Letters to Editor, November 8, 2012

Spacious layout

ON A recent visit to the new library in the Old Town Hall building I was pleasantly surprised at the spacious layout of the facilities, in marked contrast to the cramped and inadequate building on the Boulevard, and with the modern technology which is clearly in keeping with the times.

However, my pleasure gave way to dismay when I discovered that the numerical classification order had been thrown to the wind and sections of the stock, still retaining their spine numbers, being shelved at different locations because, so I was told, it would simplify the system and help the public to find related books. Unfortunately one man’s related subject is another mans arbitrary separation.

Some years ago many of us laughed at the absurdity of the library sketch on The Two Ronnies show when the books were arranged as large red books, small red books, large green books and small green books etc: It seems that such an absurdity has come to pass in the libraries of Weston and district.

More than a hundred years ago Melvil Dewey wrestled with the problem facing libraries and came up with the numerical classification scheme most libraries use today. It is not ideal, no attempt to classify knowledge can be and it has led to many criticisms. In academic libraries geographers bemoan the fact that geology is treated as a science and is located some way from material on geography. But such an arrangement does conform to the logic of the published system and any serious library user can follow that system whatever the subject by using the catalogue and following the guidance on the ends of the bays. If the aim is to further help the casual user then shelf guides can be placed on the shelves directing the user to other relevant locations without causing chaos.

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But perhaps fame and fortune awaits the library managers in this age of ‘dumbing down’ and they could apply their simplification methods to other areas to avoid the necessity of learning anything. Aspiring musicians all over the world would surely welcome a simple system which removed the need to understand the relationship between five parallel lines and the multitude of strange symbols which surround them. The world is their oyster.


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Ashcombe Gardens, Weston

The same facility?

I WRITE in response to a letter from M J Rogers in last week’s edition entitled ‘library fast falling into chaos’ and the writer’s perceived shortcomings in the new library in the Town Hall.

I read the letter with a growing sense of incredulity and wondered if we were talking about the same facility?

To deal with some of the writer’s specific concerns… this is a busy library and our staff do tidy and return books to the shelves and they are, of course, available for help and advice.

Speed of the public access computers - we do look for feedback from library users and follow up any complaints. We have increased the number of computers available for public use to 30 and there is also free Wi-Fi so that people can connect using their own devices if they prefer.

We have installed brand new copier/printers so I do not understand why your correspondent appears to be having difficulties. Has a member of library staff been asked for help I wonder?

The vast majority of feedback we’ve had from people visiting the Town Hall has been favourable with comments such as “Absolutely amazing - a sheer delight to come here - many, many congratulations... and simply – thank you - Weston has been uplifted” and “North Somerset Council you have created a brilliant space during very difficult times. The library rocks. Well done - keep it up”.

In fact on page eight of your paper last week correspondent Roland Watt said: “I have to admit that it (the Town Hall) is a great improvement to the old building. I found it bright and cheery and a pleasure to be in…”. He then congratulates us on a job well done - I recognise the facility he is talking about, not the one which M J Rogers describes.

And as a footnote I would add that I am really pleased that the work we have done at the Town Hall has been recognised, having been the recipient of the Public Building Retrofit Project of the Year Award.

At a time when other local authorities are closing libraries to save money we have made a long-term investment in a facility fit for the 21st century by transforming the Town Hall ground floor, making it easier to get advice, information and services – all under one roof.


North Somerset Council executive member for libraries,, Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston

At our expense

I WAS most interested to read the letter from M J Rogers about the chaotic atmosphere of the new library. This was not, surprisingly, the view expressed in the latest issue of the council’s self-aggrandising propaganda magazine, Life, which, with a picture of the new library on the cover, proudly proclaims ‘New Town Hall proves a hit’.

My argument, however is not with the success, or otherwise, of the new library.

It is with the irresponsible misuse of public money, paid dutifully by all of us each month in the form of council tax.

Much has been made by North Somerset Council of the �28million cost of relocation and restructuring of council services, at our expense, which according to a previous issue of Life, will begin to ‘save us’ �700,000 a year by 2015.

Simple arithmetic tells us that to just break even on this outlay, we will first see the benefits of these ‘savings’ in 40 years time.

Living in the present, however, as the street lights go off, uncleared storm drains overflow every time it rains, flower beds are covered over, trees cut down, a beloved library building is closed, other libraries closed, and other vital council services, such as public toilets likely to be contracted out I wonder what else the council will abdicate responsibility for and how long it will be before it informs us it will need to increase the council tax?

It could, however, make one immediate �250,000 saving - cease the publication of Life, its unwanted and expensive vanity publication.


Baytree Road, Weston


NORTH Somerset Council is slowly but surely eradicating trees and bushes from our town landscape.

A good example of this is the ghastly mess it has made of the Town Square, next to the Italian Gardens. It removed all the shrubs and palms from the middle of the garden leaving what can only be described as the cheapest, nastiest paving slabs, eight benches facing different directions and not much else.

It looks absolutely horrible and would not look out of place in a bland rundown estate from the 1970s.

Lots of birds, including finches, used the palms and bushes to nest in and it was lovely to sit and enjoy listening to them. Now North Somerset Council is planning on destroying the tall hedge along the wall separating the unsightly square from the Italian Gardens.

This is another bad mistake in my opinion. The bushes are used by birds, some of them migrating and North Somerset Council is not fulfilling its environmental responsibilities by removing all this greenery.

Do we really all want to live in a concrete jungle of unattractive and uninteresting shades of grey and very little green? I don’t. Contact North Somerset Council on 01934 888802 (email: streetsandopenspaces@n-somerset.gov.uk) if you disagree with its relentless attack on our greenery.


Manilla Crescent, Weston


DEBENHAMS has pulled out of Dolphin Square. No other retailer has signed up yet for Dolphin Square, as I write this letter Comet has gone into administration.

I’ve been saying for three years now that the swimming pool should be built in Dolphin Square. The pool would be on the seafront. A cinema, bowling alley and restaurants have signed up for Dolphin Square, we’ve already got 100-bed hotel, Premier Inn. Having the pool on the seafront would have a great benefit for tourism and local people.

Let’s stop talking. North Somerset Council should be behind putting the pool on Dolphin Square. We would have facilities to satisfy people who come on holiday and fill hotels and shops on the High Street.


Uphill Way, Uphill

Ghost town

OH DEAR, so Debenhams is not coming to the new Dolphin Square. I sincerely hope this venture is not going to become a white elephant.

With no other big name stores taking up the option of opening, this could become a ghost town.

At least the old place had a viable covered market. Rather a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


Castle Road, Worle

New premises

THE developers of Dolphin Square must be devastated that Debenhams has withdrawn its interest.

Marketed as a retail and leisure complex no retailers have yet signed up to it and there are doubts over Primark.

The square may have been run down but it contained a number of interesting retailers including a vibrant covered market.

Many of the market traders have found new premises but the community spirit no longer exists. It was visualised that James Street and the southern end of the High Street would be the arteries connecting the new complex with the main shopping centre, but the vision is now blurred.

Hopes for a new occupant for the old TJ Hughes store have been put in jeopardy because, if the rumoured pedestrianising of James Street goes ahead, how would deliveries be made to the loading bay of the store.

With the possible closure of the Argos stores and the expected demise of Comet there is a decline rather than increase in retail interest.

At present all we can see is a leisure complex but we do hope that traders will be found to fill the void, otherwise the old dolphin could well turn into a white elephant.


Clarence Grove Road, Weston


NORTH Somerset Council’s days could be numbered as the result of a 228-page report by the former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister David Cameron.

Those parts of North Somerset which are within Greater Bristol such as Clevedon, Nailsea, and Portishead could soon come under a Greater Bristol local authority, while Weston and the Winterstoke area could revert to an enlarged Somerset, in the cost saving ‘bonfire of the town halls’ advocated by Lord Heseltine.

This could be a wonderful opportunity to release the potential of the Weston town region, free from the dead hand of North Somerset Council. Certainly, Weston and Winterstoke have more in common with Brean and Burnham than with Greater Bristol, and Somerset could surely not be any worse for Weston than North Somerset has been.


Priory Road, Weston


NOT for the first time North Somerset Council has recently reminded residents that no side waste will be collected when wheelie bin week is due.

When black bags, however are dumped in the street gutter and over a storm drain at that, this council is prepared to allow this situation to remain for over a week despite four telephone calls requesting action.

Last Thursday the heavy downpours caused flooding to that side of the road, had it not been for a neighbour doing the council’s work by at least removing the bags off the drain grill I dare say flooding would have been more intensive.

This service is just not good enough. If our council tax was not paid on time we would soon know about it, yet in return the service cannot even be described at third class.


Mead Vale, Worle

For free

I DON’T know how successful the ‘switch back’ on the Beach Lawns was this summer but residents and visitors alike could have had a similar experience - for free! - by simply driving the length of Neva Road.


Elmsleigh Road, Weston


THE council’s decision to charge residents to park on Christmas Day blows a big hole in their claim that the charges have been imposed to help the shops.

So those who have residents’ passes will have to rush out of their houses at 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm to play musical chairs with their cars, and their visitors will also have to play the game but at different times.

Seems to me that the chances of a relaxed Christmas dinner are as stuffed as the average turkey. Meanwhile, the arrival of the oversized black ticket machines in this sector makes some places look like a fascist cemetery.

By the way, don’t forget the goodwill toward the poor devil handing out the penalty tickets. Mistletoe perhaps?


Alma Street, Weston

EDITOR’S NOTE: We understand the council is changing its policy for Christmas Day.

Ignored wishes

AS A LIFELONG Westonian who witnessed, in 1937, the foundation excavations of the new swimming pool by a steam shovel, when I was only six years old, I would like to indicate what could be achieved regarding the much discussed scenario.

I am saddened and disgusted by the debacle which has been created by our inert council, who has constantly ignored the wishes and petitions of the many, many thousands of local residents over so many years.

The present fiasco is in direct contrast to the very positive action which has been taken by the administration in Dartmouth, where a new �2.4million, 25 metre, four lane, heated, covered swimming pool is about to be built.

The population of Dartmouth was 9,555 in 2009, as opposed to Weston’s which was given as 71,800 in the 2001 Census, now probably nearer to 80,000.

If a small seaside town the size of Dartmouth can organise the funding and building of a state-of-the-art swimming pool, in the depth of the most severe depression in living memory, why on earth is Weston not able to produce a new pool development on the site of the Tropicana – Weston being approximately eight times larger than Dartmouth?

The funding, as shown on the internet is as follows: �1.5million pledged by Devon County Council; �400,000 pledged by South Hams District Council and �150,000 pledged by Dartmouth Town Council. The estimated cost of the planning process and the equipping of the pool is �165,000 of which �84,500 has already been obtained by local fundraising activities.

Wake up Weston. Even now, at this late stage, if there is a will, there is a way.


Brendon Avenue, Weston

Every obstacle

WELL I think I’ve seen it all now! The same North Somerset Council (NSC), or to be fair a small sub committee, who have for years disregarded the opinions and wishes of the people of Weston and ridden roughshod over everyone’s efforts to save the pool, which is a necessary part of a seaside holiday resort, has decided to consult the public at last re the Tropicana.

But don’t get excited, apparently what it wants us to discuss is the manner of the demolition of the pool we’ve been fighting to keep.

You couldn’t make it up could you? Insult and injury come instantly to mind and you do have wonder ‘what planet is it from’? The councillors concerned are clearly totally oblivious to the fact that most people don’t want the pool demolished and are not likely to vote on the manner of its passing.

Councillor Ashton and fellow killjoys should step down and let the town council make decisions regarding Weston while they devote their time to Clevedon where their interests obviously lie.

They have put every obstacle in the way of Richard Nightingale who would have been well on the way to delivering the pool we need and want if he’d been allowed to go ahead.

They looked that gift horse in the mouth and let it go and then they set about vandalising it by allowing the prom developers to dump their rubble actually in the pool which was apparently usable until then.

Now it seems they are similarly intent on preventing Derek Mead and his Trop group from taking on the challenge.

As I’ve said before all they need to do is relinquish ownership of the site to whoever wants to rebuild and let them get on with it. It would no longer be their responsibility and they wouldn’t be causing outrage by spending vast sums of our money, �1million or thereabouts, on demolishing a building which we want to keep, is doing no harm as it is in much better condition than the council wanted us to believe and could be resurrected at a later date if we’re not lucky enough for work to start immediately. I think most of us believe that if NSC gets its way we will never have a seafront pool, once gone, gone for ever. What NSC is intent on doing is an immoral waste of money, it doesn’t make sense in the current economic climate and its determination to go against public opinion does make one wonder just what secret agenda it has?

It’s a disgrace that Eric Pickles didn’t come to see for himself what ‘all the fuss is about’ when he visited Clevedon recently. But as a letter from his department pointed out he gave NSC permission to go ahead but did not order them to carry out their intention. NSC should take note of that, it’s not too late to stand aside and let someone else make decisions regarding the Tropicana.


Brimridge Road, Winscombe

Jobs will be lost

WE HAVE frequently been told that North Somerset Council has to save lots of money over the next few years, that services will have to be cut and many jobs will be lost.

However, the council can find the money to demolish the Tropicana and, presumably, restore the sea wall. It can also find the money to cut down many of our trees in the town centre making Weston less attractive to residents and visitors.

Its recent parking plans further this aim.

It would appear that the outsiders running Weston have two main interests. Degradation of Weston and their remuneration for doing it.

There is no hope for Weston as long as we are part of North Somerset I don’t know who you got rid of the county of Avon as I was working and living abroad at the time. Can anyone help us now? In the matter of sea water flooding you recently asked why was the flood gates not closed. The answer, incompetence and inefficiency of our councillors and council employees. Do they have to wait for some inland landlubber to tell them that we can expect a high tide and strong westerly wind? We need someone who has fought a tide surge in the estuary. It is a most unpleasant experience.

When I first lived in Weston my friend and I used to use to enjoy stormy days, dodging the spray coming over the promenade. I remember that the spray used to reach over the hotels opposite Glentworth Bay. The puny efforts in Weston cannot protect the rest of North Somerset or the Severn Vale. Only a suitably designed and operated barrage can do that and when the next east Atlantic tsunami occurs, as geologists tell us it will, and if it comes this way only the barrage can moderate, if not negate, its effect. With all the nuclear facilities (Hinkley, Oldbury and Berkeley) on our estuary I hope that I am no longer here when it happens.

Now that Japan has come to its senses and decided no more nuclear power their nuclear company is coming to do their dirty work at Oldbury. We don’t need it and the people who live and work in the area don’t want it.


Milton Road, Weston


I WOULD like to thank John Ealoes and C Willetts for taking the trouble to reply to my letter headed ‘Soft sentences’ printed in the Mercury. However I do feel that you both rather misunderstood my comments.

I neither loath or judge people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol as suggested by Mr Ealoes nor do I condemn them as assumed by C Willetts.

The gospel term you quoted “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” could be taken in some areas as a sign to instigate riots. I don’t throw stones either.

I sincerely hope these three don’ts do not put me in your “There but the grace of God” or “Holier than thou” category, for I too have sinned in my youth. I just think as do many other Westonians that too many dependencies are being sent here. Weston, as we are all well aware, is only a very small seaside town which is promoted as being an ideal family orientated place for holidays. It is not a great big city as London, Manchester, Birmingham or nearer to home Bristol or Exeter.

Perhaps that is why last year our own MP was reported in the Mercury as being in negotiations to have the number of dependencies being sent here reduced. There were no responses reported then.


Baker Street, Weston

Overgrown trees

I WISH someone would cut the trees down opposite my house.

All I can see, apart from the traffic, is overgrown trees and shrubbery belonging to the railway. They take light out of my rooms and further down is an apple tree where apples fall on the pavement and the road.

In the 28 years I have lived in this house it has all been cut twice. Rats run in it and that’s where we have to wait for the bus.


Bournville Road, Weston

GOSH I never realised that Hopkins Street was considered such a high security risk area.

However, judging from the amount and extent of works that have occurred installing the parking meter involving two, three sometimes four workmen over 10 days to install one meter, two drains, necessary groundworks, raised kerbs and four stainless steel anti-ram raid five foot high bollards - all outside some-ones front window, I feel totally assured now that we can all sleep in peace.

Compared to the lonely meter in Palmer Street and some others around, is this new facility not a tad over the top?

A neighbour did comment “this is what you get for complaining.”

Not only an eyesore in a quiet residential street, which has never suffered from boy racers only the occasional drug raid, do the council not realise they have also lost a valuable parking space and made it very difficult for a larger vehicle to turn into Burlington Street as proved by the council truck delivering all the equipment.

Oh well, the price of progress in this age of austerity.


Hopkins Street, Weston

WE ARE told through TV adverts how important it is that we vote for the police commissioner on November 15, but as yet the only information I have found is in the Mercury where you tell us that there are five candidates, and that four are allied to political parties.

How can any candidate be independent if their strings are being pulled by their political masters? This seems particularly relevant on budgeting when the ruling council is based in Bristol. With no information on the experience or worthiness of the candidates how can anyone vote?


Bleadon Hill, Weston

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