Letters to the Editor, February 4, 2016

09:42 05 February 2016

Mail falling from letterbox onto doormat (Digitally Enhanced)

Mail falling from letterbox onto doormat (Digitally Enhanced)

(c) Michael Blann

I wondered if your readers might be able to help with my research. I would like to know about the Sundays at Three shows that used to play at the Winter Gardens back in 1963 and 1964. Might anyone remember seeing comedy act Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd performing there then?

I would welcome any memories/information.

GARY WHARTON

Flat 4, Oak House, Hollybush Estate, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7DW

Mr Craig is wrong! This misfit of a county was abolished in 1996.

We live in the unitary authority of North Somerset and the county of Somerset. It was confirmed in Parliament that counties such as Somerset were not created by Parliament and therefore could not be abolished by it. Some bodies do still use the redundant Avon name.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

May I recommend that Weston’s waste/recycling crews go to Taunton for training? I was in Taunton last week and I watched recycling crews emptying wheelie bins and green boxes; they obviously have pride in their work. Both crews placed them back neatly up against the wall or back into the front garden. Any waste dropped was picked up. Some Weston crews leave wheelie bins wherever, blocking pavements, green boxes are thrown down often outside the wrong house and broken. Recycling dropped in the road is left, Drove Road for example has empty bottles, cans and boxes which have been in the gutters and pavements mainly blown out of green boxes since before Christmas as do many other streets in the area. Where have the street cleaners gone?

P WASH

Amberey Road, Weston

Judging by recent editions of the Mercury there has been an outbreak of wassailing across Weston town region. As the Motgerefa (chairman) of the New Aelfric Society, I hope that there will be equal enthusiasm for Barnes’ Night on February 22. It’s all very well for exiled Scots to have their Burns’ Night celebrations, but we should celebrate our own William Barnes; not with haggis and neeps, but with Cheddar cheese, ham and cider. While the haggis is piped in by the Scots, it is a copy of Barnes’s distinctive high crown hat on a velvet cushion which is paraded to the accompaniment of tunes on the fiddle, (he played the violin among his other accomplishments) followed by readings of his dialect poetry.

Dorset born William’s connection with Somerset began in 1825. In that year his future wife Julia and her family moved from Dorchester to Nailsea where they were married in the parish church of Holy Trinity. He was a multi-talented man who beside his poetry, wrote books on philosophy, and painted and engraved. Among his engravings are pictures of Brëan Down and Black Rock with the ferry house; the Ruins of Walton Old Church near Clevedon, Glastonbury Tor; the relief sculpture on St Michael’s Tower; and the Ancient Barn at Chelvey. He is best known for his poem ‘My Orcha’d in Linden Lea’ with its famous refrain, ‘vor me, the apple-tree do lëan down low in Linden Lea’.

ROBERT CRAIG

Motgerefa (chairman)

The New Aelfric Society

Priory Road, Weston

Are our police doing what they do in Hong Kong, and make up for a shortage of ‘bobbies on the beat’ by sending drones up with cameras? Or could it just be that somebody just off the Queens Way in Worle is being a bit naughty with these aerial toys? My other half was walking home from work at about 5.45pm on Wednesday when she saw one, with lights, just above tree-top level, a short way up from Priory Community School, wandering around above the main road.

Personally I wouldn’t mind if it is the police, as that road gets a bit manic at times with speeding vehicles and nose-to-tail traffic and also in the early evenings when certain motorcyclists seem to use the top end, past The Old Manor Inn like a racetrack. The road has a 40mph limit, 30mph at the roundabout areas, but you wouldn’t think it at times.

JOHN LILES

Savernake Road, Weston

CALRAG (Churchill and Langford Residents Action Group) believe that North Somerset Council’s decision to approve planning for 141 houses on Pudding Pie Lane poses a very serious threat to rural communities like Churchill and will lead to the rapid urbanisation of rural North Somerset. The planner’s decision to allow 141 houses to be built on agricultural land on Pudding Pie Lane was executed with unseemly haste in what appeared to be a pre-determined vote by the council’s planning committee. The committee turned down an invitation by the community for a site visit. Residents have had no input into NSC planning and all objections seem to have been ignored - certainly no responses have been raised to concerns raised. Theses include issues relating to flood risk, traffic congestion, pressure on schooling provision, affect on rural character and landscape, poor public transport and the overall sustainability of village life. The Conservative led council has let down its supporters in the villages and the local sitting Tory MPs have done nothing to stop the speculative developments which are taking place. The community has a right to know what future plans NSC has for the villages and an opportunity for their views to be included in the overall strategy.

There is huge community opposition to NSC plans. We estimate over 90 per cent of the village population is against these large housing developments. CALRAG grows in numbers every day. Further development in Churchill has recently been proposed with two applications for 80 houses and so the battle is now on to save Churchill and Langford as a village. NSC must not be allowed to go on riding roughshod over our rural community, against residents’ wishes and against National Planning Policy Framework provisions by destroying our community, wildlife and landscape for the generations to come.

JOHN WHITEWOOD

CALRAG

Langford Road, Weston

The junction at Congresbury is the victim of appalling driving. It is not an accident hotspot it is a site where car drivers collide due to a lack of care and consideration. If motorists follow the law, the Highway Code and the traffic light information then these collisions will not occur. We need zero tolerance traffic policing and the press need to call a collision a collision not an accident. Motorists need to update their skills regularly via the IAM, ROSPA or the many driving instructors serving North Somerset.

MARK SINGLETON

Haywood Garden, Weston

Congratulations on your very accurate coverage of the reasons for the treacherous collisions at Smallway traffic lights, Congresbury. Villagers, such as me, have been drawing North Somerset Council’s (NSC) attention to this problem for at least 15 years. A great many more residents in Congresbury are urgently writing letters to the council desperately forecasting that this junction will have to cope with potentially at least 300 more vehicles each day. If the planning committee of NSC allow housing developers Gladman and Sunley to build their estates with the existing ludicrously flawed official highway and transport reports there will inevitably be more congestion, accidents and frustration on the A370.

Safety surely must be the priority, villagers’ opinion heard, before decisions are made on building scores of houses where the infrastructure, especially access roads, are inadequate.

W H PARRY

Wrington Lane, Congresbury

Please Mr Wilkinson get your roads right as you live locally. I too live in Upper Kewstoke Road. The road concerned is Birnbeck Road. The easy way to solve a traffic problem in our road is to yellow line the surround of empty car park, refit TV camera in parking area and maybe put up a one way sign. With the £60 increase in council tax this year the costs are covered.

NEIL DUDLEY

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

A recent edition of the Midweek Mercury contained a leaflet from Lloyds Pharmacy which informed the public that Graham Road surgery was moving its repeat prescriptions from paper to online and that this service would be available at their local branch.

Knowing that I do not use the internet a number of people have been worried that as they do not have the facilities they will not be able to get repeat prescriptions and also want to know if the surgery in-house pharmacy is closing.

As Graham Road is my local surgery I paid them a visit and having talked to a receptionist, doctor, and pharmacist they all state that there will be no change at the surgery, the pharmacy is not closing and that Lloyds Pharmacy have been asked not to repeat this incorrect advertising.

Patients have enough stress in life, especially when they have to take medication, and it is very unfortunate the Lloyds Pharmacy have caused this confusion in a bid to gain business from the in-house pharmacy at Graham Road.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

We would like to exercise a right to reply to Alex Kidd’s measured response to our recent letter regarding trade union reform.

On our first point about clarity and the reasons why the Government has decided to take this action now it is worth making clear that the UK does not have anything like a strike problem when compared with previous times. There were periods of intense industrial action in the 20th century but in the 1990s and 2000s days lost to strike action dropped to under one million. The average public sector worker has taken strike action for one day in every 15 years.

During the recent coalition there were disputes involving public sector workers concerning pensions, pay, and conditions that resulted in short and disruptive strike action but legislative action to curb such eventualities of the like the Government is proposing were discarded. So why does the Government think this bill is necessary now?

Alex is probably right to raise the perennial problem of inconvenience to users of public facilities but it must be remembered that most trade unionists take strike action, their only real weapon against the powerful and wealthy lobby of employers, as a very last resort and not without serious consideration. Moreover remember to that these are ordinary people fighting for their rights and those that condemn them may also find themselves in similar situations at sometime and that the results achieved may also, ultimately benefit them Mutual support is much more effective than the factional ‘divide and conquer’ used by the ‘powers that be’. With regard to the quoted poor voting turn out in certain instances it should be noted that an abstention is not recognised in international law as a no vote (or a yes).

It is quite remarkable that the UK is the only country in Europe that does not have a body of law that defines actions that can and cannot be taken in the event of industrial action that would severely affect the public and national security. It is time the Government and the trade unions got together and sorted it out without removing the basic human right to take strike action.

With regard to the Trade Union Bill itself and the need to implement it now, ‘the biggest crackdown on trade unions in 30 years’ as Mr Cameron boasts, the agenda is, of course to make it harder for workers to take strike action. The most contentious issue is the continued insistence that trade union members must participate in ballots via postal registration and voting. This is purely 20th century and leads to delays, confusion and a huge amount of unnecessary work. Unions have repeatedly requested that they by allowed to move to on-line voting. Despite increasing support and evidence that it would effective and secure the Government refuses to budge, the reason? It would make things much easier for the unions and increase participation hugely. This is despite the fact that their own election for their candidate for the London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith was elected by on-line voting.

The other measures in the bill can only be described as either ridiculous or so draconian and oppressive you would expect them from an authoritarian dictatorship and not a modern progressive democracy

The Government’s own Regulatory Policy Committee, set up to scrutinise red tape expenditure, have dismissed areas of the bill as not fit for purpose, in particular, after a 40 year ban, the use of agency workers to take over the jobs of striking workers, picket organisers to wear badges or face a £20k fine, 14 days notice of action and pre-notification of anything that may be published on social media.

Perhaps the most insidious measure in the bill is that trade union members must opt into paying the political levy instead of opting out if they wish. This is designed to severely effect the funding of the Labour party and could lead to the bankruptcy of the party. This is out of order because issues and changes to party funding should be agreed on a cross-party basis and there is no mention of funding to the Conservative party by wealthy individual donors and powerful corporation. Clearly this will lead to the end of democracy and the handing of power to those who can buy it. A cherished wish of the right wing for many a year.

So I hope, Alex, you can see that this bill is being pursued by nothing more than political ideology and that there is no pressing need for it. The fact is that demonstrations and other actions by workers are to be severely circumscribed in a way that you not expect in a modern democracy such as the UK. Basic civil liberties are under threat which will have implications that go way beyond the union movement.

DAVID DRINKWATER AND NEIL NORTON

Weston Constituency Labour Party

Atlantic Road, Weston

Yet again we have this old chestnut appearing. But this time and for the first time as far as I know we actually have North Somerset Council (NSC) getting involved by bringing up in an enforcement notice on CNM Estate to make the structure safe following the collapse of one of the jetties and giving the company 21 days grace.

This is as far as I can recall never as NSC ever mentioned this type of action.

At this point in time I would have thought the council would not want to get itself involved.

I don’t know what happens if nothing is done? CNM Estates are you telling the ratepayer’s that NSC would have to undertake the work themselves and then try and claim its cost from CNM Estates?

Over the past few years my letters have been published in the Mercury on this very subject and I have always said that nothing is ever going to get done on the old pier. Even with the best of intentions of its supporters the pier is just beyond saving; just take a look at what’s left now. Yet we have the managing director Wahid Samady telling the supporters of the old pier regeneration that as long as they can get lottery or such like funds, he is then willing to give them a 25 year lease and it is assumed at the end of the lease he would take reposition together with any improvements included but again I have also claimed in the first place CNM Estates would split the old pier and the landside into two different companies, then the company now owning the pier would just go bankrupt. And that would be that.

That’s alright if then the company owning the land can ask for or obtain planning permission to build flats on this land and I imagine NSC would find it hard if not impossible to turn him down, and if he did he would appeal.

The council know all this, remember the Royal Pier Hotel which already has planning permission to build six or seven storeys of flats on the land which is still a bombsite, plus I read the council still hasn’t been paid the money it is owed.

I really do hope that our council keep well clear of all this if not it is sure to end in tears for us ratepayers.

LAURENCE F ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Whilst it is not my normal practice to write to newspapers, I consider that comments by Tony Hughes of Says Lane, Langford (Mercury Opinion January 21) must be challenged and therefore warrant a response.

Mr Hughes concludes by saying “surely I’m not alone”. Well, if he isn’t alone, then he is certainly part of a very small minority, since I am sure that the Parish Council, and the vast majority of parishioners, do not wish their village to be ruined by housing developments, brought about in a totally speculative manner by landowners/developers, apparently solely out to make a swift buck on the back of the Government’s diktat and without any thought as to what the parish wants, needs, and is in a position to withstand. If this “looking after No. 1” is not akin to NIMBYISM to which Mr Hughes refers, then I don’t know what is.

The planning proposals in Churchill and Langford thus far, amount to approximately 219 new houses, of which 141 have already received outline planning approval. Neither this, nor the other proposals in the pipeline, would warrant approval if subject to the various rules in force re village boundaries, or to the will of the people. However, it appears that a majority of the North Somerset Councillors has seen fit to totally disregard these issues in a headlong rush to accommodate certain landowners, and without any consideration of the will of the parish.

Furthermore, I would like to say that I fully agree with the general comments by Jim Thompson (Mercury Opinion January 28), and in particular, his non-understanding of the weight wielded by Bristol University on planning issues. I am sure that in putting forward the Pudding Pie Lane proposal, the University did not consider any benefits to the community.

North Somerset Council (NSC) has totally disregarded, or at least played down, the very real issues of flooding, existing supportive infrastructure, and has totally disregarded the parish development boundaries and the proximity of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In addition, they have disregarded the diabolical traffic situation in the area, i.e. the notorious Stock Lane (B3133), Ladymead Lane, Langford Road, and the junction of the B3133 with the A38 around Budgens petrol station.

In particular, in the case of the proposed Says Lane development, the adverse effect on the A38 (which even now is a nightmare at peak times) of say a further 50 plus vehicles, and pedestrians, including children, being disgorged from the development at peak/school times, is mindless. Furthermore, it beggars belief that any right-minded person could contemplate approving the Says Lane development situated on the wrong side of one of the country’s main arterial roads, and therefore separated from the parish’s limited facilities (except for a public house and a fish and chip shop).

It is therefore clear to me that the Pudding Pie Lane development should not have been given outline planning permission, and the proposed further areas of Says Lane and a second Pudding Pie Lane proposal should, without question, be refused.

Mr Hughes refers to the possible enlargement of roads, additional classrooms, plus traffic lights and crossings (presumably across the A38 would you believe!). I do wonder if any of this infrastructure would take place, and I do wonder who will bear the costs. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill?

Mr Hughes obviously favours a village like Yatton, I’m sure that he could easily move to one of the 700 properties being proposed there, and leave the Churchill and Langford area to those of us who are happy with it, as it is.

CLIFF ROSE

Bristol Road, Churchill

In a recent BBC report in response to council tax rises, Cllr Elfan Ap Rees is quoted as saying: “I’m disappointed the Government hasn’t really been listening to all of the councils all of the time.” I’m glad to see a local Conservative representative say that our Government doesn’t listen. His Government is failing us as our national debt continues to increase and our very own North Somerset Council’s percentage of net

revenue furnishing debt is set to pass 10 per cent for the first time in

2016/17. Austerity is an ideology, not a necessity!

CHRIS MEYER

Roebuck Close, Weston

I would like to challenge the council department that deals with parking in Weston. I would like to know why Victoria Park will not be made a resident only parking zone. If I return from work before 4pm I cannot find a parking space on the street where I live. This is due to the students and lecturers from Weston College using Victoria Park as a free car park. Being young inexperienced drivers they cannot park without leaving a huge space between their car and the cars in front or behind, so that three cars take up as much room as six. Now that Weston College has taken over the old Arosfa Hotel and is turning it into part of the college, I believe that this situation will only get worse as there is no provision for parking. The only solution I can see is for the council to start and do their job and start thinking of the people who pay their council tax and therefore their salary. Make Victoria Park a resident only parking zone, I for one would not have a problem with paying £50-60 a year for a permit to allow me to park in the street where I live. The zone would have to be policed by the parking enforcement officers, but the council will do nothing about it. Are they scared of upsetting the college; do the enforcement officers not want to walk up the hill? I am sure they are provided with a vehicle so I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt them. Other residents have contacted the council in the past so I would like to ask the council to give us the reasons why they will not make Victoria Park a resident only parking zone.

MARTIN AYRES

Victoria Park, Weston

I am writing to express my grave concern about the licensing of our locality for fracking.

I have looked into the likely effects of fracking and am appalled that the Government is even considering it.

I appreciate that the UK energy resources are a matter of concern but so is the environment and global warming, and I cannot agree that fracking will be the answer. It is a matter of great concern to me that the Chancellor has removed subsidies for renewables while continuing to pay subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

Among the many negative consequences of fracking are: Vast quantities of water will be used, polluted with poisonous chemicals and left to permeate into the environment.

American and Australian experience shows that there will be continued leakage of methane and other noxious gases. Hundreds of wells, containment lakes for effluent, pipes, etc will disfigure the landscape. The land, livestock and people will suffer various kinds of poisoning. Huge volumes of service vehicles will clog our already overcrowded roads. Global warming will not be significantly slowed down.

The secrecy of the fracking companies as to the recipes of chemicals they use may be legal but is immoral, unethical and dangerous.

Why are we using our technological ingenuity on something so questionable when we could be developing solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy? Germany has banned fracking and is now leading the world in renewables, and France and the Netherlands have banned it too.

I would like to see a public meeting held on so far reaching a question as fracking in this area.

ROS CUTHBERT

Parsons Way, Winscombe

In response to Brian Wilkinson’s letter from last weeks Mercury we would like to make a few points. We can assure Mr Wilkinson that the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust (BRT) is in no way a so-called ‘Trojan horse’ for CNM Estates. BRT is leading the project and CNM as they own the site are just one of the other stakeholder parties which also include North Somerset Council (NSC) and Historic England. We in no way can comment for Mr Wilkinson’s statement that NSC swallowed the save the ‘old lady bait’ however the so-called ‘new’ proposal to close Birkett Road has as far as we are aware, always been part of the councils long-term plan for Weston, plans that have been published well before CNM estates owned the Birnbeck site.

The trust has no plans to use the lower floor of Pier View (which is not grade-II listed) as a food outlet, this in fact is planned for the single room building that is attached to the grade-II listed Toll House Lodge. This single room is not grade-II listed but is covered by curtilage.

No special treatment has been afforded to the trust by NSC, the trust will have to go through the same planning procedure as other individuals and organisations. Toilet facilities are to be included within the application and planning permission will be submitted at the relevant time once we have enough information to complete the forms.

We have sought advice from NSC licensing department to understand the full complexity of licensing a food outlet.

Should Mr Wilkinson or any other interested party have anymore questions or wish to meet with a member of the trust please do not hesitate to contact me at heidi@birnbeckregenerationtrust.org.uk alternatively submit questions to our website or Facebook page.

HEIDI GRIFFIN

Company Secretary

On January 13 North Somerset Council planning committee gave consent for Gladman Homes to build on land off Wrington Lane in Congresbury.

The procedures set out by Government rules in assessing planning applications were not followed.

As a result the final decision cannot be relied upon and must be declared null and void.

Twenty residents from Congresbury attended this meeting as observers. What we witnessed was a travesty of the planning laws, and an insult to the community. The whole issue was treated with indifference by councillors and at no time were the material issues discussed.

Councillors ignored the recommendations of the planning officers, the technical experts, to refuse permission on a range of quite specific grounds.

Many of which had been set out previously by a Government appointed inspector during the earlier Barratt appeal in Congresbury. How a Government inspector’s rulings can be ignored I hope will be explained by those in a position to do so.

Presumably some of these councillors think they know better.

The vote to approve the Gladman application was 13 to seven in favour of approval, with the rest of the councillors abstaining.

Of this majority of five, two of the councillors said they did not understand the meaning of ‘sustainability’ – without a full understanding of the meaning of ‘sustainability’ which is a key ingredient and basis of assessing a planning application, it is not possible to make an informed judgement.

Two said they ‘did not agree with the application but would however vote in favour of approval’ – goodness knows how that can be justified.

One Clevedon councillor said: “he was all for development in Congresbury. I think this is a lovely development. It is perfect.” He went on to say: “and children would be able cycle/walk to school just as he had when a lad some 50 years or so ago.”

A clear indication he had not visited the site as he would have found HGVs and heavy traffic on the road to school. Most of us would love to be able to let children walk or cycle to school – but not the death trap that the B3133 has become unfortunately.

That adds up to five councillors who had no idea about what they were voting for and that alone brings the final decision into doubt.

Secondly the minutes are not a true reflection of the meeting once again bringing the decision into question.

And the formal procedures, in which material issues must be discussed, were not followed

I am calling on Cllr Ap Rees and Nigel Ashton to reverse this decision and to declare it null and void and for the Gladman application to be re-heard by the planning committee.

The evidence is clear as witnessed by 20 Congresbury residents attending on the day will confirm.

ROBIN LEA

Brinsea Road, Congresbury

I write in response to Alex Kidd’s letter in support of the Trade Union Bill - a bill which once passed will have a severe and negative impact on the rights of all working people across the UK. Alex Kidd seems to support the bill because of the disruption that industrial action, particularly in the public sector, causes to others when workers strike. He/she further states that trade unions don’t care about the disruption that strike action causes, that strikes are often called on low ballot turnouts, and that strikes take place at short notice.

In response to these arguments I’d like to make the following points. First, trade unions are very much aware of the disruption that industrial action causes to the people they provide services for. But it must be emphasised that industrial action is always a last resort after negotiations have gone as far as they can go, and the dispute between employers and employees has still not been resolved. When public sector unions take strike action they usually allow some members exemption from striking on the day in order to provide emergency cover - this happened in the recent Junior Doctors strike, and also in last year’s NHS strike, which Alex Kidd refers to. Most public sector workers are reluctant to take strike action because of the impact it has on their service users, and of course they also lose a day’s pay for every day of strike action they take. This means when they do take industrial action they have a very good reason for doing so. It should also be noted that in many cases when public sector workers take industrial action they are striking to protect the services they provide, even if ostensibly the reason for the strike is pay and conditions - poor pay and conditions are not just bad for public sector workers, but are bad for the services they provide - the current recruitment crisis in the NHS is in part a result of the pay freeze and below inflation pay increases over the last five years, combined with unsustainable workloads as a result of cuts to our NHS.

Second, the idea that strikes shouldn’t cause disruption is ridiculous, because this is the whole point of a strike, which in simple terms is workers withdrawing their labour to protest against something that is happening to them in their workplace, eg a failure to give workers a decent pay rise. If strikes didn’t cause any disruption then their impact would not be great enough to achieve the aims of those taking industrial action. Ultimately, when negotiations between unions and employers have gone as far as they can go and the employer has still not met the union’s demands, then withdrawing our labour is our only option in order to persuade the employer to meet our demands, and to bring them back to the negotiating table.

Third, strikes are not called at short notice. Currently trade unions have to give seven days notice of a strike and that is at the end of a lengthy period of balloting members after negotiations have broken down - so the employer is well aware that a strike is likely over quite a long period of time - probably a minimum of six weeks.

Fourth, I’d like to address the low turnouts on ballots, which I agree is sometimes the case, although in the recent Junior Doctors strike the turnout was 76 per cent with 98 per cent of those voting for industrial action. But the problem is caused by the current law which means that the only way trade unions can ballot members for industrial action is by post - there are no polling stations for members to visit as in local and general elections. The Trade Union Bill aims to apply thresholds to ballots whereby 50 per cent of members must take part, and 40 per cent of the union’s entire membership must vote in favour of industrial action in order for a strike to be lawful. But at the same time the bill will not allow unions to conduct workplace ballots and/or electronic balloting, both of which would significantly increase turnout. There is a hypocrisy here because the Conservative party itself chose its London Mayoral candidate by an online ballot, and many MPs and local councillors elected in 2015 would not pass this threshold test.

The UK already has the most restrictive trade union laws of any European country and the government aims to restrict us further. The UK also has one of the largest gaps between rich and poor - second only to the USA. In order to tackle this huge income inequality we need more powers for workers to bargain for higher wages, not less. Some aspects of the Trade Union Bill, such as allowing agency workers to cover for striking workers, are downright dangerous. Other aspects, such as thresholds for ballots will undermine every working person’s right to withdraw their labour in order to improve their pay and conditions. And yet other aspects of the bill are designed to financially punish the trade unions and the Labour party, and in doing so are an attack on democracy itself - it’s an attempt to wipe out the opposition.

What the supporters of the Trade Union Bill fail to realise is that over the last 100 years trade unions have fought for the employment rights that many workers now take for granted. Such things as the weekend, reduced working hours, the abolition of child labour, paid parental leave, equal pay, and the national minimum wage. All of these things have not been offered up voluntarily by employers, but have been demanded and fought for by workers coming together in trade unions. In the words of Frederick Douglass, the great African American Civil Rights activist, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” If you’re not a member already I urge you to join a trade union and start demanding.

HELEN THORNTON

Area Organiser UNISON South West

Wine Street, Bristol

The council have given Wahid Samady 21 days to make the north jetty on Birnbeck Pier safe.

£50,000 will shore it up with scaffolding and it will cost at least another £50,000 to dismantle and take away all of the rotten steelwork and decking, to be left with stumps sticking up like the Brighton West Pier.

If Mr Samady does not do the work in 21 days, then now that they have laid down the gauntlet the council will be obliged to do the work themselves and send Mr Samady the bill (after the unpaid Royal Pier Hotel demolition money six years ago, place your bets everyone as to whether A, he does the work, B, he gets the ‘Trojan Horse Trust’ to slavishly saw it up with junior hacksaws and add the bits to their ‘slates and planks memorabilia sale’ or C, the council do the work themselves and their bill doesn’t get paid.

If it is C, this will bring the total owed to the council/people of Weston by Mr Samady to around a quarter of a million pounds while he tries to shoehorn 50 residential units on to the historic Birnbeck site, which is designated as a conservation area.

All will be revealed on tomorrow (Fri) when Mr Samady unveils his Birnbeck ‘Anchor Planning Application’. In layman’s terms ‘Anchor, or Bridgehead Application’ means that the applicant does not intend to build the first scheme, but use it as leverage for a bigger scheme later on, having changed the status of the site to say ‘residential’ with the first application.

Despite his assurances, Mr Samady has no regard for Weston or its history, no more than the people of Weston would have any real concern if someone was going to build 50 houses in the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan, where Mr Samady comes from.

JAMES SCOTT

Moorland Road, Weston

I was surprised at the rose-tinted view of school performance presented by the article in last week’s Weston Mercury.

The proportion of North Somerset pupils leaving school with five or more GCSEs with A*-C grades may have increased by more than 10 per cent in 2015, but this merely reversed the significant decline of 2014. Not one school in the table shows a three-year trend of improvement between 2013 and 2015.

As a parent, would you really be happy with your child’s school if you knew that only around half of its pupils (or many fewer in the case of the two schools at the bottom of the table) will gain five or more GCSE’s? It’s of little use pointing out that North Somerset’s overall results are a few per cent better than the dire national figures.

For employers, a good grasp of maths and English is usually an important factor. The corrected published data shows us that, for half of the North Somerset schools listed, only around half of their pupils attain ‘good’ (A*-C) grades in English and Maths. Time to take those rose-tinted spectacles off.

PAUL HOUGHTON

Coast Road, Berrow

I hope the personal analysis of the meeting and workshops chaired by David Turner of North Somerset Council on the West of England joint Spatial Plan might be of value to those unable to attend. This meeting took place on January 26 at the Hive, Weston. It was part of the consultation process on the housing requirement for the wider Bristol housing market area.

The problem: not enough homes for people in Bristol and Bath.

The solution: get developers to build more homes than you can shake a stick at.

Political problem: Bristol and Bath have too many well connected NIMBYS.

Political solution: find a target location that is politically weak target location. Then donate the ‘problem…opportunity’ to the target area.

Political tactic: blame the green belt: it’s not our fault, sorry!

Clincher: make the plan legally binding.

Consequential difficulty: jobs for the newly housed people in the target area.

Fly in the ointment: extra Government money will be needed to pay for linear lakes and other stuff when building on a flood plain (unless 106 money is used).

Unaddressed issue: many people in Bristol who need homes would rather have a new home in or immediately adjacent to Bristol.

Not to be debated: the make-up of the green belt. (Ref three council leader’s statements quoted on page five of the documentation).

Inconvenient truth: a large part of the green belt adjacent to the main conurbation, including north of the M4, and west of the M5, repeat not, in any one of the seventeen categories of West of England Environmental Asset (as defined in figure four of the documentation).

Ignorable truth: the area between Weston, Nailsea and Clevedon is not green belt; but it is mostly classified one way or another as a West of England Environmental Asset.

W FRAHER

Westbrook Road, Milton

Councillor Nightingale highlighted that 373 complaints of dog fouling were received by the council last year. How many of the 373 were issued with £75 fines by the 33 operatives already authorised to do so?

He went on to say that he believes dog owners have a responsibility for their animals and how they behave.

I like the other 99 per cent of responsible dog owners do not need reminding of that, it is the 373 that seem to have got away scot free that let all other responsible dog owners down that should be reminded.

As responsible dog owners we also use the provided dog bins which we are encouraged to do, yet often they are not emptied. An example is N0 24 which has been overflowing for at least a fortnight.

Would it be possible for the councillor to have that looked into?

ROBERT LOWE

The Swallows, Weston

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