It is with great pride, and some intrepedation, that I write my first column as resident solicitor here in Shalbourne. A quick potted history of me – I have lived in Shalbourne with my husband Mike since April 1995, just before our eldest daughter Rebecca was born. Our second Daughter, Charlotte, although many of you pub goers will know her as Lotte, came along in 1998. They both attended Shalbourne primary and for a couple of years Mike was Chairman of the PTFA and I was a parent governor.
It was my love and commitment to our family and our children that made me study law, and more specifically Family Law, although current legal rules mean solicitors in England and Wales must be proficient in all areas if need be.
A topic close to everyone in Shalbourne’s heart is the Parish Council’s fight for the 20 mph speed limit through the village as many of us are subject to cars speeding through from Andover to Hungerford. I must admit I am continually surprised that there have not been more accidents.
This week the MOJ announced that drivers who kill someone in the most serious cases of dangerous and careless driving could now face life sentences.
Jail terms in cases involving mobile phones, speeding or street racing will now be the equivalent of manslaughter, the Ministry of Justice said.
And as the Festive season is nearly upon us, causing death by dangerous driving, or death by careless driving while drunk or on drugs, will carry the top-level punishment.
A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created, and the government is to examine whether the offence of dangerous driving should be extended to cyclists after a case in which a woman died after being struck by a rider whose bike had no front brake. I am sure we all heard about in the news. So far the cyclists who race through Shalbourne have avoided accidents!
On a different note, and as many local parents will have had to do recently, Mike and I have gone through the painful process of finding accommodation for our student children. Many of them are entering their 2nd or 3rd year away from home and have looked for shared houses or flats with those friends they made in 1st year. In fact current 1st years will also soon be starting to look for houses for next year and the amount of suitable accommodation in many university towns diminishes. Parents are often presented with guarantor forms and leases which can be quite onerous in content.
It can be quite daunting and confusing for many parents and one has to weigh up the risk of losing the opportunity of a suitable property with the desire to challenge some of the terms of the contract.
One of the main issues is the deposit and the terms under which the deposit can be used for repairs and restoring the property to its former state – blue tac or other such products used to put things on the wall, being the main offender in these matters.
Unfortunately, as demand outstrips supply in most cases, some student Landlords can be completely ruthless. However many of the clauses, if carefully considered, can be reworded to allow more flexibility and protection for the poor student and parents should never be hesitant to question the lease or seek independent advice.
Footnote: In this wet and windy weather which sees big puddles forming in Shalbourne and surrounding areas – Please be aware that as a driver you may be committing an offence if you deliberately splash a pedestrian with water from a puddle. It’s considered ‘careless and inconsiderate driving’ and can land you with a fixed penalty notice –
and it’s just not a nice thing to do.
Stay safe and stay legal.
Karen Salmon having worked for others as a solicitor for many years, she has just set up her own legal practice in Marlborough, Marlborough Law Ltd