Letters to the Editor, August 8, 2013

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- Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

Decay attracts

THE Centre for Social Justice has this week reported on life in five British bottom end of the market seaside resorts - Rhyl, Margate, Clacton-on-Sea, Blackpool and Great Yarmouth - and found some disturbing social trends, common to all five, though shared to some degree by many other coastal towns of mediocre appeal.

At the other end of the scale Brighton and Bournemouth are cited as being OK because they’ve ‘re-invented’ themselves. But ‘re-invented’ means what? Both these two south coast resorts start from relatively high wealth levels (just look at property prices), cosmopolitan life styles and ease of access to London. Both have universities and crucially people actually want to live or own holiday homes there. They and their civic leaders proudly display venues for culture and the arts. Though deprivation is to be found in such places it’s not quite so in-your-face and therefore the all-important image, so necessary for resorts, is less tarnished than in places such as Rhyl.

Not everybody wants a close-up view of offish behaviour, carbohydrate charged torsos, morons who gather in public parks to swig whatever cheap booze comes to hand, dogs of a particular breed with ‘attitude’ identical to that of their socially underdeveloped owners, nor do most people want to walk through their town centres along formerly ‘respectable’ Victorian streets now strewn with litter, dog turds and holes where trees once stood, where couldn’t-care-less landlords house a plethora of residents who equally care little about their homes, where gardens are rubbish tips or parking lots, and sturdy boundary walls fall to the ravages of neglect and decay. I also suspect many people don’t particularly wish to spend time perambulating High Streets spread with an over-supply of pay-day loan shark, phone, coffee or 99p emporia.

Apparently decay attracts further decay and so places like poor old Rhyl spiral further down into whatever is at the bottom of the pit; so glad I live in Weston.


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JOHN CROCKFORD-HAWLEY

Gerard Road, Weston

Most Read

Residents’ parking

AS REGULAR readers will have realised, I am one very, very disgruntled home-owning resident in Hopkins Street regarding the inability to park outside my home.

My neighbour, who has a disability with her sight, last week went down with an ear problem which affects her balance. Until she rang me yesterday to ask for help going to ‘big Tesco’, I did not realise how serious her condition was!

Walking to Tesco, she had to hold on to my arm the whole way. I kept her on the inside so she could not stumble into the gutter. Bearing in mind I could have fallen in front of a car/bus/lorry/cyclist and taken her with me as we dodged other pedestrians and rubbish. I then all but chained her to the trolley to keep her upright round the aisles and endured an unwanted coffee to give her legs a rest before the arduous journey home – me carrying three bags of shopping.

In fact last week she did fall off the pavement into the road in Palmer Row and I would like to thank the lady who helped her up and sent her on her way.

Which brings me to the fact had I had a residents parking permit to park outside my home, we could have popped there in my car.

At the time it did not occur to me to fetch my car which was parked over the hill and far away (probably where more restrictions are going to be put in). I had a space and I was not going to lose that rare commodity. In retrospect I should have done and thereby incurred the penalty of paying good money to the council for having done a good deed.

So once again council – please let us have a review, particularly when one considers Hopkins Street never had any restrictions till this scheme. As I have said before, I do not expect my own reserved bay, just a resident’s permit at a reasonable cost to park near my home in the centre of town in a residential area when day in and day out the side roads remain empty. Or can someone let me know who it is I and neighbours can lobby.

Finally, with regard to my mentioning the rubbish, I would like to convey a huge ‘thank you’ to the wonderful road sweepers who do such a fantastic job clearing up after selfish citizens.

SUE CLARKE

Hopkins Street, Weston

No vouchers

BARNET Council has been judged as raising too much money from residents’ parking.

Here are some facts: Barnet charges £105 a year and a visitors voucher £2.20 half day, £4.16 a full day; seaside Brighton charges in the most expensive area £120 a year, visitors £2.60 a day. Weston charges £135 per year plus £9.60 a day (move car every two hours), visitors have no voucher so cost is £12 a day.

How can the council justify this profiteering?

Brighton rocks, Weston sinks.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

Bags for rubbish

IN BRIXHAM, Devon, the local council provides black bags for rubbish in similar material to our green garden waste bags which eliminates the problem with seagulls.

Would our town centre benefit from the same?

JANET NAPIER

Farm Road, Weston

Figures

IN YOUR report dated July 25 stating that unemployment figures have dropped by 417 in the Weston area, I note that you make no reference to the figures for those people who have been taken off the Jobseekers’ Allowance due to recent changes to the benefits system.

It is my belief that there are two sides to this story and only one has been covered to create an element of optimism.

In fact, many of these people are not in employment but are no longer receiving the allowance, which flatters the statistics.

Through my own painful experience I have discovered how difficult this new system is, and have found myself going round in bureaucratic circles, passed from department to department without any support for six months and am no closer to receiving any benefits or assistance whatsoever.

I am sure there are many others like me who have come up against a system in change where nobody knows what is going on or can offer worthwhile advice.

I would like to hear from anyone who believes they are part of this statistical reshuffle and who has found themselves in difficulty as a result.

If you are someone who has dropped off the radar you can email your situation and, if we get enough people, we can present the true facts to our local MP and the press for accurate representation and prove that the actual jobless figures haven’t gone down.

Email to lostbenefits@gmail.com

SIMON KERRIGAN

Exford Close, Weston

John Alexander Smith

CAN anyone help me please? I am trying to trace my husband’s grandfather John Alexander Smith born in Thanet, Kent in 1868, via his youngest sister Susie Ruth Porter Lord nee Smith.

She was born in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1888 and was a nurse.

She married George Alexander Lord in Horfield, Bristol in August 1918 and she died in 1929 somewhere in Somerset.

Her husband, I think, remarried a lady called Ellen Maude and he died in 1961 and she lived at 31 Corondale Road, Weston and died in 1973.

Are there any descendants who could help with information?

I believe her father also John Smith born in Manchester in 1847 and mother, Sarah, lived in Somerset after moving from Dover, Kent, some time during World War One.

Susie had four brothers and two sisters; John Alexander; Arthur Yuart; Lilian Mary Hannah; Margaret Sarah Jennie; Ernest Wallace (present at her marriage), Susie and Stanley Henry Gordon.

All except Margaret were born and bred in Kent.

There may be a connection to South Africa.

Smith is a diabolical name to trace but I have got a lot more information but keep drawing blanks as descendants are hard to find.

ROSEMARY HARLOW

66 Mailings Drive, Bearsted, Maidstone, ME14 4HG. Telephone 01622 737173

Caring

IS THERE anyone with North Somerset Council (NSC) with an ounce of common sense?

I’m beginning to think not. Not in the waste management department at any rate.

I am fortunate enough to own a small convenience store on Locking Road and I like to think that we are caring and considerate towards our neighbours.

To this end many years ago we allowed the council to install a litter bin on the forecourt of our shop.

This supplemented another one that was situated a short distance away.

The council, with its usual care and foresight decided after a while that they no longer needed the bin along the road and removed it.

I have struggled since then to have their bin emptied on a regular basis despite calls nearly every week and in many cases numerous calls in the same week. I have also emailed and written and received apologies.

This week I had a call from Ian Price at the waste management department telling me in no uncertain terms that the council would not empty the bin and I need to service the bin myself. His alternative was, to say the least, draconian. That was to remove the bin entirely. As one of his fatuous excuses was that his team could not go onto private property to empty the bin, can he explain to me how he intends to remove the said bin without setting foot on private property? Oops!

For those who may not know, as a business I pay rates but do not receive a refuse collection service and need to pay an outside contractor so, in essence Mr Price you want me to pay to dispose of your rubbish.

I have absolutely no problem with taking responsibility for wrappers, etc, that my customers dispose of but, having tried to be a responsible business why do the council place the onus on me to collect and dispose of rubbish left by takeaway customers and general members of the public?

Remember, you took the original bin away leaving me to clear up the mess.

It’s no wonder that Weston is getting such poor press when such silly decisions like this are made on behalf of us all.

I will not bow to the bully boy tactics that seem to be a weapon of choice by NSC and have covered the bin to prevent rubbish being left. Yes I know it’s petty but it is about time the majority of us who love Weston fought back and confronted the jobsworths who are slowly but surely ripping the heart out of our town.

JULIAN NORRIS

Locking Road Stores, Locking Road, Weston

Visitor

AS AN occasional visitor to Weston, can I say how sorry I am to see the state of the putting green near the sanitorium?

Until last year this was a lovely, relaxing area away from the commercial bustle. It had an attractive miniature railway and well-kept green and kiosk.

The railway, sadly, has gone, the greens have gone to pot and the kiosk’s wooden seating replaced with plastic chairs. The refreshments are not to the same standard.

To add insult to injury, the place closes at 3pm, which is hardly appealing to tourists. The ethos has changed from one of service and enthusiasm under the previous tenants to the exact opposite. A real pity.

JONATHAN SHORNEY

Whitehall, Bristol

Cyclists

I FULLY agree with John Christopher’s remarks in your letter page regarding pavement cyclists.

He says something must be done before someone is injured, but someone already has been injured – me.

I reported the incident to the police and showed them my bleeding leg and torn jeans. They stated that they already do all they can by visiting the local schools and preaching road safety. But these cyclists are breaking the law in plain sight.

And there is actually more that the police could do because I have seen bobbies on the beat, particularly in the High Street pedestrian precinct, and cyclists whizzing along, negotiating pedestrians as if they are on a human pin-ball machine.

I once saw a whole group of five or six cyclists blithely pedalling past three policemen.

Since my injury, I have been run into again on three different occasions by cyclists careering around corners - and they invariably shout obscene abuse at me if I dare complain, plus I have had several near-misses. These days, I go out of my way to avoid certain corners in the middle of town.

Yes, Mr John Christopher - something needs to be done - the law needs enforcing and the fine increased.

JUNE M BASTABLE

Stanley Road, Weston

Use of pavements

HOW I so agree with John Christopher’s letter (Mercury August 1) and cyclist on footpaths/pavements.

The cyclists think it’s OK to ride or whiz past someone on the pavement and if anything is said to them the answer is usually full of abuse, which I have had.

In my opinion these people need re-educating into the use of roads and pavements and the sooner the better before there is a real accident. Police, where are you?

A BRENT

Albert Road, Weston

Benefit

IT BEGGARS belief that Cllr Elfan Ap Rees from his Locking fastness can say that increasing car parking and losing the tennis courts will benefit Grove Park.

Seaside Weston is particularly badly provided with public sports areas. Many Westonians will remember the fine tennis courts at the Winter Gardens lost in the early 1990s when the conference centre extension was developed. A very definite assurance at the time, indeed a promise, was given that the courts at Grove Park would be refurbished and maintained. It never happened.

It may be Cllr Ap Rees is considering upgrading the Ashcombe Park courts (which the council has allowed to become almost unplayable), but these are not in seaside Weston and wouldn’t benefit either visitors or central residents. A curious notion in a resort town.

The present Grove Park car park is rarely more than half full, the substantial Melrose car park is a mere 200 metres away and numerous street parking places are unoccupied. All this hardly justifies the loss of the Grove Park courts.

To quote Joni Mitchell’s famous song: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Indeed.

ROSIE SMITH

Stafford Place, Weston

Mistaken

APPARENTLY my assumption that the one and only net at Grove Park Tennis Courts was recently replaced by North Somerset Council was mistaken.

It was in fact put back by a couple of public spirited and generous individuals when they saw that youngsters were trying to play, even without a net, on the only open air sports facility in this part of town.

Well done to them - and shame on the council for its attitude to sport.

MARTHA PERRIAM

Upper Church Road, Weston

Out every day

I AM Weston born but I never go in to town.

I have just come back from a week in Dartmoor area. We went out every day because there are more toilets there, than in North Somerset.

They were clean in out of the way places with no charge.

D GULLICK

Wynter Close, Worle

Congratulate

I WAS interested to read last week’s travellers letter ‘What cost?’ by Peter Jones of Hewish.

It draws a parallel with Councillor Elfan Ap Rees’ attitude with the Tropicana. He criticised those who opposed his views over the travellers’ site just as he opposes and criticises any proposal to revamp the Trop, against the wishes of the majority.

His disregard for the unnecessary amount of taxpayers’ money which will be wasted to fuel his stance on the travellers. Very much like his refusal to accept Derek Mead’s team’s offer to fund the demolition of the Tropicana should his restoration plans fail. Cllr Ap Rees would rather waste our taxpayers’ money by spurning this offer than risk losing face and his battle to prevent the restoration of the pool.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Derek Mead on his recent success in the council by-election. Clearly supported by people who appreciate someone who has Weston in his best interests. For the sake of our town, let’s hope that his next success is that of North Somerset Council deputy leader.

KEN HUNTER

Greenland Road, Weston

Central

WITH reference to the letter from John Ling, I am inclined to think that the Peak Winna story is a load of old nonsense.

For a start, we Zummorzet volk have never, until very recent times, under the influence of the BBC, adopted the lazy habit of dropping our Rs at the end of words or after vowels, zo we never would have rimed ‘dinner’ with ‘Wina’.

The most likely reason for the pile of stones referred to is that they had either been cleared off the fields before the woods were planted, or they were there for filling holes in the path. I am not aware of any evidence that the pile of stones in question has been there for anything like 1,500 years.

Brian Wilkinson raises an alarming thought, that by ‘central’ when applied to the Lower Church Road Ball Park which adjoins Grove Park where the tennis net has miraculously appeared, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees could mean central to North Somerset. What! Another bit of Weston disappearing up the road to Clevedon?

I agree wholeheartedly with Peter Waldschmidt regarding the Coastal Path and its potential value to Weston’s tourist trade. It should be possible to take the Coastal Path right across the Weston town region from Clevedon to Burnham and on towards Exmoor with a decent bridge across the Axe for walkers, cyclists, riders and trekkers.

It should not be the Coastal Path or the Tropicana and Birnbeck Pier; it should be all three. They are all part of the package which adds up to Weston town region’s unique attraction.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Legend

I FEEL I must reply to Mr Austin and his fairly dismissive and negative response to my letter concerning Peak Winna.

His view of events concerning the ‘pile of stones’ and his ‘mysterious builders’ is in stark contrast to John Bailey’s eye-witness account and photographic evidence in his 1966 Roundabout article. As for the fishermen of Weston this is purely his opinion, he cannot possibly know what went on in the everyday life of Weston’s inhabitants hundreds of years ago.

We cannot know for sure the truth of this legend, but we have to take into account the superstition of former days and the great belief in lucky charms and the like, and it is understandable that the poor fisherfolk of Weston might have had faith in Picwinner especially if on occasion, the charm worked.

This is obviously too romantic a view for Mr Austin, but I know which version I prefer.

JOHN LING

Fernlea Road, Weston

Hiding

THE letter from me concerning the Peak Winna cairn, that appeared in last week’s Mercury, contained an unfortunate glitch that might have puzzled readers.

Whereas it said that the cairn was a site of ‘some king’ it should have read ‘a site of some kind’. As some people might be moved to complain about previously unknown kings hiding under rocks I thought I should clear that one up.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Thank you

MY FATHER was admitted to Weston General Hospital eight weeks ago. He had a serious and what would turn out to be a life-threatening lung and heart infection.

Through the care he initially received in the medical assessment unit he was able to go home within seven days, however his condition then worsened and he was re-admitted to hospital where he was eventually sent to intensive care and placed in a temporary coma. His condition was life threatening and we were told to expect the worst.

My farther survived his ordeal and is now at home resting and recovering. Through the help and support of what can only be described as the most incredible, professional, hard working and knowledgeable staff in intensive care he would not be here today.

I write this letter as a thank you to the teams of medical experts who were honest and open with us as well as being kind and supportive. The nursing staff were exceptional. Their diligence and hard work is a testimony to their passion for care and for the hospital in which they work. Combined with the highly trained doctors and consultants my father received truly outstanding care.

Weston General Hospital I know has been under the spotlight of the media recently and although my father did make his recovery I wanted to let you know that I would have written this same letter had the outcome been worse.

You have an incredible team at your hospital and you should be duly proud of them.

I know that if I were to ever return the level of care that patients receive is second to none and I would have every confidence in supporting your hospital in whatever need you have.

BEN COLLINGE

Ethpark Grove, Taunton

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