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Sunningwell Defibrillator Reinstated –  status LIVE 

South Central Ambulance Service have advised that the Sunningwell Defibrillator has been reinstated following several weeks disruption caused by one or two irresponsible people believed to be local villagers.  The Council will continue to monitor the situation and hopes very much that the criminal behaviour which led to the delisting of the defibrillator will not recur. More on this below.

 

A few irresponsible people put lives at risk.

Dear Fellow Parishioner,

This is an important message which I am sending on behalf of Sunningwell Parish Council to everyone in Sunningwell village regarding a topic of which you may not all be aware.

Over the last week or so much misinformation has been circulated in the parish by email and on the internet about the Council’s decision to remove books from the old telephone box in Sunningwell village.

Through the good offices of the late Charles Frost, the Council purchased the kiosk in 2010.  SPC then spent a considerable amount of money to provide an electricity supply and install and maintain a public access defibrillator for emergency use by villagers.

There is a very clear and long standing notice in the kiosk stating council ownership.

Some weeks ago it came to the attention of the council that a person, or persons, unknown had taken it upon themselves to convert the box into an informal book store without the elementary courtesy of asking the council for its consent.  The council took steps to try and identify those concerned by writing to a local village resident who for many years has been responsible for regular checking to ensure that the defibrillator remains in good working order – and without which it will be struck from the Ambulance Service list.  Unfortunately, despite a reminder, no response was received.

This unauthorised use of council property was then added to the SPC agenda for the meeting held on 25th January and, as usual, was published on the notice boards located in all four parish communities.  At the meeting councillors expressed concern at this misuse not least because, in their opinion, the increasing number of books threatened to compromise safe and rapid access to the defibrillator in an emergency which might easily occur at night.

Councillors discussed who might be responsible but none of them, nor the parishioners present who included a representative from The Sunningwell Scene, was able to say.

Not knowing who had placed the books, and being concerned at the present state of the telephone box and that matters might get worse and possibly compromise access to the defibrillator for which the council has an implied duty of care, all councillors agreed that they should be removed without further delay.  It should be mentioned that, in the event of a death or accident, personal liability might be attributed not only to councillors who failed to act but also those misguided individuals who may have contributed to it.

A few days later, carrying out the instructions of the full Council, the books were removed; a number of which were in quite a soggy state. An official council notice requesting that no books or anything else should be left in the phone box was displayed.  Pending possible disposal or re-use at another agreed site, the books will be held for a short while in case the owners should come forward to claim them.  Since then, on several more occasions books have re-appeared and regrettably the official council notices have been removed.

More worrying, someone has been replacing these with their own notices with false wording purporting to come from the parish clerk.

Various inaccurate and scurrilous correspondence by email and online has also been circulated some of which was abusive and rather puerile. Some of this has been directed at me as Chairman of the Council, although I have just one vote out of seven, including suggesting that I acted on my own volition rather than with the full authority of the council. The parish clerk has also received abuse.

Insinuations have also been circulated regarding my own residence as if I do not live in the parish.  In fact all councillors live in the parish. Three live on Boars Hill which accounts for nearly 40% of the parish population; one lives in Bayworth and three live in Sunningwell village which has 25% of the population.

Despite all the correspondence, no one has yet come forward or been named as being responsible for the ill-considered action which includes the affixing of ceramic tiles to the outside of the box which will now have to be removed at public expense.  It might be as well if the anonymous perpetrators and their apologists, who may be the same people, were to consider for a moment how they would view it if some unknown person dumped piles of books in their porch and glued tiles stating “Library” above their own front door!

The Council supports, and would even be willing to assist with funding, the concept of a book exchange and has already suggested a possible alternative location as being the Village Hall which it owns and which is leased to Sunningwell Village Hall Trust.  The Council would expect this to be done by named individuals and with the prior consent of the village hall trustees.  Any parishioner who has views about a more suitable location is encouraged to attend the next parish council meeting on 22nd February.  SPC reiterates its request that books are not placed in the telephone box.  It is all very well reading this in the calm of your home and thinking how sweet it would be to surround the defibrillator with books, old boots and heaven knows what else, but in a life or death emergency, which could easily occur at night, there will be panic. Nothing must compromise safe and easy access to the life-saving equipment.  That is why anything left in the phone box will be removed and may be destroyed. A life is worth a thousand books.

Subsequent to all the above, the Ambulance Service have advised that continued interference with the Defibrillator facility by irresponsible unknown persons has led to their delisting the device which had been provided for emergency use.

We now come to the most disgraceful, and yet at the same time saddest, incident so far in this very sad saga.  At about 4:30 pm on Monday 15th, we placed this notice on the face of the defibrillator as follows:

Sunningwell Parish Council

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Because of recent events the Sunningwell Village defibrillator has now been delisted by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

The nearest defibrillator is located at the porch of the Beaumont Care Home at the top of Bayworth Lane in Boars Hill.

Brian Rixon, Parish Clerk  clerk@sunningwell-pc.gov.uk

This notice was deliberately worded in a neutral manner so as to minimise the chances of it also being removed.  It was placed as a necessary warning to any villager, or passer-by, that the emergency life saving device is no longer available to Sunningwell and they must now drive to the Beaumont Care Home at the top of Bayworth Lane.

I have to tell you that, within two hours, this official warning notice had also been removed!

Best regards

Colin Weyer

Chairman,

Sunningwell Parish Council

16th February 2021.

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At its next meeting held on 22nd Feburary 2021 the Council adopted the following statement in respect of the defibrillator, the old telephone kiosk and  the book exchange.

“The Council notes that, since the meeting held on 25th January 2021, there has been no favourable change to how the telephone kiosk is being used and the council has therefore been unable to provide South Central Ambulance Service (SCA) with assurances that access to the potentially life-saving defibrillator will be unhindered. It is on this basis that SCA has delisted the defibrillator. The defibrillator remains functional, is monitored by Heartbeat Trust and the council confirms that all required maintenance has been undertaken. When the council, as owners of the telephone kiosk, can provide SCA with the assurance that the defibrillator will be unhindered they will consider relisting so that it is seen as available to support an emergency incident.

The council also notes that since the last meeting the situation has worsened by the publishing of written abuse directed against the council designed to force a change of decision. In addition one or more irresponsible people have continued to place books and obstacles in the kiosk and illegally and repeatedly removed official council notices displayed in the telephone kiosk, requesting that no books or other material be left there, and replaced these with forged notices purporting to be issued by the clerk of the council. More recently a person or persons unknown have been responsible for the illegal and reckless removal of health and safety warning notices displayed by the council in its kiosk.  As yet the council has been unable to identify those responsible for placing the books, removing official council notices or displaying the forged documents on council property.

Accordingly the council re-affirms its decision that no books or other material should be left in the old telephone kiosk which will remain reserved exclusively for the housing of the public access defibrillator.

The council also makes clear its support for any parishioner who may come forward with a proposal to establish a viable book exchange in the village of Sunningwell and will look favourably on any request to assist with funding the establishment of a suitable alternative location.

The council notes that one or more unknown persons have made unauthorised physical alterations to council property viz. the telephone kiosk housing the defibrillator. Accordingly it is agreed that a suitable sum be made available to restore the kiosk more closely to its original state but with the addition of suitable glass panels along the top of each outside elevation with the word ‘Defibrillator’ displayed thereon in place of the original ‘Telephone’ signs.”

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After the passing of this resolution, the Council Chairman, Colin Weyer, made the following statement:

Before moving on to the next item on the agenda, I am going to say a few words, for the record, about our activities.

Over the last few weeks misinformation about the council, its councillors and staff has been circulated using rather intemperate and sometimes abusive language.

This is very disappointing given that all councillors are unpaid volunteers. I have served this parish for some 8 years and some of my colleagues for even longer.  I have had the somewhat doubtful privilege of being Chairman for the last two.  All of us have to consider the various issues which come before us and use our own judgement when making decisions.

It is very easy to criticize – but maybe just a bit harder to try and achieve things beneficial to the community as a whole.

Those self-appointed individuals who arbitrarily sought to take over council property may think that they hold the moral high ground but they do not.  In fact quite the opposite; they have forfeited any such claim they may have had.  People who interfere with council property, rip down council notices, display forged council notices, and even remove health and safety warnings, have neither the law nor morality on their side.  Regarding the law, as advised last week, the police are now involved and I can confirm that they will be investigating the criminal activities just mentioned and, when the miscreants are found, prosecutions may be expected.

The council has been described as being predominantly “Pale, male and stale” and we have been asked what we are doing to attract a more diverse membership to the council:  “notably, black/female/LGPQTI members of the community” to join the council so that we better represent them.

Well, regarding the composition of the council, we are probably already fairly representative of the community. We have four communities in the parish.

Boars Hill accounts for nearly 40% of the total population and three councillors live there. One of our newest members lives in Bayworth and three live in Sunningwell village which accounts for about 25% of the population – and is therefore arguably over-represented. At present there is no councillor living in the small community of Long Furlong although there has been in the past.

As we consider all our parishioners to be equal, we make no enquiries as to their ethnic origin or sexual orientation and nor of those who represent them as councillors. And, in recent years, at least two councillors have been elected as chairman who were believed to have been female.

I think sometimes people may need to be reminded that this is NOT Sunningwell “Village” Council,  it is Sunningwell “Parish” Council.  Anyway, the next elections for this council take place in 2 years.  After 10 years of service to the parish – and I use the word “service” deliberately – it is fairly unlikely that I will stand again.  But even if every one of us stands again it is still open to any parishioner to stand for election; and to any who think they can do better than us, I would simply say: “Put your money where your mouth is”.    Thank you.

It is noteworthy that there was applause not only from some fellow councillors but also members of the public.  Subsequently the Council has received quite a number of messages of support – significantly more than those few who had previously sought to disrupt the smooth running of village life.