LETTERS TO EDITOR FEBRUARY 10

Responsibility

WHEN our waste is not collected for five weeks at a time, left overflowing on our streets for all to see, the Tory councillor in charge acts like it is not his fault and does not resign. Even when the Lib Dems (at a public meeting of all North Somerset’s councillors) demand he do the right thing by taking full responsibility for his department and step down from this role.

But, when there is some (as yet undisclosed) internal issue within the running of the Conservative party, this same person is out of his role overseeing all aspects of the waste collection strangely quickly.

It is clear what the priorities of those Tories currently running North Somerset seem to be: the internal running of their party over whether they even bother to have the waste collected from our streets.

CLLR EDWARD KEATING


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South Worle Ward

Town Hall, Weston

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It came to pass

ON A recent holiday to Australia we noticed a striking picture of the pier and a snowy promenade and beach at Weston - a marked contrast to the weather we were experiencing.

This was published in the West Australian newspaper and caused me to remark to my wife that almost certainly North Somerset Council would be found wanting in arrangements made to clear up. And so it came to pass and it beggars belief that the current issue of North Somerset Life magazine lays blame on the waste collectors and ignores their own shortcomings that led to paralysis of transport services and residents being confined to their homes for several days.

Councillors should remember that elections are in the offing and highly paid council officers should reflect on their generous remuneration - and to them I say Tropicana and Pier Square.

N BROWNING

St Nicholas Road, Weston

Five stars

AS THE co-owner of Raddy’s Caf� Bar for the past 33 years, I would appreciate the right to reply to your article of January 27 in which our establishment was ‘named and shamed’ for hygiene faults.

Sadly, these were due to a regrettable lapse in staff supervision which was immediately rectified. I would like to apologise to our friends and customers whom I feel we let down.

A further inspection of our premises two weeks later found everything to be satisfactory. Since then even more improvements both to facilities and working practices have been made.

I would like to add that, to the best of my knowledge, our premises had never given cause for concern over hygiene or other matters in more than three decades.

We did become complacent, but when you have been in the trade for 33 years, you tend to trust your judgement more than a thermometer. We must not and will not do this again. Anybody is welcome to come and inspect our kitchen at any time and will find that we are striving to maintain the highest of standards.

We are very pleased to let everyone know that as from Tuesday February 8 we have been re-rated with five stars.

PAUL COUMIS

Raddy’s Caf� Bar

Beach Road, Weston

No indication

YOU recently published some letters about the bus service in Weston.

When the numbers five and seven were re-routed along Alfred Street, a temporary bus stop was installed for the number seven opposite the library. The five and seven no longer stopped at their permanent stop in the Boulevard. However throughout the period of diversion there was no indication that the five and seven no longer stopped there. Many are the times I have pointed that out to forlorn would-be passengers.

I gave up trying to have a notice placed there indicating where the buses then stopped.

Without any warning the stop was brought back into being. After waiting at the corner of Stafford Place for a number seven, I twigged what had happened and ran to the original stop. A number seven bus was standing there, but the driver refused to open the doors and let me on board.

On another occasion, going into town from Milton a lady told me that she had just seen her number seven bus go by, and would have to wait, but no, another number seven drew up. She got on. An older lady ran up to the bus. I drew the driver’s attention to her presence, whereupon he announced that he couldn’t wait, closed the doors in the lady’s face and drove off.

The other day, following another bus along Alexandra Parade, not First this time, but Webberbus, the driver veered sharply to the right, and then after the manoeuvre, dangled his right hand out of the window. It seems that bus companies no longer expect their staff to be considerate, or even drive safely.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

What savings?

WHEN Mr Penrose submits copy for next week’s column perhaps you could encourage him to explain why he voted to sell forests currently managed by the Forestry Commission, what savings he expects such a sell off will generate and what impact the wide variety of forestry grants available to landowners might have on this calculation?

MARK PORTER

Neva Road, Weston

Thank you

MAY I through your column express my gratitude to the staff of Tesco superstore and two members of the public who came to my aid when my wife, Kathleen, fainted whilst we were shopping in the store early in the afternoon of February 2.

Kathleen suffers from dementia and diabetes and became distressed as we completed our shopping. A gentleman saw what was happening and helped to lower my wife to a sitting position on the floor. At this point Dennis, the duty manager, Sally, the store first aider, and another member of the public, a lady, who was an off duty paramedic, became involved.

The paramedic spent some time checking my wife’s pulse and other responses and after a while it was decided that Kathleen could be moved.

Sally then brought a wheelchair, arranged for our shopping to be checked and took us to the caf�. After tea and a chat, Sally then pushed Kathleen to our car.

Being the primary carer is often quite stressful and it is comforting to know that there are such caring people around to help in a crisis.

Unfortunately I failed to get their names, so I hope the lady and gentleman will read this and accept my grateful thanks for their invaluable help.

BRIAN BEALE

Hippisley Drive, Axbridge

Criminal activity

YOUR headline ‘Delight as town enjoys a crime-free weekend’ January 27, was totally misleading.

A lack of arrests does not indicate a lack of crime. If it did we could abolish crime by abolishing the police force. There was without doubt much criminal activity in the town.

It is not that the police can’t see it as your interviewee Kirsty Wilkinson suggests. The police will not see it.

One day I met two constables loitering in the Sovereign Shopping Centre and got into conversation with them. When I mentioned that criminal ‘cyclists’ were seriously injuring or even killing pedestrians one of them told me that that was the least of his concerns. This lack of interest in public safety goes right up to our chief constable.

However, I have heard or read that the police in Bath do sometimes see this crime but take insufficient action against those responsible.

Pedal pushers on pavements is probably the most common complaint in Weston. Not only do these riders ride on pavements and in pedestrian areas they flout every statute on the books with total impunity, ignoring traffic lights and signs and riding without lights at night.

If they do have lights they are usually not legal and the vast majority of their machines are not roadworthy since they are not equipped with an ‘audible warning of approach’.

Motorists also seem to be ignored by our gentlemen in blue. I hardly ever go out without finding the pavement blocked by vans or cars parked on the pavement. The police have seen this on rare occasions but not often enough.

I have noticed that fewer drivers are now driving without lights when the light is bad but now frequently drive on fog lights contrary to the Motor Vehicles Construction and Use regulations.

They also park on the wrong side of the road after dark – very dangerous if not illegal. On that point I am not sure. Certainly I was taught not to do it and once just avoided a bunch of people as I went to pass to the right of a car’s rear lights in Grange Road before the hospital was built. So where are the police? Hiding in their nice warm offices or in their cars? I don’t recall seeing one since 2009.

K F TUCKER

Milton Road, Weston

Has since heard

YOU printed a letter of mine in the Mercury this week entitled ‘Elected’ concerning lack of response from councillors and our MP.

Unfortunately I had my dates wrong and it was actually just over two weeks without a response rather than four weeks.

I have since heard from MP John Penrose and one councillor.

DAVID SHAW

Whitley Head, Banwell

So many changes

BEING born and bred in Weston there have been so many changes. I’m from Worlebury which has changed so much over the years. Three shops, The Lodge, Pains the Post-Office and The Cornershop, Monks Rest Caf�, Roger Banister the pro at Worlebury Golf Course and the two sisters at the Hill Road riding stables.

I remember the time John Cleese’s mother was in one of many nursing homes in Weston – now flats.

The Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund Convalescent Home is now in Sand Bay. “The Long John Silver” has gone. Changes!

Where I live now has had some changes no Royal Pier Hotel anymore, some sort of tent on Birnbeck Pier!

NEIL C DUDLEY

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

Joy to watch

PLEASE may I take the opportunity, through your publication, to thank the Carlea Theatre Dance School, for their two wonderful shows, at the Blakehay Theatre on Sunday January 23. (Yes I did attend both shows).

Don’t Stop Believing a mix of song, dance and theatrical entertainment professionally produced and choreographed by Cheryl Watson, was joy to watch.

It was obvious that weeks of hard work, by teachers and students (aged two and a half years to 18 years) had paid off handsomely.

Cheryl, her family, partner Lisa Marie Smith and all associated with the production have good cause to be very proud.

The biggest tribute to the teachers must have been all the happy smiling faces on that stage throughout the two performances, a sure sign of how much they enjoy what they are doing. As one youngster said at the end of the evening: “Can we do it all again mum?”

Well done Carlea, roll on the Chelis production of Annie at the Playhouse in March.

JULIE BRIDGEMAN

Beach Road, Weston

Worthy

IT WAS very interesting to read the story of Weston’s libraries in your January 20 issue.

Mr Crockford-Hawley’s article mentions Mr Frederick Wood. Frederick Augustus Wood had retired from Willesden to Chew Magna, was an energetic villager and historian who, with his friend Mr George (of the Bristol bookshops) encouraged municipal libraries.

As well as giving very many books to Weston Mr Wood made a bequest of �1,000 for their maintenance.

His portrait was also donated to the library, and he is worthy of remembrance.

A booklet published by Willesden Local History Society in 1998 (entitled ‘F A Wood – a great man of Willesden’) has an interesting account of the opening of Weston’s reference library in 1904. This had been written with the use of newspaper cuttings stored safely in Weston’s reference library.

MRS ANNE KING

Grepon, Priddy

Car washing

ON JANUARY 29 and February 5, Burnham RNLI Station, in conjunction with the RNLI’s National SOS Day, ran two days of car washing at their lifeboat station.

The RNLI is funded entirely by voluntary contributions with no support from the Government, so the SOS Day becomes one of the most important fund-raising days for the institute.

Last year the crew at Burnham raised just over �700 at the same event, which at the time, we thought was marvellous, and was going to be a hard act to follow.

Last Saturday, can you imagine my delight when the crew worked very hard, in very cold conditions, and raised �677.

I thought no way would they top that this Saturday, but once again, the guys and gals raised the stakes, and took �703, making a total of �1,380 for the two days.

The reason for this letter is to thank all the wonderful members of the public who took the time and trouble to come down and get their vehicles cleaned, including taxis, vans and even a motor home.

Also a very big thank you to all the crew, who once again gave up their free time to work so hard on their day off.

Lastly, an apology to the wives, girlfriends and children of the crew, for taking their men and folk away on their day off.

These guys go over and above the call of duty when they give up their spare time to keep the RNLI afloat and risking their lives to keep the seas around us safe.

Thank you all very much.

RICKY HOLMES

Lifeboat operations manager,

Burnham RNLI, Burnham Lifeboat Station, Pier Street, Burnham

Volunteers

I AM writing to ask your readers to consider becoming a Marie Curie helper and giving some time to support people with terminal illnesses living locally.

Helpers are volunteers who give around three hours a week to lend a listening ear, talk through worries, provide information about local services and simply keep people company.

They don’t need to have any medical training, but they do need empathy, patience and understanding.

Training and ongoing support are provided by Marie Curie Cancer Care, and travel expenses are reimbursed.

The next training for new volunteers in Somerset will begin with an introductory session on March 15 followed by two days of training on March 31 and April 1. Anyone over 18 who is interested in knowing more about becoming a helper, or about getting a helper for themselves or someone they know, can get in touch by calling me on 0845 303 2777 www.mariecurie.org.uk/helper

KATHY HOLLAND

Marie Curie Helper Service Manager for Somerset

Marie Curie Cancer Care, South West Regional Office, Marie Curie House,

The Avenue, Tiverton

Realise

I WAS relieved to read the letter from Pete Holder regarding buses going through Pier Square - relieved that is because I thought I was the only person who was worried about the mix of pedestrians and buses.

It has taken the temporary closure of Alfred Street to make people sit up and realise that the current route for buses around Pier Square makes much more sense.

Over a year ago, when the plan was for a raised bus lane, you published my letter of concern at a time when Vision North Somerset quite rightly was worried about the visually disabled tripping over the raised section.

They may have won the day but we are left with a flat surface hardly distinguishable from the rest of the square.

Nobody in their right mind would walk on roads - we have pedestrian lights and zebra crossings, so why are buses expected to share pedestrianised areas with people?

In the summer Pier Square will be the focal point for hundreds of visitors and it should be for pedestrians only.

If someone is knocked down will the councillors and planners take responsibility? I think not.

They will either blame those on two feet for not taking enough care or bus drivers for not realising that there are hundreds of people milling around.

To say that an accident is waiting to happen is an understatement.

So thank you Mr Holder for highlighting the situation and could there be a faint hope that even at this late stage those in power will have a re-think for the benefit of everybody.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Explained

I would reply to the story in January: GP vital in cutting the number of people missing appointments, in the Weston Mercury.

I am someone with a bone-related cancer which was diagnosed in 2007 and am regularly receiving treatment at Weston General Hospital besides having treatment at hospitals in Bristol from time to time.

Through my enquiring at a pharmacy for some advice in the middle of 2006 I appreciated their recommendation that I should see my doctors and numerous blood tests commenced lasting over several months.

Eventually I was referred to see a consultant at the hospital who gave me the diagnosis and that it was in the early stages.

I naturally, like many others who have been a diagnosed, wondered what I would have to go through in the way of treatment/operations, etc, but to be able to meet with consultants at the outset who explained the programme of treatment that had been planned together with possible side effects arising from the medication to be taken I came away with a lot more confidence and what had been explained to me had been done in a very simple easy to understand manner.

Besides meetings this has been backed up with explanatory booklets which can be taken away and quietly read, this helped in absorbing what had been discussed.

It is therefore reassuring that I feel perfectly at ease having remained positive throughout that the care and caring which has been given and is being given to myself is to my well-being and given in a truly professional manner.

I would appeal to all who have appointments whether it be at a hospital or medical practice that if you are unable to attend to have the courtesy of informing as by so doing you will help the health authority staff to offer that appointment to someone else and another appointment for yourself to be arranged.

You will be given the most courteous attention at your hospital/medical practice as they are there to be of help to you so do dispense with any qualms/being unsure of the unknown future that you may secretly have.

If it is not too late for the keeping of New Year resolutions, let’s reduce the 20 per cent figure which has been quoted that represents the number of patients who do not turn up for appointments, you will not only be helping yourself but also the many other patients and the medical authority.

DAVID SYMES

Bath Road, Blagdon

Protest

WITH reference to Geoff Malham’s letter in last week’s Mercury – let’s hope there will be a landslide vote of protest at the next council elections.

If nothing happens about the Tropicana before then, let’s hope a new council will be voted in and that they will have a lot more common sense than the present council has.

The ‘carrot’ cannot now be used as a bus stop as buses can’t go down Regent Street from the front owing to the stupid useless transformation of Pier Square.

Whatever else can they do to ruin beach lawns among other things?

What a good idea it was of Geoff Beaven for the council to hand over the Tropicana to Richard Nightingale so that he can get on with the job of rebuilding it before any more time lapses.

Don’t forget, May 6 – out with the old and in with the new.

MRS PAT WILSON

Underhill Drive, Uphill

Reflects badly

TOWARDS the end of the previous council’s period in office colleagues and I brought forward plans to redevelop Dolphin Square with a mix of retail, leisure, residential and office uses that would have kept Weston at the heart of council operations, expanded high quality office employment in the town centre, and benefited other sections of the local economy.

The current council’s move to luxurious offices in Clevedon reflects badly on Weston councillors who seem increasingly unable to fight for the well being of our town. Portishead forges ahead and in cahoots with Clevedon and Nailsea’s councillors the north of the District dominates the agenda leaving Weston as a languishing afterthought (and please don’t offer seafront works as a sign of commitment for that was the previous council’s doing and financed by Government). A number of us from differing political parties have repeatedly questioned the efficacy of this administrative misnomer called “North Somerset”.

The previous Dolphin Square plan included the possibility of a purpose-built library and resource centre though a combination of local elections, ownership changes and a downturn in the economy scuppered everything including public consultation. The present library plans are ill-conceived in that Portishead Cllr Felicity Baker simply wishes to help Portishead Cllr Nigel Ashton out of a hole for as a result of operational moves to Clevedon we are left with an increasingly empty Town Hall which the present administration would like to fill (or sell?) with other things i.e. Register Office (probably a good move) and library (definitely a bad move).

A new purpose-built library and resource centre is one thing; an afterthought to fill vacant office space and justify uncalled-for luxury in Clevedon is something else. In current circumstances surely it would be better to keep the library where it is - in the Boulevard?

To make matters worse the council is sending all the museum’s documentary records to Taunton even though other local documentary records will remain in the library’s local studies room. I know of not a single historian or genealogist who thinks this will be beneficial to local research. Whereas the museum has become increasingly obsessive about keeping its records out of public gaze the library has been wonderfully welcoming in its approach to amateur research.

For the sake of maintaining meaningful local research facilities where they are wanted can’t library and museum bosses put their heads together and keep all documentary records here in Weston?

JOHN CROCKFORD-HAWLEY

Gerard Road, Weston

More realistic

I AM writing in response to your article on North Somerset Council’s budget position entitled “Council Tax Freeze, but 50 jobs will go”.

The article stated that the opinion of North Somerset Unison, which represents council workers, was that the council’s “perilous position” has been caused by below inflation council tax increases for the last three years.

I want to clarify that it is in fact our view that it is the Coalition Government’s imposition of a 12.5 per cent cut to North Somerset Council’s budget for 2011/12, which is responsible for their “perilous position”.

Having said that it is also our view that the council has made their position worse by keeping council tax increases under the rate of inflation for the last three years, and as a result the money it brings in through council tax is lower than it could have been if their strategy had been one of more realistic council tax increases.

The people of North Somerset may or may not be aware that the money the council spends on services is in part made up from what we pay in council tax, along with funding from Central Government. So a cut to Central Government funding, along with a smaller pot of council tax money, is a disastrous combination.

In addition the Coalition Government has offered all councils what we would describe as a bribe to freeze council tax this year. We also believe that the council has worsened its own position by its strategy of privatisation, which has effectively put large parts of its budget outside its control, resulting in greater cuts to frontline services.

As a trade union we are also concerned by the loss of so many jobs – 135 full-time posts, of which about half will be redundancies. Of course what this figure doesn’t tell you is that it’s actually more people than posts, the figure is only for year one of the cuts (we’ve got three more years to go) and it amounts to almost seven per cent of the council’s non-schools workforce. If this figure were to be repeated in the following three years this means the council will lose over a quarter of its workforce.

Given that the council is the largest local employer we have serious concerns for the North Somerset economy, particularly as currently both inflation and unemployment are rising, and if the 0.5 per cent shrinkage of the economy in the last quarter is repeated in the next we will be back in recession.

It is our view that the public spending cuts imposed by the Coalition Government are both unfair because they hit the poorest hardest, and unnecessary because there are other ways of cutting the deficit, such as taxing the banks and other financial institutions who caused the recession.

In North Somerset the council is proposing to cut services to some of our most vulnerable people including older people, people with physical and learning disabilities, children and young people, people with mental health issues, people fleeing domestic abuse, refugees, and homeless people.

In many cases these services are delivered by private sector and voluntary organisations, which will also be forced to make their staff redundant.

The majority party in North Somerset Council is also the majority party in the Coalition Government – a party that campaigned nationally on massive public spending cuts. We have urged Conservative councillors to tell their leaders how the cuts are impacting on the people of North Somerset and get them to change their minds. We have also urged North Somerset councillors to look at ways they can mitigate the impact of the cuts, by using their reserves, by using additional funding coming from the NHS, and ensuring that the move of staff to Castlewood and the Town Hall refurbishment are not being paid for from money that could be used to provide essential services.

We urge the people of North Somerset to make their views about the cuts known to their councillors by writing to them, and by attending and even speaking at the council meeting on February 22 when the budget will be set.

HELEN THORNTON

Branch secretary, North Somerset Unison, Town Hall, Weston

So grateful

LAST Monday, on a very enjoyable visit to Weston I dropped my wallet in Knightstone Harbour area.

I did not know that I had done this until I checked my mobile phone for messages. There was a message from Weston police station saying that my wallet containing cash and credit cards had been handed in there.

I was reunited with my wallet and all its cash and cards within one hour and fifteen minutes.

I am so very grateful to the finders of the wallet – who just left the name ‘Gary’ – and to the Weston police for their efficiency and helpful courtesy.

My sincere thanks to everyone involved.

MARGARET WEBSTER

Moorhouse Road, London

Dismayed

I LIKE David Kingsbury moved to Weston in 2006, after five years in North Devon. I also was dismayed that the Tropicana was still lying empty and a big eyesore since our move from Sandford in 2001.

The pier and all the new attractions towards Marine Lake look really nice. Then you turn from the pier and walk down the promenade and you get this huge eyesore. I cannot understand why the council is making the only developer Nightingale wait until the summer before they make the decision.

Do the council not want the extra revenue that this will bring to Weston? Don’t they think Weston has waited too long to see this eyesore turned into what could be another attraction to add to the new pier and other new attraction along Weston seafront? Come on North Somerset Council give Richard Nightingale an earlier date to start this new venture.

Also reading the Weston Mercury I saw the article about the motorway junction 21 at Weston.

I do not agree with John Penrose stating that the bottleneck needs roads widening to ease the traffic. He is totally wrong. The only way to alleviate the problem is for another slip road to the motorway, the ideal place is Summer Lane near Banwell.

Banwell desperately needs a bypass, something that has been discussed for years, I cannot believe that huge wagons are still allowed to drive through Sandford from Churchill, causing backlog of traffic back to the Season’s restaurant and sometimes even further back.

Why cannot Banwell have a bypass taking a road from the A38 through to Banwell and on to a new slip road near the old RAF camp.

Are the council going to wait until a house is knocked down by these huge supermarket and other large haulage wagons, or even a pedestrian knocked down before the Department of Transport sees sense.

LYN WILLIAMS

Oxford Square, Locking

I WAS saddened to read in the Weston Mercury how 12-year-old Weston schoolgirl Sophie Thatcher, who was waiting on the organ donation list for a liver transplant, has died because of a suitable donor could not be found in time to save her and how Sophie’s family is now appealing for more people to carry organ donor cards so others can avoid the heartache they are suffering.

Let’s hope Sophie’s mum Sharon’s campaign for families to talk about organ donation and actively encourage more people to carry donor cards will get across loud and clear as there is a critical shortage of donated organs across the country and so many little angels like Sophie have died while waiting on the donor transplant list hoping for a transplant.

Doctors claim they have the expertise to save more lives but the organs aren’t available.

In my opinion this is a tragedy for everyone. We can’t go on like this because we are burying the cure, so I hope Sophie’s death will not be in vain and more people will come forward and sign the donor card and give the gift of life.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

I SHOULD like to give my support to Mike Farrow and Keith Staddon, who had letters published in the Weston Mercury on February 2 pointing out that T4 On The Beach (T4OTB) and the beach race cause a great amount of noise pollution and annoy far more people than even the amplified bands in Grove Park.

As far as T4OTB is concerned, it is not that I have anything against modern rock and pop music, far from it in fact as I attend many gigs during the course of the year, going to see established artists also newer, less well known bands as well as attending the Reading Festival whenever I can.

There are two main differences between the gigs I attend and T4OTB. The first is that, with the exception of Reading Festival (which is held on a farm well away from residential areas), they are held in virtually soundproof venues, most of which are situated in business/shopping districts and therefore cause no nuisance to members of the public in their homes.

The second difference is that when I pay good money to see a band play that is what I get, a live performance unlike the artists appearing on the main stage at T4OTB. Because the artists at T4OTB “play” a maximum of three songs and the organisers want to cram as many performances as possible into the time available there is no time to set up the sound systems and do a sound check for each of the artists, making it necessary for them to mime.

Some bands in the past have made their displeasure at not being able to perform live apparent in various ways.

For instance The All American Rejects had their guitars back to front, pretending to strum the backs of them, while the lead singer of The Zutons made no attempt to even pretend to sing, instead he went to the back of the stage, leant against some equipment, and appeared to go to sleep!

Also, at the gigs I attend the audiences are not made to cheer for the cameras for the best part of an hour so that the cheering can be edited into the so-called live transmission on Channel 4 which starts roughly an hour after the first bands have appeared on stage.

For any local pop/rock music fans I can recommend a one-day event in Bristol that is far better value for money than T4OTB.

It is called the Dot to Dot festival and the Bristol leg is held on the Saturday of the May Day holiday weekend, with over 100 bands playing (live) in venues across the city, with a free mini-bus shuttle service serving most of the venues, for approximately �10 less than T4OTB.

D M GLASSOCK

Uphill Road North, Weston

ON BEHALF of Weston RNLI I would like to thank the Grand Pier for their courtesy in allowing us to hold our Rowathon on the Pier last Saturday.

The very generous people of Weston and the visitors to the Pier came up trumps again and we raised �1,000 for the RNLI SOS Appeal.

PETER ELMONT

Vice-chairman RNLI Fund-raising, Stanhope Road, Weston

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