Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2015
- Credit: Archant
I FEEL I had to write straight away. Along with a lot of other families, I am utterly disgusted at Weston council being prepared to spend £9million on Hutton Moor.
Why oh why can’t you give the people of Weston what they want?
They want a pool on the coast! This is no good (at Hutton Moor) for day-trippers who on hot summer days just want somewhere to cool off, without risking their lives trying to get to the sea. It’s just beggar’s belief.
The excuse made before was not enough money and it would be too expensive to run.
You’ve now got money and you want to spend it at Hutton Moor, which doesn’t have a lot of parking and is miles away from the sea.
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I was with a young family last weekend who told me that when they were children they’d set off with a packed lunch and spend their school holidays there.
Come on let someone come up with a bit of common sense and give the people of Weston what they want. This is a seaside town, not an art gallery.
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Oldmixon Road, Hutton
I WOULD like to know why Clevdon and Portishead have got swimming pools which are always busy and cost effective, yet the local clowns on our council are prepared to spend about £9million on a pool that is about two and half miles outside Weston.
The money could be spent on the pool in the Tropicana and solar panels on the sides and roof which would help to subsidise some of the costs.
We have already got two theatres in Weston. I am sure visitors will love Weston having to pay for parking then find that if they want to swim in a pool they have to get back in their cars and drive two and half miles to Hutton Moor.
I think the majority of local people and visitors would love to see the Tropicana back as it was. Also the councillors should think about building a proper bus station and also bring the town clock back.
I think the council should have sold the Winter Gardens for its true value. That money could have gone a long way towards a bus station and a pool. Please consult your public for their views.
Swallow Gardens, Worle
I WAS disappointed to read the comments from Conservative Councillor Richard Nightingale a couple of weeks ago urging the council not to look at a residents’ parking scheme for Weston Central Ward.
His comments are out of step with the opinion of the many residents’ I have spoken to and it is disappointing that he has chosen to follow his party line rather than stand up for local people.
If you live in Weston town centre and the surrounding area you have multiple parking challenges. Inside the on-street pay and display zone, you cannot park outside or near your own home for more than two hours, and then you need to pay £1.20 per hour for the privilege.
If you live in the immediate vicinity of the pay and display zone, you cannot park near your home as streets become clogged with commuters, visitors and shoppers trying to avoid the on-street pay and display charges or high off-street parking fees.
All of this is compounded by a laissez-faire council planning policy over many years that has encouraged residential development, especially flats, with no requirement for adequate parking provision. There is a real concern that council regeneration plans to create as many as 3,000 additional residential units in the town centre could make matters worse.
I am delighted that the council is finally moving forward with the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement which will see traffic wardens brought back to our streets to enforce parking restrictions, double yellows etc. But it is absolutely essential, for residents in the town centre that the council also urgently looks at the options for a residents’ parking scheme.
There is no perfect answer, and certainly there are risks with a residents’ scheme, but doing nothing and hoping for the best, as Richard Nightingale wants to do, is a not a risk, it’s a guarantee. It’s a guarantee that things will stay the same and the parking plight of town centre residents will not get better.
I’d urge Richard to think again and join with Councillor Robert Payne and I in campaigning for a fair residents’ parking scheme for people living in Weston Central Ward and elsewhere.
COUNCILLOR MIKE BELL
Weston Central Ward
The Crescent, Milton
HEALTH and well-being are such important parts of all our everyday lives. Since elected I felt it was important to become involved in supporting this and I was delighted to attend the Weston Central Health Forum which recently met to discuss some of the issues which are predominant in Central Ward, the very ward which covers most of central Weston. Many organisations and groups have been working to improve the situation in the area, however the current statistics are nothing less than appalling, over a third of children in the ward live in poverty and life expectancy rates are shockingly low. Men in the area can expect to live on average to 67.5 years and women to 76 years whereas North Somerset as a whole averages an age of just above 84. The area also records worryingly low scores in negative well-being, far below other areas in North Somerset. When considered in conjunction with statistics revealing 13 per cent of residents receiving long-term sickness or disability benefits and nine per cent of people being unemployed, the current situation makes dire reading.
I do not know how we have reached this position but it’s clearly unacceptable. As their new ward councillor I intend to act as I believe a councillor should. It’s simply not right to shrug shoulders, accept a difficult situation, and let things continue in the same direction as it has done for so many years. We must increase the pace of efforts to facilitate a solution.
As part of the new town centre regeneration programme I am determined that we focus our attention not just on new buildings and infrastructure, but also invest in living, learning, health and lifestyles. How we feel about and interact with our environment, along with who we are, is something we can all become involved with, including the council. I am determined that this complex and difficult area has fresh light shone on it and I want to work with all the charities and agencies involved on a long-term resolution that will improve the lives of all those who live and work in our town centre and Central Ward.
Aisecombe Way, Weston
I WOULD like to defend the group of volunteers who are at least trying to do something about the Birnbeck Pier. Letters by cynics, as he describes himself, from Mr Austin are not really helpful. At least these guys are trying to keep the dream alive of bringing some life back to a piece of Weston history.
Mr Austin will probably correct me on dates and figures with his superior knowledge but there are others who also know their history. In circa 1857 when Birnbeck Pier first opened to the paddle steamers it brought approximately 150,000 visitors to Weston which at that time had a population of 1,000. Arguably Birnbeck was in someway responsible for the growth of our town.
Whatever the Save the Pier group are doing they deserve our support not our criticism or cynicism Mr Austin.
Tirley Way, Weston
I NOTE that North Somerset Council is to spend £10,000 on updating bus shelters round the town. When are they going to put a shelter up by the ‘carrot’ for 106 and 21 buses? The majority of stops in the Weston area have shelters, but one of the really busy stops in the town centre hasn’t any shelter at all. Why?
Links Road, Uphill
WHAT part of we want a seafront pool doesn’t North Somerset Council (NSC) understand? I am aged 60 Weston born and bred. I enjoyed many a happy day at Knightstone Baths and Weston’s open air pool. My children also although by this time the open air pool was changed to the Tropicana. My grandchildren have never had this pleasure, it’s such a shame. To get this experience today the majority of us hop on a plane to somewhere hot to lie on a sun bed by a pool. Why when we could have this on our own doorstep? We are meant to be a seaside town after all and attracting tourists to come and enjoy our lovely town. I know we can’t guarantee the weather here in Britain but we asked 15 plus years ago for a retractable roof and the cost would have been nowhere near the £9million the council have miraculously found for another pool at Hutton Moor. Shame on you NSC for not listening to the people of Weston.
MS A JONES
Connaught Place, Weston
I FREQUENTLY loathe today’s youth for their lack of manners, education, consideration and selfishness and sometimes am so disgusted I have to take a step back and try to calm down.
However, last night I found myself in a similar situation in the Odeon, on going to see a live transmission of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, transmitted live from London’s Garrick Theatre. But at the other end of the spectrum.
The people involved, hopefully a minority, were a hardcore of some of Weston’s pensioners, and this was not the first time this has happened. They descend in tribes, always the same people, looking disdainfully down their noses at others, purely for actually being there. The fact that others are more cultured than them would probably be offensive and is irrelevant to their ego.
They push, they shove, tread on your toes, and woe betide you if you pay for a premium seat as you’re subjected to vicious loud comments about those who sit in the ‘posh seats’. They talk loudly in an attempt to show how knowledgeable they are, but with not an ‘excuse me’ or a ‘sorry’ in sight when they’ve virtually knocked you over.
The South West boasts of its friendly natives but these were quite hostile - so much for talking to the person sitting next to you... Not on your life.
Weston is not known for its culture, it’s a seaside resort, a place for a family holiday, and our Playhouse caters for their needs. The fact that the Odeon gives us the opportunity to see these exceptional offerings from London is a real treat, whether it be ballet, opera or drama. And it would seem logical to a point that it attracts the same sort of patron.
So if this applies to any of you reading this, try to act with some decorum and education, not the thugs you appear to be. You are giving a bad name to the many decent lovely people I’ve met since moving here ten years ago... And they don’t deserve that.
Bristol Road Lower, Weston
I HAVE had an on-going disagreement with our local MP John Penrose on what are the true figures regarding policing in our area of which I feel I am not getting a truthful answer to.
For some time here on the Oldmixon despite our many issues including drug and antisocial behaviour related issues we have seen very little evidence of police presence on our estate of late apart from a helicopter above our estate sometimes at night, which God knows how much that takes out of the police budget.
John tells me that there has been an increase in PC’s personnel in the Weston area on the figures he is presented with, which I argue there is no evidence to support that and we are being told by local PC’s on the ground there numbers are continually being cut which seems to contradict what John is saying.
What makes absolutely no practical sense at all is the fact we are seeing cuts to our main police, fire and health services across North Somerset at a time when the country is under a heighten terror threat plus an ever increasing population across our county which again even a child can see doesn’t make any sense at all. I put it to John, how on earth are our vital services like the police supposed to cope when we see more and more houses being built hence more and more families moving into our area of Weston alone?
Politicians in the main sadly tend to live away from the troubled areas like in our case the Oldmixon, Bournville and Coronation estates and don’t see what we are seeing on a daily basis, problems that are only going to multiply when we see families having to struggle even more because of the latest cuts by Chancellor Osborne which will inevitably lead to more crime which the police will not be able to cope with and if anyone tries to tell us anything different then they are misleading us.
Surely politicians like John must see these cuts will only lead to more money having to be found in the long run when our Government finally realises they have taken the cuts too far, which basically is where we are now in other words ‘down the proverbial river in a boat without a paddle’.
Dunster Crescent, Weston
I DON’T think that the way you headed Mr Malham’s letter in the Mercury, November 26, accurately represented his sentiments. As I read it, he was expressing his concern that the replacement for the erstwhile Dolphin Square precinct might turn out to be a white elephant. The fact is that we have visitors and we have shops, but many of the existing shops are boarded up, are occupied by charities or are struggling. It is difficult to see how more shops will help the situation. There needs to be a completely new look at the whole thing. If Weston could be seen as a great experience for shopping, the retailers would be hammering on North Somerset Council’s (NSC) door, and they are not.
Bath has no problem with attracting up-market shops to the city. The reason is that it is architecturally attractive. It offers an experience. Weston can boast a beautiful bay and some fine Victorian houses, but much of the town is neglected and uninspiring. Main Square (nee Dolphin Square) needs to made into somewhere beautiful where visitors can stroll, surrounded by open air cafés, fine trees and flower gardens. That would draw visitors away from the seafront towards St James Street, the High Street and Orchard Meadows. Make Weston up market, and up market retailers will come. The town of Weston is fine in parts, such as Grove Park and Clarence Park but it is not a coherent whole, so there is nothing to lead visitors towards the little gem that is the White Cross Road shops.
What we do know is that, far from making the town attractive, NSC has plans to uglify it, with high rise blocks of flats like some East European Soviet era nightmare. Strangely, the blight is planned for Weston not for other more favoured parts of North Somerset. Unfortunately, Weston will always draw the short straw, until we get a separate Winterstoke District Council representing Weston and its neighbouring villages.
Priory Road, Weston
THE last two issues of the Mercury have carried a statement that the French award of Legion of Honour is the equivalent of the British Victoria Cross (VC). No it isn’t! The VC is the very rare highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy during a specific incident.
The Legion of Honour is an award for civilian or military merit which has been awarded to actors, poets, novelists (etc) as well as the military. It is a French state vote of thanks for services rendered and was recently awarded to Van Morrison. It is an exemplary honour but more MBE/BEM than VC.
Alma Street, Weston
AS A Christian I am saddened, but not surprised, at the Mercury report that unions want less Christianity in school assemblies. Unfortunately we are becoming a more secular society and religion is seemingly less important in this day and age. I am sure that fewer teachers are comfortable about conducting religious services of any kind even though it has been a tradition in the past.
Fortunately there are still many faith schools where Christianity has a prominent place but in this so called Christian country many people want to take Christ out of Christmas and think Black Friday is more important than Good Friday.
Other faiths respect Christianity and can anyone imagine Islamic countries without devout Muslims. Our whole structure of life is built on the bible, especially the Ten Commandments, but this will all be forgotten in the mists of time.
Thank goodness there will be plenty of Nativity plays performed in schools this Christmas to bring home the true meaning to youngsters of this special Christian season of goodwill.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
IT IS gratifying to read last week’s Opinion page to see so many contributions signifying their total disgust at North Somerset Council’s (NSC) decision to build a second swimming pool at Hutton Moor.
Enough rate paying members of the electorate have stated their views that I think the council should think again by taking a leaf out of George Osborne’s book and change tack by building the pool in the appropriate site on the seafront which was selected over 80 years ago by the intelligent decision makers of that time. £9million is an excellent sum to bring this very important project to fruition and it will restore some kudos to a council which needs to repair its image and the residents of our important town. The people who live in this area know it well and have its best interests at heart there are councillors who do not live here and another who does not live in North Somerset. How do these people consider it their duty to make decisions directly against the wishes of the electorate when the people have made it very clear what is wanted, and a pool on the seafront is the obvious place for it to be situated? I think it is time for matters to be addressed and to the advantage of the residents who mater. It is pitiable that NSC thinks that they can turn the pool/Trop into an exhibition centre; Banksy was a one off and creating a succession of similar events is ridiculous pie in the sky.
Remember the old pier that the council allowed to rot rather than step in and compulsory purchase or force the owners to save. It took a group of Weston residents to step in and get started on a healthy rescue attempt and if they are successful the pier will still be in the ownership of an outsider who will benefit most. We have seen the RNLI raise funds for a slipway as the old one became useless. If proof was necessary the residents are more than capable of taking on large projects and the solution for the pool is NSC hand over our £9million to the town and let our proven business people who create businesses and provide employment build the pool where we want it and let us show you how big projects should be handled. We have enough evidence of your ability to manage the town in the rubble of Dolphin Square, the wreck that was the Royal Pier Hotel, the Old Pier and badger excavations at Hutton Moor which have undermined the allotment drive and are heading towards the main road. NSC refuses to allow a new gated entrance as the highly responsible allotment holders may leave the gate unlocked and let travellers onto the land costing the council a fortune in costs, they quote a figure of £50,000 to change the position of the gate and the retired businessmen on site have quotes for £9,000 and a contribution from the club. Surely this indicated that Weston should be in control of its own destiny.
Orchard Street, Weston
IT WAS good to read in last weeks Weston Mercury how Secret World Wildlife Rescue has taken in almost 200 tiny hedgehogs in just two months. Since the 1950s the hedgehog population has plummeted with numbers dropping by 30 per cent in the last 10 years. So why are our hedgehogs having such a tough time? Experts say it’s got quite a lot to do with us human.
Hedgehogs aren’t called hedgehogs on a whim; it’s their job to literally hog the hedges.
At times we have created the most stunning hedgehog landscape that’s been rich in hedges all over the place and hedgehogs have had an amazing time. But now with more intensive farming and building development hedgehogs are having problems and with changes to farming a lot of their favourite food is scarce.
As hedgehogs walk up to a mile every night they have found it almost impossible to get around garden walls, fences and gravel borders. This means even if you have the most hedgehog-friendly garden, full of food and a great habitat for them, if you box your garden into an island, there is no way for them to get in.
I hope people out there will try to keep the hedgehog population thriving in Britain and save them from extinction for future generations to enjoy.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston
I THINK the people of Weston are quite upset about the local news in respect to the proposed £9million spend 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.
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
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