are now being denied warmth in the winter. Does this sound like a fair system. Without the winter fuel allowance my heat wont be able to go on. Dispite my years of paying into this system. Surely we can fight this!!



Topic: Inspirational Messages


A Letter from Bert Frazier    [20 April 2017]

I thought I would share two inspirational messages that I noticed while travelling around Coventry. The first was outside the Hope Centre in Sparkbrook Steet: "Someone can't do everything - Everyone can do something."

The second was on a banner at the entrance to a Coventry School: "Together Everyone Achieves More (T-E-A-M).



Topic: Pedestrian Crossings and Audio Signals


A Letter from Margaret Emerton    [03 November 2016]

Reading the latest copy of the COV Newsletter I noticed your comments about audio signals on crossings.

Blind or partially sighted pedestrians can face a problem at dual carriageways with separate signals on each carriageway. When the audio signal is triggered, he/she cannot tell which carriageway is clear to cross. However, under the signal activating box there is a large nut that twists when it is safe to cross. I hope this helps others like myself cross a road more safely. There is certainly a need for more crossings.

I agree that every voice should count (as on the back page of the Newsletter) but we do need to get more people to participate and more local activities.

I went to the Ideas Café organised by Coventry’s two universities, about which you sent an email, and was disappointed. It was just another talking shop and the presenters did not even think about the needs of the audience. We need less talk and more actions!



Topic: Cycling, Near-Misses and the PSPO


A letter from Kate Brown:    [28 January 2018]

Re Mick Rees's letter (Forum, December 2017)

Coventry Older Voices Management Committee have been liaising with the local council, and they have asked us to provide evidence that cycling is a nuisance and danger to the public, before the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) is reviewed later this year. [You can read about the PSPO in the “Campaigns” pages of the website, here – Ed]. COV’s PSPO sub-committee (of which I am a member) met this week, and it is apparent that cycling in the City centre is an ongoing problem. We do still have complaint forms for near-misses, and have been requested at an accessibility meeting to complain about any incidents to the Council direct.

I would encourage Mick Rees either to contact his local councillor or to put in a “What are we doing wrong form” to Customer Services at the Council House (and to encourage others to do the same). We will also be contacting Deliveroo about the use of pedestrian areas by their cyclists. If Mr Rees would like a COV form to fill in in respect of cycles on pavements then I am sure our secretary will oblige.



Topic: Cycling Nuisance


A letter from Mick Rees:    [10 December 2017]

Since when has it been acceptable for cyclists to ride on the pavements? I am amazed by the number of bikes that you can see riding around Broadgate and no police are in sight. I ride a mobility scooter from Bell Green. The number of cyclists on the pavement is unbelievable and their attitude is that they have the right to do it and that pedestrians have to get out of the way. WHEN will the police and people in power do something about it?



Topic: Cycling and Skateboarding in Pedestrian Areas


A Letter from John N Mills    [05 September 2016]

Having read a letter today from Kate Brown (on behalf of Coventry Older Voices)in the Coventry Telegraph and then reading your comments in the campaign section of your website, I thought I would impart a little information to you.

A while ago while making my way to the Council House, I was very nearly knocked down by a cyclist in the High Street. Still fuming over the incident I saw no other than Councillor Ann Lucas walking towards me, so I stopped her and vented my anger and frustration and was amazed by her response.

She told me that Coventry unlike some towns and cities did not have any laws or by-laws to prohibit cycling on footpaths and therefore it is neither illegal or against the law to do this in Coventry. I was astounded by her comments to say the least as I always believed it was against the law to do that, however, she explained that she regularly attended meetings in London with other councils who had similar issues. When I asked her why it was not possible to bring in a new law or local by-law to prohibit cycling on footpaths, she went into lengthy explanations as to how costly and time consuming these matters can be and the fact that it could take years to accomplish.

On that basis, your comments on your website about the Police having neither the manpower, the time or the will to do anything about it seems quite unfair, as without either laws or by-laws in place, they are actually unable to do anything about it. Also, Kate Brown like many other members of the general public assume these cyclists and skateboarders are breaking the law, but, she is wrong in her assumption that the practice is illegal and as for her statement that it could end in court proceedings, the Police have no powers to do anything and would not do anything unless there was an accident or injury.

I asked my local MP at the time to look into this and she confirmed that what Ann Lucas told me was correct, so on that basis, perhaps you might consider lobbying Councillors and MP's to bring in such laws and by-laws.



Topic: Lidice Place and Twin Towns


A Letter from Barry Greener    [08 June 2016]

The articles in this website on Lidice place, and the removal and restoration of the commemorative plaques and compass, caused Barry Greener to recall his involvement with Coventry’s twin towns:

Coventry has two Czech twins partly because Lidice is so small whereas Ostrava being a large industrial town is more like Coventry. Of course all delegations from twins in countries in the Warsaw Pact (until the democratisation after the fall of the Berlin Wall) were members of the then dominant communist party, but the feeling here was that contact/ reconciliation was important.

Once when there were delegations from Kiel (then West Germany) and Dresden (then East Germany) we hoped the two would meet. Sadly, the latter would not agree. It was also sad when newly elected councillors after democratisation tended to send to Coventry those who had preceded them despite their efforts at twinning!

From 1979 to 1993 I was involved with cultural, sporting and youth exchanges. Also with planning programs for inward visitors from them and escorting them. This once included in the 1980's escorting the mayor of Lidice, Marie Jaresova (a survivor) when she accompanied a delegation from Ostrava.

In 1979 I was appointed to the staff of Civic Affairs at the Council House and when I retired in 1993 I was assistant international relations officer. During the second half of the 1980's when the rest of civic affairs officers transferred to a new Department of Economic Development and Planning, I was attached to the Lord Mayor 's office until a new International Relations office was set up partly to prepare for the events of 1990 (50th anniversary of the Blitz). This subsequently ceased to exist, partly as a result of Government legislation.



Topic: Saving the 360 Bus Route


A Letter from Kate Brown    [09 May 2016]

I thought COV members might like to know that Change.org is running a petition to try to save the 360 bus route to Walsgrave Hospital. Newspaper articles seem to suggest the decision has already been made to alter this service and the news has come as a shock to those who need to use it. The proposed new services do not seem to cover the same routes that the existing one covers.

You can read about the petition, and perhaps sign it, here.



Topic: Station Crossings


A Letter from Diane Hackford    [18 April 2016]

I am a COV member who is a representative on the Age Friendly Cities Transport Theme Group and attends other Council committees and meetings. I have expressed concerns to them about the crossings at the Coventry railway station. These are very difficult for the elderly, less mobile and those with a visual impairment. According to one committee last week, work should be starting this week to improve the crossing from the station entrance directly to the Boulevard linking it to the town centre. I understand that other work to improve the safety for people in this general station front area is to be considered.



Topic: Station Bus Stops


A Letter from Barry Greener    [14 April 2016]

Has anyone complained about the above? Before the stops were moved I don't think thought was given to safety of the elderly, disabled or students with heavy cases. Now users have to walk further crossing incoming and outgoing traffic (very busy with all buses, cars, vans and taxis approaching and leaving the station). The previous stops were adjacent to the station so you got off the bus straight into the station without having to cross roads.

Also, whereas passengers getting on and off the buses did so under cover before, they now get soaked if it is raining! The extra time needed due to the new stops being further from the station and because travellers sometimes have to wait to cross the two-way traffic to get to / from the station, means the difference sometimes of rail passengers catching/missing their bus, and of bus passengers catching/missing their train!

Even in today's newspaper (page7) where I read that Camden is closing its toilet blocks a local man is offering to rent out his toilet to bus drivers for £20 week.



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A Letter from Mick Rees    [11 December 2016]

Regarding the closures, I live at Bell Green and unfortunately I can't use the toilets as I am disabled BUT everyday I see people urinating outside the doors of the said toilet and at night it gets worse as they also urinate in the shop doors. I commented to one individual and was told that if they opened the toilet 🚽 it wouldn't happen. Being in a shopping arcade I would have thought they would have kept it open.



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A letter from Les    [11 April 2016]

If the Council don't take the needs of us older people into account I certainly won't come to Coventry from Rugby to shop.



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A letter from B Townsend    [11 April 2016]

I fully agree with your letter in the Coventry Telegraph today about the closure of all the public toilets outside the city centre. This council thinks nothing of the citizens of Coventry. I was in Jubilee Cresent this morning and went to use the toilets only to find them closed. I was lucky I managed to get home without having an accident. With all the toilets closed I can see people urinating and defecating in the street.



Topic: Public Toilet Closures


A Letter from Mike of Stoke Green    [01 April 2016]

Hi Norman. Thanks for your letter in Monday's Coventry telegraph about the closure of public toilets in the City. [Ed: see this article]. Well done!

I had a letter published last month when the closures were announced:

Read more ...

"Someone once said that there were only two certainties in life, death and taxes. Well he omitted to include going to the toilet! Maybe he was from Coventry, where they are proposing to close six more toilets! I am surprised that there are that many left as all the ones I have used have been closed years ago."You should go before you left home" I heard a lady recently remark when a man went behind a tree. Hardly welcoming to day-trippers coming from out-county". They omitted "As one of the many people who are on water tablets I too find being out of the house more than a hour can make me desperate."

I have been nagging the local residents association about getting the council to reinstate the toilets on Stoke Green (without response). I had suggested an automated cubicle. However I read recently that Cardiff had removed 6 automatic toilets half way through a 20 year contract as the low use was costing £16 a visit! Recently the council removed an area of shrubbery (off Humber Road) as it was been used a urinal, if they applied that to local parks there wouldn't be tree or hedge left.

Even in today's newspaper (page7) where I read that Camden is closing its toilet blocks a local man is offering to rent out his toilet to bus drivers for £20 week

Topic: The Age UK General Election National Rally on Tuesday 24th March 2015


A Report by Anne (Chair of COV)    [01 April 2015]

We were met at the venue The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre by two Age UK London staff who took us to the conference room.

Read more ...

The first speaker was the Prime Minister Mr David Cameron whos was cheered as he arrived. He was not listed as a speaker but it was impressive that he was the only leader of the three main parties who considered us important enough to speak to.

He didn’t promise the Earth but said that he hoped to put a lot more money into main services now that the economy was under control but would have to take measures to ensure that we didn’t fall into recession again. He was shouted and jeered at when some of his answers didn’t suit the audience but on the whole I thought he was a very impressive speaker.

The second speaker, Mr Paul Bristow (Liberal Democrat) seemed to think that the country coming out of recession was all down to the involvement of the Lib Dems. He made several promises of what his party would do if elected but did not say where the money was coming from.

The third speaker, Liz Kendal (Labour) said a vote for Labour would bring stability to the country and more money would be put into vital services. Again no mention of where the money was coming from.

The fourth speaker, Natalie Binner (Green Party) spent most of her allotted time talking about reducing the speed limit to 20mph.

The fifth speaker, Mark Reckless (UKIP) again spoke about putting money into the NHS, with no indication of where it was coming from.

We then went to meet Mark Reckless on the “sofa” to ask questions. I asked him what his party would do to help isolation in elderly people, and his answer was that in his community they all looked after each other. He obviously doesn’t live in an inner city!

My conclusion was that none of the parties had any particular interest in the problems of the elderly or the future of Age Friendly Cities. It is therefore up to COV to push our local MPs to do more to make Coventry an Age Friendly City, and a good start would be to have something similar to the COV Launch event, inviting all Coventry MPS and other parties such as those responsible for local transport.



Topic: The Age UK General Election National Rally on Tuesday 24th March 2015


A Report by Fred    [31 March 2015]

Thank you for the opportunity to attend this rally.

My day started early, and with a washed face and clean shirt I headed to Coventry Railway Station to meet up with colleagues.

Read more ...

The train journey to London is always exciting as once past Rugby Railway Station we enter the splendid Kilsby Tunnel. A fine example of engineering dating back to the 1830's. This tunnel, designed by Robert Stephenson, has two main air/ventilation shafts as it was built in the days of steam trains, and without them all the passengers would have been choking. The main air shafts are so large that as the train passes at the bottom you can see a flash of light from each one.

And you can see a statue of the designer outside Euston Station.

If you want to see the top of one of the main chimneys then you can drive down the M45, and on the left, just before joining the M1, you can see one.

We arrived at Euston and on the Underground we travelled to Green Park on the Victoria Line and then changed to the Jubilee Line to get to Westminster.

Leaving the tube station and into the daylight we were greeted by the sight of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We then walked past Westminster Abbey and took note of all the new Routemaster red London buses with their three exit/entrance doors rather than the usual two. Our destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre at SW1P 3EE.

CAROLINE ABRAHAMS - CHARITY DIRECTOR AGE UK

Caroline opened the meeting and welcomed us all..

The main objectives of Age UK would be for the speakers to talk about later life for older people without money worries and the best possible health. With care and support, when it is needed, and a society that values older people.

And then we waited.

And then we waited.

And we waited some more.

At that time we were waiting for the first speaker, but all that we knew was that it would be someone from the Conservative Party.

THE RT HON DAVID CAMERON - PRIME MINISTER

David Cameron told us of the great success of his last five years and that everything was good and the future would see all and any problems sorted and solved. with more money being spent on everything.

Things were fine until David Cameron took questions and then the shouting and jeering started. The usual comments of "Answer The Question" were thrown at him and a number of "Liar" could be heard, and the usual "Rubbish".

He was humiliated and heckled and the fury of the pensioners could be felt and heard, as he fidgeted on his back foot.

Much shouting and arms waving when he was asked if it was such a shock to him that we had a growing older population and why had he not supported more Nurses ? more Doctors ? more Housing ? more Schools ? at a time when we have seen such an increase in the population?

And he was asked about zero hours work contracts. Great for old people, but not suitable for the young who have regular bills to pay. And how many of the new jobs that he has created are in this category.

I feel that David Cameron expected an easy ride at a rally of pensioners and perhaps he felt that these were his voters and he had these people in his pocket. I wonder if David Cameron would have been late if he was meeting the Queen?

More shouting when David Cameron was asked two questions from a reporter of the Sun newspaper. The first was about David Cameron's third term, and has he learnt the example of Tony Blair and the money that can made? and the second question was about the Russian commitment to supply arms and planes to Argentina.

Treating the audience as fools, well it was a Sun newspaper reporter, we were told that Argentina was close to the Falklands Isles.

David Cameron said that he wil take all necessary action to protect the people of the Falklands Islands. This might start with a new air defence system.

PAUL BURSTOW MP - LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY.

Paul Burstow told us that all the successes of the coalition were due to the involvement of the Liberal Democrat Party. I am not sure that the audience were really listening.

LIZ KENDALL MP - LABOUR PARTY.

Liz tells us that Labour are the party to vote for and all will be okay.

NATALIE BENNETT - THE GREEN PARTY.

When Natalie Bennett spoke there were plenty of claps and cheers and she had to stop now and then as the noise was so loud. She really knew what the audience wanted to hear.

But perhaps things had not seemed to have been thought through.

20mph speed limit is one item that sounds great but if this was implemented too soon the cars and trucks would create even more air problems/pollution, as their torque is not designed for continuous low speeds.

MARK RECKLESS MP - UKIP.

Mark Reckless told us about bringing back democracy/controls to our shores and also quoted the money/value that his party felt was necessary for the NHS etc.

CONCLUSION

I do not think that any of the invited speakers actually said anything that was not expected by people who listen to the radio, or watch the television, or read newspapers. It is the three main political parties that have brought this country into the present situation and I do not think that anyone should vote for any of them.

I was given the opportunity to speak to Mark Reckless and I asked about the future of UKIP. Despite some problems I think that this party will capture the votes of the young who have suffered from the lack of homes and the immigration pressure to push wages down. But what does this party offer the older people? The silent majority? The pensioners?

If I am right, and UKIP were to have a good voting response, but few MPs, would Mark Reckless's party push for Proportional Representation where every vote would count for something. Marks Reckless thought that they would stick/stay with the first past the post system that we currently have. Shame, as this could be the time for a real change.

Even Russell Brand might vote?

UK asked for my comments on the supply of Electricity and Gas. This is another area where the coalition has allowed big business to confuse the customers. You can go into Tesco and see the price of a product, and if you do not like it you can walk down the road to Asda and check the price there. Why has energy become so complicated. Me ? I have a life to live rather than spend so much time on the telephone with people who want me to change suppliers. And later change back again. And it is so hard to find clear unit costs.

Was I the only one to notice that at an Age UK rally, where one would expect pensioners, you could hear so many peole having to ask what was in the sandwiches at lunch time. There was a sandwich selection menu board but the writing was so small that most people could not read it.

During the whole day there seemed to be little interest in Age Friendly Cities.This could be so useful to the aging Coventry City population and help with the problems of loneliness which can effect health. Coventry Older Voices trys to keep this subject to the fore. However, Age UK and Coventry City Council and Coventry University have worked together on this subject and it seems to be an afterthought that perhaps it would be a good idea to have an older person at their meetings.

There are reports that 44% of older people are not on line and yet Coventry City Council seems to continue down the road of www. only.

There is talk about having a meeting/rally in Coventry, similar to the one in London, and I would suggest that a couple of changes were made/considered. If a speaker is late, then lock the door to keep them out, and we can talk to, and jeer the empty chair, and each speaker is only allowed to talk about their own policy and not talk about what another party would/would not do. Each speaker in London was allowed to talk for 30 minuites, including questions. Except David Cameron who seemed to go on and on repeating what we had already been told. Unfortunately we may be old, but we are not all doolally.

We used to call it the rote system when I was at school.

I think that a 10 minute talk time should be enough as the most important part is the questions from the floor.

Thank you to Age UK for arranging this General Election Rally.