Letters to the Editor, December 29, 2011

Failed

IT IS a time for giving, and my gift would be a bunch of white feathers to the councillors who voted to destroy the Tropicana and in particular the members of the working party who abstained.

For more than a decade they have failed the residents of Weston, spending God knows how much of our money with nothing to show in the end but a hole in the sand costing �800,000 of our money.

If anything, the Tropicana should remain as it is as a monument to North Somerset Council’s failures.

It must be a thorn in their side when they look at what the Michael’s achieved in two years, turning a burnt out wreck into what we have today, and let’s not forget Birnbeck Pier.


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The question is where in North Somerset Council are the leaders with the vision to act and stop whingeing about Government cut backs.

Where would mankind be today if engineering, science and the world of medicine gave up when the going got tough?

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Politicians are the catalyst of failure, creating the mess the world is in today.

So all I can say is: Hang your head in shame North Somerset Council, hang your head in shame.

G ROBERTS

Jocelin Drive, Worle

Rumblings

The rumblings have started

They’re moving through the town,

They want our Tropicana

And they’re going to knock it down.

I really just don’t get it

It’s going to cost a bomb,

Is there anything more stupid

To waste the money on?

Ah, yes now I remember

The carrot comes to mind,

If I had a few more minutes

There are plenty I could find.

Why don’t they all just listen?

Let the locals have a voice,

We’re the ones that live here

It really is our choice!

I feel again, we’ve been misled

And we’ve really had enough.

It’s time to show we disagree

with all this wasteful stuff.

So step a side you spoilers

Let the business men step in

At least we’ll know the truth of it

And the rebuild can begin!

B NEALE

Little George Street, Weston

Outraged

RE: FUTURE of Tropicana decided by residents, not based on council’s whims.

Having voiced our opinion on several occasions regarding the above subject, I was absolutely outraged and astounded to read Councillor Tom Leimdorfer’s lame excuses in condoning the decision to demolish this historic building which, up to just over a decade ago, formed part of Weston’s heritage before it was sadly left to rot in the name of so-called progress whilst the council decided that improvements to other parts of the town took precedence.

How Cllr Leimdorfer has the cheek to express opinions on what Weston needs when he clearly does not live locally but indeed has access to existing swimming facilities in nearby Portishead and Backwell, beggars belief!

He claims to have spent time at the Tropicana in his childhood.

Is he old enough to remember when it boasted an Olympic-sized diving board, when it was known simply as the Open-Air Pool and attracted thousands of visitors and residents alike every summer?

I also find it incredible that he can dismiss the commercial schemes put forward as all being unfinancially viable.

I would be very surprised if the potential developers would have spent, no doubt, an inexhaustible amount of money on having plans drawn up if they had not also done their sums on the viability of such a project. On what grounds does he base his opinions?

I personally feel that Cllr Leimdorfer should not be allowed to have any further input in such an important topic as the Tropicana as he appears to have some very misguided views on what is best for the town.

As readers will obviously realise, I am angry, disappointed and disgusted with the way in which this whole situation has been mishandled although unfortunately, I believe, it was a foregone conclusion that the council always intended to knock down the Tropicana.

How short-sighted as far as encouraging visitors to Weston is concerned and how negative an approach to such a potential tourist attraction.

Isn’t it about time that the elected councillors put forward the wishes of the majority of the residents to build a ‘new Tropicana’ for the benefit of all the residents and visitors to our town instead of blocking any scheme put forward by the potential developers.

As Cllr Leimdorfer said: “Potential money-making ventures are being proposed for Dolphin Square’; however, he fails to realise what an asset the ‘new Tropicana’ would be on the existing prime site.

The �800K required to demolish the site would no doubt have to be passed on to the local residents in the form of increased council tax, etc, and although Cllr Leimdorfer claims that development of the Tropicana would add about two per cent to council tax, I seem to remember very clearly reading in the local press quite some time ago when the build was put out to tender for a second time, that one of the major benefits of allowing the last potential developer’s plans to come to fruition was that the new development would take place at no additional cost to the taxpayer as the project would be privately funded.

W J AND J RAYNHAM

Canberra Crescent, Locking

Responsibility

NORTH Somerset Council has a legal responsibility to make certain that any proposed scheme for the Tropicana was of acceptable quality and could be properly financed.

Over the last decade we have seen well-funded firms submit non-viable plans, seemingly on purpose, and a number of over excited under-funded individuals submit computer-generated pictures instead of proper architectural drawings, and if you don’t know the difference between a picture and a plan the council could not consider the idea.

Now up pop Messrs Michael and Mead who may be a marriage made in heaven but where were they when it mattered?

By the way. If the council ‘gave’ the site to any individual, no matter how local, could that not be seen as corrupt?

I enjoyed the old swimming pool for the warm sun and all the pretty ladies, but stopped going when it turned plastic in 1983.

This is the point where we need hard headed realism because there is no place for sentiment in politics.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

Economics

WHY is the Tropicana heading for demolition? Is it a conspiracy in North Somerset Council? No, it is a simple matter of economics, especially in recession-hit Britain.

That is why the Mace plans, then Henry Boot and Nightingale have all pulled out. Numerous other potential developers have also shown an interest but later backed off.

Mr Nightingale himself admitted that his plan was of ‘marginal viability’ and he had to try to take over seafront parking in order to make his sums add up.

This was understandably rejected by the council.

Nevertheless it is astonishing why local businessmen are still prepared to waste their time (and North Somerset’s officers) re-hashing plans that they suspect are not going to bring them any return.

If their plans include a substantial residential component, as in the Knightstone, then their schemes might just work.

But it is unlikely that residential development on the Tropicana would be popular locally.

Still, there may be a future for the site. If the building is levelled and paved, then it could be used as public open space, possibly for a new seafront attraction.

Let us get the endless saga of the Tropicana resolved for good.

ROGER H BROWN

Jocelin Drive, Worle

Pantomime

I AM sure that our illustrious councillors would claim that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t by us unimportant council taxpayers.

In relation to the Tropicana they didn’t, haven’t and won’t, so yes they should be damned.

It is clear that they have not wanted it from the start and how apt that their final decision should be made at the heart of pantomime season.

Let the businessmen give us what we want and watch from the wings.

Councillors, you surely know by now that we have long memories so it will be a long time before you hear any of us taxpayers saying...” it’s behind you”?

LEE HUTCHINSON

Northleigh Avenue, Milton

Thanks

MRS Jean Smith of Shrubbery Avenue, and her family, have asked me at this very emotional time, to express their thanks to John Hollis and his wonderful staff at Ravenswood Nursing Home on the Lower Bristol Road.

The care shown to her husband, Ron Smith, during his long illness was exceptional. The kindness shown when both herself and granddaughter stayed at his bedside in the last few days was second to none. The beautiful letter of condolence sent by Mr John Hollis was very much appreciated. Thank you all once again, on behalf of Jean and family.

COLIN WYTHES

Eliot Close, Weston

Memories

THROUGH your letters page I’d like to ask for any information, photos or memories of the Arjay and Swallow Point caravan parks near Kewstoke.

For many years these were run by a Mr Unwin.

I have the 1952 Land Rover which was run on the caravan parks between 1959 and the mid 1970s, when it was parked up until sold in 2009.

If anyone can remember the Land Rover I would love to hear from you.

KEVIN MILLS

Gatehouse Lane, South Luffenham, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8NN

kev@lrm.co.uk

Cautionary

I WRITE to say thank you to those who were involved in finding Barney, our blue roan cocker spaniel who disappeared from our garden on Saturday, December 17 in Winscombe.

I understand he was found at the Co-op on Woodborough Road, and I luckily intercepted him on the way to Hillfields vets where a kind stranger was taking him to be scanned.

Barney is micro chipped and was wearing an ID tag but both were out of date. We moved into the village on December 9 and although we have ordered new ID tags, hadn’t collected them from the hardware shop so the tag Barney was wearing was incorrect. This is a cautionary tale for those who move house. Remember to change the ID tag and to update the micro chip details. Apparently it’s very common for strays to be micro chipped with out of date details.

Thank you once again to those who prevented him from serious harm on the road, we’re eternally grateful.

EMMA DOHERTY

Well Close, Winscombe

Look around

I WONDER how many more times Councillor Elfan Ap Rees will pop up in the news? Why would anybody not consider a new proposal for the Tropicana, etc?

Weston is in need of revitalising, not decimation. Not Mr Rees again surely.

Look around the town - what has been achieved? Library, carrot?

PETER WORRALL

Spruce Way, Weston

Useless

I HAVE lived in Weston for the past 30 years and it sickens me to see the people of this town bow down to such a useless council, one which seems to do what it wants no matter what.

It is going to cost taxpayers �800,000 to demolish. Put that �800,000 to what the council has spent over the past 10-15 years on it and we could have had a new Tropicana. Now all we are going to get from the look of it is either a car park or more sand.

It is time for the people of Weston to rise up against our councillors and give them a black eye or a kick up the backside for wasting our money and treating us like total idiots.

The council holds important meetings behind closed doors, not telling us the reasons and making decisions behind our backs. Look at Dolphin Square, another hotel to blot the landscape.

Our market replaced by up-market shops and a new cinema with eight screens, so the high street will suffer as well as the Odeon cinema that everybody likes. There’s yet another building that will be demolished. It will be more money in this council’s coffers and we will not see it.

People shout and cry about the Tropicana and do nothing. Let’s do what other towns have done, take things over and do it. I want a pool, so let’s do something about it.

MR R G EYERS

Byron Road, Weston

Deplorable

ONLY once before have I written to a newspaper, but never before can I recall a story running for so long as this deplorable saga regarding the Tropicana.

Not a week goes by without seeing a string of complaints involving Councillor Elfan Ap Rees and North Somerset Council. Do our civic leaders ever emerge from their virtual world and read the deluge of complaints and criticisms that pour forth from those they purport to represent?

What sheer incompetence the ongoing saga of the Tropicana has exposed amongst the members of the council. Now, I suppose that if they take the trouble to read this letter they will say that I don’t understand the workings of a council, and its financial constraints.

They may be right, but this I do understand. Would you trust this lot to run a whelk stall when they have deliberated for so many years over the future of an enterprise so important to the well-being of Weston that they now intend to knock it down at a cost reported to be �800,000? Initially, when the Tropicana was first discussed, the economy was not the headline.

Secondly, it is the duty of the council to represent the people of Weston who elected it. Thirdly, they might reflect on all those ridiculous ‘waste of money schemes’ highlighted by so many of the public in the past, that have done nothing to encourage visitors to Weston.

We read that Cllr Ap Rees has said: “Enough is enough; we have been trying for years to do something on this site.” How pathetic! Just the sort of comment we have come to expect.

However, he is quick to trumpet the new-look junction 21, expressing his delight and commenting that he has been working quietly behind the scenes for the past five years to get where we are today. What a great pity that the same enthusiasm wasn’t shown for the Tropicana.

There’s no point in improving the gateway to Weston if we can’t attract the visitors the town so desperately needs.

I’ll throw a challenge to Cllr Ap Rees to call a public meeting, and invite those enthusiastic businessmen who see a need and a future in the Tropicana, but who are being side stepped. Let the citizens of Weston have a debate with all the parties and they will judge whether the plethora of negative comments being bandied around by North Somerset Council are justified.

If the council wants to wash its hands of the matter, why on earth doesn’t it do as has been suggested and give the land away, thus saving �800,000?

Some weeks ago one writer summed up the situation superbly in a letter to the Mercury saying that if it was the Helicopter Museum in danger of survival what would Cllr Ap Rees’ approach be then?

Mind you we all know where our power lies when the council elections come round again.

PETER BALE

Azalea Road, Wick St Lawrence

Dementia

FOLLOWING last week’s widespread publicity concerning the findings of the first dementia audit, which showed that many hospitalised dementia patients were receiving poor care, NHS North Somerset wishes to reassure people with dementia, their families and carers that we are working hard to ensure that the care received by dementia patients in our area is of the highest standard, whether in hospital or any other NHS setting.

We are currently working in close collaboration with Weston General Hospital and Clevedon Community Hospital to introduce eight crucial hospital standards of dementia care, developed by the South West Dementia Partnership in response to many previous national concerns about the poor quality of care experienced by people with dementia while they are in hospital.

These standards embrace everything from respect for the dignity of patients with dementia, the provision of a dementia friendly hospital environment and ensuring patients are kept properly fed and hydrated, to the involvement of volunteers in their care.

Weston hospital also took part in a recent review by the South West Dementia Partnership of general hospital services for people with dementia, and while their formal report on their findings has yet to be completed, feedback has been extremely positive.

We understand the review team was very impressed by the high quality patient-centred care they observed across the trust and in particular with Matron Deb Parson’s strong and successful leadership of the dementia work and the passion and enthusiasm of the team of Dementia Champions.

During the first four months of 2012 we are also holding a series of dementia educational events for NHS staff to further improve methods of supporting people with dementia and building on a highly successful Alzheimer’s Awareness Week earlier this year.

Improving dementia care is an on-going priority for NHS North Somerset. We will continue to work alongside patients with dementia, their families and carers in partnership with our providers of Dementia care, the Alzheimer’s Society and the South West Dementia Partnership, to ensure that they receive the respect, compassion and the expert clinical care to which they are entitled.

JEANETTE GEORGE

Local director – North

Old Church Road, Clevedon

I ATTENDED last Friday evening’s performance with my two children and what a way it was to kick off the Christmas holidays.

It was fantastic, the costumes were amazing and the singing and dancing was on a par with a West End show. The whole atmosphere was wonderful.

We had especially gone to see John Challis who did not disappoint as Abanazar. In these financially tight times a trip out to the Theatre can be expensive for some families but in my opinion the tickets were well worth the money and I would thoroughly recommend it if you are thinking of booking tickets. Do it you won’t be disappointed.

Let’s just hope that the Playhouse can return with a pantomime of this standard in 2012 because we will definitely be back?

HEIDI GRIFFIN

Coronation Road, Banwell

I STILL cannot believe that our council is not willing to hand over the keys to local business entrepreneurs to develop the Tropicana site, surely the instant saving of the projected three quarters of a million pounds demolition is incentive enough.

It blames failed plans by previous projects. The truth appeared to be the nitpicking of our council and its refusal to allow reasonably unfettered development, or even the renovation of a much-loved open air pool or lido.

Perhaps it is time for them to let go, to allow Mr Michael, Mr Mead, Mr Nightingale, and whoever is involved in a consortium to get on and do something with the place.

Just get off its high horse and admit it cannot do anything itself and let the big boys (and girls) play. We might actually have a desperately needed additional attraction on our seafront. Mark my words, no redeveloped shopping precinct, or ski slope is going to save the town. We are heading for a barren wasteland with unemployed filling our high street, a retirement town and dormitory for Bristol and, possibly Taunton, as they gain business investment.

Financially secure residents will shop in the supermarkets or out of town at Cribbs, Taunton and Cabot Circus because of parking issues and the state of the High Street. There will be little to entice them to take the time to enter the town centre. At least a steady stream of holiday-makers would maintain a financial future for our local shops and High Street.

I will be heading for Cribbs or Cabot Circus after an almost pointless trip around the town centre on Saturday.

PAUL BURNS

Sunnyside Road, Weston

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