Letters to the Editor, December 5, 2013

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WHAT IS Councillor Elfan Ap Rees’ obsession with parking all about?

If more parking is to become available to visitors who wish to come to a somewhat run-down town centre but with plenty of coffee, all the more reason that viable parking permits should be made available for those residents who live and spend here in the town, yet have to park outside other people’s homes. Local shop owners agree.

He invites Cllr Darke and others to discuss their concerns regarding Grove Park, is it not time he does the same for local residents?

S CLARKE

Hopkins Street, Weston


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WESTON Lifeboat crew, who risk life and limb saving people from the dangers of the sea or often their own stupidity, should never have been expected to put themselves at risk of injury getting to the lifeboat.

The Mercury pictures show that the RNLI decision to leave the derelict Birnbeck Pier is, if anything, long overdue.

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MRS J EDWARDS

Constable Drive, Worle

LOCAL trader Sarah Schranz has expressed her concerns about Weston losing footfall to Burnham.

She added: “Maybe that it is a bit of a wakeup call. But we don’t want them to lose out either.”

What we are seeing is not so much a threat as an opportunity. Rather than being seen as a loss of Weston’s footfall, it could be viewed as a chance to extend Weston’s footfall to include Burnham. Burnham and Weston need to work together to make the whole of the Weston town region a successful tourist area.

Winterstoke, Sedgemoor, and Mendip should be able to co-operate to the advantage of all. The fly in the ointment is North Somerset Council, which concentrates its attention on Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea and Backwell which lie within Greater Bristol.

Weston’s ‘community of interest’, as a holiday destination, lies with Burnham, not with those Greater Bristol towns.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

WORLE High Street and the Boulevard Christmas lights: I write in regards to the sorry state of these lights.

In Worle High Street one was already out and another broken and look a sorry state,

they seemed to have been swapped with Backwell’s this year?

And the major road into the seafront, what a sorry state of play. Looks just like

Weston now, run down and on borrowed time?

STEVEN EASTLAKE

Madam Lane, Worle

WHY do our green recycling boxes not come with lids?

Whenever it is windy on a collection day, paper, plastic bottles and other rubbish are scattered far and wide.

Today I have picked up no fewer than 40 items of rubbish in a very short stretch of my road.

Recycling is supposed to be an environmental friendly activity, but I fail to see any such desirable aim being achieved with large amounts of rubbish blowing around the district on a regular basis.

JOHN CHINNICK

Worlebury Hill Road, Weston

I READ with interest the article in last week’s Mercury headlined ‘New timetable makes bus passengers late for work’.

I have been commuting to my place of employment at Abbey Wood, Filton, for the past 13 years catching the Number 126 First Bus at Locking Church at 7.10am enabling me and other passengers to catch the 7.37am train from Weston to Abbey Wood.

Several weeks ago this bus was taken off completely. When asked why we were simply told that it was not economically viable to run.

The first bus that I can now catch is 8.10am enabling me to catch the 8.37am train which means that I am over an hour late every day. We are told that the Government has provided several million pounds to help improve commuting in this region, I would like to know where?

MARK BIGGS

Grenville Avenue, Locking

TO MY great surprise Energi Installations Plc has lodged an appeal against the decision of North Somerset Council to refuse its planning application for a massive 32,000 solar panels across five large fields in Bleadon.

Astonishingly in the words of Energi Installations the appeal makes some minor landscaping alterations to the eastern boundary of the original application but does not change the overall significance of the visual effect from public viewpoints.

Basically it admits that the significant adverse visual and landscape impact on the wonderful views from Purn Hill and other public vantage points overlooking the site remain - even though this was rightly one of the main issues that led to the refusal by North Somerset Council.

Equally worryingly is that the number of solar panels has increased dramatically from 32,000 to 36,400 although the boundary of the large commercial scale development has not changed.

I therefore implore your readers who enjoy the magnificent views across the Somerset Levels and Bleadon Moor from Purn Hill and the surrounding Mendip Hills to lodge their objection to this appeal by writing to: The Planning Inspectorate, 3/10b Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN quoting the Appeal Reference APP/D0121/A/13/2208198. Please note that time is short as all objections must be received by December 31.

I would like to add that the appeal appears to inaccurately suggest that very few residential properties and public vantage points would be visually affected by its application and that the development is a temporary one of between 20 to 35 years. What it does not explain is why the development must be on agricultural land within the coastal zone rather than urban brownfield sites outside the coastal zone, which was highlighted as a necessary requirement by North Somerset Council.

It has also elected not to consult with objectors and affected residents before issuing the appeal, instead writing to them concurrently to explain the green benefits of the application and its intention to change the security fencing to rural cattle type fencing (enclosing a single photograph of the latter).

Incidentally I am not sure this change would be endorsed by the police who raised security at the site as a major concern. Moreover Energi have unreasonably timed the appeal to coincide with the Christmas period, thereby effectively shortening the opportunity for publicising the appeal in order to allow objectors sufficient time to lodge their concerns.

COLIN ROBBINS

Purn Lane, Bleadon

READING your article ‘Tennis Court Row’ in last week’s Mercury, it came as no surprise to me that the leader of Weston Town Council, Councillor Peter Crew, decided to ignore his own town council’s decision to oppose the change of use from tennis courts to car park.

With his other hat on, as chairman of North Somerset Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Crew used his casting vote to support North Somerset’s decision to close the tennis courts in order to provide a car park.

Over 50 per cent of Weston’s Town councillors wear two hats and sit on both the town council and district council, which is not good for an independent town council and should create a clear ‘code of conduct interest’. Their political allegiance is with North Somerset Council and they are paid by North Somerset. In Councillor Crew’s case he picks up £13,363 from North Somerset Council in allowances whereas he receives nothing as a town councillor because this is a purely voluntary role.

I have always been sceptical about two-hatted councillors, particularly as North Somerset wants to unload some of their services onto the local town and parish councils because of cutbacks, as we have seen with the museum and thoughts on the future of the old library. District council tax is controlled by Central Government but town councils’ tax is not and they can put up their council tax as much as they see fit. However, any service that the town council takes over from the district is going to cost the local ratepayer almost twice as much on their town council tax bill, plus the huge bills for repair and maintenance. That, of course is attractive to the district and there can be no doubt that two-hatted councillors can have undue influence on a town council.

The political argument is “we cannot get enough people to stand for election so candidates have to double up and stand for both district and town”. The fact is that we do not need 31 town councillors and numbers could quite easily be downsized to around 20.

The other option is for the public not to vote for councillors who want to serve two masters and, therefore, keep the town council independent.

KEN LACEY

Knight Close, Worle

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