Have Your Say!


To Medway Council

Dear Richard,

It is clear from your reply that you have no intention of addressing the concerns raised by customers of the centre. Just yesterday, I attended the centre to find the meters out of commission, with a display that said ‘out of use’. On enquiry, I was told that there was one meter in operation but all others had broken. Thus my entry to the centre took 15 minutes in total. Hardly satisfactory. Furthermore I was told that others who did not realise that one meter was in operation were given parking tickets. I do hope that Medway Council does not intend to profit from this equipment breakdown less than two weeks after commissioning. Thus your suggestion that the scheme causes minimum disruption at reasonable cost is inaccurate. £70 000 for machines that do not work after less than two weeks operation does not seem to be good value for money.

You also confirm the Centre’s concerns of abuse. When I spoke with them some time back, this seemed to be the major preoccupation rather then customer service. I was given the impression that all the centre users were likely to commit moral hazard by ‘trading their cards with commuters’, a suggestion which frankly is offensive.

I think you would agree that no organisation should design a system around exceptions, at the expense of the majority. To misquote Cher, I am sure that the vast majority of centre users are not ‘gypsies, tramps and thieves’. To suggest that your customers cannot be trusted to act properly is rather demeaning.

Anyway, I have had various politely worded versions of the same refusal to address the concerns from various sources. To continue on this theme seems a rather pointless use of our time unless any action is to be taken. There are more pressing concerns re Richard May’s e-mail and I will let that now become the focus. I am aware that many OAP’s who use the centre primarily for health reasons were not aware of the plans or the ‘consultation’ and, for them, the proposed changes will constitute the end of their ability to stay healthy.

Overall, I must say that I find some difficulty with the words customer first, culture and democracy in the title of your department.

Peter Cook

From: hicks, richard [mailto:richard.hicks@medway.gov.uk] Sent: 09 April 2009 19:35 To: Simon Harris; peter@humdyn.co.uk Cc: richardmay@talktalk.net; harold; Joseph Bill; Alan J Jefferies; ingram, gary; young, dave; johnston, paul; graham, gina Subject: RE: Black Lion Parking Scheme - Some Good News (me55)

Simon, Peter,

Thanks for your e-mails on this; I have copied my team in so they are aware of your views on the health suite.

On the parking front we are of course very keen to work with you all, and we have tried to come up with a scheme that causes minimum disruption whilst at the same time preventing others from abusing it. I feel the steps we have put in place achieve that within a reasonable overall cost.

With best wishes


Richard Hicks Assistant Director Customer First, Leisure, Culture, Democracy & Governance


From: Simon Harris [mailto:simon@lansdownplace.co.uk] Sent: 06 April 2009 20:48 To: hicks, richard Cc: richardmay@talktalk.net; peter@humdyn.co.uk; harold; Joseph Bill; Alan J Jefferies Subject: Re: Black Lion Parking Scheme - Some Good News (me55)

Hello Richard

Peter is right about the parking charges being little deterrent. I have attended the centre on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and the available spaces were very marginally better than before the parking charges were in force. I can give you a running report if you wish, I am there 4 times a week.

I can tell you that it takes at least as long as the "driving around looking for a space" before charges to "get a ticket and then get it refunded", probably longer - I tend to be off peak so it must be a lot worse in the weekday evenings. I have suggested block refunds for regular users as an alternative to car passes (which is the best and obvious solution), given earlier concerns of misuse but this is still not acceptable. I am not sure how far you think members will go to get "free" parking when they are not in the centre but the current plans are already pointing towards them not achieving the stated intentions. I cannot see a lot of revenue being lost by members shifting passes between cars and with a 4 hour maximum stay it can't be used for commuters. It has been suggested to members that we "try it your way" - maybe the same advice applies to "trying it ours"?

On the matter of the Health Suite I heard some time ago that this was to be closed with perhaps a steam room in each of the changing rooms. From the comments I have received from fellow users of the gym this is very unpopular, so I assume they have not been consulted? I certainly have not.

I am glad that we are all in dialogue over this and that we are at least agreed that the answer is to exclude non center users from the car park. Can we try to do so in the most convenient way for those who have and continue to pay for the use of the centre. Likewise can we ask those users which facilities are of most use to them, rather than making decisions without consultation.

With kind regards

Simon Harris


2nd Floor Berkeley Square House

Berkeley Square London W1J 6BD


Lansdown House, 25-27 Clare Street

Old City, Bristol. BS1 1XA

Hello Richard,

Nice to hear from you again – I thought you might have moved on. Anyway, to the matter in hand:

Yes, after writing several polite letters and having them ignored, I involved the Medway News and the Liberal Democrats and, miraculously, the situation changed.

It would have been better all round if the customer comments had been reviewed in the first place as I have rather had to ‘martyr’ myself to get something done about it. I am one of many people who feel the same about the way this has been handled. I found out today that some other members asked if they could survey member views and were told flatly that they could not. This does seem rather undemocratic.

If the stated aim of the scheme is to permit members and users to park at the centre and discourage commuters I cannot comprehend why the maximum parking fee is £2.80 when the British Rail car park is £3.70. There is a gap between the talk and action here. I noted today that after a few days of relative ease of parking that numbers are creeping back up, so the £2.80 all day parking fee is proving not to be a deterrent for some.

We still have a 19th Century administration of the scheme, which wastes everybody’s time and council tax money. I also understand that there are secret plans afoot to close the health suite, based on ‘manufactured data’ that says that there are large queues to use the fitness centre and nobody uses the health suite. In my experience this is simply not true. I will leave others copied here to fill you in on the relevant details.

Having been given the run around over what has become a simple matter and denied the right to ask customers about their views, I am keen to see a full resolution to this.

All the best

Peter Cook

MD Human Dynamics Sent: 06 April 2009 19:29 To: peter@humdyn.co.uk Subject: FW: Black Lion Parking Scheme - Some Good News (me55)

Dear Peter,

I understand one of my Leisure Team, Paul Johnston, has replied to your recent e-mail.

I think we all feel that the 4 hour refund is a far better position for our customers, and we will seek to ensure the way we give refunds is as streamlined as we can make it, albeit this is not quite in the way you had hoped.

With best wishes


Richard Hicks Assistant Director Customer First, Leisure, Culture, Democracy & Governance

Medway Council Level 5 Gun Wharf Dock Road Chatham Kent ME4 4TR

Subject: Black Lion Parking Scheme - Some Good News

Dear Paul, Rubena and Robin,

I am a Member at the Black Lion Leisure Centre and have contacted you previously about the new parking scheme. I understand that the time allowed to members has now been extended to 4 hours. I am delighted about this and this addresses about 60% of my concerns over the scheme. However, the practical administration remains unwieldy for members and staff. To gain access to the centre, one must indulge in the following process:

1. Buy ticket manually every time you visit with cash

2. Queue to reclaim ticket value, wasting time, causing staff extra work and the need to carry additional cash

3. Staff manually send tickets to Medway Council

4. Medway Council refund ticket fees, causing unnecessary admin and Council Tax costs

The impact is wasted time, money and excessive administration. There surely must be a better way to do this in the 21st Century?

I understand that members are to have smart cards when the new gym is finished and that nobody will be allowed entry without their card. Why then is there so much resistance to the idea of smart cards now, or buying a copy of your members card to place in your car, perhaps with an expiry date on it, or some other practical idea? I understand that the cost of a card is 50p – I am sure members would pay 50p once to save themselves the hassle. I am sure the staff would also appreciate this rather having to spend their days behaving like people sitting at the Dartford Crossing toll booths.

So, I am delighted with your response so far and wonder if we can find a sensible way through what remains.

Peter Cook

MD Human Dynamics

***** A quote from my fiend Matt Burdett on Wednesday April 8th - "How dare you call me a Racist! I hate everybody equally!" ***** Am I right in thinking that PAKI is short for Pakistani? Just an abbreviation?

Prince Harry calls a mate "Our little Paki friend" and is forced to apologise two years later. This guy was a mate of his for heavens sake!

Am I right in thinking that "Brit" is short for British? Should the Sun Newspaper be forced to apologise every time it prints the word Brit or The Brits are coming? Is the word Brit offensive?

Is "Scot" Offensive? "The Scots are coming". Another Sun Newspaper Football Clash Headline classic.

What about Ozzie? Kiwi? Pommie? Limey? Where or when will this lunacy end? The Cornish call all holiday makers "Grockles" Anything wrong with that?

If a Pakistani called you "His Brit friend" Would you feel offended? Would you demand an apology on National TV?

Of course not.

Del Trotter refers to "The Paki Shop" in one episode of Only Fools and Horses. (Now overdubbed for UK Gold with the offending word taken out). (The episode when they build a nuclear fall out shelter). Should Sir David Jason now apologise? Should the writer John Sullivan apologise? Should the BBC apologise?

What about the Fuzzywuzzies? "Dads Army"

What about "You stupid Krout"? Fawlty Towers. Both still being broadcast regularly with no overdub.

The Idiots are at it again trying to stir up racial hatred. It's just madness surely?

I'm happy being a BRIT, BRITISH, ENGLISH, POMMIE, LIMEY or whatever. I don't care a fig. I only care when I'm called a racist.

I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEARS "BRIT AWARDS" ON THE TV. LUCKILY, THANKS TO THE ZEALOTS, RACISTS AND BIGOTS THERE WILL NEVER BE A "PAKI AWARDS". Oh no indeed, because all the Pakis will be at The Brit Awards. And us Brits won't mind at all will we?

There's something rotten in the barrel and nobody in government or local politics has the guts to stand up and say "GROW UP THE LOT OF YOU". anonymous

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