Letters to the Editor, August 18, 2011

Borough

I HEARTILY agree with the two correspondents in your last issue who made the case for a cull of councillors and the restructuring of local democratic institutions within North Somerset.

I would like to add my suggestions on the subject by saying there is a particular principle in large organisations which is the higher one goes up the greasy pole the further one moves away from the client/customer. (I am referring here to the unitary authority as an example although it does not have clients/customers as such because that assumes a choice can be made.)

We are lacking strong local leadership in Weston and attached villages that can only be bought about by an executive Borough of Weston organisation that is more local.

I know that I am probably wishing for something that will never happen, as the power of rhetoric and PR will always defeat the forces of logic in the political spectrum both here in Somerset and nationally.


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PETER MARTIN

Cecil Road, Weston

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Useless flowers

YOUNG Paul Burns, of Sunnyside Road, makes two good points in his response (Mercury letters, August 11) to my letter regarding golf club parking.

What a good idea to use sports grounds as picnic and car park areas! Much better use for them in my opinion.

His suggestion to relocate the sandcastles and sand sculptures into the rundown Tropicana is also brilliant. The exhibits would be securely ensconced out of the way and safe from the elements and from anyone who wishes to steal them. We could then dispense with the eyesore on the beach.

On the subject of eyesores; our parks are awash with useless flowers and trees. These are deliberately planted to delight visitors and residents but have no other use. What better, as the councillor suggested, to grass the beds over, or even concrete the area entirely. The money thus saved could be put to much better use, by, for example, employing more consultants and paying councillors increased fees and expenses.

Perhaps this would encourage those in authority to own up to their mistake and incompetence in handling major contracts, rather than blaming ‘Health and safety gone mad’.

D HARRIS

Moorland Road, Weston

Garden waste

I AM writing to correct the misleading impression given by Pauline Addicott in her letter ‘Charges’ in last week’s paper.

She says the council is considering getting residents to pay for their household recycling collection and, if people choose not to pay and opt out of the service, their only weekly collection will be food waste.

Not true! The council will not be charging for the weekly collection of recycling boxes. What we are looking at is the possibility of introducing charges for the fortnightly green garden waste collection - a service many other councils charge for. No decisions on this have yet been made.

As readers are no doubt aware, the council is facing unprecedented levels of cuts – an anticipated 32 per cent over the next four years – which is the equivalent of a pound in every three we currently spend on services. As a result, we are having to look at different ways of doing things across all our services.

The council is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Thanks to our residents we are now recycling 57 per cent of all household waste, compared to 20.5 per cent just five years ago. So thank you and please keep recycling!

CLLR PETER BRYANT

Executive member responsible for recycling and waste services

North Somerset Council

Town Hall, Weston

Predictable

MY HEART sank when I read V Talbot’s snide letter ‘A fantastic development’ in last week’s Mercury.

Mr/Ms Talbot seems to be the latest recruit of the depressingly predictable Victor Meldrew faction that appears to complain about anything new in Weston.

Why do these serial moaners seem genetically programmed to oppose any innovation in the town? Be it the Leisuredome, the Dolphin Square redevelopment or the improvements to Pier Square and the promenade, they are against them.

Sadly, your paper appeared to support this view by giving the letter a prominent centre-page position, complete with a glossy artist’s impression.

In a recent Mercury, we were told that Weston had nearly 6.5 million visitors last year generating almost �369million and creating more than 5,600 jobs. This is a tremendous boost for the town, especially in these straitened times.

And the visitor numbers will only grow with the addition of new attractions, especially all-weather facilities like the Leisuredome, for the off-season months.

Therefore, it is vital for the town to continue to move with the times. It must not be diverted by those among us who seem to be mired in the 1950s rather than looking forward into the 21st century.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Fenced off

AUGUST should be the prime month for visitors to Weston, and surely the seafront should be as attractive as possible for them.

But what happens? About 100 yards of the sea wall by Knightstone is fenced off, and steel containers plus a skip are parked on the pavement opposite the newly refurbished Cabot Hotel, also fenced off.

These eyesores have been here for three weeks and no sign of a workman in all that time.

Such impeccable timing as usual, and no doubt work will start just before the Bank Holiday weekend and the mess abandoned for a week or so.

After years of sea defence works, pavement upheavals, Pier Square alterations, etc, wouldn’t it have been nice to have a clear run for holidaymakers and day trippers, and us residents, in this busiest season?

BRIAN RUSE

Montague Mansions, Weston

Attack

CONSERVATIVE John Carter’s attack on Labour councillor Tony Probert looks like a case of the kettle calling the pot black.

The millions being spent on the town hall are for more than ‘decorating’, on the other hand, the changes are not about providing office space, as Mr Carter wrote, in fact, there will be less office space in the town hall.

Mr Carter referred to the amount claimed in expenses by three Labour Councillors. Perhaps he could tell us how much the highest paid Conservatives pocketed over the same period.

Some way has to be found of extracting Weston and the surrounding villages from the baleful embrace of North Somerset Council.

Weston might be better going back to Somerset, joining up with Sedgemoor District. After all, Weston has more of a community of interest with Highbridge and Brent than it has with Clevedon.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Rubble

LIKE MOST people I would like to see a viable all-weather attraction on the Tropicana site, preferably a pool with retractable cover.

It seems the initial stumbling block is the cost of removing the rubble and waste left on the site by the company/ies working on the seafront and Pier Square.

I remember reading in the Mercury that North Somerset Council had agreed that materials could be stored on the Tropicana site.

I am sure the council would have written in a legally binding clause requiring the site to be left in a reasonable state. After all storing means just that - not leaving tons of rubble.

Could the council not invoke this clause and require the rubble to be cleared?

PAULINE PLATTEN

St Davids Close, Worlebury

Speed cameras

IT IS such a shame there are so many motorists in Weston who are either colour blind or basically stupid.

They are the number that push their luck and that of others by jumping red lights.

Now speed cameras are not in use that equipment should be put on junctions which are most at risk. That may deter and put cash in the coffers.

Idiots must be treated like idiots.

D LAWRENCE

Methwyn Close, Worle

The Bible

AS A Christian I love the Bible and generally read it every day. I was amazed to see in last week’s paper that the leader of Weston’s Islamic Education Centre reckons that “about 80 per cent of the Koran is the same as the Bible.”

I don’t know where he gets this from, but I’d be very pleased to give him a Bible so he can read it for himself and re-evaluate his comment, for which there is no basis at all. Putting the beliefs of Christianity alongside the beliefs of Islam reveal stark differences and not the similarities he speaks of, but nonetheless, we can respect each other and the freedom we each have to believe as we choose.

The crux of the Bible is that God Himself comes to earth in Jesus Christ, His Son. Within a tainted and troubled world, He reveals His heart of love and mercy and He calls people into a new life through Himself in which they will receive ‘abundant life’ and eternal life.

Some believe, but many refuse to listen, and Jesus Christ, God’s Son is crucified. But this is His greatest act, for the Bible teaches that His blood is what pays for all our rebellion and wrongdoing and gives us the chance to be forgiven and reconciled with our Maker. This is His gift to us as we turn to Jesus.

The Bible account goes on to share how Jesus, risen from the dead, pours out the Holy Spirit on His followers, empowering them to live as new people, children of God, in the way He has taught, and with the promise that He will return in great triumph at the end of the age.

None of this is accepted by the Islamic faith. Although Jesus is mentioned in the Koran, He is not linked with these basic Christian beliefs found in the Bible. I find it curious, therefore, that the Islamic Centre’s leader should be encouraging us to believe there is a great similarity between the teaching of the Koran and the teaching of the Bible.

LIZ BAKER

Eastfield Park, Weston

Concerns

I WOULD like to comment on an article regarding residents’ concerns on the Oldmixon estate.

In the article a concerned group had walked out of a meeting of the residents’ association as they felt that the council/NSHousing and community leaders were failing to deal with issues which affect the estate.

I would also add the police have a role to play as antisocial behaviour and vandalism is part of their remit.

As I have had or tried to have input in the community, I would recommend a few letters to the relevant authorities involved are far more effective, though any complaint/press coverage is better than none.

I have complained to NSHousing/the council and the police regarding all issues referred to by the concerned residents.

I was on the board which helped to distribute �3.7million of regeneration money allocated to the four estates.

After a year-and-a-half of attending meetings and courses it was very obvious that the least amount was going to be spent on the Oldmixon, I believed that the estate needed a community hall to foster, in my opinion, good relations to all parties.

I was very vocal on this and was duly voted off the board. I was very proud, as I was the only one to have been voted off which proved to me that I was telling some inconvenient truths. I was instrumental however in getting wardens for the estate and indeed I interviewed them.

However I considered the wardens were failing after an impressive start and I complained to NSHousing regarding refuse and all the other issues which were still apparent.

After many months with no change in the situation I collected photographs from all the estates to prove my point.

I went to an adjudication panel at NSHousing headquarters at Portishead where they assumed that the warden was the problem which was not the case, as I now know that NSHousing was not going to prosecute anyone regarding rubbish/litter/warnings of antisocial behaviour, and as they do not have any powers to do so, left the warden to cope. He had to try to liaise with Streets and Open Spaces to clear litter and rubbish which I was reporting at very regular intervals, which agitated NSHousing and the local council as I insisted that they took action to resolve these issues.

I have just received a copy of NSH new look magazine ‘Insight’. It intends changing its name to Alliance Homes, I note the slogan on page three which says Same Company, Same People, New Name.

I contend that it should read Same Company, Same People, Same Problems and changing names will not change that.

Seeing the picture of the wardens with the backdrop of the new Portishead marina (with private yachts) it is very far removed from the reality of the Oldmixon estate.

The people/residents featured in the Mercury say they are fed up with reporting the same issues to, amongst others, local community leaders. On the estate (Oldmixon) there are a long-standing councillor and ex-mayor, and indeed the current mayor.

It appears that they are ready for a picture opportunity when there is a good public relations opportunity, but do not champion the estate in trying to resolve the issues which affect it.

They must be blind to the rubbish and antisocial behaviour going on in front of them.

North Somerset Council (NSC) of course is the authority which should be taking control of the situation. I decided to take my complaint to the local government ombudsman, having been through the process I believe that it is designed to sap the complainants’ resolve and commitment. The ombudsman has taken one and a half years to come to a conclusion as it has to wait for various replies from NSC. The outcome was that the council has had to apologise to me regarding an issue of the community parking areas which it was disputing regarding clearing rubbish.

Of course NSC does not cause these problems but when rubbish is found to have been dropped by mindless people, and can provide same, then they must prosecute. With regard to antisocial behaviour, fly tipping, litter, etc, NSH/Alliance Homes should have the power to act against its tenants as they are breaking the rules of their tenancy.

With regard to the private homes/renting etc, the police should be more proactive in tackling the problems.

DAVID JOHN TINAY

Dunster Crescent, Weston

Reservations

I TRAVELLED by train recently on a return journey from Weston to London Paddington.

I had bought the tickets and reserved the seats for both legs of the journey more than a week before travelling, at the Weston station booking office.

The total price for the trip, for myself (an OAP), my daughter, and two grandsons aged five, was �118.20 (including �28 for a family rail card). This did not include our onward journey across London, for which we paid a further �11.90. Total journey time for the return trip was 10 hours (not including time for travel to and from the station, a further 45 minutes each way).

Had I travelled by car, the journey would have taken six hours, door-to-door, and cost around �50 (taking into account fuel, wear and tear, insurance, etc).

On arrival at Paddington Station for our return journey we checked the ‘departures’ screens where our train appeared at ‘platform 2’ several minutes after its original departure time of 7.30pm. We found that there were no reservation cards in any of the seat backs, and people were sitting in our seats. One lady gave up her seat straightaway, two gentlemen did the same after a short discussion, but one gentleman refused steadfastly to do so for the duration of his own journey, which ended at Swindon at 9.50pm. Shortly after boarding, we heard an announcement that ‘all reservations were cancelled’.

I suppose that, wishing to save time and allow a train which was already late to leave Paddington relatively quickly, a decision was taken not to place the reservation cards in the seat backs, but I fail to understand why this was a service on which seat reservations was compulsory, anyone boarding the train without a seat reservation would have known that they could only expect standing room. The announcement added to the absence of any checking of tickets gave anyone in this position carte blanche to stay seated and dare the person deprived of a seat which they had reserved and paid for to ask them to move.

What the announcement should have done, was to request all passengers to use only the seats they had original reserved seat numbers are marked on the tickets, so there could have been no confusion about this, and it could easily have been checked and if necessary enforced by members of your staff present on the train).

ROSY DALEY

Moorham Road, Winscombe

Late again

YOU wait half an hour, it’s going to rain,

For the number seven bus, which is late again.

On the horizon – what’s that I see?

Three buses in convoy all coming towards me.

You jump on the bus, you’re very late, only to find the buses behind all overtake.

They say it is summer traffic, roadworks and cones,

But that won’t stop us all having a moan.

How did I find time to write this ditty?

I am waiting for the number seven bus, late again, such a pity.

D DAVIES

Monkton Avenue, Oldmixon, Weston

Buses

WHAT’S wrong with all the buses?

They’ve really got it wrong,

I’ve been waiting here for ages,

Then four have come along.

They overtake each other,

Just like they’re in a game,

Which one shall I get on?

I guess it’s all the same.

A little competition

Wouldn’t go amiss.

I think that’s what is needed,

We’re all fed up with this.

I’m late for my appointments,

It makes me look quite rude.

I feel that this is so unfair,

After all the time I’ve queued.

So come on pull your socks up

And get us there on time,

We need to know you’re on your way

And give us peace of mind.

B NEALE

Little George Street, Weston

I SALUTE the way the Mercury is working alongside North Somerset Council to find green-fingered volunteers who are passionate about plants and fanatical about flowers to come forward and maintain the town’s beautiful flowerbeds to keep them in blooming health after the council was looking to scrap its entire budget for flower maintenance, which could have lead to Weston’s colourful floral displays disappearing.

At the moment Grove Park, Clarence Park and the Floral Clock in Alexandra Parade with their glorious floral displays are a popular attraction for local residents and visitors.

Grove Park is a lovely park with a special feel to it and gives our community its sense of place, and the flower beds are a delight to the eye and a gem in a magical setting. Grove Park and Clarence Park are an important part of the nation’s heritage. They are well-loved by local people and tourists and play an enormously important part in the quality of thousands of people’s lives.

So let’s hope, with the help of green-fingered volunteers getting behind the worthwhile flower power campaign and a community effort we can save our beautiful flower displays across Weston and keep winning bloom competitions just like in the city of Bath.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

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