Letters to the Editor, August 4, 2016

I’m neither rich, nor evil...

Everyone I know seems to think that as a landlord I am either rich or evil. In fact, the only people who don’t seem to think that are my tenants.

I bought a couple of flats to act as my pension; they currently wash their face but I am never going to get my own Caribbean island.

I am fortunate now to have some really good tenants, but I have been besieged by problem tenants in the past 10 years. I’ve been physically threatened, had my property trashed and have seen rent treated as an optional extra. When I have asked for support, it has been unforthcoming to say the least.

I am now told that despite never having been considered a substandard landlord, not had any complaints made against me or my properties, I have found out that North Somerset has unilaterally introduced a licensing scheme that I am obliged to pay for upfront even though there is no guarantee that North Somerset will view my property for five years.

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I am already legally, never mind morally, required to maintain my property and treat my tenants with respect. There seems to be no benefit to this scheme other than to line the coffers of North Somerset. I, nor my tenants, have had any consultation or communication from the council.

The idea that this licensing scheme will remain only as a Central ward issue is optimistic at best and the idea that an unthought-through plan that doesn’t seem to answer basic questions as to its operation and implementation is going to remove the problem of antisocial behaviour in the town centre is naïve.

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I care passionately about Weston and genuinely wish to support endeavours to make people feel safe and secure in their homes, however this scheme seems to be ill-conceived and without the structure or support to benefit tenants, landlords or the town in general.

Greater corroboration and collaboration needs to be done before we end up with a significant number of decent landlords, myself included, unwilling to take the mantle and the council will be left picking up the pieces.


Milton Brow, Weston

Target everyone, to punish a few

As a landlady with 12 properties in Weston and a letting agent for others with property in Weston, I vehemently object to paying for selective licensing because I have top-end properties and comply with all Government legislation, such as fire alarms, gas safety certificates etc.

I also go beyond what is required and have some CCTV; I have installed sound insulation for protection of my tenants (not due to legislation); I personally vacuum and clean communal hallways and tend communal front gardens.

I believe strongly in good properties, good tenants and I am very lucky as my tenants want to stay with me – ask any of them.

I should not be penalised for the ‘rogue landlords’ who do not have my attitude.

Typical whitewash; target everyone to punish a few.


Locking Road, Weston

Helping tenants... or raising cash?

As a landlord who has spent a lot of money, time and effort bringing my rented flats to high standards, I was pleased to hear that North Somerset Council was renewing its efforts to ensure all tenants in Weston can enjoy quality housing.

At least, I was until I heard the actual details of the scheme.

Instead of targeting the bad landlords, they’re targeting all landlords within a specific area, so it’s going to take five long years just to inspect all these properties. Which is not much help to tenants enduring poor conditions right now?

If they just targeted the (potentially) bad properties – ie the ones tenants have complained about it would take a lot less time to address the actual problems.

So why don’t they? Is it something to do with the £320 they’re charging every single landlord to inspect every single property, over £14,000 in the case of one landlord?

In other words, is this more about raising cash for the council than helping tenants?


Palmer Row, Weston

If I sound angry, it’s because I am

Although the referendum is behind us (for better or worse) as a long-time reader I’ve never been moved to write to the Mercury before.

But John Carter’s letter ‘UK better out of Europe collapse’ last week showed that xenophobia is still alive and well in these parts. And that’s a worry.

When he wrote about the ‘discontent by many whose jobs are being lost by vast numbers of immigrants’ had he given a moment’s thought to what he was saying? Where would this country be without the vital contribution of immigrants? Without its 55,000 incoming workers the NHS would collapse, along with much of the social services sector.

Ironically, Mr Carter would doubtless be dismayed to learn that in the early 1960s, it was the then Health Minister Enoch Powell who campaigned to recruit immigrant Caribbean nurses to come here.

And the impact of exclusion would be the same in countless other areas too – education, local government, public transport, local corner-shops, restaurants and takeaways to name just a few.

And has Mr Carter forgotten the contribution that émigrés have made to the UK in the past? From Handel to Freud, the Brunels to Alec Issigonis, the designer of the Mini. Or people like the founders of Tesco and Marks & Spencer. And don’t forget Queen Elizabeth II of the German House of Saxe-Coburg Gotha and Prince Philip, who hails from Greece.

Add to these the many notable individuals in the public, political and cultural eye today who come from migrant families. Don’t they represent all that’s the best of British regardless of their colour, creed or background?

Closer to home, Weston wouldn’t be the same without the immense benefit the Cypriot and South Asian communities have brought. Most notable has been the Michael family’s successful revival of the Grand Pier, not to mention the huge charitable donations given by the Axentis Michael Trust. What a perfect example of how folk have come here to seek a better life, succeeded and then given so much back.

If I sound angry, that’s because I am. Despite Mr Carter’s narrow and bitter 1950s view of Britain we are now a far better, more enriched and more enlightened nation through the influence and assistance of all those who have chosen to make this island their home.

Let’s hope, for all our futures that it will continue to be so.


Baytree Road, Weston

As a committed ‘pedant’, I object

I don’t have any problem with the gist of Ian Pitch’s letter to the Mercury printed on July 28, but, as a fully-paid-up pedant, I do object to his misuse of Great Britain.

Great Britain might have much to recommend it in terms of landscape etc but as a geographical feature and inanimate it cannot have ‘innate consideration for others, freedom of ideas and expression and the right to reply’. It is a translation from the French Grande Bretagne to differentiate the island of Albion from Bretagne, Brittany, nothing more.

He is confusing Great Britain with Britain, which is shorthand for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or, in earlier times, the British Empire.

Also, it was reported in the Mercury of July 28 that the Government has issued a directive for councils to discuss working together. Sedgemoor District Council raised the matter at its full council meeting. If we had a Winterstoke District Council, it would be a part of those discussions with its adjacent councils in Somerset. In lieu of Winterstoke District Council, Weston Town Council and the southern committee of North Somerset Council should get involved in the discussions.


Priory Road, Weston

Bringing beautiful Somerset to life

I loved the recent colourful free Rosie Smith collection of prints of our seaside town inside the Mercury over the last four weeks.

I have recently enjoyed Rosie and Howard Smith’s wonderful book, Somerset Hills In Watercolours: On Higher Ground, with lovely colourful illustrations all around the breathtaking Quantock Hills and Somerset Hills. It was a very good read with a huge source of information for all lovers of the West Country.

I was very impressed also by the way husband and wife team, Rosie and Howard, have brought their books to life for young and old.

I would love to know more about this couple who have brought a magical experience in their books, capturing the character and season of a setting in wonderful watercolours. Maybe a Mercury feature?

D F COURTNEY Victoria Park, Weston

Theatre needs all of our support

I would like to thank the hard-working dedicated manager and staff of The Blakehay Theatre.

I am so glad the town council recognises what an asset it is. The theatre needs every bit of support we can give it. Well done everyone.


Well Close, Hutton

n Editor’s Note: This letter has been reprinted after a mistake last week saw it accidentally merged with part of another submission. We apologise for any confusion or embarrassment this may have caused.

No thought for site suitability

The saga of the temporary traffic lights in Brinsea Road continues, it seems it’s pot luck if the footpath that is used by everybody including pensioners like myself is open or not.

Several times this footpath has had a sign saying footpath closed but no provision for people to go around it meaning you have to go across this busy road to get to the shops and post office.

I also noticed a little notice in last week’s Mercury that Strongvox has applied for yet another planning permission for houses off Brinsea Road.

This time they want to build 24 houses on a field next to the council houses in Venus Street. This is directly opposite the field that Barratt Homes applied to build houses on earlier this year.

Strongvox has already got planning permission for houses in Venus Street, Congresbury and it seems wherever Strongvox put planning in for, the Weston planning committee seem to grant them permission no matter how unsuitable the site might be.

How on earth can Brinsea Road, Congresbury handle any more traffic? It’s already gridlocked for most of the day.


Chestnut Close, Congresbury

Will views meet a wall of silence?

Railway enthusiasts have suggested that new railway stations should be built at St Georges and Uphill but is this a step too far?

There was indeed a station at St Georges called Puxton and Worle which has long since gone but not that long ago a new station, Worle Parkway, was built only a stone’s throw from the original station and covers the needs of the area.

As for Uphill, again there was a station, Bleadon and Uphill, which was only built because the land-owner would not allow the railway through his land unless he was provided with a station. The station was little used and was eventually closed.

One big concern in Weston is that the loop line into the main station could be closed and any more stations built on the main would cause the demise of the loops and the main station that is vital to the economy of the town.

What is really needed is for the tracks to be doubled on loop line and the bay platform at Weston station to be re-opened with regular suburban trains to and from Bristol. The train should definitely take the strain off the roads but this can only happen if there is investment in and around Weston station.

It is encouraging to learn that the Sunnyside entrance to Weston station could be re-opened in 2018 but why do these things take so long? Promises now can be broken in the future so we shall just have to wait and see.

Well done to Kathy Banfield for her excellent letter about the positioning of the sand sculptures – welcome to the club.

The question is why was it sited in front of the Victorian shelters on the promenade?

Unfortunately, Kathy, it is most likely that your comments about the ‘ghastly boards’ will be met by a wall of silence from the council.


Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Thanks for going the extra mile

We would like to thank the good Samaritan that helped one of our members when she felt unwell at Weston on July 20.

He made sure that not only was she safe by returning her to the coach park but also found an Applegates driver who also went the extra mile to get her to her own front door in Dursley. You were both amazing and we thank you very much indeed.


The Dursley and Cam Friendship Club, Eros Close, Stroud

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