Letters to the Editor, December 10, 2015
- Credit: Archant
I THINK the people of Weston are quite upset about the local news in respect to the proposed £9million spends on Hutton Moor Leisure Centre.
As there has been so much coverage in the press over time and many letters to the press which have asked why a new pool so far out of town? All local people know Hutton Moor but what about our visitors? Where and how are they to be told about this new swimming pool?
Another question is if this new pool had an Olympic size maybe it could mean more potential use as well? Well, water flumes and wave machines sound great, mind you if you remember correctly they didn’t do much for the Tropicana.
I also agree with John Ley-Morgan’s letter and suggestion, that North Somerset Council (NSC) do a deal with the Blue Lagoon developers from Pembrokeshire, Wales. It now appears to have stood the test of time, and see what they can come up with.
Of course maybe working together they can come up with something which could work for everyone, especially Weston, it again comes back to a pool on the seafront.
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If NSC can get both things to happen it’s a big win for Weston, their immediate plans to work so much the better. It always comes back to having something right on the seafront.
Also another subject covered many times, by myself and last week Brian Austin has been about the Old Pier, its plans for the future, together with this question of actually saving what’s there, if possible. And finally with the owner Wahid Samady. First we have a situation where we have a group of people who are attempting to refurbish Birnbeck Pier to its former glory, despite so many things against it. They
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Are as I understand, in the process of raising about £80,000 to cover the costs estimated for a structural feasibility survey.
No work, just an estimate, as I understand? And as this was already done a few years ago they already have one and know what’s there.
The Save The Birnbeck Group ‘is counting on getting the £15,000,000 they think they need from a grant from the National Lottery or some other public body.
As I understand, grants of this can be made only to a registered charity, who owns the freehold. Not a private company.
But we also have Wahid Samady telling the piers trust that he will be agreeable to signing a 25 year lease with them. Which can be on for obvious reasons.
All Mr Samady is interested in is permission to develop the land side and now I read that someone is suggesting demolishing the concrete pier extensions.
They I think would not be able to do that as they are part of what they are fighting for and that if they want to keep the original pier intact, the Old Pier as everyone knows is a complete wreck. I cannot see any future with the present situation of anything ever going to happen. The owner wants his cake and eat it, and if he can unload the pier without anything else, he will do it.
The council’s hands are tied; they cannot make the owner do anything in respect to the Old Pier. And I am sure as it stand the regeneration group will be unable to obtain any funding at all, and in any case demolishing the concrete pier extensions is not I am sure allowed.
LAURENCE F ORME
Shrubbery Avenue, Weston
SHAME on you Councillors Bell and Payne, aren’t things bad enough with parking in Alfred Street without you imposing more parking charges? Having to pay outside my home in the day is not right, let alone paying more each year on top of that. The town centre has some of the poorest and worst accommodation in Weston, why should they be picked on to pay more.
When are those people that have been on the council for years and seem to always get their own way going to learn people living in Weston cannot subsidise other areas. Why didn’t you stand up and stop the installation of parking meters to begin with? Now we all have to live with you mistakes. You are both out of touch with the community; we can’t afford to pay out anymore to the council. I would call for a vote of no confidence, if I knew how, but you would probably only find a way to avoid that as well.
MRS PAULINE HAWKINS
Alfred Street, Weston
NORTH Somerset Council has once again managed to alienate almost the entire population of Weston with their devious and sly methods of getting their own way.
Why on earth do they think that speculating £9million on a second fun pool at Hutton Moor is the best deal for Weston residents? The answer is, of course, that they don’t. How can they? If they truly believe that the Tropicana will be unable to make a profit and be unsustainable as a business under the Trop Trust, or for that matter any other investor that is led by those experienced in tourism and being funded by their own money how do they imagine they can by spending over twice as much as the projected Tropicana costing on a site miles from the seafront?
What makes the council believe that they can make money on a £9million project that will sit in an area difficult for residents of Weston to visit without a car and where no other family attractions are situated?
The answer is pretty simple. They don’t. They have no interest in whether it is profitable or not. Their only interest is to ensure that the Tropicana will never again be a true tourist venue.
Art venue? Not a hope. Banksy was a one off and he had to leave before the rain set in.
People came from around the world for his exhibition. I can’t see anyone coming from Burnham let alone Japan for the end of the pier quality we will eventually get.
Theme park? So they visited Margate and Dreamland. So did Del Boy on his Jolly Boys day out. How apt. If they really wanted a theme park they had the opportunity years ago when a well known businessman put forward plans for a park on the airfield. It was turned down as it may take business away from the town centre.
There are of course more pressing matters for us to consider.
Page nine of last weeks Mercury carries the news that the council are scrapping the lollipop men and women who keep our little ones safe whilst crossing busy roads. This will save £34,000 a year. Remind us again how much they intend forking out on iPad’s.
Never mind residents of Weston. During the May council elections you had the perfect opportunity to rid yourselves of this inept mob but you preferred instead to give them another four years to complete what appears to be their objective... removing Weston from the tourist map altogether.
Old Mill Way, Weston
CONSERVATIVE Councillor Richard Nightingale says that Hutton Moor is the best site for a new swimming pool for Weston. What a U-turn from the man who once saw himself as the Tropicana’s saviour to now being a cheerleader for abandoning the dream of getting our seafront pool back!
Weston once had two pools on the seafront – at the Tropicana and Knightstone. Previous generations of town leaders recognised that having swimming facilities on the seafront made sense for both residents and visitors alike.
Those running North Somerset Council seem to be the only people around who think that we don’t need a pool at the Trop and I cannot for the life of me understand why. We do need a second pool for Weston. We do need an industry-leading family water park. And we need it at the Tropicana.
For years we’ve had a long line of excuses from the Town Hall. We have been told that pools cannot make money. We’ve been told that the council has no cash. We’ve been told that there are no private investors interested.
But what is this? Now the council has found approaching £2million to renovate the Tropicana and turn it into a café and events space to ‘build on the Banksy legacy’. They’ve found private sector partners to help invest an estimated £9million in a second pool at Hutton Moor. Both done without asking local residents what they want even once.
It appears that there is a bottomless well of cash to deliver what Town Hall bosses want, but no cash at all when it comes to delivering what many local residents want.
My plea to the council, as it has been over the many years since the Tropicana pool closed, is simple. Please sit down with those interested in developing the Tropicana, including the Trop Trust, and look seriously at what we can do to get the covered seafront pool that so many want. It’s not rocket science and I am certain that a lot of folk would wish you well in the endeavour.
COUNCILLOR MIKE BELL
Weston Central Ward
The Crescent, Milton
SO I have heard that North Somerset Council (NSC) is thinking about building another pool at Hutton Moor and I’ve seen the complaints in the paper, but I think it is a brilliant idea. I visit Hutton Moor with my grandchildren, it’s often busy and over crowded and sometimes you can’t even get in. The truth of the matter is that Weston is growing all the time especially in that area, putting more and more pressure on the facility. My only complaint is that NSC didn’t act earlier to add more swimming space; they must have known how much the facility was in demand. As for a pool in the Tropicana, personally I would like to see everything in one area, I don’t want to be taking my grandson to water slides on the seafront, while my granddaughter learns to swim at Hutton Moor and if it’s more cost effective for taxpayers, why not? Also there will always be more future demand at Hutton Moor with the number of houses being built on the old airfield. Though I do think we have to do more for tourists who visit the town. Give NSC several more years and they might figure that out as well.
Chelswood Avenue, Weston
I READ last weeks letters pages with some interest. As the address suggests I live in Banwell, but work in the centre of Weston. I joined Central Weston Resident group last year, to help their campaign for wheelchair access at the train station. The group works hard to highlight the issues associated with working and living in the town centre. The recently installed parking meters have divided us. Shop owners seem to welcome them, while there is no doubt they have caused misery to people who live there. Therefore we began a campaign to make people in the area exempt or remove meters from residential areas. Residents parking areas were debated by the group, but the cost implication to households were unacceptable.
The only person from the council I have seen at our meetings is Mr Nightingale. However today I have told by the chairman that Cllr Bell wants to impose these zones. To my knowledge he has never attended any of the meetings and I was wondering why he wants to support something that nobody else wants and something that will cost each and every person inside the zone hundreds of pounds? We need a common sense approach and above all people on the council who will listen to those people whose daily lives are affected by their decisions.
High Street Banwell
YES I know we all would like to have the pool back at the Tropicana, but the real question is – is it practical for people that live in Weston? The Tropicana is better off being a place for tourists. Yes we all enjoyed it in its time, but do you really want to go to a place that will be packed with tourists wanting to go for a swim and there isn’t free parking like there is at Hutton Moor. I think the idea of refurbishing Hutton Moor and building another pool and water park there is a great idea for Weston residents. I have been to Hutton Moor many times and only about twice has it not been busy. The fact that so many people live in Weston and we only have one pool is simply crazy. The proposal of extending and refurbishing Hutton Moor is something that should have been done years ago. I would rather a pool and a water park to be all in one place. I don’t want to be going to the Tropicana for a water park and then going to Hutton Moor for a pleasure swim. It makes sense to me.
Amberey Road, Weston
I AM writing with regards to the proposed water park scheme being considered for Hutton Moor Leisure locale. I wholeheartedly support this, as I strongly believe Weston is lacking in facilities to draw in tourists and for residents to partake in and to have an attraction such as this in our town can only be advantageous.
I would definitely use this facility and think the nominated site would be perfect due to the existing provision in place, including on-site car parking and other leisure options. Who could say no to a fun family friendly water park, with the ability to give pleasure to local residents and bring revenue to our town?
I sincerely hope this proposal receives the support it deserves.
Dunster Crescent, Oldmixon
I WOULD like to say a huge thank you for the tickets that I was very fortunate to have won to see ‘An Audience with Lesley Garrett’ at the Playhouse. It was a very enjoyable evening for me and my sister Marlene.
MRS F LAND
Christon Terrace, Weston
IT IS shocking to learn that over 500,000 cars are on the road in this country without road tax, especially as there were les than half this number reported in 2013. It is no coincidence that this sharp increase follows the scrapping of the paper tax discs which has proved a very stupid decision. It is iconic that if motorists park in a pay and display zone without displaying the ticket or a disabled driver does not display the blue badge they are treated like petty criminals, although unlike drivers without the road fund tax they are no danger to other road users. I have no doubt that many of these dishonest drivers do not even have insurance and they think that because there is no visible disc on the car they can get away with it. Tax discs should be brought back and to go one step further there should also be an insurance disc which would include the owner’s name. Surely it would not be difficult for insurance companies to issue a disc with the documents and they could even include their logo on the disc. Motorists who evade paying tax are not only dishonest but also a danger on the roads and this problem must be addressed without delay.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
THANK you for your letter, Councillor Bell in last weeks Opinion page of the Mercury.
As you are aware when I was first elected to Central ward in May, there were clearly a number of issues that needed to be immediately looked at. If I may be polite, some of these issues were historic and remained unresolved by the previous ward councillors, yourself and Robert Payne. One of those was the important issue of residents parking. I began immediately to consult with residents on the matter. I held three public meetings to get everyone’s thoughts, can I remind you I also met you and Robert to discuss parking, when we also touched on resident zones. It was important to me that I consulted with as many people as possible especially those directly affected.
As a result I was asked by people living in the area to investigate with the council a number of options to help residents including parking zones, like the one you have only very recently proposed. I did a considerable amount of work with the councils parking department and also met their manager Alan Taylor to further this. Some options, in theory, looked better than others however the residents parking zones you proposed had some real disadvantages. Most importantly a potential yearly £200 cost to residents, with no guarantee of parking outside their own home, which most people wanted, along with restrictions on friends and relatives visiting the area. I then closely looked at similar parking zones already in place in Bristol, and I was very worried that Bristol residents were so unhappy they had started a campaign for their removal.
For absolute clarity and to follow through on what I had been asked to do by residents I brought this matter to full council on November 10. At this meeting both you and Robert were informed by the person responsible for parking that your proposal could mean hundreds of pounds of changes along with serious inconvenience to residents.
Yet having all these facts I was amazed that only a couple of weeks later you both continued to campaign for the same zones. In fact based on this I had to step in and immediately object to your proposal, until a better option could be considered. If I had not residents living in central Weston might have had to consider these financial costs leading up to Christmas.
Like I have said before, Mike it is really not right to burden residents with these costs, when there are alternatives, though I appreciate there might be some embarrassment as those alternatives were not suggested by you. I have of course heard the old adage never let the fact get in the way of a good campaign, however I implore you as an elected representative to keep an open mind and work with me to support residents without charging them. As I mentioned to Robert recently I know old habits die hard, but hopefully with many new councillors now active on the council, we can convince those who have been involved for so many years, like yourself, to put old rivalry behind you, and move forward together to address many of the longstanding issues that effect our town, and work together to resolve them. My door is always open to you both and to any resident day or night, my contact details are Richard.email@example.com or call 07963404250, but please remember Mike, I was elected to help residents which I am determined to do, not increase their burden.
CLLR RICHARD NIGHTINGALE
Central Ward Councillor
Aisecombe Way, Weston
IN THE December 3 Mercury, the article ‘Road death path will change’, contains an afterthought paragraph which states from Councillor Elfan Ap Rees that he has decided to spend £200,000 of Government money upgrading a stretch of footpath between Uphill and the Walborough Nature Reserve.
In April 2015, the civic society, in co-operation with John Grimshaw, MBE of Sustrans fame, had organised a public walk, which was attended by over 100 people, commencing from Uphill, along this stretch of footpath being upgraded, crossing the River Axe using the Wessex Water sluice bridge and continuing through to Brean Down. This footpath forms part of the planned National Network ultimately linking Bristol with Brean. Crossing the River Axe using the sluice bridge cuts out an otherwise long detour around the river.
In August, I had asked Cllr Elfan Ap Rees if the Rive Axe sluice crossing and the Sedgemoor route had now been agreed to which he replied: “detailed discussions were underway and he did not wish to make wild guesses at this stage which then get circulated as gospel.”
Mr Grimshaw replied: “Sustrans have planning consent for the section from the sluices to Brean so the Sedgemoor route is agreed and fixed.”
I had hoped that North Somerset Council would have used their funds to build this section but they decided that they could not fund over their border, and instead are reconstructing the whole section through the nature reserve, which least needs it because it is already tarmac, but then they own it!
Mr Grimshaw had hoped that at least £30,000 would be allocated into dealing with the sluices but Sustrans are completely unable to get anyone in the Environment Agency to sign this off. They say that they have more important things to do. They have agreed to the principle but we want to do the work.
The other body we can get no response from is Somerset County Council. We need them to sign off the works at least and preferably to put some year end money into the project.
So this seems like a missed opportunity - despite money available - encumbered by an absence of a bigger vision and scant regard for public support for it.
A sluice too far.
Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston
I TOTALLY agree with the sentiments expressed by P Breakspear in his letter headed ‘Forget Hutton Moor pool plan’ to the Mercury, December 3. He felt that he had to write straight away, on behalf of a lot of families, saying that he was utterly disgusted at Weston council being prepared to spend £9million on a pool at Hutton Moor. It is unfortunate that he placed the blame on Weston council. Weston Town Council is entirely blameless. Weston council probably wishes it had £9million to spend. The town council is very restricted in what it can do. On the whole, what it does is good.
The responsible council is not Weston Town Council but North Somerset Council (NSC), which represents that part of North Somerset which falls within greater Bristol, rather than representing us. We need our own Winterstoke District Council covering the southern half of North Somerset which includes Weston and the neighbouring villages. Until we get Winterstoke Council, we will be plagued with proposals from NSC which are not in our interests made by people who don’t care for Weston or its surrounding area. Decision-making must be brought home.
I wonder if Ken Adams might not be labouring under the same misapprehension as Mr Breakspear, since he refers to ‘the local clowns on our council’. He may not be aware that the seafront pools at Portishead and Clevedon are provided by the same NSC which is proposing to spend £9million on a pool at Hutton Moor, nowhere near Weston’s seafront. It reflects where NSC priorities lie. As does the long running neglect by NSC of the health inequalities between Weston’s Central ward, referred to in Councillor Richard Nightingale’s letter, and the areas in the north of North Somerset favoured by NSC, such as Clevedon and Portishead.
Priory Road, Weston
AFTER years of thinking our manufacturing is going down the pan some clever engineers come up with clinically researched automotive propellant to run our buses. In the future for our convenience First Bus will also be able to run a number two bus. Hopefully, this will mean a healthier climate but as the old song goes the answer is
blowing in the wind.
Mayfield Avenue, Weston
ON DECEMBER 3, the Mercury published a report of how the village of Congresbury celebrated St Cungar’s saint’s day. Cungar may perhaps be the grandson of King Ceredig of Ceredigion who could be the same person as Cerdic, the first king of the West Saxons. Ceredig was named in the Bonedd y Saint as father of Saints Gwynlleu and Cyndeyrn (Cynric in West Saxish?). His father was Prince Garthog.
It appears that Cungar left Wales at a young age and crossed the Bristol Channel, settling at Congresbury. A wild boar supposedly showed him where to build his hermitage. There are stories of his staff taking root when he thrust it into the ground and the resulting yew tree can be seen to this day! He apparently turned the surrounding marsh into fertile farmland, thus attracting many followers to his side. Tradition holds that Congresbury became the centre of a See, which was a precursor of Wells, and that Cungar was its first Bishop. But he was desirous of a solitary life once more and felt himself recalled to Wales. Here, he founded a monastery in Morgannwg.
Cungar may have spent some time in Cornwall and Brittany where churches dedicated to him may still be found. Somerset and Cornwall were at that time part of the Kingdom of Devon.
He died, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, on November 27, supposedly in AD 520, and was buried in his foundation at Congresbury, spelt Cungaresbyrig in the West Saxish language. His shrine is mentioned in 11th and 14th century pilgrim guides.
Priory Road, Weston
I HAVE been chairman of the Central Weston Residents group since June and may I say how disappointed I was to read Mike Bell’s recent letter to your readers. Parking problems are a real issue around Meadow Street area, and when I invited councillors to our meeting to discuss this issue only Richard Nightingale attended. After a lively debate, it was agreed to put forward several proposals to North Somerset Council, including Residents Parking Zones. These are dedicated zones where only people who live in the area can park.
We began to receive feedback that these areas are flawed and when it was considered in a council meeting we were informed they could cost people who lived in the zones a significant amount of money, and they still may not be able to park outside their own home. Frankly as far as we were concerned the idea was scrapped and we began to look into alternatives. Mr Bell’s continued suggestion to pursue this policy is nothing less than a stealth tax that people who live and work in the town centre can not afford. We already pay a significant amount in Council Tax, why should we pay more to an ill thought out unworkable proposal. I am also disappointed that Mr Bell didn’t contact me or any of my members to discuss his proposal and I very much hope he will engage with residents in the future and get their views before putting forward further proposals to charge them.
I UNDERSTAND that consideration is being given by the council towards providing additional water park themed facilities at Hutton Moor. After well over a decade of unfulfilled promises, false starts and frustrated endeavours by a number of companies to renovate the Tropicana, I am extremely pleased to hear that at long last residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy this much needed feature.
While providing adequate swimming facilities, obviously Hutton Moor currently lacks that essential added appeal to attract tourists and as the Tropicana, albeit it an undeniable success with projects such as the recent Banksy exhibition, is now obviously (pardon the pun) a ‘dead duck in the water’ as far as any further swimming activities are concerned. As a resident born in the town over 70 years ago, I am more than delighted that something is going to be done to enhance the town’s reputation in encouraging and promoting the level of visitors Weston has enjoyed since Victorian times and I fully support the council in its latest proposal.
Canberra Crescent, Locking
I WOULD just like to draw attention to the efficiency and helpfulness of the men who clean the street at the far end of Baker Street where I recently opened a shop Box of Delights. I am a big dog lover myself but I frequently see on the pavement in the early morning the number of dog owners who haven’t cleared up after their pets. Often some poor soul has trodden in it as the lighting at night isn’t as good as it could be. On Monday it was particularly awful and likely to be walked into the dance school next door, but at the far end of the street I spotted a man with a cleaning cart. Although he told me it wasn’t his area he would get it cleared up as soon as possible and by the time I came back from town, 15 minutes later, it had been removed.
Baker Street, Weston
WHAT good news it was to read in last week’s Mercury how homeless people in Weston will be well catered for this Christmas after a shelter operating during the festive period for 24 years, Comfort and Warmth at St Pauls Church was inundated with donations from generous people for this years opening.
The issue of homelessness is very close to my heart. I believe having a home where you feel safe is such an important thing. I always buy a Big Issue from the homeless people and personally think it’s a great read.
In a recent issue it highlighted the true scale of homelessness among young people in the UK. More young people than ever are now being forced to sleep rough or sofa surf because they are not getting the help they need from councils and local authorities.
Many young people are the hidden homeless, so many simply don’t know where to turn for help. Also despite news that the economy is improving the reality is that for the most vulnerable the situation is desperate.
Lets all raise a glass or two to all those big-hearted volunteers at the shelter over Christmas.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston