Dear Editor,

We hear in the national news that the government is concerned at the slow up-take of corona virus booster vaccinations. If the situation with Andover Primary Care Network is a microcosm of the national picture, then I'm not surprised.

I attended for a flu vaccination clinic in the Chantry Centre on Saturday 16th October and noticed that there were to be three walk-in clinics for Covid vaccinations so I went back on the Monday.

I was then told that there were no vacancies for walk-in vaccinations that day and they were fully booked with patients with appointments - despite the fact that there was still a notice advertising walk-in clinics for that day and later in the week.

On Wednesday a Government minister on Radio 4's Today programme announced that all over-70s who received their second Covid vaccination more than six months ago had received an invitation to make a vaccination appointment. As I am 76 and received my second dose 19 months ago, I was certainly eligible but had not received an invitation; others I've spoken to are in the same situation. Maybe ministers are not actually aware of what happens outside Westminster!

Accordingly on Thursday I used the NHS app to send a message to my surgery asking for an invitation; telephoning is such a palaver and last time I called it took eight minutes to get through the preliminaries and actually speak to someone (even though there was no queue).

I was astonished to receive a telephone call less than a minute after clicking 'Send' and a helpful lady efficiently arranged an appointment for this morning (Monday 25th). Later on Thursday I did receive a text with my invitation but I suspect that this was simply keeping the books straight.

When I attended this morning there was a sign saying that there were no walk-in vaccinations available but still there were people arriving for such a clinic and being turned away.

There was no information about walk-in clinics later in the week. There were just three vaccinators at work while, I understand, there were six or eight when clinics were held in The Lights.

It seems to me that, first, invitations are not being issued as they should be; secondly, publicity is sketchy and not kept up to date, and; finally, inadequate resources are being made available to meet the requirement.

Kieran O'Kelly


Dear Editor

This winter doctors predict that more babies and toddlers than ever will catch RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and the latest information from the UK’s public health protection agency, UKHSA, shows that cases of RSV in the South East are on the rise.

RSV is a common, highly infectious virus that usually circulates at this time of year and causes coughs and colds. It’s the main cause of breathing difficulties in younger children and while most will only experience mild symptoms, it can lead to more serious respiratory problems in very young children with health conditions or complex medical needs. Now we are mixing more, very young children are at particular risk of getting RSV because they won’t have been exposed to this virus yet, or had the chance to build up a natural immunity to it.

As a charity supporting families with disabled children Contact wants to make sure that all local families recognise the signs and symptoms of RSV, how to reduce the risk of their child getting respiratory infections in the first place and to take action early by seeking advice and help from your pharmacy or GP if your child develops breathing problems as a result of the virus. You can find out more about RSV and other winter viruses on our website or if you have a question you can call our helpline on 0808 808 3555. Being aware of RSV alongside getting the flu vaccination and the Covid-19 booster jab are some of the key ways to protect yours and the health of your children with disabilities and health conditions so everyone keeps well this winter.

Amanda Batten,

CEO of Contact, the charity for families with disabled children.

Dear Editor

Brexiters claim that as an EU member we lost national sovereignty, political accountability, and control. Untrue. In freely signing up to shared democratic values, human rights, standards and protections, we gained much, and sacrificed nothing. Benefits to the arts, sciences and education were as crucial as those for trade. National parliaments retained sovereignty as well as having full representation through elected EU MEPs. The European Court of Justice (ECJ), painted as the monster of undemocratic diktat, actually upholds the rules that we made, and ALL have agreed to. Britain now has no vote, no power and no representation with our most important trading partner, or with America, China, India or any other nation we’re now dependent on for trade. The deals brokered from a weak, desperate position will inevitably be to our disadvantage, as recent appalling deals have proved.

The Brexit argument is that for 47 years Westminster was a puppet and Britain a powerless, vassal state dancing to the EU’s tune. What sane person would believe that Thatcher, the Iron Lady, who for so many was the epitome of British patriotism, would have bowed to this? Britain was at the top table making the laws that others obeyed! We had international status, respect and influence. We were seen as honourable and trustworthy. But Brexit has turned us into an object of derision, neither liked nor trusted by the friends we’ve shunned, and increasingly irrelevant to the superpowers on whom we are now reliant.

For those like Johnson, Farage, and their best buddy Trump, Brexit promised to be a cash-cow. Signing up to best practice is anathema to Brexit free-marketeers who can’t make their billions when bound by ‘suffocating’ protections. Since this is an embarrassing truth, and a hindrance to the Brexit project enjoying profiteering without conscience, a different cause for leaving had to be found. The EU became the bogeyman stealing our sovereignty and besmirching our patriotism. Fascism uses the same tactic.

Brexit serves a populist agenda dished up in sound bites endlessly repeated to a patriotic electorate, the fall-guys of rogues they thought they could trust. Dominic Cummings’s Leave campaign was reliant on, and contemptuous of, those he was manipulating. He gambled on Brexit and to hell with the consequences. He and Boris won. So what do we do now? Some say we must honour the referendum whatever the cost, but that is handing winnings to cheats and villains. We must do the courageous and morally honest thing, and give the choice back to the people - a choice, truth-driven, fully informed, and based on fact not on killer sound bites from The Jokers.

This can only happen if our weak, colluding opposition parties finally put the country first.

In their acceptance of a fraudulent referendum, they’ve doomed us to a never-ending spiral of Tory corruption – and our Brexit downfall. Supreme Tory power is democratically catastrophic. Brexit, their defining cause, is the only thing that will remove them.

Jennifer Godschall Johnson (Address supplied)

Dear Editor,

The UK government distorts the truth almost as much as counterparts in Moscow and Minsk. Yet it still has a degree of popular support. I can't fathom it to be honest. Can anyone else?

On the same day as the government unveiled its financial programme for the next year, the Office for Budget Reposnsibility confirmed that Brexit is responsible for many more of the country's woes than Covid. If you have time the OBR report make useful reading.

Brexit, the report states unequivocally, is the reason for supply and staffing shortages across the economy In addition, trade with the EU - our biggest trading partner, remember - is down considerably.

What an extraordinary own-goal, Tories. And the rest of us have to suffer the pain.

Plus, they have not really mentioned it but the government is on course to underfund local services. The same councils that did the government's dirty work in dealing with much of the socio-economic fallout from Covid.

Get these Tories out. Please. These stumbling, fumbling, bumbling Tories. Get them out. Locally, a good option is the Lib Dems. At least to get some competence. And no distortions of the truth.

Ray Bryant


Dear Editor,

May I have space to thank the following people for the best night of the year please?
It takes phenomenal organisational skills to be able to pull off, an event on the scale of the Pride of Andover Awards.   Taking one look around the room at not only the guests invited, but all the different ‘components’ that were there to make this the undoubted success it surely highlights this very point succinctly.

My thanks and I am sure everyone else’s, must go to the chairman Cllr Karen Hamilton, who with the aid of her hard-working committee, were able to put this on, and show off Andover’s special people who walk and work quietly around  and amongst us.

This would also be a good time to highlight the sponsors, who generously give their cash, their time, and support to the POA each year.

Working alongside this are the various volunteers on the evening itself, plus the staff at the lights, so many people to thank for the: welcoming drinks, the food, music, the presentation, the entertainment and a special thank you to our police cadets who were magnificent.

A glittering event that I was honoured to have been able to attend, my thanks once again to the POA committee and Cllr Karen Hamilton

Manuela Wahnon, attitude of gratitide campaigner

Dear Editor,

Councillor Pickernell suggests widening the road [Perham Down Road] to make it safer.

Wouldn’t that just make it easier for people to drive even faster? Narrow roads don’t cause accidents. Speed, drunk drivers, inexperienced drivers cause cause most accidents on narrow roads.

Name and address supplied.