Letters to the Editor, December 6, 2012

Home zones

IT IS clear from the spread of views expressed in the Mercury that there are arguments for and against parking meters.

They are proving popular with traders in the Orchard Meadows shops it seems. On the other hand, Brian Sheldrake points out that matters are different on residential streets like Hopkins Street.

Elsewhere, eg, in Scunthorpe and Amsterdam, and even in central Bristol, roads like Hopkins Street and Wooler Road have been converted into pleasant home zones with plenty of parking for residents.

As Mr Sheldrake wrote, there is not much call for them to be used for parking by shoppers.


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The council needs to be more imaginative. A park and ride at Worle would help to free up the streets. Also, Alexandra Parade might be re-designed to provide free parking close to the shops, provided more trees were planted to absorb the additional carcinogens.

ROBERT CRAIG

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Priory Road, Weston

Plenty of room

IN LAST week’s Mercury James Lovell has very limited sympathy for car owners in the residential town centre area.

I would suggest he looks at Hopkins Street and Palmer Street where there are next to no shops.

There is plenty of room for both residents and shoppers to park on streets, why cannot we have both? Shoppers can also use car parks, off road, for the same price. I am sure Mr Lovell does not have to pay �2.40 every two hours (and move to another street) where he lives.

He mentions two vandalised parking meters. Has he considered that is was done by shoppers not wanting to pay to park, rather than residents.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

A mystery

MANY businesses have multiple sites, some with, and some without car parking.

Why Tony Lake thinks staff at Castlewood would have to pay if Weston staff could not use the Locking Road car park is a mystery.

Now that North Somerset Council has taken over the Dolphin Square car park will council staff be allowed to use that free of charge? Maybe North Somerset council taxpayers could also use the car parks for free if there are available spaces.

PETER BARRINGTON

Hutton Hill, Hutton

Seems to multiply

I AM dismayed to see the state of Weston High Street, where the number of stalls selling various products seems to multiply on an almost daily basis. I counted yesterday in excess of 25.

I appreciate the occasional market is appropriate, and did not consider the stalls of consequence when I saw them last Saturday, but a week later the stalls are still insitu selling all types of goods, which can almost, without exception, be purchased from shops already established in the town.

I have learnt that the sum paid for the concession is less than �100 for a week, for all stalls not each stall. This is in itself ridiculous and is a smack in the face for all the businesses that trade throughout the year. Further, they are the ones who pay rates 365 days a year, and are now also burdened with the BID payments.

Rather than attract the public to the High Street, I firmly believe this arrangement of a large number of gazebo style tents is a retrograde step for the town.

We need to attract businesses to the High Street where there are far too many shops empty, but how can we do this when the High Street looks appalling due to the hotch potch of stalls?

Indeed, if you stood in South Parade looking down the High Street it is obliterated by such stalls and the more established businesses in this section of High Street must be appalled that their businesses, which they have built up over the years, are being adversely affected by the introduction of these poor quality retailers.

I hope the town centre manager can ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again, for I do not understand how it can be justified, and it certainly does not help anyone who has an established business in the town.

I hope that this will result in a more common sense approach being made to assist the established businesses in the town, who need to maximise revenue at this time of year to cover the quieter post-Christmas trading period.

This is a copy of a letter I have sent to the town centre manager.

MICHAEL RIPLEY

Stephen & Co, Waterloo Street, Weston

Brave decision

THANK goodness we have councillors of the character of Councillor Mike Bell who is prepared to stand up and ‘whistle blow’ against the ‘feather nesting’ of other councillors to free park at the taxpayers’ expense.

It was a brave decision to stand up for us (which, isn’t that what they are supposed to do?) because I can see now he’s not going to be very high in the council’s popularity stakes.

But what incensed me was the pathetic justification by Councillor Tony Lake in his own reasons for the self pampering. In typical ‘legal doubletalk’ he argued that “There is a clear difference in moving illegally parked vehicles into car parks?”

Hello! I don’t get the connection between that and you not paying your dues. So, you want more space for shoppers. I still don’t get the connection as to why you shouldn’t pay your rightful dues.

Now your next sentence: “If we were to consider charging all staff this would have to apply to our two hubs at the Town Hall in Weston and at Castlewood.” Now there’s a start. Looks like you are beginning to see the light except that you end up with a sob story. “Which could lead to on-street parking by staff and councillors. So?

Then you go on to justify your argument by stating that, by you parking free there, does not prevent the paying public from parking there.”

And, Glory Be, it gets worse. With a magnanimous gesture you announce to the fair-minded Mercury readers that should the 1,300 plus employees of the council try to stay, without paying, longer than all day they’ll get their knuckles rapped by a warden. Well then, what can be fairer than that?

Come on Tony, this is the real world we live in not fantasy. Give me some substantial facts why the whole town must pay for parking so that a substantial elite should park free, and I will be able to sleep peacefully.

GIOVANNI C POLLI

Milton Hill, Weston

Pay council tax

IN RESPONSE to Councillor Cannifords’s comments re the market resembling a refugee camp may I make the following comments.

Firstly the people who work on the market are hard working and do not need these derogatory comments. Perhaps he would prefer that they all sit down and sign on which would make for a much easier life than standing out in all weathers.

I don’t know when the councillor visited the area but if it was Sunday or Monday several stalls were wrecked in the storm on Saturday night and those stallholders simply cleared up and did the best they could under difficult circumstances.

With regard to no advantage to the town, the organisers pay North Somerset Council to hold the market and many of the stallholders are local and therefore pay council tax as well as a fee to use their pitch, so who makes no contribution to Weston?

I understand that business rates though collected locally actually go to Central Government.

Perhaps the councillor should talk to people before he speaks and as a Lib/Dem I am not sure that he has shown much of either a liberal or a democratic attitude.

If the good people of Weston don’t want the market they won’t support it and it will close.

FRANCES COULDWELL

Holly Close, Weston

Best carnival

COACH loads of visitors flocked to Weston and thousands lined the streets to witness what was probably the best carnival ever. It was a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Years ago it was reported that 100,000 came to see the show, but it is now more likely to be 50,000.

With the revised charitable giving of �13,400 this only works out at under 27p per head. There is very little you can buy for 27p, certainly not a cup of coffee, can of Coke or bag of chips, yet this is all people thought the carnival was worth.

The fact that the carnival was held on Friday and not Monday should have been an advantage as watchers did not have to go to work or school the following day.

Yes it was raining but this did not seem to hold back the crowds.

There were plenty of stewards with collecting buckets, but hands stayed in pockets. For many it was a free show, but think of all the work that went into it. Many of the carts were a year in the making and yet it was only worth 27p - nearly a quarter of a lottery ticket.

It is good to know that the organisers were happy with the result and that the carnival is safe for another year.

We would all be the poorer if the carnival did not exist and without support this could be a distinct possibility.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Support

I WRITE to applaud the decision of Enterprise Inns to reopen my local pub, the Bristol House Inn, in Milton Road.

A local campaign team, of which I was privileged to be a member, wanted to stop Tesco or anyone else from occupying the site, so we have kept the pub open.

It would seem that people power has achieved its objective. Even the local councillors come good when it matters.

We were extremely fortunate in having Mark Thyer as our campaign co-ordinator. His passion and determination has done much to achieve an unlikely triumph for the community.

He thoroughly deserves our thanks and appreciation for the tremendous job he has done.

I sincerely hope that many of the 3,000 plus people who signed the petition will now support the new operators and enable the Bristol House Inn to fulfil its potential and become our community pub once again.

DAVE JURY

Woodstock Road, Weston

Remained loyal

CONGRATULATIONS to the new St James Street market traders.

In spite of being told your move will be to St James Street or nowhere, they have not only remained loyal to their customers, friendly, and helpful as always, but also determined to overcome all adversity.

Hopefully with the planned expansion to take place just before Christmas all their hard work and determination is about to come to fruition.

Well done and a sincere thank you one and all. The council’s usual pie crusts promises of big names queuing up to move into Dolphin Square has proved to be another of its pipe dreams because no big names are moving in.

Therefore with nothing but coffee shops, charity and ‘we sell your gold’ shops springing up like mushrooms overnight, and individual shops being forced to close because of exorbitant rents, we will need our new market more than ever before. When will Weston’s councillors outgrow the current attitude of do it our way or not at all? Is there a councillor capable of telling the residents, who pay their salaries, the truth?

MRS G N FLETCHER

Baker Street, Weston

Perfect

I READ your article ‘Couple’s dream of buying their first home turns sour’.

Although I cannot comment on Lynsey’s personal experiences with the developers, our experience has been nothing but perfect since moving in at the start of September.

Yes we have had the issues you would expect with a new home such as sticking doors, a few gaps missed out by the sealant, etc, but on notifying the site’s customer care team by a simple call someone was around the next day to put it right.

Furthermore over the weekend with the terrible weather we had a small leak.

Again I called the customer care team and two men were at my flat within 15 minutes.

The service I’ve received has been second to none and everyone on site I have encountered has been friendly and helpful.

RHOD PERRYMAN

Cranwell Road, Locking Parklands

Reasonable rent

I AM writing in response to an article featured in the Mercury on October 25, entitled ‘Rent could soar over next eight years, warn experts’.

As someone who is trying to move to Weston to be near my family, you should also consider how hard it is for people to find suitable accommodation at a reasonable rent.

Obviously landlords seek to maximise on their investments but, as a pensioner, I now have very little chance of finding what I need because my annual income falls far below the requirements demanded by letting agents.

I enquired about one particular property, and ensured it was within my capabilities to rent, only to find I needed to be in receipt of in excess of �30,000 a year - far more than I was ever able to earn as a local government officer for the last 25 years.

In fact, the property in question is still standing empty after being vacated by the previous tenant in August.

Being picky doesn’t always pay the rent.

Using a letting agent is also costly as they ask for money for rental agreements, rental checks and the like - and all they do is press a few buttons on the computer.

I know - that’s my job. I had budgeted for bond, deposit and removal costs but every trip down here to look for somewhere to live is eating into my capital.

One mention of housing benefit, even as a top-up, and the rentals door shuts in your face. Likewise if you mention you have a pet, never mind whether it’s a Great Dane or a goldfish, you’re shown that same door again.

Private landlords who deal with their own rentals are more forthcoming - in fact, I have met some who are absolutely lovely, and sympathetic, wanting only a tenant and their rent.

However, they are either trying to shoehorn you into their houses/flats before the previous tenant has actually left the premises or they fail to make any form of communication with you after your initial enquiry.

With the recession being the cause of my imposed retirement, and there being absolutely no chance for me to buy a property, renting is my only option, but the way it is handled by lettings agencies and private landlords leaves me without any viable options except to live more than 150 miles away.

This severely restricts contact with my family at times when they need the most help.

I have been a tenant with my present landlord for nearly 20 years without a problem, but I am not good enough to rent in Weston, even though I also run my own business and have savings.

LINDA HOTCHKISS

West Barkwith, Lincs

Flood plain

ALL OF the flooding in Weston this week has been on the flood plain.

I noticed that Locking Airfield was mostly underwater in recent days and now we plan to build hundreds of houses on it.

When will planners and councils learn that houses on flood plains will flood?

PETER FOLLETT

Weston Way, Hutton

Pledged

I WAS very gratified to read that Dr Liam Fox has pledged to fight the new Severn Barrage bid and hope that John Penrose MP and North Somerset Council will support his campaign.

Much as I prefer wind and wave technology to the potentially catastrophic nuclear option I am not in favour of this particular scheme as it could ruin Weston as a resort and have a devastating effect on the council’s resources.

Both of the Holmes, all of the Welsh coast to the south and west of Penarth and the coast of West Somerset would be on the other side of the barrage.

Bang goes our sea view, one of the few remaining assets poor old Weston has.

This is not a case of “not in my back yard” but “not in my front garden”. If the scheme goes through it will really cook the goose that lays the districts golden (well, silver perhaps) eggs.

ROY CHANCELLOR

Westbury Crescent, Weston

Total agreement

I SEE by the responses in last week’s Mercury that staffie owners are a little hot under the dog collar.

Perhaps my comments were seen as somewhat stereo-typical and the comments I received were justified. Also Jack Russells have had a bad press recently.

I am in total agreement with Mrs Dunton that all dogs should be kept on leads in public places and it is the dog owners who are responsible.

As P D Hall stated there is no such a thing as a bad dog only bad owners.

ANN RICHARDS

Gleneagles Close, Worle

So creepy

I NOTICED in the Midweek Mercury that our esteemed Councillor Elfan Ap Rees was hailing the street light switch off as having been absolutely a success.

For whom? Certainly not for me walking to the station for the 6am London train. At the back of Ellenborough Park - so creepy in the pitch darkness.

If only the said councillor could have been with me then, even he might have felt a little uneasy.

Why he has not had any complaints recently is easy to spot.

All had originally fallen on stony ground and so there was no point in constantly drawing attention to the lack of safety on our back roads.

He was not going to take any notice.

We tend to sneer about the so called Third World countries who cannot afford to keep their street lights on at night, but the truth is that Weston must count itself as one of them, in the current climate.

CHRIS NORTON

Moorland Road, Weston

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