Letters to Editor February 16

Sums up the lack of vision

IT WAS with some mirth that I read the main front page article last week.

The recent runner-up in the Locking and Hutton district council election has a new idea, parking attendants, and it is his ‘intention’ to have the idea wheeled out by late summer.

Having constantly seen the general flouting of parking restrictions and rules, the new idea is pay and display machines. This, I think, is another non-starter and I am repulsed at the thought of much of the proceeds going to the coffers of North Somerset Council.

For years, Weston’s town and shopping centre has been in decline, and on the Boulevard, due to ethical paving and calming measures, a part of the town seems to be in terminal stagnation. To even think of charging to park in this and similar areas will finally kill off any lingering hopes of thriving business, when the solution, as it always was, is the adherence to regulations imposed by the traffic warden.


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Weston, in case the deputy leader of North Somerset doesn’t realise, isn’t exactly thriving at the moment.

Further on in last week’s edition he states that he doesn’t read it, something that may not shock too many. From the saga of the Tropicana, the attractive but strange sea wall defences which now resemble the world’s largest bicycle rack and the continuing chaos at junction 21, the ignorance of important but vital local issues seems to be falling on deaf ears.

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To even consider pay and display machines when Weston is heading into the abyss, sums up the lack of vision and common sense on the council’s executive.

Yes, the parking problems in town are terrible, but making people pay to use local shops through machines will lead to a mass exodus to Worle and Cribbs Causeway. It only needs traffic wardens as a visible deterrent and the new machines won’t be needed as a substitute to swell the council’s coffers.

After living here all my life, I am deeply saddened by the state and prospects of my home town.

The council transport chief seems totally alien to the wishes of the population and, together with the rest of the executive, I suggest they all turn their hearing aids up as, at present, they have all ‘cocked a deaf ‘un’.

ROB HEAL

Sutton Close, Weston

Blow by slow blow

I’D LIKE to echo what Gina Simpson said last week on behalf of Dolphin Square traders. The decision makers seem determined to grind the traders to dust, blow by slow blow, before they do the same to the buildings. It feels almost sadistic.

At the same time I’d like to thank those customers who have stayed with us. I’d also like to remind the rest of Weston that there are hard-working traders here until the end of September who would really like to stay out of the benefit queues.

It is not always cheaper to shop in the chains. We will talk to you like real people and not parrot some corporate script in case you are a mystery shopper. If your dog steals a biscuit we will not prosecute.

And there is still parking in Dolphin Square. The entrance is in Union Street, first left off Carlton Street if approaching from the seafront.

A HEATH

Pets Corner, Dolphin Square Market, Weston

Held liable

I COMPLETELY support Cllr Mike Bell’s sentiments in calling for more criminal prosecutions following the enquiry into the horrific events at Hillside First School.

However, as a lawyer, it seems to me that such prosecutions are very unlikely, for a host of ‘legal’ reasons which I won’t bore you with now.

Perhaps a more important consideration is that criminal prosecutions don’t provide any significant compensation for victims in any event, and surely it is that which the many children and families who have suffered so dreadfully here, both need and deserve.

There can be no doubt that North Somerset Council, through its employees and representatives at Hillside, owed pupils and their families a duty of care, and no doubt either that it was as a result of their negligent breach of that duty that Leat was able to do what he did, and for as long as he did.

If there is one place outside the home where children should be safe it is at school, and for so unforgivably failing to protect the children in its care North Somerset should be held liable, and made to pay damages in each and every case arising from this scandalous episode.

By the way, just in case anyone thinks I’m looking to benefit from this, I only do family law work myself, not negligence claims. However, I am more than happy to help anyone affected by the case to find someone to advise them - there are some excellent firms, particularly in Bristol, who specialise in this sort of case.

Furthermore, for those on limited incomes legal aid will be available, although sadly, as a result of changes being planned by the Coalition Government, that won’t be the case for very much longer - so don’t delay.

The best chance of ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again is to hold the local authority fully to account for its manifest negligence.

KELVIN MACDONALD FRASER

Montpelier, Weston

Extortionate

WITH regard to the woman who let her poor dog suffer for so long when it needed veterinary treatment - there is no excuse for cruelty - but I wonder how much of a factor was the exorbitant cost of veterinary treatment?

Once you set foot in the consultation room you have a bill of nearly �30. Add to that the cost of examination/treatment and medication - and you are looking at a bill of �60 to �70. I know, I’ve been there and done it on many occasions with our dog.

Whilst our own vets are marvellous in many ways, and I appreciate they have to make a living, I think that people on low incomes just cannot afford these costs - as I have often remarked when in my vet’s reception area - and many animals will suffer as a result. I understand most vets offer payment schemes, which is a help. There is also insurance of course, but that can cost thousands over the life of an animal.

The question is, are such high costs really necessary in the first place? Surely, the initial consultation should be no more than �10-�15.

As for the cost of medication - it is a known fact that the prices are extortionate when compared to other countries and internet sales. Why? I have just paid nearly �38 for a 100ml of medication - which apparently is available on the internet for about �25. It is just wrong.

B CROFTON

Leafy Way, Weston

Wasting money

HAVING just received the February edition of Life, which I believe a lot of taxpayers want abolished, I must comment on some of the money-wasting programmes which are about to happen, and some which are already in motion.

I will pick a few which concern me. The library - we will lose this excellent facility at its current location. It will be lost forever, as will the ease of parking for the people using it.

Before the council tells me about cost etc, what about the cost of this new building in the centre of town with very restricted parking and over staffing? I am told there will be 950 staff.Regarding the parking issue, the army of people above will presumably be allowed to park under the building, which to me means the rest of us mortals will have to pay at private car parks.

It seems to me that a ‘let them eat cake’ philosophy abounds. I believe the council hierarchy has been watching too much Downton Abbey. I would add that not everyone lives in the town centre.

Here are some figures, which your readers might digest regarding disabled drivers, for example.

There are over 10,000 disabled drivers within the Weston area and about 40 parking bays.

It would appear that the council has failed to research this fact. It tells me it has a duty to provide parking spaces for employees at the new library but obviously not for the people who use the facilities. The customers as they call us. As always the taxpayer loses out.

The solar panels on the roof of the new building will need to be replaced after a period of time. It actually costs to be green. Meanwhile, of course, we will pick up the bill.

Regarding the so-called improvements to junction 21, I believe I could improve it instantaneously by closing off entry from the southbound direction on the roundabout. This will allow the traffic to flow instead of giving way to traffic entering from the right.

Traffic wanting to join junction 21 would have to go to the Morrisons roundabout. Of course it would mean the police would have to put the cones out in the morning at 7am and collect them at 9am.

Perhaps I am showing my age but I can remember when traffic police used to ensure traffic could flow freely. This experiment would cost nothing and, if it fails, take away the cones.

I have lived in London and the Home Counties and have seen it work. Chelsea Bridge, for example, is one way in the rush hour northbound in the morning, southbound in the evening.

I believe the council is one-dimensional and is wasting money on projects which were flawed from their conception.

I do not believe they are serving taxpayers’ needs in these austere times.

If we do not spend money on Weston’s business structure and create work for our young people they too will join the exodus to junction 21 in the search for work which is non-existent in Weston.

MR D J TINAY

Dunster Crescent, Weston

How arrogant

IT WAS interesting to read Gillian Thorpe’s letter and to learn that Cllr Elfan Ap Rees told her over the telephone that he did not read the Mercury and that people who wrote in each week were ignorant of facts and write a lot of rubbish.

How arrogant is that, especially as this councillor has contributed numerous letters himself, and how on earth can he make these observations if he never reads the paper?

The Weston Mercury is the voice of Weston and gives us the opportunity to comment on any subject that is news - it provides the platform for lively debate.

Come the next election we will receive countless leaflets extolling the virtues of both candidates and parties and there will be more rubbish printed in those leaflets than anything you see in the Mercury.

I have wondered for some time if councillors listen to the people and now, thanks to Gillian Thorpe, we now know the answer. Heaven help us.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Totally bemused

GIVEN the pressure on parking in Severn Road, I am totally bemused that someone at North Somerset Council has seen fit to install two new drop kerbs less than 10 feet away from the existing ones.

This effectively reduces two car parking spaces in an area with immense pressure on parking due to the conversion of so many houses into flats. No wonder everyone feels embittered when we hear of potential increases in council tax to fund this utter stupidity.

JOHN LIMINTON

Severn Road, Weston

Brown’s Caf�

I WRITE with reference to the letter and picture of Brown’s Caf� in the Mercury on February 2.

I married in December 1944 and our reception was held in Brown’s Caf�, upstairs on the second floor in the room with the two wide windows.

Downstairs wasn’t at that time a cake shop, but a very nice tea room, with white tablecloths etc. It was a tea room during the time I was growing up.

Regarding the Brown’s grocery shop next door, many times I was sent there as a young girl to buy off-cuts of bacon to take home for my grandmother, with whom all my family lived, to make lovely tasty meals for us.

One day, whilst at the bacon counter, someone outside on the pavement shouted, everyone ran out of the shop in time to see an air ship passing over Weston – a zeppelin.

MRS E GITSHAM

Drove Road, Weston

New signs

I SEE that our cash strapped council has, at great expense no doubt, put up new speed limit signs on Somerset Avenue, informing motorists that they can now legally do the speed that a large majority have been doing for years.

What a waste of taxpayers’ money. There must be other much more deserving projects to which these funds could have been applied.

ROBERT LOWE

The Swallows, Locking Castle, Weston

Wouldn’t tell...

I OVERHEARD a conversation last week suggesting that the redevelopment of the Town Hall had been thrown in to confusion when someone realised that there would be no ‘free parking’ area for councillors. Can that be true?

It would be just as odd as the tale of The Playhouse theatre receiving official phone calls to check if the staff had received their swimming lessons yet.

Meanwhile, the town council, which appears to have invested in an illuminated sign for a caf� that only opens in daylight hours and which still insists on sending out communications full of spelling mistakes, has now printed up a form for people who want to apply for the job of standing around the ex-museum looking useful.

This form includes the following question: “Are you a member of any organisation, group or society not open to the public without formal membership and commitment of allegiance and which has secrecy about rules of membership or conduct?”

The thing is, if you were in a secret society you wouldn’t tell them would you? Oh well.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Just crazy

I’VE BEEN following the recent letters about the Tropicana and one thing seems clear. Most of them are obviously from older people as they always keep harking back to how marvellous it all was in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

But we all live in the 21st century now and life has changed. I’m in my 30s and would love there to be a new indoor pool complex somewhere in the town to take my young family to. But the whole idea of spending huge amounts of money on an old and crumbling ruin is just crazy.

That’s why the letters last week in favour of knocking it down were so sensible because they confirm that it’s best to wipe the slate clean and put old memories behind us.

SARAH THORNE

Thompson Way, Weston

Not convinced

NORTH Somerset Council has failed to convince the people of Weston over its members’ reasons for demolishing the Tropicana.

It would surely not be impossible to find inexpensive ways of adapting the buildings to different uses if the will was there among leading councillors. For example, the art deco frontage could be used as an art gallery and restaurant, and the area within the walls could be turned into, say, tennis courts.

The tennis courts were a very popular feature of the Winter Gardens in former times. It might be possible to stage tennis tournaments on the adapted Tropicana.

The problem for Weston is that the majority of North Somerset councillors do not live in Weston and have no commitment to the town, except as a milch cow to fund the rest of North Somerset, eg from parking charges. We need our own Winterstoke District Council with Weston at its heart.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

What a disgrace

HAVING lived in Weston for all my 67 years I think what the council is doing with the Tropicana is a disgrace.

I read last year that the contractors were to re-instate the site to the state it was in prior to the seafront works. I am sure it was not like a bomb site when they started using it so what has the council done about it? Nothing.

Over the years the council has got rid of the Knightstone Theatre and swimming baths, now the Tropicana, and the library is also going. Is the Winter Gardens next on the list? What a disgrace.

BRIAN THOMAS

Westbury Crescent, Weston

Make a stand

IT AMAZES me when I read of the antics of our local councillors and the Tropicana.

We moved to Worle in February 2004 and ever since that time I have seen many over-the-top proposals put forward to replace the Tropicana. All have been withdrawn because of this, that and other reasons.

During this time we, the public, have always stated that we want the Tropicana to be refurbished. This has fallen on deaf ears.

I would ask just how much of our money has been wasted over the years on these proposals. I would also ask is it possible to put a surcharge against local councillors, both past and present, to repay the wasted funds.

Some years ago, I was a district/borough councillor where I used to live, for nine years. In those days we were not paid but could claim a nominal attendance allowance for meetings we attended. We could also claim for petrol, phone calls and admin. I very, very rarely claimed anything but attendance allowance and even then I forgot many times. I did the job voluntarily to serve the community in which I lived.

I believe the following is still in force - and I think the public should know this. When elected on to the local council or parliament, and you belong to a political party, you have to sign a document saying you will abide by the party whip. In other words, if you are a Tory, then you abide by the Tory policies regardless of the wishes of the local people who elected you or your own personal views. If there is a ‘free’ vote and you go against what the group wants, life can be made difficult.

Today, our councillors are paid a very handsome wage, which for those who are retired obviously compensates their pensions and I expect there are many who go on different courses or fact-finding trips and claim expenses on top.

I would also like to know why in this time of recession and great financial hardship, the council finds it necessary to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on an expensive refurbishment of the offices and new office furniture. Surely that could have waited until we are out of this depression.

I am in no way getting at the people who work for the council because I saw the state of those offices last year. But I feel sure a coat of paint and replacement of broken furniture would have sufficed for now. That would have led to fewer redundancies and happier staff.

I note too, that our local MP has been very, very quiet when he too, I think, should be standing up for us on this matter. After all he is the minister for tourism is he not?

I understand we have, standing ready, a local consortium willing to take over the Tropicana at no cost at all to the council or local residents but still there is a refusal to let us have our swimming pool back.

Why does this problem not go to an appeal at Central Government? After all, we the employers are being ignored by councillors, our employees, who, regardless of what they say, have the power to reverse the decision to demolish the Tropicana and hand it over to the consortium that is ready to act now.

Come on people of Weston, make a stand for ‘our’ human rights and get the Tropicana put back to its former glory.

TREVOR S HUNT

Copperfield Drive, Worle

Totally bemused

I WRITE with reference to Peter Johnson’s letter of February 9.

It appears we have yet another person who does not live in Weston, who seems to know what the town’s people know and want.

All most people wanted right from the outset was a proper swimming pool, preferably with a retractable roof. But would the council listen? No it wouldn’t. I am sure if it had, all those grandiose schemes which must have cost a small fortune could have been avoided.

If the councillors had listened to the people who elected them in the first place, the situation could have been resolved long ago.

If a referendum could be held it would sort it out once and for all, but that is probably just wishful thinking.

PETER JACOBS

Whitecross Road, Weston

Thank the stars

I WOULD like to thank very much everybody who came to help us when our Reliant Robin rolled over on the A371 by the Helicopter Museum on Sunday afternoon.

The amount of willing helpers who got my husband out of the car was wonderful, and then they stayed with us until the prompt arrival of the emergency services.

Also, a big thank you to Jenny, who waited for over an hour until I had been checked over by the paramedics, and then brought me home, whilst my husband was taken to hospital to stay overnight for tests. We are both okay. Thank you, you are all stars.

ANGELA AND BOB CLARKE

All Saints Road, Weston

A wild idea

WHILST watching an inspiring documentary on TV entitled ‘Bees, Butterflies and Blooms’ I suddenly had a mental vision of the main area in Grove Park planted up as a wildflower meadow, leaving the grass adjacent to the bandstand for events, and the elevated slopes for dog walkers.

I can imagine strolling along the existing paths, or relaxing on one of the many donated seats to observe bees, butterflies and various insects collecting pollen from the colourful wild flowers. A huge benefit to the environment, unlike those ugly palms.

I understand, once established, the meadow would only require mowing once a year.

MISS M G COLES

Shrubbery Terrace, Weston

Gassed off

I AM a pensioner, living in a rented cottage. I rely on two storage heaters and a portable gas heater for winter heating.

I recently went into a retailer to buy a new gas cylinder. When I was asked if I had an empty to bring back, I explained that it hadn’t run out but I wanted a spare, so that if the other ran out, I would have a replacement.

I was told that if I wanted a cylinder without one to swap, I would have to pay �30, on top of the normal cost of the cylinder. I was horrified.

This means that if my cylinder were to run out early in the evening, I would be very cold, especially at this time of year. Is it any wonder many pensioners die of the cold?

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

Diana Dors

I AM putting together a book about Diana Dors and wondered if anybody in the Weston–super-Mare area has any memories/memorabilia they could share with me, of meeting or seeing her around, either generally or in beauty competitions.

I have been told that in 1945 at a Miss Modern Venus competition at the Lido in Weston Diana Dors came third.

Any memories of Diana Dors would be welcome although I appreciate we are talking many years ago now. I can be contacted on 01922 627522 via elandimpayne@uwclub.net

IAN PAYNE

Thornbury Road, Walsall, WS2 8JL

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