Letters to the Editor November 25

PUBLISHED: 13:57 02 December 2010

Mercury letters

Mercury letters

Archant

Puppy

RE: RESPONDED. I assume that the writer of the letter who, knowing the accurate age of the puppy, is the owner.

So, the little girl called out “doggie” (as any young child might do) and the puppy being so young responded, one might say automatically.

In that situation any responsible dog owner would have had such a young and untrained dog on a lead and under proper control, preventing the teddy being taken and defusing the situation.

We dog owners already take a large amount of ‘flak’ and do not need irresponsible ones trying to shift the blame, when the blame is clearly their own.

ROBERT LOWE

The Swallows, Locking Castle

editor’s NOTE: The Mercury has carried a number of views in letters published on this topic and now closes this correspondence.

Parking

I AM writing about the state of on-street car parking within the town centre and particularly the Orchard Meadows area.

It seems to me that for some considerable time now that parking is not monitored at all within this region. This means that people park all day on restricted time parking, all day on single yellow lines. They park on double yellow lines, in loading only areas and also in places where they cause obstruction i.e. on corners of junctions or with two wheels on the pavement. All this is happening on a daily basis without any fines being imposed.

And the reason for this is because there are no traffic wardens and the police are not enforcing any of this.

In fact we see police officers walk past illegally parked cars. When I complained a few weeks ago about a vehicle parked in a loading bay the only response we got was a couple of hours later when we had a phone call from a CPSO to see if the vehicle was still there. We were also told that he did not have time to go around the town looking at loading bays, etc, because he had “real” crime to take care of.

This is the situation.

The council say it’s not their responsibility, it is the police’s and the police don’t want to know.

So we have a parking free for all. I am told that for the council to have anything to do with it that they would have to take over responsibility and for that it would have to be self-financing and a scheme for that has not evolved yet.

So nobody cares about this at all. All parties agree that the parking situation is so bad that it can impede the emergency services such as fire engines. I have been told this by the police and the council, yet nobody cares.

More people are becoming aware of the situation and park their cars illegally so it gets worse and worse.

My problem is that with cars being parked all day where they shouldn’t be, my customers cannot park to visit my shop so they go elsewhere.

There is actually sufficient parking around Meadow Street for shoppers if the restrictions were enforced, so parking should be easy for our customers, but it is not.

There is never a parking space in Meadow Street, further compounding the problems that this part of the town is suffering currently.

I think that this current situation is an absolute scandal, and that the council, and the police, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I’m told about “rules for this and rules for that”, “finance acts and directives”, and “costs and funds don’t allow” etc, ad nauseum. It is disgusting.

I visit other towns and they seem to have traffic wardens and enforcement, so why doesn’t Weston.

ALAN CASTELL

Peter Castell Ltd, Meadow Street, Weston

Can’t wait

MERCURY February 19: The whole Pier Square project is due to be completed ahead of schedule in the summer to coincide with the re-opening of the Grand Pier and completion of the £29million seafront enhancement work which includes the upgrading of the town’s sea defences.

Mercury October 28: Council highways chief, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees said: “We expect the project to be finished by the end of November, weather permitting”

I can’t wait to see the curving paths and nice lawns all pristine and new next week - but I may have to!

BRIAN RUSE

Montague Mansions, Weston

Dolphin Square

I READ with interest the various letters about the regeneration of Dolphin Square and wish to point out to your readers that Henry Boot has absolutely no involvement in this major regeneration project and never has.

ALASTAIR BELL

Director

McLaren Life, Wimbledon, London

Secrecy

THE culture of secrecy at North Somerset Council astounds me.

Opposition councillors were last week given a briefing by senior officers about the looming budget cuts - but were given nothing to take away (no paperwork, nothing electronic) to examine the details and make informed comment as part of the democratic budget process.

We received a PowerPoint presentation to cover the £42million of savings required over four years, with £17million going in the next financial year.

We were also assured by officers the wide-ranging areas facing the chop were only suggestions and nothing to do with the Tories who are supposed to be running the council.

The only piece of paper I have received about the budget told me the Tory leader of council received a full set of these proposals (no doubt in a format he could take away and look at) a full 12 days before the opposition were briefed.

COUNCILLOR EDWARD KEATING

South Worle Ward, Town Hall, Weston

Excellent

IT WAS gratifying to find the dissentient views of Mr Maitland of the Wrington SOS Group relegated to page 35 of last week’s ‘Mercury’, but having read the report on the recent public meeting held in Shipham we do wonder whether your correspondent Pippa Chambers was actually present, as her view of the meeting was very different to ours.

More than 100 patients of the Wrington Vale Medical Practice heard an excellent presentation from the practice doctors explaining very clearly the rationale for their decision to proceed with the proposal to develop a new purpose-built surgery on a new site to provide increased accommodation and more efficient services and to secure the future viability of the practice.

This option is preferred to retaining the two existing surgeries in Wrington and Churchill and attempting to enlarge them and bring them up to present day requirements, but as a concession to vulnerable patients in Wrington it is proposed to operate a satellite service in that village.

At the meeting, this proposal by the doctors received strong support, although some of those present queried why a small group of patients in Wrington should receive special treatment at considerable additional expense which might affect the long-term viability of the practice? And it was pointed out that there were other vulnerable patients across the practice who did not expect to receive special consideration.

The meeting closed with several patients praising the doctors for their commitment and dedication and for their foresight in planning for the future of this excellent practice. However, it would appear that the members of the SOS Group are unhappy with the level of support for the scheme proposed by the doctors at this meeting as they have subsequently insisted that another public meeting is held, this time in Wrington, when they will no doubt seek to dominate any discussion as they have done on previous occasions.

In commenting on the Shipham meeting, Mr Maitland has reiterated the view of the SOS that the existing surgeries should be extended and refurbished and insinuated that the practice is giving preference to the level of profitability rather than listening to the SOS; a comment we consider to be rather offensive.

The SOS Group frequently claims to speak for all the patients in the practice, but in truth they only represent the view of some of the residents of Wrington and a few others - a small minority of the 9,000 or so patients.

We are not aware of any evidence for their claim to omnipotence. From conversations we have had with a considerable number of patients it is evident that many are exasperated with the SOS for continuing to hamper and obstruct the practice’s proposal to develop a new surgery with adequate accommodation and modern facilities to secure the future of the practice and continue to provide a high quality local service to all the patients.

Unfortunately your headline in last week’s issue was most apt as the SOS Group has indeed turned this consultation into a battle.

JOHN AND MARY POCKETT

Court Drive, Sandford

Professional

REF the report “SOS ‘ignored’ in surgery battle” in the Mercury on November 18.

“SOS Ignored”? Was your reporter really at that Shipham meeting to which your article referred, because SOS most certainly was not ignored? I was there and am at a loss to know how on earth that conclusion could have been reached?

To a packed hall of patients who came from across the wide practice area which includes villages as far away as Blagdon, the practice manager and the doctors gave a highly professional well-reasoned presentation of the proposal that they intend to put to the PCT board - for a single site surgery in Langford with a satellite surgery in Wrington.

It received overwhelming support.I repeat, the provision of a satellite surgery for Wrington. How can this possibly be construed as ‘ignored’? What could be further from the truth?

It is fair to say that a number of people asked the perfectly legitimate question, “Why should a special case be made for Wrington at considerable expense to the PCT and practice, when there are plenty living in outlying villages who do not enjoy such a luxury of a satellite surgery and manage perfectly well?”

The Practice responded by telling the meeting that they were listening to the views expressed in the consultation document - which as the PCT has made clear, was a consultation - not a referendum or a vote.

SOS are a minority group who have locked their horns into a position from which their only exit is the insistence at whatever price on enlargement of two existing surgeries which, as was explained at the meeting, is not possible. They do not even entertain the thought of a compromise for the good of the vast majority. How saddened and dismayed the many other Wrington residents, who wholeheartedly support and trust their doctors, must feel when they read that report.

MRS JAN MURRAY

Church Lane, Churchill

Propoganda

THE article ‘SOS ignored in surgery battle’ in last week’s Mercury shows, yet again that your paper seems to be a willing participant in the Wrington protesters’ propaganda campaign.

The piece is a travesty of the truth regarding Wrington Vale Medical Practice’s (WVMP) proposal for a new, up-to-date medical facility. You quote Peter Maitland as saying “it does not reflect the public consultation and what the residents want. But what he means by ‘residents’ are only Wrington residents as he continues to misrepresent the facts.

He claims that SOS (Save Our Surgeries) reflects the wishes of most WVMP patients, yet knows that only 614 of 9,100 on the medical roll responded to the consultation document – hardly a true reflection of public opinion. And besides, the consultation document was just that – a consultation, not a referendum.

Mr Maitland’s assertion that SOS’s objectives should ‘take preference over the level of profitability of the practice’ is another of their scurrilous suggestions. It clearly infers that our doctors are only interested in a single site for their own financial gain. How dare he impugn their motives in this way?

He also continues to blithely promote ‘the plan to extend and improve the two separate surgeries’ knowing that such a proposal is not feasible. Apart from the lack of adequate parking at both sites, Mr Maitland is fully aware that Churchill Parish Council will not sell the freehold of the Ladymead Lane site, thus making it impossible to expand with an outside developer. He also knows that the Wrington building cannot be physically extended enough where it is. You do not have to be an architect to understand that it is impractical to add a third storey to an existing 20 year-old two-storey structure without massive (and very expensive) remedial work.

But Mr Maitland reserves his final expression of barefaced cheek for his insinuation that Wrington has been ignored. In fact nothing is further from the truth. The doctors have recognised and acknowledged the concerns of a small number of vulnerable village patients. And although Wrington is only one of the 20 communities they serve, the GPs have agreed to retain a daily surgery there for as long as necessary – hardly an expression of neglect.

When will SOS stop their selfish negative tactics and support our excellent doctors who are only motivated by the best interests of the many, not the few?

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

editor’s NOTE: This correspondence is now closed.

Superb job

MANY thanks to the Mercury and reporter James Franklin for the accurate reporting of ongoing Town Centre PACT members’ concerns over recycling issues.

I want to say, though, that these concerns in no way reflect on the superb job the recycling workers do, both in street collections and at the Aisecombe Way Recycling Centre.

Time and again, I am amazed and disarmed at their commitment, enthusiasm, politeness and willingness to help. I have to tell you that, for so-called ‘dirty’ jobs, these front-line recycling workers aren’t rubbish they are pure gold. When the time for cuts comes I am dreading that this council, which seems proud of never knowingly listening to people it is supposed to represent, will simply sacrifice these and other front-line service workers while keeping legions of overstuffed bureaucrats safely at their desks.

DAVID CORDINGLEY

Stafford Place, Weston

Heart sank

WHEN I read in last week’s Mercury about Tropicana bids being under consideration still my heart sank.

Why can’t the council just ‘go for it’ and do what the majority of Weston’s public want and let Richard Nightingale do what we’ve all been waiting for?

While each of us may have a favourite among his designs any one of them would be wonderful. Why can’t you sit down together, choose one and say ‘OK away you go’?

I understand he’s ready to do just that and it’s going to be a very unpopular decision if you don’t choose the local man who has our support and the best interests of this town at heart.

Mr Nightingale has guaranteed that he will finish what he starts. For heaven’s sake what more do we need or want?

I think you would find too that Weston’s public is far more interested in and desperate for a resolution to the Tropicana debacle that a regeneration of Dolphin Square which might impinge of that.

Dolphin Square is not urgent, it still functions and a lot of people actually like it and we need a new cinema like we need a hole in the head.

What about the dear old Odeon which still serves us well enough and struggles to survive anyway judging by audience numbers as a rule.

Please can the council concentrate on the more pressing need and please make it happen quickly, this is your chance to do something the people of Weston will thank you for.

SUSAN GIBSON

Brimridge Road, Winscombe

Seashell

I WAS delighted to read that Richard Nightingale has decided to submit the proposed design by the Newcastle based Faulkner Brown to North Somerset District Council. Let us all get behind him and back his submission!

However, will the Weston Mercury please desist from calling it the “Ocean Liner” scheme? To my knowledge neither Richard Nightingale nor the architect have called it this! The title detracts from its merit and will not assist the submission.

I took the time to visit the design exhibition and discuss the design with the architect. The design is intended to resemble a seashell! It is obvious when the plan design is viewed.

The design resembles the striped venus, Venus Striatula seashell. It has a shell an inch or so long, marked with overlapping concentric ridges; it lives in the sand on the seashore. Very apt, don’t you think?

If adopted and built it could be called the Venus Centre with further connotations of the brightest star in the sky or a beautiful woman!

DON SUTHERLAND

Hawthorn Gardens, Weston

Futuristic

I WAS delighted to read in last week’s Weston Mercury how a multi-million pound waterpark themed on an ocean liner, a design by Newcastle architects Faulkner Brown, is what people in Weston want to see on the site of the derelict Tropicana according to businessman Richard Nightingale.

Let’s remember the open air pool in Weston was built by the council in 1937 and was the biggest in Europe.

It had an Olympic standard 10m diving stage in reinforced concrete, which dominated the enclosed space.

Under the diving stage the pool was nearly five metres deep.

The pool held 850,000 gallons of purified sea water and 1,500 bathers. There was also space for hundreds of sunbathers and spectators.

In the early 1980s the diving stage was demolished and the pool was redesigned as the Tropicana leisure centre.

With a futuristic design it will compliment the seafront and our grand new pier.

The derelict Tropicana closed its doors 10 years ago and is no more than a storehouse used by seafront flood defence works contractors Birse for storage and accommodation.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

Boarded them up

I THOUGHT I would add my experience of the firm Harvard Tisdale in Torquay - though here they are trading under the name, New Riviera Estates.

They bought an empty site in a prime location near Torquay Harbour.

Then they purchased all the surrounding shops. However, rather than keeping them open and trading, they have gradually closed them and boarded them up. We are now in our second Christmas since this happened.

We are working very hard to raise the standard of our harbour and immediate environs, but this is now a blot on the landscape, immediately opposite and adjacent to two listed buildings.

On the planning front, their first plans were refused, having had many objections including from English Heritage. If you check the Torbay Council planning portal, the current plans referred to on their website are cited as “pending decision”.

In the last couple of months it has emerged that they are no longer including the cinema and are now in talks with a different hotel chain. Because of these changes, totally new plans are being drawn up, and these will have to go back to the planners.

These are not big players in the development game. Their development in Blackrock Sands is running a year over time, and, I understand from local residents, still hasn’t got the issue of sewage disposal sorted out.

So please ensure that you are vigilant when considering what is to happen with your iconic Tropicana.

MARGARET FORBES-HAMILTON

Chairman

Torbay Development Society, Torbay

Less expensive

IT WAS nice to see Mr Nightingale’s “ship design” option for the Tropicana gaining so much praise recently, as I remember when the idea for a ship theme was first put forward by the Weston artist John Butler some years ago.

The theme was taken up by James Scott of the Royal Pier Hotel who wanted the car park at Madeira Road, redesigned as a boat. The fact that a Weston artist was able to envisage something people like may come as a shock to North Somerset Council, but I suspect that, given a chance to have an input, our lot would have known what the “Wonders of Weston” actually are and would have been relevant and less expensive.

To be fair, I do rather like the black and white signs featuring the sayings of Eric Cantona.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Carnival

ONCE again the organisers have done us proud and produced a fantastic evening of carnival entertainment.

The new route is excellent because there are not so many delays as floats negotiate difficult corners and there is much more room for spectators along Beach Road and Walliscote Road.

Clarence Park is also an ideal rest area for the floats, so congratulations to everybody concerned. However I was interested to read Thom Gray’s letter in the Mercury in which he outlines the problems he has had with trying to become a helper at the carnival.

I also find it difficult to understand why his offer has been ignored when the organisers are crying out for help.

It was very noticeable this year that collectors were very few and far between and some of those carrying boxes seemed completely disinterested.

Having previously written a letter encouraging spectators to give more I went with a pocket full of money and sometimes had to run after collectors because they were not even looking at the crowds.

I appreciate that there were a number of trailers in which you could throw money, but many coins were bouncing off and nobody is going to throw pound coins, which would land up in the road.

Obviously Thom and others like him would give the enthusiasm that the carnival desperately needs, to raise enough money to safeguard its future.

I hope Thom keeps the pressure on the organisers and that they will realise it is foolish to turn down any offer of help.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Elderly

PARKING directly opposite The Playhouse escorting elderly friends and relative to see a show, on many occasions this year, we have had horn blowing and abuse from drivers while we unload taxis with the elderly.

Walking aids, such as zimmers have to be loaded into the cars and as you may guess it all takes time for these folk. It is only the kindness of volunteers enabling them to see these shows.

We need to keep places like The Playhouse and encourage all ages to visit.

Weston needs to use the facilities offered to keep them open, and should be encouraging us to use them.

Why has there not been a disability bay provided?

Please North Somerset could you look into this.

We could have a loading and unloading bay on the side of The Playhouse and keep clear and double lines opposite to stop congestion, after all there is a car park a few yards up the road.

JEANIE MAJOR EYRE

Clarence Park, Weston

Wonders

ANYONE unsure about the value of the grant to North Somerset Council for public art should look at www.wondersofweston.org

There they will learn that the imagery and graphics in Raumlaborberlin’s work could be thought of as a suggested rebranding for a future Dolphin Square, the neon signs on the Winter Gardens give a kind of impossible physical dimension or materiality to the complex, entangled processes of memory and the shelter is the convergence of frazzled exclamations, physical exertions and intimate exchanges, interruptions and heroic gestures.

PETER BARRINGTON

Hutton Hill, Hutton

Amusement

RE: KEITH Harrison, ‘I Wonder at Weston’, November 11. After a few months living away from Weston I returned for a couple of nights last week, principally to visit the Grand Pier.

However, as much as I enjoyed the arcade games (Skee Ball was awesome) and tea room, my day was improved even further by a tour of the Wonders of Weston.

The Everything You Need To Build A Town Is Here signs were thought-provoking. Shelter Piece provided more than a few minutes of amusement and reminded me of what I love about my home town.

Madeira Cove Gardens has been vastly improved and the Silly Scope was fun to look at, while giving a good John Cleese-related local link.

The pieces give Weston bags of extra character, draw on its most attractive aspects, offer a bit of light relief and set it apart from other places.

As for ‘getting it’ - perhaps Keith is either thinking too hard, or not thinking enough.

MAX WILKINSON

Ashford Road, Cheltenham

Congratulated

VOLUNTARY organisations from all over Weston benefited immensely from the annual get-together of local charities at the Winter Gardens on Saturday.

The annual Charities Christmas Fayre is organised by the Rotary Club of Weston who must be congratulated for all the work they put into this, the professional way in which it is run and the courteous help they provide.

It always amazes us how many local charities there are in Weston providing support and care in our community and also how totally dedicated they are to their cause.

Weston should be very proud of the effort they put in and we are sure there must be many more local charities who were unable to attend this marvellous event.

Thank you Rotarian David Ray and your happy band of helpers for organising the Christmas Fayre which helps our local organisations to publicise their work and raise much needed money.

It would be remiss if we didn’t also thank and congratulate the wonderful staff at the Winter Gardens. They are such a great team who take enormous pride in what they do, their politeness and assistance is outstanding. They are facing difficult times ahead with the reorganisation of the Winter Gardens and The Playhouse but we are sure we all wish them well and hope we will not lose their expertise, their professional help and cheerfulness which the Winter Gardens staff have always given us.

Well done to everyone involved with the organisation of the Charities Christmas Fayre and our most sincere appreciation for such an enjoyable day.

KEN AND LINDA LACEY

Weston Senior Citizens Forum and TS Weston Sea Cadets

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

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