Letters to the Editor, October 27, 2016
PUBLISHED: 11:17 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:17 28 October 2016
What a load of rubbish...
For more than two weeks, I have been trying to get to speak to someone from Weston’s waste management team with absolutely no success.
This is par for the course as far as North Somerset’s waste services are concerned.
Emails are ignored. If you phone you can wait up to 15 minutes before the phone is answered but you don’t actually get to speak to anyone who knows what they are talking about or can help you. A message has to be passed to the waste ‘management’ team who, they say, will ring you back. Not a hope.
Don’t hold your breath if you are trying to get one of their wonderful green bins. No-one will speak to you directly.
If you have a problem that is slightly out of the ordinary, forget it.
I can guarantee that, if you manage to get one of these bins, it will be stolen in a very short time. When people have to pay for something, there are always those who won’t.
It is no wonder fly-tipping is on the increase. Making people pay to take rubbish to the tip is the most stupid idea ever conceived. Money again. Why pay to take your rubbish when you can get rid of it on a beautiful country lane at no cost?
If anyone knows how I can get to speak to anyone at North Somerset’s waste ‘management’ team, will they please let me know before I tear all my hair out.
Maysgreen Lane, Hewish
Not everybody goes online...
In his recent letter Brian Austin rightly condemns the system by which the new green bins for garden waste can be ordered.
When I read in the Mercury that residents had to order online by December I realised that there was no telephone number to order and we were expected to order online.
I was also shocked to learn from Brian’s letter that those that had visited the Town Hall to order were told they could not help; in other words, no face-to-face assistance.
My wife actually telephoned the council and after a long wait for a reply was able to order a bin and also pay by debit card and this seems to be the only alternative.
I resent the bullying tactics of both the council and the new contractors – Biffa – who assume that everybody goes online, and I am told this is the way of the world.
Like Brian it is not the way of my world because I much prefer to talk to people rather than machines and, believe it or not, there are still people like us in existence.
I do hope that the Mercury will be able to publish a telephone number for those who cannot go online so that many residents will not be left without a bin when the new system starts next year. At least this will show a little bit of compassion and understanding.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
Why pay, when you can dump it? You do not need a computer to register for one of the green waste bins.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts online I gave up and simply phoned the council and was put through to the appropriate department. My details were taken and the £20 has already been taken out of my bank account. The gentleman who I spoke to told me that I was not alone in having difficulty with the green bin section of the website, but of course this is what websites are for, aren’t they?
The terms and conditions regarding use of these bins state that a loaded bin ‘must not be too heavy’ which is not very helpful. After an exchange of emails it has been agreed that the ‘lifter’ on the back of the lorry can cope with ‘about 90kg’.
It will be interesting to see if those that wheel the bin to the lifter can cope with ‘about 90kg’.
Householders might be advised to keep their obsolete green bags in order to convey the contents of their green wheelie bin to the transfer station should the bin be deemed too heavy and left un-emptied.
Of course they will need a car to do this. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.
Lyddon Road, Weston
Sheer audacity is breathtaking
On October 19 I had the misfortune to visit the transfer station in Weston.
What a load of rubbish. The skips were filled to flowing, the surrounds covered in even more rubbish, staff standing around like mannequins, their motionless state emphasised by their bright orange uniform, seemingly oblivious to anything or anyone, unless they happened to be young, female and attractive.
There were members of the public trying to push the rubbish in the skips around, to make more space for more rubbish and still the staff stood about, perfecting their poses.
Now one hears that there are moves afoot to charge per bag of rubbish. The sheer nerve of the management is breathtaking in its audacity.
Whitecross Road, Weston
Affordable homes plan is needed
I was pleased to see that David Carter, North Somerset Council’s director of development and environment, took the trouble to write to the Mercury last week to correct a misrepresentation of the council’s plans for Dolphin Square.
He stated that the intention is to provide starter homes for sale on the open market, not traditional affordable housing for rent. Put another way, not so-called ‘social housing’.
What is disappointing is that he didn’t take the opportunity to set out the council’s vision for meeting wider housing need. The regeneration strategy for the town centre, of which Dolphin Square forms part, is clear in its ambition as Mr Carter put it to ‘increase development values across the town centre’. That is fine, as far as it goes.
However, what about the very real current housing needs of local people? There are 3,500 households on the housing waiting list, trying to find suitable accommodation. These are people who are close to homelessness or living in clearly unsuitable or unsustainable accommodation.
We know that it is increasingly difficult for younger households to access owner occupation as house prices are higher in comparison to average wages in North Somerset than they are in many places across the country.
We know that many people are in privately rented accommodation because better quality or more affordable social housing for rent is just not available. In the case of Weston town centre, around half of households are in private rented accommodation – much of it good, but some not so.
Driving up development values is a laudable aspiration to change the market dynamic in Weston town centre. However, alongside this we do need to see a plan to deliver affordable homes to buy and rent to help meet the needs of the many local families that are in poor quality housing or struggling to get onto the property ladder.
Key to that is a balanced mix of housing types and housing tenures. That applies as much to the town centre as anywhere else and I hope that the council is not going to miss an opportunity to deliver, with the Homes and Communities Agency, solutions that meet the needs of local people now, as well as the residents of the future.
North Somerset councillor, Weston Central ward, The Crescent, Weston
One size fits all? Not for me...
I am very unhappy about the impact the upcoming Tesco car park charges will have on the town centre.
The reasons given to me by Tesco for the change do not stack up, and the person I spoke to had no answers to the points I raised.
There is seldom a problem in finding a parking space at Tesco, and even if an immediate space isn’t available at very busy times the maximum time I have ever waited on the few times this was the case has never exceeded five minutes.
The car park used to be patrolled at busy times by a warden to prevent misuse of the current (sensible) two-hour limit, so this new scheme is only a cynical money-maker for Tesco at the expense of the High Street.
Although I am a Tesco customer, and nine times out of 10 would pop into Tesco, I should not be obliged to spend £5 at Tesco because I use the main Weston car parking facility. Effectively they are levying a parking charge of £5 for anything over 30 minutes.
Tesco dominates the town’s parking, including disabled parking, with its huge property holding being in a key position. The High Street is a 10-minute walk for most people, longer for older folks, thus making a quick visit for a couple of items elsewhere impossible without having to pay this Tesco tax.
If Tesco cannot take advantage of the huge flow of people past its entrance naturally, then that is the fault of its prices and not the parking.
If Tesco was out of town, then it would not need such a huge car park as people would not visit it in such numbers.
Tesco gains a significant proportion of its customers by virtue of its proximity to the town centre, and the ease its position makes for a town centre visit coupled with shopping at Tesco. However it cannot make this Tesco visit a mandatory requirement.
Incremental drops in visitor numbers to the High Street at such a precarious economic time will not immediately be felt in the run up to Christmas, but will impact in the new year.
If I want a couple of items at Grapetree or Wilko or Holland & Barrett, I should not be obliged to stump up £5 to Tesco (although I would generally spend 10 times that on an average visit to Tesco). The alternative now is (sadly) to buy these items online instead, and put yet another nail in the coffin of the High Street.
Tesco needs to better understand the symbiotic relationship between parking and the health of the High Street/local economy in Weston, and the special role it has in this process by virtue of this parking area and the flows of people it facilitates past other businesses.
This one-size-fits-all parking policy might work elsewhere, but it is inappropriate (and potentially damaging) for Weston.
Milton Road, Weston
Well done Mark for speaking up
I was saddened to read your report of how Weston man Mark Bowden, who is disabled and has learning difficulties and severe arthritis and finds it difficult to walk has been unfairly called many names due to his disability.
But he is now hoping to spread awareness of prejudice in our town following Hate Crime Awareness week.
I have met Mark on many occasions in Weston and he is a gentleman and I admire him for speaking out about the nightmare ordeal at the hands of idiots.
I have noticed recently hate crime in the world is on the increase, which I would like to point out is a prejudice-motivated horrible crime.
It is good to know that Mark has found support in North Somerset People First, a charity that supports people with learning disabilities and encourages them to speak up for themselves.
Let’s hope Mark’s message will get across to those in Weston, because we don’t tolerate this kind of behaviour in a family resort.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston
They even gave me breakfast...
Jeremy Hunt, I’ve got news for you; we already have a seven-day NHS.
Last Saturday I was taken ill and called 999 at 6.20am. The ambulance arrived five minutes later; I was expertly examined, an ECG was taken and I was driven to Weston General Hospital.
There I was rapidly seen by a very thorough junior doctor who then talked to a consultant, blood was taken, BP checked, another ECG done and a CT scan was booked. By 10am the medical staff had the blood test results and the CT scan report and I left the hospital soon after.
Oh, and I nearly forgot – they gave me breakfast as well.
I could not have had better service. I would like to thank everyone involved with looking after me, all of whom were unfailingly kind, friendly and skilled. Not forgetting those in the background running the blood tests and interpreting the scan.
Well done Weston General Hospital and the NHS.
Oakridge Lane, Sidcot
Big thank you for super treatment
I was admitted to Weston General Hospital A& E in pain and was promptly treated.
A big thank you to the doctor and the day team for the treatment I was given.
Woodpecker Drive, Worle