Letters to the Editor, August 1, 2013

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What cost?

I REFER to the article by Becky Parker regarding the 5,000 travellers descending on Hewish. Perhaps the headline should have read ‘Village under siege’ as it would have been more appropriate. What the article does highlight though, is how out of touch the local authority is. It is quite insulting, if the quote by the North Somerset Council spokesman is true, that from its point of view it was going pretty well with no major complaints.

Perhaps this spokesman would like to comment on the fact that a local business has had to hire security guards at £14 per hour - that is a bill of over £2,300, so he can have people removed from behind his property - that was just one business. I know of at least three other businesses which had to employ security.

What cost to the local farmers who had to secure each and every field entrance? What cost to the police to remove the illegally parked caravans on the pub car park? What cost to the police for the helicopter surveillance over the site on the numerous occasions it was used? What cost to the police for the extra manpower being brought in from other areas?

Who will pick up the bill for all this? Guess, the taxpayer again. Yes, the taxpayers who were criticised by Elfan Ap Rees when they exercised their democratic right to object to the traveller site in Weston.


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This attitude by the council is all too common. We don’t see a problem, therefore there is no problem. When will it learn that we are sick of this attitude?

Strange isn’t it, we had a local farmer put on a fundraising event for charity recently. He had to jump through the usual hoops with the associated costs. He raised quite a few thousand for local charity. We then have over 5,000 travellers descend on our community. It costs them nothing, but it costs locals and all North Somerset taxpayers thousands.

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PETER JONES

Hewish

Underfunding

I AM very concerned that Weston General Hospital is at risk of being lost to the NHS and franchised out, in whole or in part, to a private corporation, or to a social enterprise who may later either choose or be forced to, pass it on to a private corporation.

Weston’s present financial troubles are, as you know, due to decades of under funding.

In the 1990s the Local Commissioning Group of GPs established, with the help of an official accountant, that North Somerset was underfunded to the tune of £3million a year.

It is no wonder therefore that Weston Area Health Trust has a debt of £5million, and it is important that the Department of Health understand the historic underfunding of our area.

This is an extremely complex matter, but in the end it makes no logical sense to try to solve a funding problem by passing it to a corporation which will inevitably draw off funds to pay shareholder dividends and bonuses for directors.

I am well aware that the Health Minister will dismiss the idea that Weston hospital is being privatised, and will stress that it is only being “put out to franchise”.

We must not be naïve. Many Cabinet members have financial stakes in the health industry and the effect of all of the 13 recent NHS ‘reorganisations’ has been favourable the process of privatisation. Placing Weston in the hands of a private corporation is privatisation, no matter what term may be applied to the process.

John Penrose MP has made Weston’s health services a top priority in his political platform. I hope therefore that he will be campaigning strongly and publicity to keep Weston hospital firmly within the NHS, and look forward to his reassurance on this point.

DR RICHARD LAWSON

Dolberrow, Churchill

Negative press

OH DEAR, so now it’s the paramedics’ turn for a negative press is it, front page of the Mercury, July 18?

If it isn’t Weston General Hospital, it’s the police. Paramedics, as do the other services, risk their lives every time they go to help someone ill, in danger, or trouble and I’m sure we would not want or expect them to take unnecessary risks to themselves or to anyone else.

Does no-one ever stop to think of the terrible things they must all see and at times have to deal with?

These are not jobs one would do while looking for something else.

They all take a great deal of courage, sheer dedication and a very special type of person.

Let us not forget that because we do not hear police, paramedics and fire sirens after a certain hour at night they are not enjoying the safety of their homes, or tucked up snugly in their beds as you and I are.

The paramedics do not always feel it necessary to use their sirens but they too have been seen quite often lately dashing along Baker Street to some poor soul’s aid.

So while letters of thanks, let alone praise, for the wonderful people seldom appear in the press, do we really have any right to complain?

G N Fletcher

Baker Street, Weston

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The front page story of the Weston Mercury on July 18 was reporting comments made by the coroner and the criticism of Weston General Hospital was in a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

This was followed by a more complimentary story which was about CQC’s follow-up visit to the hospital.

Minor crimes

AVON and Somerset Police claim that all recorded crime is down, but what constitutes crime?

No doubt serious crime is down but there are so many minor crimes that seem to have disappeared off the radar.

There are cyclists who no longer have lights at night, tear along pavements and take no notice of traffic signals.

Cars are parked on double yellow lines, on pavements and also street corners.

Drivers still use their mobile phones whilst driving and forget their seat belts. At night they roar around urban streets at well over the speed limit and nobody stops them.

I have seen motorcyclists racing along pavements and unlicensed mobility scooters driven in the middle of the road.

The list is endless and we see it all going on, shake our heads and get on with our lives.

They maybe minor crimes but they are crimes nonetheless.

The police will not take action because, although they know what is going on, their time is spent on more major crime.

Recorded crime only refers to reported crime and we all know that the police would just laugh at us if we telephoned them with every incident we observed.

I would therefore refute the statement that all crime is down because so much crime is not important anymore.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Aware

WHAT an unexpected pleasure to finally see a happy front page on The Mercury, then also to discover that most of the contents were bearable to read. I am obviously referring to last week’s Beatles 50 year anniversary special.

I stopped buying the Mercury several years ago.

The final straw came when you published the awful photograph of the poor cat a few weeks ago.

I made the decision then to finally stop looking at the Mercury headlines if I happened to see them in a shop.

Our society is in a dreadful mess and many of us older people (I am 57) are extremely aware of this.

But you know, there is only so much bad news and negativity that the human spirit can bear to be exposed to and the Mercury exacerbates the real and deep concern that many of us are already feeling.

So why not make it the Mercury’s task to endeavour to raise the spirits of the residents of Weston – please raise the spirit of our town. Please have a go.

JACKIE DOBBS

Crookes Lane, Kewstoke

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Thank you for your comments, we appreciate any sort of feedback from our readers, whether they be regular, occasional or, like you, lapsed. You are right, sometimes it can appear that much of the news we carry is ‘bad’.

When you look a little closer however, and you take into account ALL the stories in the Mercury – not just the ones with the big headlines – you will see there is plenty of good, positive, news being reported too.

It is a fact of life, however, that people seem more willing to tell newspapers about the bad things that are happening than the good – it is an obstacle that we, too, find frustrating at times.

As a conscious effort to spread some positivity, we launched a ‘Celebrating Weston’ campaign a few weeks ago. We are trying to encourage everyone to look on the brighter side of life and tell us about the good things that are happening in our town.

If it is to be a success, we need our readers to get behind it.

Hopefully they will.

Birnbeck Pier

FORGET the four on the front page. Let’s get it into reality. What’s behind them?

A real Birnbeck Pier, with complete walkway, a real lifeboat station with concrete launch pad and a ferry pickup and departure pier within the island.

Being a born and bred person of Weston my memory at 58 years tell me so much of what used to be. I can remember learning to swim at four and a half at Knightstone Baths which is flats now. So many things are going here. Yes, I can remember The Tropicana and I give my full support to the shorter name of Nightingale.

Dare I say this again in the Mercury? We about the Bristol Channel have the second highest tidal range in the world. That is a problem at low tide when you have to walk through the mud all that way. Come back Tropicana or open air swimming pool.

NEIL DUDLEY

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

Rubbish

THE whole of the Grove Village area is being spoilt by rubbish in the streets.

There are a great many flats in the region and I fully understand that residents have to put bags out on a daily basis, especially during hot weather.

The problem is caused by seagulls that tear the bags apart and scatter the contents in search of waste food.

The result is like a war zone for about five hours until the street cleaners arrive to tackle the clear-up. It does leave a very bad impression on our visitors who call on me from 5am each morning to buy a newspaper.

On this particular morning (July 27) a visitor had spotted hypodermic needles on the food stained pavement following a seagull attack.

The risk to health is obvious and plain to see.

To the council I say - please may we have a couple of large centralised bins with lids that residents can put their bags in. It seems to work perfectly well in other countries and would be cheaper than supplying bird-proof bags as Bath council has done. The bins would only need to be emptied once a week thus saving money by not sending in the daily clean-up team.

The benefits to all concerned would be innumerable.

RICHARD COLKIN

Colkin Bros, West Street, Weston

Nearest station

I CALLED 101 after my parked car was hit this evening at approximately 7.10pm by a driver who then went on his way without leaving any information.

A couple of men in the van behind took a photo of his registration number.

I was told I had to go to my nearest station which is now in the Town Hall, Weston.

Having been told they shut at 8pm I went as soon as possible.

Arriving at 7.45pm I was told by the women behind the counter: “It takes 40 minutes to fill out one of those reports and our computers are off. Come back tomorrow”. What? I then told her I am indeed working all day Saturday then driving straight to Devon with my children. She told me I had 24 hours to report or there is nothing they can do, I should report in Devon.

Another woman said: “I’ll turn the computer back on and we’ll just quickly do it” the first said: “No”. I have done nothing wrong here, I am the victim.

Since then I have been reliably informed that I could not report in Devon as this is not the county it happened in. Nor have I got just 24 hours, that’s for people who fail to stop not for their victims.

I feel this should be made public as if anything should happen and you become a victim of crime, make sure you have left enough time to get the forms filled out rather than rely on a closing time.

KATIE MACCALL

Station Road, Sandford

Clarify

FOLLOWING a number of letters from readers, I would like to clarify the council’s policy regarding resurfacing of roads.

North Somerset Council uses specialised computer surveying to prioritise repairs to prolong the life of its roads.

The surveys show defects in the road surface which are not necessarily clear to the naked eye. In some cases, roads that look in adequate condition are found to be lacking in texture, skid resistance and have signs of rutting.

A lack of texture and skid resistance reduces the braking distances for vehicles especially in the wet. Rutting is where the road deforms in the wheel tracks due to concentrated wheel pressures. These ruts are prone to collecting water which worsen ride quality and increase braking distances.

The survey process supports the council’s priority to carry out works which will extend the lifespan of the road rather than using quick fix solutions such as filling potholes.

Dangerous potholes will still be filled where necessary but council funds are better spent on prevention rather than cure.

Despite the financial pressures facing the council, we will still spend more than £6.6million on more than 50 road and drainage schemes in the current financial year. This is £1.9million more than last year.

DARREN GILBERT

Highway and Environmental Asset Team Manager

North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

Resurfaced

FOLLOWING the letter regarding Beach Road being resurfaced (when not needing it).

The road in question now has cars parked on new areas marked for cyclists.

If you go off piste, so to speak, you will be met by potholes on most roads.

It would appear then that all of this is for the visitor not for the people who actually pay for it (the ratepayer).

Why is it that most people I speak to say the local council has no interest in the local people and of the wishes of them? The Trop for example.

D TINAY

Dunster Crescent, Weston

Footpath cyclists

I WRITE regarding the ever-growing problem of cyclists on public footpaths.

My experiences are of cyclists shouting ‘get out of the way’ on several occasions.

The police appear to be ignoring the problem.

I would like something done before someone is injured and that includes my guests who have also brought this to my attention.

JOHN CHRISTOPHER

Milton Lodge Hotel, Milton Road, Weston

Skirting Science

IN AN article on page 19 of the Weston Mercury of July 18 Weston College refers to its participation in Skirting Science at Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College.

Readers of the Mercury may be interested in more information about this event.

Skirting Science is the brainchild of the women’s service club Soroptimist International of Weston and has taken place annually since 2009.

Its aim is to interest girls in science and expand their ideas about what science can do and how relevant it is to everybody; also to demonstrate what exciting careers there are in science.

On one day people from academia and industry present interactive workshops to year nine schoolgirls from all over North Somerset and beyond.

For four years Skirting Science took place at Hans Price Academy then this year it moved to Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College.

Some of the topics covered this year were Build your own Robot, Body Armour, the Chemistry of Perfume, Plane Cabin Design and Nanomaterials.

Feedback from girls, teachers and workshops is always positive and now Soroptimist clubs in other parts of the country are also putting on Skirting Science days.

It has attracted the interest of eminent physicist Heather Williams who also works towards getting more girls into science with her sciencegrrl.co.uk website.

In 2011 Skirting Science achieved recognition at the International Convention of Soroptimist International - it was named Best Project in the world – and there are 90,000 members in 3,000 clubs worldwide.

So Soroptimists in Weston started something of which the town should be proud and indeed the town council and North Somerset Council have supported us over the five years.

Thank you, Weston College, for drawing attention to Skirting Science.

MELANIE DAVID

Skirting Science committee, Soroptimist International of Weston, Oakridge Lane, Sidcot

A pile of stone

I NOTED the letter from Mr Ling in last week’s Mercury in which he regretted the state of the historic Peak Wina cairn in Weston Woods.

With apologies to him, but in the spirit of historical accuracy, I have to point out that the present pile of stone is just a pile of stone.

Some six decades ago a disreputable local builder or two began removing stones from the encampment for their own use. In the process they took the old cairn and the sign that explained it. Some years later the local authority decided to put it back but could not remember where (and didn’t ask) so put up a new cairn in the wrong place.

Personally I think the story about fishermen is very silly. Why would a man going from Weston village to Birnbeck, carrying a load of fish baskets, climb to the top of the hill?

It is very likely that the cairn marked a site of some king, but our old fishermen were a pragmatic bunch and not given to stupidity.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Go Kids Go!

THE Go Kids Go! project, jointly promoted by the Mercury and the Lions club, gave away £10,000 in grants at a presentation at the Real Ale and Cider Festival.

The project aims to encourage physical activity in children and young people.

The money comes from generous local businesses and organisations. The Grand Pier, Nightingales, Howard Group, Mead Group, the town council, Carnival Committee, Sovereign Shopping Centre as well as the Mercury and Lions club donate to this worthy cause.

This year 19 organisations benefited from this generosity, from football clubs to community farms. Next year we hope to do even better.

MALCOLM TIMMIS

Weston Lions Club, Shrubbery Road, Weston

Thanks

I WOULD like to express my thanks to all the people in the North Worle and Worle East wards who voted for me as the Labour Party candidate in the recent by-elections held on July 25.

To have lost by just 39 votes in the town council election shows just how close this election was and how strong the support for the Labour Party continues to be in the Weston area.

Both the Weston Labour Party and I will continue to work hard and campaign on behalf of all the people of Worle and Weston to hold our elected representatives to account.

DENISE HUNT

Azalea Road, Wick St Lawrence

Motorcycles

THANK you for your article in July 11 issue, drawing attention to the increase in motorcycle accidents this year.

The idea of re-assessment shows that attention and thought is being given to this aspect of road safety and is welcome in that respect, but to what standard, and would this be practical logistically? Also if for motorcyclists, why not car drivers?

Can I suggest that another way forward, which already exists, is to promote training to a higher level, in both bike handling and road skills?

The subject of cornering is a good example. You mention that five of the fatalities involved motorcyclists going too fast into bends. On the face of it this does not necessarily mean that they were travelling at very high speeds or even exceeding the speed limit. Possibly some may have been, but perhaps some were just beyond the limit of their riding skill and experience. Whilst one rider may fail to take a corner safely at a certain speed, another rider with more training may take it easily and safely at the same speed. Riding (or driving) within speed and safety limits is, of course, very important, but not the only solution. Knowing how to corner properly is one of the important aspects of more advanced riding.

There are a number of ways in which riders can improve their riding skills, such as through training schools, courses run by manufacturers, the BikeSafe scheme, ROSPA and the IAM. Our local IAM club, Cheddar Valley Advanced Motorcyclists, continuously runs the IAM Skills for Life programme, which covers aspects of motorcycle control such as cornering, and roadcraft skills using the same system which is used by the police and other emergency services. Ever seen one of these guys looking like he’s trying to go fast? Other than in an emergency I mean. Chances are he is making good progress as they say, he just looks cool because he can really ride well. It’s the training.

In the IAM Skills for Life programme, rider training is carried out on a one-to-one basis with one of the club’s trained observers, plus occasional theory days in small groups.

Anyone who may be interested please have a look at our website www.cvam.info, come along to a club night, or book an assessment ride with one of our observers. It could save a spill or worse, but it will definitely increase the pleasure to be had from riding better.

PETER ASHDOWN

Bristol Road, Congresbury

Beatles Upbeat

tHANK you so much for my winning tickets to see Beatles Upbeat at the Playhouse.

A fantastic show with wonderful music of course, bringing back memories of seeing the Beatles at the Odeon 50 years ago.

GRACE MONK

Westbrook Road, Weston

THE Lions Club of Weston would like to thank all our sponsors, suppliers, customers, friends and families who supported us over the last weekend at the Real Ale and Cider Festival.

We shared a most good-natured and convivial time sampling some of the 50 ales and ciders on offer, with great music, in sunshine and rain.

More than 160 local businesses and individuals supported us as sponsors. Our (local) suppliers gave us very advantageous terms. Our members, friends and families worked, as usual, for no payment.

The money raised will go towards the total of some £40,000 raised - and spent, on innumerable good causes, mainly local, by the club on your behalf. An excellent example of this is Go Kids Go!, directly supported by funds from the festival.

We can’t do it without you, Weston! Thank you. We hope to see more of you in 2014.

JOHN HOLLAND

Weston Lions Club

Ashcombe Gardens, Weston

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