Letters to Editor August 25

Misinterpreted

AS A head of RE with a theology degree in world religions, I would like to respond to Liz Baker’s letter last week regarding similarities between the Bible and Qu’ran.

I commend her for her faith, which she expressed passionately, but she somewhat misinterpreted the sentiment expressed by the leader of Weston’s Islamic Education Centre, who said that “80 per cent of the Qu’ran was the same as the Bible.”

Whilst there will be fundamental theological differences between religions, such as the divinity of an individual, he is actually correct in his assertion. The Qu’ran has as its foundations the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible, so there are indeed many similarities.

My GCSE students study moral issues through the eyes of two world faiths; typically Islam and Christianity are chosen because they are so similar.


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If a pupil learns St Paul’s teaching that “The body is a temple” and applies that to attitudes to drugs, then they have also learned the Qu’ranic teaching that, “the body is a temple” and need only to learn two Islamic words in addition – Haram meaning ‘forbidden’, and makruh meaning ‘disapproved of’. The teachings are fundamentally the same – that the body is valued as a spiritual vessel.

This applies to every single moral and ethical issue that we study and I would indeed agree that about 80 per cent of the Qu’ran is the same as the Bible. I would be more than happy to loan her a Qu’ran from my classroom so that she can, “read it for herself and re-evaluate her comment.”

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MISS JULIET DAVIES

Polesworth, North Warwickshire

Blinkered

I WAS brought up to believe that a basic tenet of religious faith was the mutual respect, tolerance and understanding of others.

It was surprising, therefore, to read Liz Baker’s letter ‘The Bible’ in last week’s Mercury. Ms Baker took issue with an earlier article in which Rafiq Islam, a member of the Weston Islamic Society, was reported as saying that ‘about 80 per cent of the Koran is the same as the Bible…’ If Mr Islam was quoted correctly, his comment was perhaps exaggerated, but that still cannot justify the resulting vehement response from Ms Baker.

Describing herself as ‘a Christian’ she made half-hearted reference to the ‘freedom we each have to believe as we choose’. But Ms Baker then launched into something which could only be interpreted as ‘my religion is better than your religion.’

She also conveniently ignored that Mr Islam had gone on to say ‘we are trying to encourage people to pop in and visit us. Whether they are Muslim or not we welcome anyone and are happy to chat to people who are interested.’ Isn’t this a far truer spirit of well-intentioned, religious goodwill than Ms Baker’s blinkered outburst – whatever happened to ‘love thy neighbour’?

Ms Baker’s apparent sense of superiority was hardly a fitting advertisement for her faith. And, rather than the patronising offer of a Bible to Mr Islam, I wonder if she should ask him for a copy of the Koran?

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

n Editor’s note: We appreciate that religion can provoke passionate responses among the community. Indeed, we received more letters on this subject than we have room to print. However, we believe this matter has now been adequately debated and are drawing this correspondence to a close.

What next?

SO North Somerset Council would like our ideas on how it can save �47million. Can we remind council leader Nigel Ashton to spend our money more wisely?

For example, how much did the new council offices (Castlewood in Clevedon) and the reorganisation of Weston Town Hall cost? Were we consulted then?

We are in a recession, maybe not officially, but it sure feels like it. It’s a time when the vulnerable are most at risk and feel its affects the most.

No doubt North Somerset could sell some of our assets but of course there is a danger of disposing of some of our heritage at the same time. Weston Town Council has managed to hang on to the former North Somerset Museum but the Central Library is to be no more. What next?

Ah, the Tropicana - �800k to demolish it. Paul Burns suggested use it, for example, as a home for the great sand sculpture exhibition - use it, maintain it and retain it until times are better - a good idea?

If Weston Town Council can provide a popular and successful water park, surely North Somerset Council should be able to come up with something imaginative for the Tropicana, if, of course, it can get past its infatuation with grandiose schemes, not to mention party political squabbles and inter-town rivalries.

Let us remind ourselves and our councillors that we pay our council tax so our councils can provide things which big business cannot turn into a good profit.

Recessions do not last forever but they are times for extra careful and imaginative planning and spending which will safeguard the future and protect those in need. That’s really what we elect our councillors for isn’t it?

NICK SPARKS

Tormynton Road, Worle

Dismantling

WHEN we had a borough council, if the members got any emoluments they were nothing like the amounts claimed by senior councillors today.

They had Weston’s interests foremost in their considerations, because they lived here and because their livelihoods often depended on the success of the town. They were responsible for providing Weston with the public facilities which put Weston on the map, and which North Somerset Council has been steadily dismantling.

A prominent public facility which North Somerset is determined to get rid of is the Tropicana, the image of which, with its distinctive art deco facade and diving board is known around the world. Councillor Mike Bell is surely right to say that modest investment there, given the right balance of private sector involvement, would work if the council was prepared to do what is needed.

In these straitened times, it might not be possible to do everything, for example to re-install a pool at this stage, but the existing pool could be filled with soil to create a sheltered rose garden, for example. When the council’s finances return to balance, it would be a simple matter to remove the soil and re-instate the major swimming facility which the town so desperately needs.

If Portishead can have a thriving lido, why can’t Weston? In the meantime, the art deco entrance building would make a really attractive venue, perhaps for an up-market restaurant.

On the question of council finances, there is no evidence that North Somerset manages our money any better than Weston Town Council would. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. There is a fixed pot of money which comes from a combination of the local council tax and national taxation. North Somerset Council, surprise, surprise, chooses to restrict what it passes on to Weston Town Council.

It should fund Weston adequately so that Weston’s councillors can spend that in the interest of our town, for example by revamping the Tropicana, but North Somerset would rather benefit places such as Clevedon, Nailsea and the Gordano Valley, where so many of North Somerset’s senior councillors live and have their seats.

Let’s break the link with the north of the district, which can join up with Bristol, and get back to Somerset, where they still have two tiers of local government, the district and the county.

The unitary authority of North Somerset Council has not done Weston much good, rather the opposite.

ROBERT CRAIG

Preserve Weston’s Legacy Lido,

Priory Road, Weston

Weird ideas

IT’S very enjoyable reading the Mercury each week, especially the letters section. Some letters are so amusing and those which attack our Conservative-controlled council.

Opposition parties are full of weird and wonderful ideas about spending our money, even if we haven’t got any – still, we can always borrow more? Reminds me of children in a sweet shop.

When the Liberal Democrats took control locally in 1995 from the Conservatives, we had money in reserves. Ha! That was soon spent.

When Labour took over from John Major, we had gold reserves, our trade was better than Japan’s, and our pension funds overflowed.Today, we are forced into severe economic cuts.

Which reminds me. I see the council is looking for suggestions about possible savings. It might be an idea to look at the Special Education Needs budget. I did, when a member of that committee, and proposed savings of over �1milliion. We are spending far too much money on sending children out-of-county for help. I remember, as an example, that one child cost over �200,000 for residential care.

If this policy still continues, then I would suggest looking at providing a range of care in-county. It would be better for the child, and would be much cheaper.

JOHN CARTER

Addicott Road, Weston

Extravagant

I WAS not going to respond to the letter headlined ‘Full facts’ written by John Carter and published in the Mercury two weeks ago.

However, I decided to pick up on the points he made against me and research the information that he professed to be the ‘full facts’.

He stated that the Lib Dem council introduced councillors’ allowances but forgot to mention the fact that councillors allowances were introduced in 2003 by the Labour Government. I hate to have to admit this, so the local Lib Dem administration had nothing to do with it.

He criticised my objections to the �9.7m of council tax payers money being spent on the refurbishment of the town hall, using the argument that such expenditure will result in huge savings. He seemed to ignore the fact that such a huge outlay at this time can only be described as extravagant.

His final assault was based upon how much money three Labour councillors claimed last year whilst not mentioning that all councillors have a yearly minimum annual allowance of �8,446.

I decided to seek further information to question his statement and lo and behold I found such material when I visited pages 55/56 of the following website: http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/408955FC-3605-41DF-9108-6669CE65ABBD/0/SOA2009_10inclAuditOpinion.pdf

I came across some very interesting information which will undoubtedly be to the regret of Mr Carter. I found that the average payment to 46 Tory councillors was �14,154. The average payment to four Lib Dem councillors was �9,636, and the average payment to three Labour councillors was �9,218. As you can see, the three Labour councillors are the lowest claimants among the three main political parties.

COUNCILLOR TONY PROBERT

South Lawn, Locking

n Editor’s Note: This correspondence is now closed.

Abhorrent

I FEEL I must write and voice my absolute disgust about the incident involving a young family and a group of ‘men’ who felt the need to throw beer over them (‘Family claims beer soaking was racial’ - August 4).

I have seen the original letter written by Samina, and I believe there is no doubt that the incident was racially motivated.

These small-minded men were abusive to this family, including a two-year-old child. That is totally unacceptable and I am really struggling to understand why the police initially appeared to minimise the incident.

What is Weston, and indeed this country, coming to when a family cannot even enjoy a day out by the sea?

I know from friends, colleagues and families I work with in Weston town that incidents like this are not unusual. Many women are frightened to go out alone with their children for fear something like this may happen to them.

I am English, but incidents like this make me not very proud of that fact. I have many friends and colleagues in North Somerset who also find this kind of behaviour abhorrent. It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach that one human can treat another in this way.

There are bad eggs in every culture, but that doesn’t warrant bullying everyone because they happen to have the same colour skin, beliefs or sexual orientation as one of the said bad eggs. Indeed if everyone adopted this method there would be no English race after the way we have treated and continue to treat other cultures through the years with our arrogant, self-righteous and usually ignorant attitude to others.

I and many others welcome a more diverse culture in North Somerset. All of our lives can be so enriched by multiculturalism.

I would like to offer an open invitation to any culture and faith not already represented in North Somerset to visit us and put their stamp on what has been until now a very limited culture.

GAIL BOON

Pleshey Close, Weston

Dirty dog owners

CAN someone please remind me, are we living in the 21st Century? Or have I time-warped back to the Dark Ages?

On August 17 my father and I travelled with my two sons, aged six and four, on the open top bus to Sand Bay for a trip out. We took their scooters so they could scoot along the path on the seafront.

We were disgusted by how dirty it was. I had to urge my kids not to stray from the path, and constantly nagged them to watch where they were going because of the amount of dog’s mess on the ground. I will now refer to Sand Bay as Poo Bay, it was so gross.

Dog owners should take responsibility for their pets. If they can’t bear picking up its mess, then they shouldn’t own the animal.

I would like to remind them this is the 21st century and we are all educated people. Poo should not be lining our pavements, public footpaths, parks or beaches. If a sign says ‘no dogs’ – adhere to it.

I don’t care how muddy my children get, I know it will brush off once dried. I can bang mud off their shoes. This is not the case with dogs’ mess. And please don’t bag the poo, then throw the bag in the bushes – that’s even worse and is called littering.

When will we see a dog warden out enforcing the signs that threaten on the spot fines? They are obviously required. I can’t believe this has to be explained, over and over. It’s not rocket science, so please join us in this century.

TERESA MORGAN

Westmarch Way, Worle

Get it checked

I WOULD like to thank all the staff at Weston General Hospital and Southmead Hospital in Bristol for their help in my recent battle against prostate cancer.

I was examined by Doctor Probert at Weston and was put through for a biopsy, which confirmed I had the disease. I spoke to consultant Ed Rowe at the hospital, and I was then sent to Southmead for treatment, where thankfully the cancer was removed.

Firstly, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped me through this period at both hospitals, and secondly to advise that if you think you may have an illness which you know runs in your family, get it checked out as it may save your life.

R HILLAN

Totterdown Road, Weston

More praise

I WISH to comment on the article of August 18 headlined ‘Hospital struggling with accident and emergency demand’ regarding the A&E department at Weston General Hospital.

It saddens me that we read, so many times, about people who have had a bad experience with the A&E department. How often do we read a positive outcome? There might be a small paragraph from a patient praising the staff, but it’s usually so small you miss it.

Last year, my husband had a major hip operation at Southmead. The day after he came home, he was rushed to A&E at Weston with complications. He was seen within 10 minutes. The ambulance, A&E staff and doctors were brilliant and could not have done more to make a very stressful time a little bit easier.

Thank you to all the A&E staff at Weston General Hospital who deserve more praise.

ANN-MARIE TUCKER

St Austell Road, Weston

Hovercrafts?

MY WIFE and I were enjoying a coffee at the Winder Gardens looking over toward Wales and I thought it a shame no-one has had the business know how to put in a hovercraft service from Weston to Wales.

It was tried in the 1960s as an experiment but that’s all. Southsea to Isle of Wight earns its keep. Maybe time will tell. Let’s hope so.

D M LAWRENCE

Methwyn Close, Worle

One less seven

THREE buses per hour are required to give a first class service. Numbers 5a and 5B currently run at two an hour, which is not sufficient.

The route is very important to many people for shopping and who have to attend hospital appointments, and do not have a car or are unable to walk any distance.

Having seen letters in the Mercury, I would like to say that one less Number 7 bus would solve a big problem and would not be missed.

JOHN M BURTENSHAW

Tormynton Road, Worle

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