LETTERS TO THE EDITOR DECEMBER 9

PUBLISHED: 11:05 13 December 2010

Mercury letters

Mercury letters

Archant

Good news

WHAT good news to read how police in the town revealed since the re-opening of the £51million Grand Pier on October 23 drunken brawls, abusive language and general antisocial behaviour has been falling in Weston.

I’m sure on hearing this news Kerry and Michelle Michael are riding on the crest of a wave with the success of their Grand Pier, which has proved not only to be successful in beating crime and getting bored youngsters from hanging around in the streets but also having a wonderful effect on the neighbourhood and also building up good relationships between the police and the community.

Let’s hope the home office take note that we can solve the frightening escalation of crime by giving our bored youngsters a place to go and let their hair down.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

Nonsense

TROPICANA: The town will not have any say. On the basis of North Somerset Council’s dismal record, we are likely to find ourselves committed to another deal which collapses a year down the line.

Residents will not be committed, despite how the wrong decision would detract from the panorama, and how local businesses could be adversely affected.

The ruling makes nonsense of the Coalition Government much vaunted new localism and big society, which, according to North Somerset’s head of legal and democratic service are not possible under European Union guidelines. Actually, guidelines, by definition, are recommendations which can be set aside when they are against the public interest.

Of course, it is convenient for North Somerset to ignore what the residents of Weston want.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Planning process

SO NORTH Somerset Council is not going to consult residents about which bidder they pick to redevelop the Tropicana. I am tempted to say “good”.

Every time residents have been consulted on the Tropicana so far, the council has done the opposite of what we have said we wanted. So perhaps by ignoring us from the start we may actually get what we want?

Personally, I am not sure I want to be consulted anyway. Just give Richard Nightingale the green light and let’s get on with it!

On a more serious note, is there not an obvious way around this? Why not ask both developers to come forward with detailed plans and obtain planning permission before the council picks its preferred developer?

That way, residents would get a say through the planning process, we would all get to see the details of what is being proposed before the deal is signed – and anyone who is not really serious would not go through the time and expense anyway.

MIKE BELL

George Street, Weston

Petition

THE Tropicana drama continues with still no clear idea of by whom and when it will be built.

We are now told that the public are not allowed any influence on the planning process because of a rule from the European Union.

I thought our new Prime Minister wanted a ‘Big Society’ where local people get involved in local decisions. Clearly his wishes are being totally ignored in North Somerset.

Well here’s a chance for the people of North Somerset to express their opinion by going to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tropicana/ and filling in the petition that I have created.

Hopefully many hundreds of people will sign it and thus give me ammunition to shoot in the direction of our own Tory-led council and our Prime Minister.

I look forward to the response from the public.

TONY PROBERT

South Lawn, Locking

Feedback

FOLLOWING the coverage in last week’s paper about the decision making process for the Tropicana, I thought it would be helpful for your readers to provide some additional clarity on the opportunity for local people to get involved.

It is true to say that the process we are obliged to follow under European procurement rules does not allow for public opinion to be taken into account in the final scoring of submissions for the redevelopment of the site.

However, the council is committed to giving local people the opportunity to “have a say” by viewing the schemes submitted by both the bidding companies.

The council’s timetable involves arranging a public exhibition, to be held next month, and we will be publicising the details in the coming weeks.

Feedback from the public around the bidders’ proposed designs and uses of the site and - importantly - how the bidders will ensure a viable and sustainable facility will all be taken into account by the council in working with bidders to come up with proposed schemes that are supported by local opinion and which make business sense.

Once a preferred bidder is selected, then local people will absolutely be able to have their say on the details of the proposed design.

The prospective developer may well want to seek the views of residents on their final submission, and then once the process reaches the planning application stage, the local community will get the chance to comment on the detail of their proposed development.

PHIL HALL

Director of finances and resources, North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Last week, North Somerset Council’s head of legal and democratic services Nick Brain said: “We will not be taking the public into account when considering both bids for the project.

“Both bidders may want to carry out their own public consultation to gauge public opinion on what ideas they like, but in terms of us marking each bid we will be following EU guidelines set out for procurement processes.

“This will mean using a matrix to mark each bid fairly and transparently. We won’t be marking them on public popularity.”

Wind farms

I WISH to pass on my objections to the proposed wind farms in the inappropriate locations at West and East Huntspill in Somerset.

My objections are not just personal but are based on my knowledge of the use of wind turbines researched over a considerable period.

My home is about 650 metres from the proposed wind farm at West Huntspill. I have lived in the area for over 25 years and I am very concerned that my family and I will suffer from the effects of noise (sleep deprivation), shadow flicker and loss of residential amenity.

Payments in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates are given to companies to build wind farms they would not otherwise construct as they are not economically viable. The funds for this come from ordinary electricity bill payers, often without their knowledge.

For every unit of electricity each turbine produces a conventional power station has to produce the same in case the wind drops – or indeed gets too windy - so the turbines stop.

They have to do this as they cannot vary the power output in anything like the timescales needed as the wind ebbs and flows.

It is certainly not cheap energy as the life of the structures is limited to around 25 years and they produce very little electricity. By the power companies own figures they are only about 30 per cent efficient.

Experts outside the industry have shown this to be as low as six per cent.

The turbines will completely dominate not only the local area but the region as a whole to the detriment of those who live in the locality and visitors to the area.

The location of the proposed turbines will make them the tallest and some of the most visible manmade structures in Somerset.

Large turbines such as the ones proposed are known to have a negative impact on wildlife and as the site is adjacent to the Huntspill River National Nature Reserve and is crossed by the two migratory routes of The Somerset Levels and The Bristol Channel, it will be harmful to the abundant wildlife and waterfowl.

The shadow effect that would be cast across the A38 and the M5 would be extremely distracting to drivers and could easily cause a bad accident.

In view of the above I would like to appeal to the people of Somerset to please write in to Sedgemoor Council and object to these huge industrial machines which will impact on the lives of so many who live in close proximity to them.

JULIE TROTT

Withy Road, West Huntspill

Good news

Parking

I COULDN’T agree more that illegal parking needs stamping on, I disagree that it is the largest issue where the road user impinges on public safety in the town of Weston.

From the back of our house in Clevedon Road and up the road itself we hear, especially evenings and weekends, the frequent scream of highly revved highly-powered car engines speeding over the station flyover and all over the town. This is a constant and widespread problem throughout the town, and indeed I have heard the same in many areas elsewhere in the country.

Our streets are simply an opportunity for these idiots to show off their (probably illegally prepared and under-insured) vehicles to their peers, admiring females and less-car-endowed males.

For confirmation simply drive past Blockbusters/KFC/McDonald’s and any other retail park on any given evening, and check the surrounding public and retail areas for detritus after they have gone - yet more costs for the Weston council taxpayer to sort out.

Finally what sickens me more than any of this is the complacency of the Avon and Somerset police on the reckless speeding and thoughtless car-use culture in the town. I spoke face-to-face to a police inspector at Weston Police Station at length early this year following poor response to a property burglary.

When I widened the discussion to include my concerns, as mentioned above, as to the hugely excessive speeding and over-powered vehicles, I was told that the police were “on top of it”, and that it was “not a serious issue for them in the town”.

Have we, or the police of this town, no self-respect but to stand up and say enough is enough. Get these ‘children’ – for that is how they are acting, regardless of age - separated from their lethal machines until they can be shown to be safe to use them and within the law.

If they kill or seriously injure through excessive speed or careless driving they should never be in control of a vehicle again.

SIMON SHUKER

Clevedon Road, Weston

Can visit them

WITH interest to us dog walkers. We have now got numbers on dog bins, 15 and 16 are the only bins on the Queensway, both in the same area on opposite sides of the road.

Could we have a map of the bins, so all of us dog walkers can visit them.

DIANA GUILLICK

Wynter Close, Worle

Wrong decision

THE PIER dog ban is a terrible disappointment and, I believe, a very wrong decision.

Weston has hundreds of dog owners, and for many years it has been a great joy to walk our pets along the beach and then on to the pier. Of course, we don’t want to go inside the building, but the walk to the end has been a daily route for so many of us.

We longed for the new pier to open, but now we have the upset of this unreasonable ban. The owners say they have received complaints from visitors with children, but now they must deal with the huge volume of complaints from those with dogs!

Of course, dogs being allowed to leave mess is always a disgrace, but the vast majority of owners would never let this happen. It is again a case a legislation punishing the majority because of the fault of the minority, and such legislation is fatally flawed.

I would appeal to the pier owners, whom we have supported and encouraged throughout the arduous re-building process, to rescind this very cruel ban. Otherwise, there will be many of us who will never again go on the pier, and will also actively encourage others to keep away!

ROGER JONES

Clifton Road, Weston

Listening

WHAT a good job our recycling team have done over the past months and congratulations on their decision to include an extra collection over Christmas.

Having already expressed concerns in the opinion page about the lengthy time between food waste collections I am delighted that at least one council department is listening to the people they serve.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Music shop

I WRITE with regards to your issue of November 4 in which the section “Your Say” Jason Smurthwaite said: “There’s only one music shop in Weston”.

One assumes he means the one in Orchard Street, however on the Mead Vale estate at Worle there is the excellent Jagz Muzik. They were able to fix me up with a fantastic Freshman guitar and accessories for a fantastic price.

I would suggest to anyone to pay it a visit before buying for Christmas.

CRAIG BAYLISS

Charnwood Road, Bristol

Backbone

I READ your front page headline with amazement. I know that our local councillors are by and large a useless bunch but this takes the “carrot” (no pun intended).

How dare they say that the views of local people will not be taken into account regarding the continuing fiasco of the Tropicana. Have they forgotten who voted them into office, and who will soon vote them back out? Ten years is quite long enough for us to wait for this facility to be restored.

Who do the European Union think they are to dictate to us about who will work in our town? They don’t live here. We do. The elected officials are in power to do our bidding, not Europe’s.

It’s about time they grew some backbone and told these meddling Europeans where to go. This is Weston and we have a local man (Mr Nightingale) with the plans and the money in place and the drive to do what the council seams totally unwilling or incapable to even take past the talking stage.

If you cannot make a decision then let the townsfolk make it for you. Give the job to a man who can. Don’t even think about Dolphin Square. We don’t want another building site for the next decade.

STEVE WALROND

Birchwood Avenue, Weston

Job well done

MY FAMILY and I recently spent a long weekend in Weston, our first visit for several years. I was delighted by the changes to the promenade and lawns opposite.

We came to the town because my young grandchildren were desperate to visit the new Grand Pier, but we were all disappointed by what we found there. The pavilion building is very impressive, but the contents did not live up to the hype.

The arcade machines seemed old fashioned and appeared to have been lifted straight out of the old pier, and while I didn’t try the go-karts or the other rides my family did and were not impressed. It’s a shame, but everything about it feels so rushed and poorly conceived.

However our disappointment at the new pier was more than made up for by our joy at the new promenade, the changes at Marine Lake, and the new water park.

As a retired civil engineer I feel qualified to comment on a job well done.

The promenade in particular is exquisite; the quality of the design and workmanship is delightful and such a pleasant change from the Weston of old, and indeed the vast majority of English seaside towns.

The new seawall looks beautiful and brilliantly protects the promenade from the road, allowing my grandchildren to play almost unsupervised.

The granite paving is fantastic, laid to such a high standard and beautiful to behold. Every detail appears to have been considered and treated to the same high quality materials and installed with such care. North Somerset Council and everyone involved should be congratulated for a job well done. Bravo!

Though a work in progress, the new lawns and paving around the fountain appear to be of similar high quality. I’ll be eagerly returning to the town next summer and look forward to seeing everything finished. Weston is a town on the up, and I hope its residents appreciate how lucky they are.

DAVID WILLIAMS

Aylton Close, Up Hatherley, Cheltenham

WITH reference to your front page about the Tropicana redevelopment, I was horrified to read it will be July next year before the full council meeting decides on which developer will be awarded the contract, thereby causing even further delay.

Richard Nightingale must be tearing his hair out! I suppose after waiting over 10 years, another seven months can be considered infinitesimal, but surely after all this time of being deprived of the Tropicana facility which all my family enjoyed years ago, an early decision should be made and development under way very soon.

Sorry I forget, it is the prevaricating comedians posing as councillors of North Somerset Council who we have to thank for this lamentable situation.

I predict the Tropicana will be left to deteriorate further, perhaps until it falls into the sea, and never again become the fine pool and other facilities it once boasted.

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

I MUST first say I am a great fan of the new Grand Pier, and am full of admiration for what the Michaels have done for Weston.

Well, nearly full of admiration - they have just done something which greatly distressed me. I refer to the banning of dogs from the Grand Pier, even from outdoor areas.

The ban was apparently as a result of complaints from visitors with children. Mention is made of hygiene grounds, and also the staff’s inability to police keeping dogs out of the pavilion (although I do fail to understand this latter point - hundreds of thousands of other businesses manage to exclude dogs from their premises. Are Mr Michael’s staff especially incompetent? - I’m sure that can’t be the case).

Of course Mr Michael has access to better data than I, but given the huge number of recent visitors I would be surprised if anything more than a minute proportion complained. I would suggest there was a far greater proportion of happy dog owners, accompanied by their well-behaved pets. So the ban is likely to alienate far more customers than it pleases, and is therefore not exactly a commercially sensible decision. I would further suggest that, to be a successful year-round attraction, the Grand Pier needs out-of-season support from Weston residents and from exactly the sort of visitors who come here to enjoy a beach where dogs are permitted outside the peak summer season.

There was a short-lived ban on dogs on the beach in the off-season, rapidly overturned when the strength of feeling against it became known, and the council presumably realised the potential revenue that could come from dog owners.

Perhaps Mr Michael could be persuaded to emulate the council, and only ban dogs during the main holiday season? He surely could be persuaded to at least reconsider if he were made aware of strength of feeling against the total ban, either via the Mercury letter pages or via letters sent directly to him.

If he would care to contact me I would happily volunteer to collate any direct responses and present him with an analysis of the views expressed.

N JENKINS

Royal Sands, Weston

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