Letters to the Editor, April 5, 2012

Silence

WHAT on earth is happening to Weston and is there anyone in authority prepared to care?

We are getting thousands of new houses imposed on us chiefly to house people who can’t afford to stay in their cities any more and despite the fact that facilities like sewage and rubbish disposal are stretched to the limit as it is.

The roads are falling to pieces with pot holes everywhere but the council prefers to squander large sums on making pavements look pretty and ripping up Dolphin Square to create an area that nobody seems to want under this economic failure.

To even discuss closing public toilets in a town full of older people is crass, as is making motorists liable to a �5 fine should they turn their engine off.


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Now I note the removal of the poles put in on the sands to stop motorists racing around down there, poles put in after one child was killed.

I see we have 23 North Somerset councillors elected to represent Weston areas so where are they? They are supposed to stand up for the town but the silence is deafening.

Most Read

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Mind boggles

THERE is a place of great renown, soon to be the toiletless town,

Down in the West Country.

Money is tight and more is sought, for those ‘caught short’.

When in Weston by the sea.

Oh dear! The mind boggles to think that such a place as Weston purporting to be the premier resort in the west, a town that advertises far and wide for visitors, may not be able to provide the most basic of human needs, a toilet.

The Victorians are a belittled generation but they did provide the basic necessities of life such as water and sanitation to the public at large. Free of charge!

There was an abundance of toilets and fountains in every city, town and many villages throughout the land. All these were provided by public funds in times that were far harder and money less plentiful than it is today, by councillors seemingly more concerned with public welfare than their present day counterparts.

So what do you do if you should visit Weston by car or coach, complete with wife, kids, grandma and the dog, arriving after a long and tortuous journey down the motorway or a ride on a rare and spasmodic train? You have finally ‘made it’, spent a fortune to park, the need is great and the anguished faces around you show it. So what next?

Should visitors be issued with little buckets? Should more open spaces with trees and bushes be provided? Should functional posts be placed in secluded places? Should maps be issued showing designated areas where it is safe to ‘commune with nature’? Or what? And how will the ladies manage? Maybe now we are in the EU we should ape the continentals, with little corners growing nettles, or tiny sheds with holes in the ground. Possibly English decency and modesty could retire and any place be used at any time.

Should coaches stop outside the town and the passengers take to the fields in rows admiring the view, as they do in parts of France?

Even the dogs in Weston will be better catered for than any visitor, for they have scoops, bags and bins provided free to any dog.

North Somerset Council will say that it has no legal requirement to provide toilets, but it has the duty of care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all persons in its area at any time.

This includes maintaining and enforcing decent, responsible and acceptable standards of behaviour and that will be impossible if there are not toilets and people use doorways, alleys and corners. Especially when the pubs turn out and coaches are leaving.

Surely we do not want to put the clock back to an age when the streets were open sewers so it is up to the people of North Somerset to tell the council that they will accept no reduction in the already insufficient provision of public conveniences throughout the district?

They must be provided free of charge to users, for it they are not, those without money and some wishing to spend it on other things will find alternative places to use and that cannot be good, on public health grounds at least.

There are insufficient police available to keep us safe on the streets let alone enforce mass public decency behaviour so it is common sense to make free provision of this basic public need to avoid distress, embarrassment and confrontation.

If the requirement is necessary and proven, money can be found and I believe that the need for public toilets fulfils that criteria. And there can be little doubt that any visitors who get ‘caught out’ once in this respect will never come again.

On reflection maybe those in desperate need could ask to use the executive loo in the town hall.

DAVID SHOPLAND

The Sawmills, Clevedon

April fool

THREATENED lavatory closures: This is some kind of April Fool!

Unfortunately I am not sure that it is.

Weston is a serious tourist destination. Are the people who run this town in full possession of their powers of reason?

If they are, then why is it that the public lavatories are under threat?

Banner headlines proclaim that the sea is not safe to swim in, well where can people swim?

The last time I looked the Tropicana was a little bit closed!

There appears to be a lack of management.

SIMON ARNALL-CULLIFORD

St Clements Court, Cresswell Close, Worle

Contaminated

WITH reference to last week’s front page informing us that the sea at Weston is contaminated and could get even worst over the coming years.

I was born and have lived in Weston for the majority of my life and as a child and teenager, in the 1940/50s spent a great deal of my free time swimming in the sea, Knightstone Baths, the pool as the Tropicana was then known and the Marine Lake.

During that time neither I nor any person that I knew and grew up with suffered any ill effects from swimming in any of those areas.

Thanks to the various council decisions made over the years we have now lost both Knightstone Baths and the pool/Tropicana and it is fairly certain, despite the efforts of a local business consortium, that North Somerset Council is determined to see that Weston becomes a seaside holiday town without any seafront swimming facilities whatever.

The present formula, it appears, is to hit the visitors and residents where it hurts in their pockets by charging for parking virtually everywhere it can find to install a parking meter.

As it seems determined to deter people from swimming is its next move to concrete the sea area over and create a massive car park, that way it may be happy.

North Somerset Council which has as council members from the Weston area who do not appear to want to promote Weston in any way, seems able to promote the refurbishment of the Portishead swimming pool, but it does nothing for Weston unless spending millions on refurbishing the town hall when employees have been moved to Clevedon is in its minds a good move for the area.

GEOFFREY BEAVEN

South Lawn Close, Locking

Expense

DEREK Mead said in a recent Mercury interview about his plan to rebuild the Tropicana: “I’m a very determined person and I do not like losing and I’m going to run this right to the end.”

But reading ‘Trop verdict now rests with Minister’ in last week’s edition, Mr Mead complains that “I think it is all so childish that no-one is talking to us.

“The council promised it would talk to us once we had the business plan. Now we have it, it still won’t meet us.”

Has it not dawned on him that the reason for the council’s silence is because he’s in the process of taking it to the High Court, at great expense to all us taxpayers?

What did he expect, a round of applause?

Mr Mead goes on to say “all we want is more time” but how much more time does the man want?

The Tropicana was closed in 2000, so where has he been since then? Furthermore, North Somerset Council was actively seeking new redevelopment proposals more than six months ago, so why has he only just submitted his business plan?

Mr Mead can’t have it both ways and this time he seems to have well and truly shot himself in the foot.

As Charlotte Canter says in her letter “Let’s stop all this toing and froing and, if the money isn’t there to rebuild our Tropicana, just knock the damn thing down”.

NICHOLAS FERGUSON

Devonshire Road, Weston

Through the bar

MY HUSBAND and I had a really good night at the pier on Friday, March 30.

However at the end of the show we were concerned over the fact that the whole audience was squeezed out through the bar along with wheelchair users.

Luckily everyone was very patient and sensible, but what would have happened if there had been an emergency?

A BENNETT

Hope Farm, Lympsham

Dangerous

I AM a resident of Hutton and write with dismay that lights are to be turned off on the main road.

At Hutton it is quite dangerous at the best of times, at night time it’s an accident waiting to happen.

When I moved to Hutton in 1968 there were no lights anywhere in Hutton.

Residents here fought for street lighting along Hutton main road, now they are to be turned off. We have gone backwards.

DOREEN DAVIDSON

Moorcroft Road, Hutton

Rip-off

WITH regards to Mr Malham’s letter last week about his wife not receiving her Mother’s Day cards.

My elderly neighbour did not get her Mother’s Day card although it was posted on the Tuesday before.

What she did get was a card put through her door saying that a package was at Yatton Post Office and there was a 12p under payment and �1 handling charge to be paid. Another rip-off by the Royal Mail.

With the second class stamps going up to 50p and the first going up to 60p how do they expect the public to use their service?

I only hope the increase will stop the amount of junk mail I get. I have asked the Royal Mail to stop delivering this sort of mail but I am getting more than ever.

TED CLARK

Chestnut Close, Congresbury

Cable car

WE, AS the Cheddar Traders’ Association, have been very interested in the plans for a cable car by Longleat and some of us attended the private presentation and many visited the public exhibition back in early March.

On March 27 we had a meeting with Longleat about its plans and we wholeheartedly gave it our backing as we believe it is something that is very much needed and welcomed the plans.

Clearly there are concerns from local residents and it is important that relevant issues are raised, resolved and that the plans incorporate solutions to such issues including anything from environmental issues to parking.

It is right that we ensure things are done properly and that we are all accountable to each other whether we are the council representative, Longleat management, a local trader in the gorge or village or a local resident but we should not seek to restrict necessary regeneration at all costs as a result and here’s why.

The gorge has suffered a decline over the last thee decades in tourist numbers and this has affected trade in the gorge and the village.

Now I know tourists can get bad press, some deservedly so, but tell me who in Cheddar doesn’t go on holiday? Most of us do, so that makes us tourists at some stage whether we like it or not, with all the needs that tourists demand: a place to stay; something to eat and drink; to shop for souvenirs or gift; something to do and to be able to see beautiful scenery and/or visit attractions in keeping with their environment.

Cheddar has been a tourist destination long before anyone reading this article was even born. In the 19th century when Richard Gough discovered the caves between 1892 and 1898 and by the following year in 1899 he had installed electric light for the tourists, which must have been ground breaking at the time, which we think nothing of these days.

So whether we like it or not Cheddar was and is a tourist destination. The town of Cheddar has two choices.

To turn it’s back on tourism and see the steady decline of the gorge until it dies as a tourist destination and in turn many businesses in the village will die and Cheddar will slip into being a commuter town or we can embrace change and allow Cheddar to return to its former glory in respect of being known the world over for the gorge, its cheese, the caves and its stunning views across the Bristol Channel afforded by the new cable car.

We believe the cable car is the only primary attraction that will attract visitors back to the gorge, creating jobs, boosting the local economy and possibly including the restoration of Cox’s Mill in whatever form and certainly will ensure that empty premises are filled with thriving businesses.

It is simply not true that people will go on the cable car, spend their money at the top solely with Longleat, jump in their cars and go home. There is a term in business that says “success breeds success”.

If the cable car attracts more visitors, this will attract more businesses, which in turn will attract more visitors and then the businesses that are now struggling to stay afloat, will not only survive but will thrive.

Both Wookey and Weston have seen significant investment of late and their visitor numbers are up and they are reaping the rewards of this investment. We need to keep pace with this because haven’t we got far more to offer than both of these attractions put together, as good as they are?

We should all welcome such major investment in these difficult times, as this will be good for the area, for local businesses and jobs and will bring about a healthy thriving Cheddar which we can all be proud of as opposed to a dead commuter town as it could be. We, as traders, would like to see Longleat, the traders in the gorge and the village and the local residents unite together and see Cheddar put fairly and squarely back on the prime tourist attraction’s map attracting visitors from all over the world.

MATTHEW CLARK

For and on behalf of Cheddar Traders’ Association, Cheddar

Diversion

ON RETURNING from Clevedon on Saturday at about 10pm there were signs on the Clevedon sliproad saying closed from 10pm until 6am on Sunday and diversion signs taking me all the way back up to Portbury.

So I followed the signs, being the only way back to Weston, only to find there was no work in progress on the sliproad.

With the shortage of fuel it was an unnecessary loss of my time and money. Who are these people who cause this incompetence?

JOHN WIDLAKE

Birnbeck Road, Weston

I was proud

THANK you in advance for letting me reply to Charlotte Canter’s letter in last week’s Mercury and to previous letters I have read over the last year.

It always surprises me the confusion and misinformation that seem to surround the Tropicana, and as a member of the Nightingale development team for the site, I would be grateful for the opportunity to clarify some facts.

I was proud to be involved in the three attempts the Nightingale Group made to develop the Tropicana site. We had only one goal, which was all efforts must be focused on providing something the residents of Weston wanted and that everything humanly possible must be done to provide additional swimming facilities. Our first attempt was turned down by the council, and Henry Boot’s team, led by Mr Berry was awarded the site. They made efforts to secure retail users for the Tropicana, and a portfolio of users was compiled. This team later withdrew its interest in the Tropicana.

Mr Nightingale, determined to develop the site, once again asked us to register new interest. Concerned with previous criticism that residents had not been involved in the design process, he asked that a competition be held, so that residents could choose their own design.

The winning scheme which received more than 3,000 votes from the public was put forward. A more simple scheme did not find favour with voters.

To be allowed to submit this winning design to the council, the Nightingale Group was subjected to a lengthy and exhaustive process by a council committee to become a recognised developer. Many hurdles had to be overcome in this process and I am proud to say the Nightingale team worked hard and exhaustively to pass every one.

One of these was proof of professional competence and financial capability to carry out the work, this was also passed by our team. As well as the secured development costs, �1million bond was also offered to guarantee completion on the work. So those comments made by Charlotte Canter are simply not correct.

Only when we had passed this whole process were we able to submit the winning design, sadly this was also later rejected.

It is true the council had reservations regarding viability of our scheme, we recognised that development of swimming pools are extremely difficult, however our argument was that if a local business was prepared to invest in the site, and support its long term future, they should be allowed to do so. Much as Mr Michael has done with the pier, no doubt this project will also need his personal support for years to come.

To our surprise Mr Nightingale asked us to form a design for a third attempt to convince the council, this time we involved team members who had just finished work on Brean Splash, a viable, working, business model.

Though these designs were more moderate, they were still turned down. I do not believe that the team or Mr Nightingale could have done more to develop the site. I would like to wish Mr Mead every success in his bid for the Tropicana, his designs look exciting, and the main goal surely is to make sure that Weston has additional swimming facilities.

MR G DAVIS

High Street, Banwell

Community

I AM 15 years old and I am writing to stress my concerns regarding the Tropicana.

I am strongly against it being demolished, as are a lot of the people I know. Why spend �250,000 to knock this building down when it holds the capability of once again opening to the public and providing not only a tourist attraction but a place for the local people to go and enjoy themselves?

It has been closed for 11 years now and I’m amazed that is has taken this long to decide what is to be done with it.

Instead of demolishing it, if funding is problem, then why not turn it into a community project? I’m sure that if it was advertised well enough and everyone was allowed to get involved then you would have people queuing up to help restore it. It would give the local people something to do in their free time and a sense of accomplishment when finished.

I think a lot of people would be proud to know that they helped restore something that will bring happiness to others for years to come.

Fundraising events could be held such as fetes, sponsored walks and local schools collecting money.

Maybe people could pay some money to paint on a section of the wall or a tile to go inside the pool.

I hope something can be done to save the Tropicana and that it will once again be open to the public.

It is such a shame to see a building that was once loved by all, on the verge of demolition.

HANNAH MARCH

Longridge Way, Weston

I WAS delighted to read how Punch and Judy puppeteer Paul Wheeler, who felt he could no longer afford to perform on Weston beach to make ends meet after North Somerset Council increased his rent by 50 per cent on 2011 levels, has been saved and given a permanent home to perform free of charge at the museum in Burlington Street, Weston.

He has also hopefully struck a deal with the Grand Pier to perform with his puppets. I’m sure for the many thousands of families who visit our seaside resort this will be the icing on the cake.

I have always believed the British seaside would not be the same without the familiar sound of children laughing at a Punch and Judy show, it’s one of the delights of the holiday season.

I’m sure when Punch and Judy puppeteer Mr Wheeler gets his great show on the road at Weston’s museum, and hopefully on Weston’s Grand Pier it will be a great success all round with our holidaymakers during the Easter and summer holidays.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

WELL, what a good moan S Thompson from West Wick has had at Weston’s expense.

It makes me angry to read letters which give such a negative impression of the town in which we live.

I wonder has he/she visited any of the depressing, dirty, classless towns in other parts of the country? Closed shops and violence abound in many of our cities and towns. I have lived here 15 years and have not yet been mugged.

This week I was sitting in the sunshine on the promenade looking across the sparkling sea to Brean Down and thinking it could be the isles of Greece – we even have the tavernas, bars, restaurants as well. And the sunsets here are incomparable. Dirty and depressing it was not.

I could not understand the argument that the new Town Hall would be inaccessible to people without cars or a computer. It is in the centre of town! The bus service is not at all bad – I have lived in places with no bus service at all. The new No. 7 buses are not bone-shakers and as an “older person” I find them quite comfortable. If you use the bus to get into town then you do not need a parking space. I doubt that the queues in the supermarkets and doctors’ surgery are any longer than those in any other town or city – have they visited London lately?

It is indeed a misfortune for us that someone with such a negative attitude was forced to come here nine years ago. Perhaps we can wish them luck on their way out of our town?

MAUREEN BEZZANT

Lyndhurst Road, Weston

? THIS beautiful sunset was captured over Marine Lake in Weston by reader Neil Gibson who sent the photograph to us via our new website iwitness24 at http://weston.iwitness24.co.uk

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