Letters to the Editor, August 15, 2013

Inspectors published their report this week

Inspectors published their report this week - Credit: Archant

Newbies

IT WAS interesting to read some of the comments from readers in the last issue on several different subjects, ranging from parking to tennis, from Trop to travellers, especially as I have just been turfing out old council papers and newspaper cuttings from the mid 1980s.

Then, no one ever accused me of not being a Weston supporter because I lived 500 metres outside the town boundary. After all I went to school with quite a few of them, but now the moaning newbies seem to think Locking is a foreign country.

In the 1980s I see I was oft quoted in the Mercury as speaking in favour of and trying to put a roof on the Tropicana, something I had argued for nearly 10 years. I also led WOODPROC (Woodspring Environmental Protection Campaign), along with other concerned local residents and councillors like John Crockford-Hawley and Peter Crew, your regular letter writer Brian Austin, Bob Smart of the Civic Society and others ... all arguing with the Government of the day and Avon County Council, who then wanted to build a Locking Castle housing estate over twice the size we eventually saw. We even took a petition to Number10. Thirty years later I find I’m still fighting that fight, trying to contain housing numbers and promote jobs and yes, I still vehemently oppose a return to anything resembling Back to Avon!

Apart from that, what has changed? Well I am certainly older with 40-plus years of political scars, but a shade more tolerant these days. However I have also become more pragmatic, no longer tilting at windmills. I still fight for Weston, despite still wanting to preserve that green strip twixt town and village and still believe in speaking out and making an effort, not just moaning, which maybe is why I am the doomsayer letter writers’ favourite target of the month.


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So let’s start with Grove Park and the old tennis courts. Yes, it’s sad that the facility declined and now looks an eyesore, but I don’t recall the protesters writing now actually doing anything constructive in the past. Did they fundraise to restore them after the council made clear it could not afford to? Or are they are still thinking of the 1980s (or even the 1880s) and not moved on? Grove Park was and still is a wonderful asset for Weston, but don’t they realise if we do nothing the area will just get worse? Money no longer grows on the trees and we have to find new and modern ways of providing sports provision.

My personal view is that new courts in a more sustainable location, where there can be shared supervision and instruction available, are better than nothing at all, whilst tidying up the area by the sensory garden with landscaping instead of rusty torn fencing, and removing long-term car parking from Lower Church Road, will improve the immediate Grove Park setting, reduce local congestion and benefit the Playhouse and the Blakehay, two important nearby leisure and arts facilities. How so?

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Simple. A larger car park, used by some who now clog Lower Church Road all day, will help bring in revenue to pay for improving Grove Park and hopefully enough to allow the council to cut back the pay-and-display limit there at least to 8pm, meaning that evening audiences at those two venues will no longer be faced with lengthy parking charges. In turn that may encourage larger audiences. To me it’s a pragmatic win-win.

And whilst we are talking parking, did you know there are more car owning residents in the town centre area around Hopkins Street than there are available parking spaces, so how would the council share out local residents’ parking permits fairly without fighting in the streets? Frankly, not being Solomon, I’ve no idea but the local serial complainer from that street, may have an answer? And perhaps he can also suggest how the street cleaners mentioned by another Hopkins Street reader, will still be able to do their ‘excellent work’ with cars parked all day blocking access and how the police will enforce the permits, because the council won’t have the authority. On past performance I suspect the law has greater priorities and parking in such zones would become a free-for-all, like it was before. At least now most residents can legally park near their front door to unload the shopping and passengers.

Meanwhile back to Tropicana. Well, over the many years that I have wrestled with the problem (a lot more than most I suspect), discussed possible solutions with officers, members and residents of all persuasions, and watched various proposals come forward and fail, I have finally accepted that the only way to resolve the Tropicana question is not to try and prop up an almost 80-year-old concrete and steel structure, that a series of independent professionals have said is impossible to restore to profit, and will corrode even faster with a roof on it.

Instead I would rather fight for a brand new facility on the seafront, developed commercially and not expecting regular hand-outs, subsidies, and the money to build it diverted from other community and infrastructure facilities needed for the new houses, that we don’t want but the same developer is pressing to build! I’ve seen too many sleights of hands and magic rabbits to be fooled again.

And finally if we have local residents living in overcrowded conditions in caravan accommodation should we turn a blind eye simply because their new age or Romany lifestyle isn’t the same as mine? So long as they are law abiding I firmly believe they deserve equal treatment. Now that’s one lesson I have learned since we first had a travellers site forced upon Weston by Avon. Now I realise that there are far worse members of society in some areas living in bricks and mortar. Hence my stance.

Of course that doesn’t mean I will I defend those who descend on the town for a couple of weeks, law breaking and cause mayhem! However in my experience that’s not typical of the majority. Don’t say either that only travellers fly-tip and dump rubbish, before you have seen the fish ‘n’ chip boxes littering the seafront on a busy weekend, or the overflowing black sacks in the back streets and corners around parts of the town centre, or the household clearances abandoned on top of Bleadon Hill on a regular basis.

OK, now I am sure that’s more than enough for the complaints to roll in, and certainly I have been around long enough to know that those who agree with me will remain silent, whilst the regular critics will still find reason to disagree with everything I say and probably believe that they can criticise councillors but councillors mustn’t criticise them.

Well tough, that’s life.

ELFAN AP REES

Town Hall, Weston

Night shelter

I SAW your article in last week’s Mercury which stated that the proposed night shelter in Weston was now not going to happen.

I would just like to clarify that this is in no way associated with our Comfort at Christmas shelter, and that we will be open as usual over the Christmas holiday.

JON CODD

Chairman, Comfort and Warmth Charity (sponsors of Comfort at Christmas)

Bisdee Road, Hutton

Rubbish

I WOULD like to comment on your recent article concerning the amount of rubbish out on the pavements in the area of Alfred Street and Weston town centre.

My journey to work at around 8am each day takes me through Alfred Street and I must say it is an absolute obstacle course trying to avoid all this rubbish, in fact on some occasions it has been so bad that I have been forced to walk onto the road to get to my destination just off the Boulevard. Although the council contractors continue to clear this extra rubbish during the morning, the following morning it is in the same state as the day before.

I clearly remember the local councillor for central ward promised to make addressing the ‘on street rubbish’ situation in this area an absolutely priority in his election literature: what happened to that election promise? Yes you’ve guessed absolutely nothing. So much for election promises as it appears that once elected the promises get overlooked.

JOCELYN E HOLDER

Severn Road, Weston

Freehold

SIMON Wotton in his letter to the Mercury on August 8 highlights my problem with the Trop (WSM) Ltd wanting the freehold of the Tropicana site.

What if, after its best endeavours, the company went bust?

The liquidators would sell the assets to the highest bidder, with the likely outcome that a block of flats would be built on the site.

I would love the Tropicana to be resurrected but I certainly will not be prepared to let the freehold be transferred from local authority control.

CLLR CLIVE WEBB

St Pauls Road, Weston

Figures

IN LAST week’s Mercury, Simon Wotton asks why North Somerset Council (NSC) won’t allow a new Tropicana to be funded from ‘the private purse’. The answer is simple – irrespective of party politics, the figures have to add up.

Perhaps Mr Wotton isn’t aware that there have already been three unsuccessful attempts to redevelop the crumbling pool in the last 13 years. All failed for economic reasons. And the latest effort by Trop (WSM) Ltd has also foundered under the same circumstances. Derek Mead’s Tropicana plan was rejected as being financially unviable not only by NSC but also international property experts DTZ and English Heritage too. Even local businessman Richard Nightingale, who came very close to winning the bid in 2011 recently criticised Trop (WSM) Ltd’s scheme as needing to be ‘fully funded and sustainable’.

But it’s not just about the money. Mr Wotton also asks why NSC can’t simply sell the freehold of the site to Trop (WSM) Ltd, who says it will be demolished if it can’t be developed. But the council has a fiduciary duty to us taxpayers to seek the best value from any sale or transfer of the site. It would have to go through an open tendering process to ensure that happened, so it can’t just hand the place over to the current bidder. Moreover, if NSC wanted to lease the seafront location for a specific development, it would also have to go through a lengthy and costly EU procurement process. Besides, contrary to public perception, Trop (WSM) Ltd is not a well-meaning community interest organisation or ‘a group of business people who have joined forces’ but a private limited company, with only two shareholders.

Furthermore, surrendering the freehold of such a sensitive, valuable heritage site would open NSC to immense criticism if further, inappropriate development took place beyond its control. Look at the continuing furore over the future of the Royal Pier Hotel – just imagine what would happen if the Tropicana was earmarked for similar controversial redevelopment. Of course Weston needs a new swimming pool but, Mr Wotton, things are never quite as straightforward as they might seem.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Exchange

IS IT not time that North Somerset Council actually told the residents of Weston why they are so against any local group developing the Tropicana?

What is the fear? The council has never been scared of undertaking questionable projects such as the Redrow development of the Knightstone which in the beginning was supposed to generate a substantial profit but actually cost taxpayers a considerable amount.

Castlewood went ahead even though the savings quoted will never be achieved and the building itself may have been bought at above market value.

Portishead was allowed to refurbish its open air pool paid by local subscription and some assistance from the council.

Clevedon pier refurbishment was also supported by some council input.

The only companies that have been given permission to develop the Tropicana have not been local, every application or expression of interest from local groups have been turned down or blocked from the beginning.

The recent exchange between Councillor Lake and The One Show showed how blinkered and indifferent the council is to Weston’s needs and gives a clear indication that under no circumstances will the Tropicana be allowed to go ahead. Why? A nationally respected and well-known businessman has the funds to take the risk. Anyone that knows Mr Mead understands he has an impressive success rate on projects he undertakes and would not be involved in this venture unless he was convinced it would be worthwhile.

There is obiviously some inlaying issue that needs to be made public? Why else would the council spend £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on accountants to disprove a business plan when they did not take the same due diligence with Castlewood, Knightstone and other projects that failed.

There can be no rational argument that would prevent the development of the Tropicana by Mr Mead so what is the council’s problem?

JAMES A DOBSON

Swan Close, Weston

Boost cycling

NORTH Somerset Council wants to spend more than £250,000 on a scheme to boost cycling, you’ve guessed it, around Portishead.

Weston sits at the centre of a town region, between Clevedon and Burnham, which is ideal for cycling, walking and trekking. Money spent here could provide a real boost to the local economy, instead it is to go to the relevantly privileged area of Portishead, which along with Clevedon lies within Greater Bristol.

To fully realise the potential of Weston Town region would require cross border co-operation with Sedgemoor and Mendip districts, but North Somerset Council cannot even co-operate with Weston Town Council.

The problem of cycling on pavements in Weston is in large part due to the failure oflaws to be enforced, but cycling on the roads can be an unnerving experience, given the poor quality of many people’s driving which ignores other road users and often exceeds the speed limit (which should be reduced to 20 mph). Cyclists are regularly cut up and seldom allowed the same space as a car, which is what the Highway Code says they should have. The answer to that is proper cycle paths, of which there are very few in Weston, which connect up with one another.

Studies carried out in places in the US where car use has been promoted over the years, showed that employment and median incomes fell. In direct contrast, where restricted parking had been deliberately introduced jobs and incomes dramatically increased, and median income was off the chart. Unrestricted car use and parking is bad for local economies it seems. People say, “you’re killing the economy by restricting cars and pedestrianising shopping areas”, but actually the opposite is true. The economic value of cycling over motoring is echoed from across Europe.

In Denmark it was shown that when a person chooses to cycle it represents a net gain of 0.13 euro per kilometre, but when a person chooses to drive it leads to a loss of 0.13 euro per kilometre.

Every journey done by bike instead of car is about 22p per kilometre better for the local community.

We need Weston to be a cycling and walking town within a cycling and walking town region, and to get North Somerset Council off our backs, so that our town council can do what needs doing.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Incident

FURTHER to your letters on cyclists on pavements, I also was abused by a mother and child who were cycling on the pavement on Locking Road, when they came up behind me and said: “Get out of the way”.

I told her to use the cycle track marked in the kerb. I then got a lot of four letter words and was told it was too dangerous. Another incident last Saturday as I was driving over the narrow traffic light controlled bridge on the Hewish - Wick St Lawrence road. I had right of way and as I crested the top of the bridge, two cyclists were coming towards me.

Obviously as cyclists do not pay any road taxes they do not have to observe traffic lights.

ALAN MERRICK

Locking Road, Weston

Still waiting

SO MY MP John Penrose is raising the question of cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery or the lack of it has been discussed for at least the last 50 years. I am not quite certain when it was declared ‘non-elective and non-urgent’. So I am afraid Mr Penrose and the RNIB get one big yawn from me.

As a 10 year old I went blind with cataract and I am now 60. I am still waiting for an appointment with the low vision aid clinic at a hospital in Norfolk, that was 30 years ago. I am now a Type 2 diabetic, and I had my eyes photographed in Bristol 18 months ago and I need some laser surgery, I am still waiting for them to progress this matter.

So Mr Penrose is now the ambassador for the blind.

I want to do a ‘cash for questions’ thing. I want John Penrose to: ask the chair of RNIB how much he earns, and in what way does he justify his salary, and ask the chair of RNIB and Action For Blind People, to state how much money they have lost on ‘work programme’.

For John Penrose to comment on the fact that blind people are having their benefits cut because they have guide dogs.

What does John Penrose think of Early Day Motion 295 and what stopped him from voting in favour of it?

What does John Penrose think of ESA (Employment Support Allowance) and the fact that only 790 people have found jobs?

What does John Penrose think of ATOS, and do they still enjoy his confidence, and if so why?

I have other disabilities now thanks to an accident.

I have £1,000 cash which I will put on the counter of the Weston Mercury which the editor can donate to any charity, if John Penrose agrees to be fitted with opaque soft contact lenses which will blind him, he has to wear them for a week 24/7. I will also pay for the contact lenses, and the cost of the fitting.

My money is safe.

SIMON ARNALL-CULLIFORD

Cresswell Close, Worle

Correct

IN THE most recent edition of the North Somerset Life magazine we are informed that if we recycle correctly we will receive a ‘thank you’ feedback card.

Households that do not get it completely right will get a card to remind them how to get it correct. However on page two of the magazine there is a recycling advert which shows a green box containing paper, bottles and cans.

On all leaflets we are told to put cans in a separate green box, with plastics and cardboard. Is this a mistake or has the council changed its policy and as I always put cans with the plastics it will be interesting to see which card comes through my letter box.

On page 21 of the same magazine we are informed about the road surface dressing programme. Of the 10 roads listed only one is in Weston, that being Oldmixon Road.

There is no mention of Uphill Road North, which has been the centre of much controversy. I have always believed that A-class roads are the responsibility of the ministry and not the council and as Uphill Road North is part of the A370 it would not feature in the council budget. Maybe somebody will clarify this point.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Missed

I WAS pleased to see that BBC1’s The One Show was going to be broadcasting last Wednesday’s programme from Weston and expected that we would receive some excellent publicity given the warm and sunny weather and a fullish tide.

The beach was looking at its best but did we see any of it or the wider town? No!

Almost half the programme was taken up by a banal conversation between the two presenters and, for me at least, a Welsh nonentity who I had never heard of before. Other sections of the programme were centred on other resorts and the type of sand best used for sandcastle construction - before an ‘expert’ declaring that Weston’s sand was ideal. All round, a wonderful opportunity missed and I was left wondering whether North Somerset Council had supported the BBC with our hard-earned council tax contributions. If so, they - and we - had a very poor return for our money.

JOHN LEY-MORGAN

Elmsleigh Road, Weston

Recycling

THANK you for highlighting the issue of waste and recycling in Weston town centre.

As your articles in recent weeks have pointed out, we have been fighting a daily battle trying to keep up with the black bags being put out by both residents and businesses.

However, there are signs of improvement and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents and businesses who have changed the way they deal with their waste and recycling, as well as those who have always dealt with it responsibly.

Our advice for everyone, whether they live in the town centre or indeed anywhere else in North Somerset, is the same: please put your waste out for collection by 7am on your normal weekly collection day. If anyone is unsure when their collection day is, they can check on our website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/calendar And if you live in the town centre please recycle using either the recycling banks provided or the kerbside recycling scheme.

For every tonne of waste we can recycle instead of sending to landfill, you the local taxpayer saves £95 in landfill and treatment costs alone, which can then be spent on other local services.

COLIN RUSSELL

Service manager - recycling and waste

North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

Spoiled

SATURDAY August 10 was a bright sunny day with a gentle breeze from the west.

However, the day was totally spoiled by some thoughtless resident in Uphill cutting down and burning trees/shrubs.

It started first thing in the morning and carried on all day Saturday and again on Sunday.

Whilst there was no thick smoke visible, the fumes of the burning wood permeated the whole of the eastern part of the village.

Apparently there is no by-law in North Somerset to restrict the burning of bonfires to certain hours, eg after 7pm or sunset, whichever is the earliest, however there are excellent facilities at the recycling centre for garden waste which cannot be composted or put out in green bags for collection. There really is no excuse in this day and age for polluting the air by burning bonfires.

M B KELLY

Uphill Way, Uphill

Newbies

IT WAS interesting to read some of the comments from readers in the last issue on several different subjects, ranging from parking to tennis, from Trop to travellers, especially as I have just been turfing out old council papers and newspaper cuttings from the mid 1980s.

Then, no one ever accused me of not being a Weston supporter because I lived 500 metres outside the town boundary. After all I went to school with quite a few of them, but now the moaning newbies seem to think Locking is a foreign country.

In the 1980s I see I was oft quoted in the Mercury as speaking in favour of and trying to put a roof on the Tropicana, something I had argued for nearly 10 years. I also led WOODPROC (Woodspring Environmental Protection Campaign), along with other concerned local residents and councillors like John Crockford-Hawley and Peter Crew, your regular letter writer Brian Austin, Bob Smart of the Civic Society and others ... all arguing with the Government of the day and Avon County Council, who then wanted to build a Locking Castle housing estate over twice the size we eventually saw. We even took a petition to Number10. Thirty years later I find I’m still fighting that fight, trying to contain housing numbers and promote jobs and yes, I still vehemently oppose a return to anything resembling Back to Avon!

Apart from that, what has changed? Well I am certainly older with 40-plus years of political scars, but a shade more tolerant these days. However I have also become more pragmatic, no longer tilting at windmills. I still fight for Weston, despite still wanting to preserve that green strip twixt town and village and still believe in speaking out and making an effort, not just moaning, which maybe is why I am the doomsayer letter writers’ favourite target of the month.

So let’s start with Grove Park and the old tennis courts. Yes, it’s sad that the facility declined and now looks an eyesore, but I don’t recall the protesters writing now actually doing anything constructive in the past. Did they fundraise to restore them after the council made clear it could not afford to? Or are they are still thinking of the 1980s (or even the 1880s) and not moved on? Grove Park was and still is a wonderful asset for Weston, but don’t they realise if we do nothing the area will just get worse? Money no longer grows on the trees and we have to find new and modern ways of providing sports provision.

My personal view is that new courts in a more sustainable location, where there can be shared supervision and instruction available, are better than nothing at all, whilst tidying up the area by the sensory garden with landscaping instead of rusty torn fencing, and removing long-term car parking from Lower Church Road, will improve the immediate Grove Park setting, reduce local congestion and benefit the Playhouse and the Blakehay, two important nearby leisure and arts facilities. How so?

Simple. A larger car park, used by some who now clog Lower Church Road all day, will help bring in revenue to pay for improving Grove Park and hopefully enough to allow the council to cut back the pay-and-display limit there at least to 8pm, meaning that evening audiences at those two venues will no longer be faced with lengthy parking charges. In turn that may encourage larger audiences. To me it’s a pragmatic win-win.

And whilst we are talking parking, did you know there are more car owning residents in the town centre area around Hopkins Street than there are available parking spaces, so how would the council share out local residents’ parking permits fairly without fighting in the streets? Frankly, not being Solomon, I’ve no idea but the local serial complainer from that street, may have an answer? And perhaps he can also suggest how the street cleaners mentioned by another Hopkins Street reader, will still be able to do their ‘excellent work’ with cars parked all day blocking access and how the police will enforce the permits, because the council won’t have the authority. On past performance I suspect the law has greater priorities and parking in such zones would become a free-for-all, like it was before. At least now most residents can legally park near their front door to unload the shopping and passengers.

Meanwhile back to Tropicana. Well, over the many years that I have wrestled with the problem (a lot more than most I suspect), discussed possible solutions with officers, members and residents of all persuasions, and watched various proposals come forward and fail, I have finally accepted that the only way to resolve the Tropicana question is not to try and prop up an almost 80-year-old concrete and steel structure, that a series of independent professionals have said is impossible to restore to profit, and will corrode even faster with a roof on it.

Instead I would rather fight for a brand new facility on the seafront, developed commercially and not expecting regular hand-outs, subsidies, and the money to build it diverted from other community and infrastructure facilities needed for the new houses, that we don’t want but the same developer is pressing to build! I’ve seen too many sleights of hands and magic rabbits to be fooled again.

And finally if we have local residents living in overcrowded conditions in caravan accommodation should we turn a blind eye simply because their new age or Romany lifestyle isn’t the same as mine? So long as they are law abiding I firmly believe they deserve equal treatment. Now that’s one lesson I have learned since we first had a travellers site forced upon Weston by Avon. Now I realise that there are far worse members of society in some areas living in bricks and mortar. Hence my stance.

Of course that doesn’t mean I will I defend those who descend on the town for a couple of weeks, law breaking and cause mayhem! However in my experience that’s not typical of the majority. Don’t say either that only travellers fly-tip and dump rubbish, before you have seen the fish ‘n’ chip boxes littering the seafront on a busy weekend, or the overflowing black sacks in the back streets and corners around parts of the town centre, or the household clearances abandoned on top of Bleadon Hill on a regular basis.

OK, now I am sure that’s more than enough for the complaints to roll in, and certainly I have been around long enough to know that those who agree with me will remain silent, whilst the regular critics will still find reason to disagree with everything I say and probably believe that they can criticise councillors but councillors mustn’t criticise them.

Well tough, that’s life.

ELFAN AP REES

Town Hall, Weston

Night shelter

I SAW your article in last week’s Mercury which stated that the proposed night shelter in Weston was now not going to happen.

I would just like to clarify that this is in no way associated with our Comfort at Christmas shelter, and that we will be open as usual over the Christmas holiday.

JON CODD

Chairman, Comfort and Warmth Charity (sponsors of Comfort at Christmas)

Bisdee Road, Hutton

Rubbish

I WOULD like to comment on your recent article concerning the amount of rubbish out on the pavements in the area of Alfred Street and Weston town centre.

My journey to work at around 8am each day takes me through Alfred Street and I must say it is an absolute obstacle course trying to avoid all this rubbish, in fact on some occasions it has been so bad that I have been forced to walk onto the road to get to my destination just off the Boulevard. Although the council contractors continue to clear this extra rubbish during the morning, the following morning it is in the same state as the day before.

I clearly remember the local councillor for central ward promised to make addressing the ‘on street rubbish’ situation in this area an absolutely priority in his election literature: what happened to that election promise? Yes you’ve guessed absolutely nothing. So much for election promises as it appears that once elected the promises get overlooked.

JOCELYN E HOLDER

Severn Road, Weston

Freehold

SIMON Wotton in his letter to the Mercury on August 8 highlights my problem with the Trop (WSM) Ltd wanting the freehold of the Tropicana site.

What if, after its best endeavours, the company went bust?

The liquidators would sell the assets to the highest bidder, with the likely outcome that a block of flats would be built on the site.

I would love the Tropicana to be resurrected but I certainly will not be prepared to let the freehold be transferred from local authority control.

CLLR CLIVE WEBB

St Pauls Road, Weston

Figures

IN LAST week’s Mercury, Simon Wotton asks why North Somerset Council (NSC) won’t allow a new Tropicana to be funded from ‘the private purse’. The answer is simple – irrespective of party politics, the figures have to add up.

Perhaps Mr Wotton isn’t aware that there have already been three unsuccessful attempts to redevelop the crumbling pool in the last 13 years. All failed for economic reasons. And the latest effort by Trop (WSM) Ltd has also foundered under the same circumstances. Derek Mead’s Tropicana plan was rejected as being financially unviable not only by NSC but also international property experts DTZ and English Heritage too. Even local businessman Richard Nightingale, who came very close to winning the bid in 2011 recently criticised Trop (WSM) Ltd’s scheme as needing to be ‘fully funded and sustainable’.

But it’s not just about the money. Mr Wotton also asks why NSC can’t simply sell the freehold of the site to Trop (WSM) Ltd, who says it will be demolished if it can’t be developed. But the council has a fiduciary duty to us taxpayers to seek the best value from any sale or transfer of the site. It would have to go through an open tendering process to ensure that happened, so it can’t just hand the place over to the current bidder. Moreover, if NSC wanted to lease the seafront location for a specific development, it would also have to go through a lengthy and costly EU procurement process. Besides, contrary to public perception, Trop (WSM) Ltd is not a well-meaning community interest organisation or ‘a group of business people who have joined forces’ but a private limited company, with only two shareholders.

Furthermore, surrendering the freehold of such a sensitive, valuable heritage site would open NSC to immense criticism if further, inappropriate development took place beyond its control. Look at the continuing furore over the future of the Royal Pier Hotel – just imagine what would happen if the Tropicana was earmarked for similar controversial redevelopment. Of course Weston needs a new swimming pool but, Mr Wotton, things are never quite as straightforward as they might seem.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Exchange

IS IT not time that North Somerset Council actually told the residents of Weston why they are so against any local group developing the Tropicana?

What is the fear? The council has never been scared of undertaking questionable projects such as the Redrow development of the Knightstone which in the beginning was supposed to generate a substantial profit but actually cost taxpayers a considerable amount.

Castlewood went ahead even though the savings quoted will never be achieved and the building itself may have been bought at above market value.

Portishead was allowed to refurbish its open air pool paid by local subscription and some assistance from the council.

Clevedon pier refurbishment was also supported by some council input.

The only companies that have been given permission to develop the Tropicana have not been local, every application or expression of interest from local groups have been turned down or blocked from the beginning.

The recent exchange between Councillor Lake and The One Show showed how blinkered and indifferent the council is to Weston’s needs and gives a clear indication that under no circumstances will the Tropicana be allowed to go ahead. Why? A nationally respected and well-known businessman has the funds to take the risk. Anyone that knows Mr Mead understands he has an impressive success rate on projects he undertakes and would not be involved in this venture unless he was convinced it would be worthwhile.

There is obiviously some inlaying issue that needs to be made public? Why else would the council spend £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on accountants to disprove a business plan when they did not take the same due diligence with Castlewood, Knightstone and other projects that failed.

There can be no rational argument that would prevent the development of the Tropicana by Mr Mead so what is the council’s problem?

JAMES A DOBSON

Swan Close, Weston

Boost cycling

NORTH Somerset Council wants to spend more than £250,000 on a scheme to boost cycling, you’ve guessed it, around Portishead.

Weston sits at the centre of a town region, between Clevedon and Burnham, which is ideal for cycling, walking and trekking. Money spent here could provide a real boost to the local economy, instead it is to go to the relevantly privileged area of Portishead, which along with Clevedon lies within Greater Bristol.

To fully realise the potential of Weston Town region would require cross border co-operation with Sedgemoor and Mendip districts, but North Somerset Council cannot even co-operate with Weston Town Council.

The problem of cycling on pavements in Weston is in large part due to the failure oflaws to be enforced, but cycling on the roads can be an unnerving experience, given the poor quality of many people’s driving which ignores other road users and often exceeds the speed limit (which should be reduced to 20 mph). Cyclists are regularly cut up and seldom allowed the same space as a car, which is what the Highway Code says they should have. The answer to that is proper cycle paths, of which there are very few in Weston, which connect up with one another.

Studies carried out in places in the US where car use has been promoted over the years, showed that employment and median incomes fell. In direct contrast, where restricted parking had been deliberately introduced jobs and incomes dramatically increased, and median income was off the chart. Unrestricted car use and parking is bad for local economies it seems. People say, “you’re killing the economy by restricting cars and pedestrianising shopping areas”, but actually the opposite is true. The economic value of cycling over motoring is echoed from across Europe.

In Denmark it was shown that when a person chooses to cycle it represents a net gain of 0.13 euro per kilometre, but when a person chooses to drive it leads to a loss of 0.13 euro per kilometre.

Every journey done by bike instead of car is about 22p per kilometre better for the local community.

We need Weston to be a cycling and walking town within a cycling and walking town region, and to get North Somerset Council off our backs, so that our town council can do what needs doing.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Incident

FURTHER to your letters on cyclists on pavements, I also was abused by a mother and child who were cycling on the pavement on Locking Road, when they came up behind me and said: “Get out of the way”.

I told her to use the cycle track marked in the kerb. I then got a lot of four letter words and was told it was too dangerous. Another incident last Saturday as I was driving over the narrow traffic light controlled bridge on the Hewish - Wick St Lawrence road. I had right of way and as I crested the top of the bridge, two cyclists were coming towards me.

Obviously as cyclists do not pay any road taxes they do not have to observe traffic lights.

ALAN MERRICK

Locking Road, Weston

Still waiting

SO MY MP John Penrose is raising the question of cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery or the lack of it has been discussed for at least the last 50 years. I am not quite certain when it was declared ‘non-elective and non-urgent’. So I am afraid Mr Penrose and the RNIB get one big yawn from me.

As a 10 year old I went blind with cataract and I am now 60. I am still waiting for an appointment with the low vision aid clinic at a hospital in Norfolk, that was 30 years ago. I am now a Type 2 diabetic, and I had my eyes photographed in Bristol 18 months ago and I need some laser surgery, I am still waiting for them to progress this matter.

So Mr Penrose is now the ambassador for the blind.

I want to do a ‘cash for questions’ thing. I want John Penrose to: ask the chair of RNIB how much he earns, and in what way does he justify his salary, and ask the chair of RNIB and Action For Blind People, to state how much money they have lost on ‘work programme’.

For John Penrose to comment on the fact that blind people are having their benefits cut because they have guide dogs.

What does John Penrose think of Early Day Motion 295 and what stopped him from voting in favour of it?

What does John Penrose think of ESA (Employment Support Allowance) and the fact that only 790 people have found jobs?

What does John Penrose think of ATOS, and do they still enjoy his confidence, and if so why?

I have other disabilities now thanks to an accident.

I have £1,000 cash which I will put on the counter of the Weston Mercury which the editor can donate to any charity, if John Penrose agrees to be fitted with opaque soft contact lenses which will blind him, he has to wear them for a week 24/7. I will also pay for the contact lenses, and the cost of the fitting.

My money is safe.

SIMON ARNALL-CULLIFORD

Cresswell Close, Worle

Correct

IN THE most recent edition of the North Somerset Life magazine we are informed that if we recycle correctly we will receive a ‘thank you’ feedback card.

Households that do not get it completely right will get a card to remind them how to get it correct. However on page two of the magazine there is a recycling advert which shows a green box containing paper, bottles and cans.

On all leaflets we are told to put cans in a separate green box, with plastics and cardboard. Is this a mistake or has the council changed its policy and as I always put cans with the plastics it will be interesting to see which card comes through my letter box.

On page 21 of the same magazine we are informed about the road surface dressing programme. Of the 10 roads listed only one is in Weston, that being Oldmixon Road.

There is no mention of Uphill Road North, which has been the centre of much controversy. I have always believed that A-class roads are the responsibility of the ministry and not the council and as Uphill Road North is part of the A370 it would not feature in the council budget. Maybe somebody will clarify this point.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Missed

I WAS pleased to see that BBC1’s The One Show was going to be broadcasting last Wednesday’s programme from Weston and expected that we would receive some excellent publicity given the warm and sunny weather and a fullish tide.

The beach was looking at its best but did we see any of it or the wider town? No!

Almost half the programme was taken up by a banal conversation between the two presenters and, for me at least, a Welsh nonentity who I had never heard of before. Other sections of the programme were centred on other resorts and the type of sand best used for sandcastle construction - before an ‘expert’ declaring that Weston’s sand was ideal. All round, a wonderful opportunity missed and I was left wondering whether North Somerset Council had supported the BBC with our hard-earned council tax contributions. If so, they - and we - had a very poor return for our money.

JOHN LEY-MORGAN

Elmsleigh Road, Weston

Recycling

THANK you for highlighting the issue of waste and recycling in Weston town centre.

As your articles in recent weeks have pointed out, we have been fighting a daily battle trying to keep up with the black bags being put out by both residents and businesses.

However, there are signs of improvement and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents and businesses who have changed the way they deal with their waste and recycling, as well as those who have always dealt with it responsibly.

Our advice for everyone, whether they live in the town centre or indeed anywhere else in North Somerset, is the same: please put your waste out for collection by 7am on your normal weekly collection day. If anyone is unsure when their collection day is, they can check on our website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/calendar And if you live in the town centre please recycle using either the recycling banks provided or the kerbside recycling scheme.

For every tonne of waste we can recycle instead of sending to landfill, you the local taxpayer saves £95 in landfill and treatment costs alone, which can then be spent on other local services.

COLIN RUSSELL

Service manager - recycling and waste

North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

Spoiled

SATURDAY August 10 was a bright sunny day with a gentle breeze from the west.

However, the day was totally spoiled by some thoughtless resident in Uphill cutting down and burning trees/shrubs.

It started first thing in the morning and carried on all day Saturday and again on Sunday.

Whilst there was no thick smoke visible, the fumes of the burning wood permeated the whole of the eastern part of the village.

Apparently there is no by-law in North Somerset to restrict the burning of bonfires to certain hours, eg after 7pm or sunset, whichever is the earliest, however there are excellent facilities at the recycling centre for garden waste which cannot be composted or put out in green bags for collection. There really is no excuse in this day and age for polluting the air by burning bonfires.

M B KELLY

Uphill Way, Uphill

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