Letters to the Editor, August 29, 2013

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Sun shining

I READ with interest Felicity Baker’s letter in last week’s Mercury and came to the conclusion that North Somerset is wholly responsible for the success of Weston and the seafront throughout this year, I think not.

It surprises me that Felicity and North Somerset did not also take credit for the sun shining as well.

The success of our hotel is totally down to our 45 staff and extensive investment carried out over recent years, not North Somerset.

You said in your letter that on your return from holiday you were surprised to hear that a so-called tourism turf war had broken out in Weston. As executive member for tourism this would suggest to me that you are out of touch, not up to speed and have failed to understand what is going on inside Weston’s tourism industry.


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The redevelopment of the promenade was a grant from the regional development agency and not capital from North Somerset or the ratepayers of this area. Our pathetic sea defences will do nothing to stop us from being flooded should the same ferocious events reoccur as they did in 1981 and 1990. I was there at 6am in the morning on both occasions. Perhaps Felicity you could explain why we at the Sandringham along with others were flooded on Monday, August 5, this year with this new sea wall in place and no sea water to be seen. At the Grand Pier the height of the beach has increased by between four and six feet since 1990, increasing the possibility of flooding even more during high tides.

As for Dolphin Square, well Weston needs another five or six restaurants like we need a hole in the head, a 4,600 square feet unit next to the Premier Inn still remains vacant after 18 months, a new cinema that will kill off the Odeon and a new bowling alley to replace the one that was demolished. With North Somerset holding the monopoly on car parking who would want to come to the seafront anyway when restaurants and shops are opening on the outskirts of Weston offering free parking?

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As for the Weston Package, well there is no doubt that Highbridge, Burnham and Brean are already 10 years ahead of Weston and gaining ground under the guidance of Sedgemoor Council. A new Premier Inn, which people refer to as a white box in front of a white elephant, is hardly going to change the face of Weston. Felicity Baker failed to comment on the countless businesses that have been operating and investing in the town for many years making a considerable contribution to the town and the seafront.

As a representative of Portishead I would suspect that you have no idea who they are or what they represent. Unless I watch the television on the odd occasion I would have no idea who you are or what you represent. Come and see what has been achieved at this hotel. Our 90 rooms have attracted over 17,000 visitors to Weston this year alone.

No comment was made in your letter of the weather or sunshine that we have all been enjoying, all the events on the seafront that North Somerset wants to take the credit for could well have failed without the sunshine. Many events in the past have gone into receivership as a result of the weather. It is interesting to note that you come out of hiding to write when things have gone well this summer due to the weather and failed to comment or have any answers to things that have gone wrong in past previous bad years.

Our executive members rely on others like CBRE or DTZ to advise on whether the Tropicana would be a viable project or not, which must beg the question why were you and your executive members happy to accept that a £50million project by Henry Boot, MACE, etc, which no one wanted, would be a viable project and then to suggest that a £5million project would not be viable. As an executive member for tourism Felicity maybe you could give us all an answer.

With the sun shining on us all this year can you imagine how successful the new Tropicana would have been? It would have been without doubt bursting at the seams.

Had the weather been bad then the visitors to Weston would have been searching for somewhere to go, maybe they could be redirected to your neck of the woods at Portishead pool for a swim.

So come on Felicity as executive member for tourism come down off the fence and beat the drum for a Tropicana that will be viable under the guidance of the Trop group and a successful entrepreneur. Weston’s old slogan ‘Ever Forward’ has been dropped (I wonder why).

A new Tropicana would allow Weston to be worthy of its new slogan ‘Love Weston’. Ever Forward may then be re-instated. The voters of Worle in a recent election for the town and North Somerset Council have spoken; ignore them and future voters of Weston at your peril.

Regardless of the condition of the pool the dilapidated appearance at the front of the Tropicana is totally down to North Somerset and efforts to further its cause for demolition.

This area could and should be attractive and the frontage should have been open to the public this summer. A prominent businessman of Weston has offered to open this area and tend to the toilets at no cost to North Somerset without success, a no brainer once again.

Please advise me Felicity when you intend to meet with the town council as I, along with many others, would be more than interested to hear what you have to say in your defence of North Somerset, it should be advertised and held at the Winter Gardens for one and all to hear and make comment.

I trust that when on holiday as executive member for tourism you supported the British tourist industry or did you leave these shores for a warmer climate and sea to swim in?

K PERRETT

Sandringham Hotel, Victoria Square, Weston

Waste

A LETTER from Cllr Felicity Baker in last week’s Mercury denied any friction between the two local councils over the promotion of tourism.

My immediate reaction is to wonder why the town council has paid for a Tourist Information Office in the Sovereign Shopping Centre just 100 yards from the North Somerset Tourist Information Centre in the Winter Gardens.

It could be ‘two minds with but a single thought’ but it feels more like a silly waste of council taxpayers’ money.

Back in 1903 Weston formed an ‘Advertising Association’, incorporated in 1914, that was a made up of local hoteliers and traders working with a small committee of local councillors. This organisation promoted Weston with expertise over several decades without resorting to pointless efforts like the recent One Show that seemed to confuse Weston with Scotland.

Speaking purely for myself I long for a bit more expertise and a bit less plastic. You don’t ‘promote’ a town by making it look cheap.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Holiday season

OH HOW I agree with Kevin Evans letter in last week’s Mercury.

I for one get absolutely fed up with constantly having to read the name of Councillor Elfan Ap Rees in the Mercury.

It appears on practically every page, practically every week (apart from the ad pages of course, though I suspect he’d like to see it on them as well).

That guy is so full of his own self-importance and seems to think he is God’s gift to Weston. I assume he had a lot to do with the mindlessly stupid idea of doing all the work on the junction 21 roundabout in the middle of the holiday season. Clever guy. Just the kind of person we need on our council. Doesn’t think, doesn’t seem to care much for Weston, in spite of his protests, and the sooner I don’t have to read his name in the Mercury again, the happier I’ll be.

Let’s hope the fact that Derek Mead is now on North Somerset Council will shake a few people up.

He seems to be someone who actually cares about what happens to Weston, and doesn’t just use the council as a platform for self-promotion, as do so many others.

TERRI BORASH

Maysgreen Lane, Hewish

Expenses

IN A letter to last week’s Opinion DF Courtney tells us of the daily expenses of the RNLI.

If this person’s figures are correct, this institution receives £120million a year from charitable givers. Referring to recent press headlines ie ‘The scandal of bosses’ take home pay’ might we be told how much the RNLI ‘powers that be’ receive?

I have before me a list of 18 charities – worldwide – regularly appealing for a donation.

And at the age of 90-plus I have learned not to walk out into the Weston mud.

J MASON

Upper Bristol Road, Weston

Two Westons?

READING Ken Hunter’s and Kevin Evans’ over-wrought letters in last week’s Mercury, one could easily imagine that Councillor Elfan Ap Rees is personally to blame for everything that’s wrong in Weston and North Somerset.

But, as a regular reader, I sometimes wonder if there are two Westons? There’s one that your paper reports, presumably accurately. And there’s another, apparently parallel version which some of your contributors would have us believe also exists.

In ‘Name calling’, Mr Hunter bemoans yet again the fact that the Tropicana redevelopment has stalled. But doesn’t he know that neither North Somerset Council (NSC) nor Derek Mead’s Trop (WSM) Ltd have the money to fund the project? And it would be out of the question for the council to hand over the freehold of such a prime heritage site to a private company with no reserves.

And Mr Evans’ lengthy diatribe ‘Carbuncle’ asks ‘which company in its right mind is going to move into … an area on its knees?’ Well, quite a few apparently. Because, just a few weeks ago, the Mercury ran a lavish double-page feature ‘Town has attracted £150million to ensure jobs and a bright future’. It highlighted how Weston is currently the target of much new investment, destined to create thousands of jobs in the process. The report referred to the significant construction at Weston Gateway, Weston Business Quarter, Locking Parklands and a number of other exciting new projects. Add Dolphin Square, the new Promenade and the transport package to this and what greater proof can there be that development is already happening in our town? Both sides can’t be right so who should we believe, the Mercury or the armchair experts?

I’m no particular fan of Cllr Ap Rees or the Tory-controlled council, but swingeing Government budget cuts have put local authorities in an impossible position. NSC has to save £97million over the next few years so where does it start? It has to protect services for the elderly, the young, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable while maintaining all the other essential elements of society. It made a significant start by rationalising 18 costly buildings into just two, but there’s still much more to do. These problems are by no means unique to this area and only reflect the tough times being experienced throughout the country.

But if Mr Hunter and Mr Evans don’t like the way our representatives are running things on our behalf, then let them stand for election and discover that local government isn’t as easy as they think.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Paper over

WHAT a lovely letter from Councillor Elfan Ap Rees in the paper of August 15, trying to paper over the cracks but he did not enlighten anyone about the things that North Somerset Council has forced through with no excuses to the residents of Weston.

The lovely four-sided green clock that has pride of place on Weston seafront which was donated to the residents of Weston by Abbey Homes, not to North Somerset Council.

Most seaside resorts have a clock on the front and are proud of it.

The closing of toilets on the front. There should have been one put in the new Carlton Street car park. The first thing people want when they have been travelling a long way is a toilet.

I have written to the council about all the inside lights at the top of the Town Hall which are on every day. If the council turned them off in the daytime look at the saving it could make in a year because the Town Hall is very well lit without these lights. Don’t forge the council has got to save £92million by 2018 and it doesn’t want anyone to restore the Tropicana because it wants it demolished so it can have another car park on the beach.

MR E HAYCOCK

Beach Road, Weston

Esperanto

AS THE Cold War is in the news again, perhaps it is a good time to explain its connection with the founding of Woodspring Esperanto Circle, and the Weston Mercury?

Quakers in Winscombe have always striven for peace, and when relations between Britain and Russia were poor, they set up an East-West Friendship Group. In 1984 they almost gave up, as they could not learn Russian, and when this was reported in the Mercury, I wrote to the editor, as an Esperanto-speaker, suggesting that they should learn Esperanto and make friends with a Russian family living in Rostov-on-Don, whom I had already met on an Esperanto course in communist Czechoslovakia.

After learning the language for only six weeks, 20 members of the group, including Marie King, visited not only those Esperanto speakers, but also others in Leningrad and Moscow.

The use of Esperanto was so enjoyable that, on her return, Marie set up the circle, with weekly practice sessions in her home in Weston. The circle was very active for the next 20 years, making friends on an equal basis with Esperanto groups in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and staying in their homes. Letters in Esperanto were exchanged with many other nationalities, worldwide.

In 1989, the circle staged an Esperanto Week, during which they hosted their foreign friends. They showed them Weston, Cheddar, Wells, Glastonbury, gave them an Esperanto quiz to do, during a visit to the National Trust mansion in Montacute, and took them to the World Esperanto Congress, held that year in Brighton, attended by 3,000 people from 70 countries.

As Esperanto is not taught in our schools, no younger Esperanto-speakers took their place when the members grew too old to travel, and the circle broke up in 2006; but recently, because of the internet, a very strange thing happened. Not realising that the Mercury now had a website, I had an article published in the Mercury in June, giving my email address (david.r.curtis@btopenworld.com) and hoping to revive the circle. Nobody in this area responded, there being no Cold War, but a student of English in Columbia, South America, misunderstood the article, and volunteered to join!

The Government now expects our primary schools to teach a foreign language, and it could be Esperanto, if teachers were to visit the Springboard to Languages website.

DAVID R CURTIS

St Judes Terrace, Weston

GP practice

I WOULD like to reply to an article of last week on the Boulevard GP practice.

As health panel chairman, I have ensured the public and members have received information quickly, and with information to enable action to be taken. Earlier this year it came to my attention that there may be a problem with this location, the panel has kept a close watchful eye on the situation, and immediately I was informed of the latest situation. I ensure it was passed to patients and members of the panel.

Unfortunately at present there are no interested parties in the new tender of GP services. I also have concerns for ‘BrisDocs’ out-of-hours service which was to operate from there also.

Due to budge constraints the health trainers are now to operate from a different venue – which will leave the ‘rental budget’ of that service to be used elsewhere in the health budget.

I would inform all patients that would like to hear details of the situation to attend the Health Overview Scrutiny Panel on September 26 at 1.30pm in Weston Town Hall. If anyone wishes to attend to hear the debate would you please call 01934 888888 and inform the scrutiny office you will be attending.

There is a very small amount of time for public speaking, and this needs to be notified by noon the day before (September 25), but please be aware that I am only able to allow very few speakers, due to time, and the agenda.

Please contact me via the North Somerset Council website, and I assure you that I and my panel members will do our best to move this very difficult situation to a better conclusion.

Finally if anyone knows a GP or practice, please remind them we need an offer in please to keep this open, as without a GP we are not going to save this.

COUNCILLOR ROZ WILLIS

Chairman NS Health Panel

Ashbury Drive, Weston

Lucky

AFTER reading your letters in the Mercury, August 22, I reckon I’ve been so lucky.

I was travelling from Morrisons towards Banwell when this green bus – travelling at speed – came from nowhere and nearly took me out. How he didn’t hit the side of my car I just don’t know.

If these road works are ‘improving road safety’ I dread to think what might happen there these next few months.

P GOODFELLOW

Tor View, Cheddar

Union flag

THE decision by Congresbury Parish Council to fly the Union Flag every day from the flag staff outside its offices in the Old School Rooms was mistaken.

To fly the Union Flag daily cheapens it. When the Queen is in residence in one of her properties, the Royal Standard is flown over that property. It would detract from its significance if it was flown every day regardless of whether or not she was in residence. A similar principle applies to the Union Flag which should only be flown on those days, like the Queen’s birthday, which are stipulated.

For the rest of the year, if a flag is flown it should be the English flag, ie, red cross on white. Although it is associated with St George, it was the English flag before St George was adopted as the patron saint, replacing St Edward the Confessor and St Edmund (the first patron saint of the English).

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Thank you

I AM writing on behalf of The Chalice Morris Men to say thank you to everyone who donated to our recent fundraising day for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The bucket collections made while we were dancing in Burnham and in Weston and whilemy head and beard were being shaved raised £500, and when all the money has been collected it looks as if my head and beard shave will have raised more than £1,000 on top of this. A fantastic amount of money and well beyond what I would have expected.

Everyone is very pleasantly surprised by the amount raised for this really good cause, and we all appreciate the donations given.

GEOFF WILMOTT

Lyddon Road, Worle

Cyclists

ANOTHER letter about the inconsiderate way some motorists treat cyclists.

True, the Highway Code does state that that cyclists should be given the same space as a car, but it also states that cyclists should give precedence and a little consideration to pedestrians, which they very seldom do.

The treatment of pedestrians by cyclists is much worse than the way cyclists are treated by motorists with the verbal abuse which always includes a good helping of four letter expletives.

When a pedestrian is collided with there is usually no apology as it’s your own fault for being there and off they go.

Should a car collide with a cyclist however minor it is registration and insurance details and a possible compensation claim.

Pedestrians have no means of identifying a cyclist, so why can they not have some means of identification and third party insurance?

ROBERT LOWE

The Swallows, Locking Castle

Cats being killed

I AM writing to you in response to an article that was published in your local paper this week, about cats being killed or attacked by foxes.

Let me start by saying I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in all my life. To my understanding of foxes and cats they live more in perfect harmony than most cats and dogs.

On my very early morning travels, I have seen many a cat and fox together, I have seen feral cats nestled up with foxes in sleeping dens. There are two main problems we have got at the moment, to do with cats.

Firstly, there are horrible people about stealing cats, dogs, etc, and using them as bait for training fighting dogs.

Also silly people who offer the pets away free to a good home are also running the risk of their pets ended up as dog meat for training fight dogs. They get innocent-looking women to come around, saying how lovely the animal is, and how she will give it a loving new home for free, and sadly this is not the case at all.

The second thing is stupid letters about foxes killing cats is just another nail in the coffin for our beautiful wildlife.

We are already trying to fight the corner of innocent badgers that are being pointlessly killed just in the hope it may or may not stop the TB in cattle with no real overpowering proof. Why is there not a cull on rats with all the disease they bring to our environment too? The list is endless.

Silly people, writing silly letters about foxes are just adding more and more bad feelings towards our ever-dying wildlife.

It’s not foxes that cats need to watch out for it’s fast cars, and horrible despicable people.

Letters like this about foxes are just another way of trying to aggravate the small minority of people who cannot see past their own curtains. You are more likely to get a cat attack a fox through territory than the other way around.

KIM HATHWAY

Dunster Crescent, Oldmixon

Concern

THE planning applications for the hospital refer to a Travel Plan which shall be maintained and renewed annually in perpetuity.

Does this not address the concern of local residents or is it nothing more than covering the issuing of bus timetables and encouraging car sharing? There is an unused area at the rear of the site, could this not be used for staff car parking?

PETER BARRINGTON

Hutton Hill, Hutton

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