Letters to the editor, December 12, 2013

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Un

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Unit 3, Old Station Road, Barnstaple, EX32 8PB. Please keep letters to maximum of 300 words and also include your name, address and contact telephone number. - Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

“THE only reason for accepting their proposal is because it is the RNLI,” says deputy leader of North Somerset Council Elfan Ap Rees.

Personally, I can’t think of a better reason. The Weston branch of the RNLI is 100 per cent charity, run by volunteers, and manned by volunteers who all take time out to voluntarily go out to rescue the residents and children of Weston and the tourists who come to Weston. They risk their own lives and they give, that is give, endless hours to train and maintain the RNLI in Weston.

The RNLI is a free service that saves lives and is not a for profit, business interest as have been the majority of rides and the TV crew that North Somerset Council saw fit to permit.

Councillor Robert Payne said: “What I’m concerned about is the appearance of these things, they are quite industrial” referring to the RNLI containers now situated by Marine Lake. They are being painted and, I think, blend in as well as is humanly possible.

In contrast, little boats for kids floating on a blow-up, artificial pond, a helter skelter, a kids’ trampoline, not to mention all the wires, large cameras and unsightly accompanying buildings for the TV production which were all here at different times the past few years by Marine Lake - does he really think any or all of these were preferable to the three quiet, non-obtrusive RNLI containers? I can assure you, as someone who lives in Knightstone Beacon and not only views that part of Marine Lake but also walks out that way mostly every day, this is the nicest-looking, quietest, most unobtrusive and most beneficial addition to that part of the Marine Lake promenade than there has been for several years.

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Councillor John Crockford-Hawley, as reported in the Mercury, says he sees both sides of the argument. What argument? Does the council now have an argument with the RNLI? This is not Birnbeck Pier, or the Tropicana, this is the RNLI. The same RNLI who would never argue with any councillor out there in the channel drowning or argue with any councillor who has a kid or grandchild stuck out there in the mud. And, let us not forget, does not charge one penny for its invaluable service to the locale, either.

I see the councillors’ and council’s job as advocates and proponents for the RNLI. Find them a place for an HQ and access the channel and, if necessary, help fund it - even if with loans until they can raise the needed funds. The RNLI daily (24/7) performs necessary and lifesaving work. The council relies on them to keep residents and tourists safe in this seaside town and needs them to be available. The council does not pay the RNLI and so, at the very least, I advocate the council can bring its considerable influence and pressure to bear in maintaining this completely necessary service that the RNLI provides.

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We have three containers that do not block the promenade and still leave lots of room for users; containers (which are manned by very polite and neighbourly RNLI) which are blending in silently and well with their new coat of off-white paint.

The RNLI is not to blame for the ruins of Birnbeck Pier.

You are right, Cllr Elfan Ap Rees when you say, per the Mercury’s article: “I think the majority of people would say we should support the RNLI.” So, why don’t you and the council do just that, and let our RNLI get on with their 24/7 volunteer commitment of saving lives?


Knightstone Causeway, Weston

WITH reference to the report in last week’s Mercury, the prevarication of the deputy leader of North Somerset Council regarding the temporary location of the RNLI’s launching facilities was negative in the extreme, and is quite remarkable when one considers the ever-present risk to the lives of merchant mariners and others who exercise their right to go to sea.

Furthermore, the rather dictatorial declaration by Councillor Elfan Ap Rees that these temporary units “must go where we say” displays a lofty and almost disrespectful attitude towards the Lifeboat Institution’s urgent requirements in this case, and to raise the possibility of planning impediments is simply beyond belief.

This is sadly reminiscent of an earlier pronouncement on nautical matters by the same councillor, who made the astonishing and potentially dangerous suggestion that inflatable craft might be employed to convey passengers out to the then Steep Holm ferry ‘Westward Ho’ which had been temporarily prevented from using its customary berth at Knightstone Harbour.

To invoke a phrase frequently in use nowadays: “What price health and safety?”

Unfortunately, the days of a professional harbour master in Weston are long gone. However, in addition to the highly experienced RNLI, there remains a great deal of practical knowledge among the local boat-owning community, whose occasional views on maritime matters might prove useful to a council which has a hard enough task on its hands in these rather tough and difficult times.


Bleadon Hill, Weston

I AM incandescent over the suggestion that the council is considering

allowing the RNLI to ‘plonk’ a huge container on the, only recently

completed, seafront.

If I formed a charity, which is very easy, would I be allowed to do such a thing? I think not!

The RNLI knew for a long time that it would have to relocate so it should not be forcing the council to be panicked into allowing this.

It is not fair on residents, hoteliers or visitors that this monstrosity should even be considered.

What a damned cheek the RNLI have to even suggest such a thing. Selfish, inconsiderate and ill-conceived.

This must not be allowed to happen.

We’ve waited years for the seafront to be finished to the high standard that it now is - are we going to allow it to be ruined?


Lower Kewstoke Road, Worle

HAVING read last week’s story about CCTV cameras on the Bournville estate, do they think that we all have short memories?

If we look back, these cameras were first installed about five years ago, but for reasons best known to whomever had them installed, they were then removed about 18 months later. So where this more than a year after it was first considered comes in, God only knows.

About four years ago I spoke to a community police officer regarding an incident in Baildon Road and I was given a telephone number for the CCTV company. I contacted them one evening only to be told that I would need a police order before the camera could be directed in any one direction and that the likelihood was that cameras on estates were rarely named due to lack of resources.

So isn’t it more realistic to believe that the cameras on the Bournville estate were reinstated about a month after a young man was sadly beaten to death and that if the cameras had been up and running that night, the outcome may have had a different outcome.

So before you all go congratulating yourselves on a job well done, please spare a thought for the family of the young man who died.

To the residents of the Bournville estate, don’t be surprised if you every have to phone the CCTV company and you get the same response that I did.


Baildon Crescent, Weston

WHAT a good idea to read on the front page of last week’s Weston Mercury, how a giant 40ft metal cabin could soon be moved onto the promenade by Marine Lake with a second smaller unit containing a changing room and toilets for the boat’s life-saving crew, and could be home to one of the town’s lifeboats for the next five years. While the RNLI tries to find a new permanent base.

Weston has had a lifeboat station since 1882, the first lifeboat, William James Holt, was hung from davits on Birnbeck Pier. She was a 25ft-long, eight oared self-righter, and arrived in Weston on November 5 1882.

I think we in Weston should do all we can to support the RNLI now that Birnbeck Pier has become no more than a death trap for our brave RNLI crew.

Many extraordinary feats of bravery and selfless dedication to duty have been recorded over the years and many awards received by Weston’s crews and still saving lives at sea.

So I hope that North Somerset councillors will give the green light for planning permission for the RNLI for a base at Marine Lake.


Victoria Park, Weston

A FEW weeks ago there was an article in the Mercury talking about the possibility of the council increasing the height of the new sea defences.

Well, with the gales and the tide time last week, the waves were 20ft high and, as usual, crashing over the sea walls all down the seafront. Does this mean when and if the council decides to increase the height of the new sea defences they will be 20ft high too - the Berlin Wall comes to mind - in order to attempt to stop the waves coming over and damaging all the buildings along the whole of the seafront - they are all still standing the test of the sea and elements, after how many years? Just a thought.


Richards Close, Worle

I HAD to smile at the lovely little article on the new flood risk strategy asking for public feedback. Well, here goes.

At the top of Maysgreen Lane in Hewish, three are six gullies. Every few years or so a wagon comes out and they (attempt) to clear these gullies. I say attempt, because there is a huge problem somewhere at the top of the lane, but does anything get done about it? What do you think?

They stick the pipes down the manholes, blow a bit of water around, are surprised that nothing clears, and that the gullies still stay full of water.

The latest occasion was last week. The guys said that ever time they try to do anything with these gullies, they can’t, but the worst thing is, they don’t even try to investigate the problem.

The answer seems to be that they have the same problem every time, so let’s not bother to try and sort it out.

We’ll just go away until the next couple of years.

With a lot of rain the fields fill up very quickly and the amount of standing water becomes horrendous, as does the level of the rhynes, as these aren’t being managed at all. If that’s a flood prevention strategy, God help us.


Maysgreen Lane, Hewish

A NICE sunny Saturday recently but irritating.

Why with an empty Town Square, did we have to push between a stall keeper cooking food, a roundabout, a snow globe and a band, all on Big Lamp Corner which is always busy with food shops, cafes and parking for cycles.

Also, of course, there is that thing called the carrot which looks like a parsnip.


Kestral Drive, Worle

NORTH Somerset Council has been much maligned over the years and I must confess that I have had the odd whinge.

At this time of goodwill it is a pleasure to write of a recent visit to the Town Hall.

I had a problem with my bus pass so I entered the hallowed hall, to be accosted by a most pleasant lady who asked it she could help me.

She listened, sympathised, took a few details, made a brief internal telephone call and the problem was solved.

I did not expect such efficiency and understanding and it is so refreshing to find civil servants who are actually civil.


Clarence Grove Road

ANGELA MITCHELL from Weston had asked a question about the new Elmham Way bus lane and a response was published in North Somerset Life from Steven Thorne, transport policy officer.

The question was about how this new bus lane would reduce congestion on trying to reach junction 21 of

the M5. Apparently one bus number 16 an hour uses this route but there is

now a new commuter coach service operating and I have found out from the

Kings Ferry site that there will be four services in the morning and four

at night.

The coaches are 49 seaters and therefore times four, even if everyone on the

coach used to drive individually, the maximum number of cars less on the roads

would be under 200.

Mr Thorne says that hundreds of cars would be removed from using junction 21.

The picture as I see it is very much like the bus lane in Congresbury where four buses an hour use the land which has made the area by Tesco Express far more dangerous for motorists.

These bus lanes are empty for most of the day but I don’t know if the Elmham Way has limited hours of operation. Even so it is hardly going to be used and you have to ask the question as to why money is being spent to introduce it?

I know that some of these schemes were solely introduced to use EU money which was available which is ridiculous.

I have e-mailed the Life magazine stating that I felt the response from the transport policy officer was bereft of detail and the content given did not in my mind justify the introduction of the bus lane.


Farleigh Road, Backwell

I READ with interest that one, or possibly two, wards are shut once again because of the norovirus problem.

Once again Mr Gallegos seems to think strongly that visitors may be unknowingly carrying the infection in on their clothes. This may be so.

But I personally think Mr Gallegos also needs to put his own house in order by not allowing nurses to wear their uniforms out of the hospital. As well as the public being unwitting carriers, what’s to say that nursing staff are not also carrying the infection in? I often see nurses in their uniforms filling up their cars at petrol stations, shopping in supermarkets and around town.

I have also visited patients many times at the hospital and have seen both doctors and nurses going from one patient to another without gelling their hands.

I had first hand experience of this when I was a patient in the hospital earlier this year. On two occasions I was about to be examined by a doctor and a nurse, and both were going to touch me without gelling their hands after just having examined other patients on the ward. I had to ask them politely to gel their hands (which they did).


West Garston, Banwell

I WRITE in reference to Mr Sheldrake’s letter last week, along with the many others he has written about the same subject.

Perhaps Mr Sheldrake you would like to cast your mind back to the time that Weston town centre was patrolled by traffic wardens. I believe that they were operational up until 2006, maybe 2005.

If you lived in the town centre at this time and, indeed prior to, you will no doubt be aware that town centre residents were unable to park outside their homes for anything greater than one hour free of charge. They then had to remove their vehicles and were not able to return to the same street for a period of two hours or they would face the problem of a parking ticket.

This scheme was still in force up until the introduction of the new scheme but without traffic wardens fell on the responsibility of the police force to enforce.

So Mr Sheldrake many of those town centre residents who you continually write to the Mercury about have never had the ability to park outside their homes for long periods of time.


Milton Green, Weston

IT APPEARS that the introduction of on-street parking has not been the unqualified success for businesses that Cllr Elfan Ap Rees keeps telling us (Mercury, December 5).

However at least he is trying to help local firms and shoppers. He has also been reported as hoping to remove some double lines from roads up the hill from the town centre for the benefit of residents there.

Worle Parkway offers very cheap parking, new housing estates must provide parking, motorcyclists get free parking as do disabled drivers.

However he still persists in his attack on town centre residents in residential streets, stopping them and their visitors from parking anywhere near their homes.

Why does he have this obsession against them? What have we done to make him so against town centre residents?

As we are in a disadvantaged area perhaps he feels that we, or our visitors, should not have cars. Perhaps our executive member for transport should stop living in the past and embrace a more forward looking attitude and actually help a few residents.


Palmer Row, Weston

HOW many Town Hall workers does it take to change the rope on a flagpole?

I don’t know either, but I do know that it took 29 days.

Why the fuss? Well in the past it has always been North Somerset Council policy to replace the council flag with the Royal British Legion (RBL) Flag of Remembrance seven days prior to Remembrance Day, that is November 4.

This has been custom and practice for at least the last 18 years and was approved by the then chief executive and the leaders of the various political parties.

It was necessary to get their consent because at that time there was only one flagpole and it meant taking down the council flag to be replaced by the RBL flag.

This year however that did not happen despite there now being two flagpoles, so when I made enquiries, after several days I was told they would only be flying the RBL flag for two days leading up to Remembrance Sunday.

When I questioned what would happen on Monday, the actual Remembrance Day, November 11, I was informed that they had contacted the RBL who had confirmed they would be pleased if it was flown for two days.

I am confused as to why the council felt it necessary to get the approval of the RBL on an issue that had been approved by their own councillors and chief executive.

Eventually the RBL Flag of Remembrance was flown on Thursday 7, but, alas, the rope broke on Friday 8, and the council claimed that the flag was lost.

I have personally put hundreds of flags up and down various flag-poles and know full well that the flag is secured to the rope both top, by a toggle and bottom by a lanyard, or in the event of the military they use Inglefield clips both top and bottom.

This would indicated to me that if the rope should break (this is on top of a multi-million pound newly refurbished building) then the flag would still be secured to it either by the top or the bottom, so it is possible to recover the flag and repair/replace the rope.

Even if the flag was somehow lost, then why was it not replaced in time for Remembrance Day?

Most items can now be purchased and delivered within 24 hours, why not a new flag?

I view all of the above fiasco as being an insult to what the RBL flag represents and that North Somerset Council not respecting the words ‘Lest we forget’ and replacing with ‘We cannot be bothered to remember’.

The flag rope has finally been replaced after 29 days to allow the council flag to fly at half mast for Nelson Mandela. Well they got something right, so I suppose I should be grateful for that.


Walliscote Grove Road, Weston

I WOULD like to thank the gentleman who picked up my wallet and handed it into T K Maxx in Worle.

It was subsequently taken to the Town Hall where I retrieved it.

I was very relieved to get it back – so once again thank you very much for your honesty.


Elderberry Walk, Worle

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