Letters to the Editor, February 19, 2015


- Credit: Archant

IT SEEMS that Weston is becoming more archaeological site than seaside town, but maybe that isn’t a bad thing.

For one it might add a bit of melancholic nostalgia that the poets do adore amongst forlorn rubble and empty buildings.

One could take a Sebaldian journey of memory and landscape around Weston, where one would have once had to journey to Greece or Germany.

In a few years time it might even be rewilded enough so that we could enjoy the return of forgotten species, wolves and the like. This must be what this council had in mind for this town right from the start and who would have thought they would have been so literary, ecological with a keen poetic sensibility.

The artists applaud you.

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Jubilee Road, Weston

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IT WAS absolutely wonderful to hear a North Somerset councillor, (Cllr Shopland) have the courage to tell Westonians the facts regarding their council and councillors.

Clevedon, Backwell, Yatton and Portishead councillors have fought hard on behalf of their constituents, it shows in the quality of the roads, employment opportunities and the business operating from those towns.

Weston councillors, a majority who are also North Somerset representatives have ignored their responsibility to those who elected them, in truth are an affront to democracy. The legacy they leave will haunt the taxpayers of North Somerset and the people of Weston for generations to come.

Unless these councillors are removed and the political self interest of the Liberal and Conservative parties that have controlled Weston/North Somerset for so long is neutralised, we as a town will never be able to grow and prosper. It is time that all the minority parties - UKIP, independents, Weston First, etc - unite in one common objective to break the stranglehold so long exerted on our Weston.

North Somerset Council has a history of failure when it comes to Weston interests as I have often heard many of our Weston councillors have nothing but contempt for democracy and public opinion. The evidence can be seen all over our town, Birnbeck Pier, the Knightstone development, the Tropicana, the sale of the Winter Gardens to the college flats on Dolphin Square, which in my view was always the intent, some of the smallest house sizes in Europe and negative employment opportunities.

Councillor Shopland hit the nail on the head in his letter in last week’s Mercury, Weston politicians are party loyal and self interest focused. Even our Westminster representative has failed to prevent the excesses of North Somerset leadership, get increased funding for local health services badly needed and made no comment at the transfer of North Somerset health care funding to South Gloucestershire.

As an individual I would vote for any party who will put Weston first and make a firm commitment to bring back some democratic principles into North Somerset politics.


Swan Close, Mead Vale

DAVID Shopland, (Weston Mercury Opinion February 12) always known for his plain speaking and common sense, has certainly raised a red flag by describing Weston’s influence as ‘overbearing and cloying’.

Prior to the formation of Woodspring District Council, there was much debate as to where the new district should base its headquarters. Nailsea seemed favourite, Weston being described as ‘the dog’s leg’, being so far south.

Due to the population and distance to Nailsea, Weston was chosen. Then there was a debate as to where in Weston the council offices should be. Worle was considered suitable due to its proximity to the M5. A decision was made to demolish Emmanuel Church Hall and place a red brick extension to the old Town Hall.

When in 1974 Local Government re-organisation seemed a logical step, the formation of Woodspring D C, although within the hated County of Avon, proved a happy local efficient authority, despite the cramped conditions in the new offices.

The year 1996, saw the creation of a unitary authority with masses of responsibilities akin to a county council, with which we are now all familiar.

The ‘Let’s Go Back to Somerset’ campaign was spearheaded by Dr W Kelly a well-known local GP.

I am not suggesting it is relevant to the situation we currently find ourselves in, but historically it is most interesting.

From memory, the idea was to keep Woodspring pretty well intact but first place the district under the jurisdiction of Taunton.

May 10 has been selected as Somerset Day and ideas are being sought to promote interest in the county and restore its pride.

Any ideas?


Tower Walk, Weston

CLEVEDON’S independent councillor David Shopland (Opinion, February 12) said

that the north of the district would love to be free from the cloying and overbearing influence of Weston “but sadly we live in the real world.”

As he wrote, we live in a world where only big and bigger units of local government are acceptable.

In 1974, Woodspring District Council was created with its headquarters installed in Weston’s redundant town hall following the abolition of the borough council. Also acquired by North Somerset Council 1996 were houses, offices, yards, parks, playing fields, money and land. North Somerset Council promptly sold a great number of them and pocketed the money. A considerable sum amounting to millions in today’s terms. Sadly little of that wealth reappeared north of the Banwell river.

Councillor Shopland seems to have forgotten the small matter of Castlewood purchased in Clevedon to house council employees at great cost to us in the south of the district.

Nevertheless, if all that money was raised by the sell-off of assets and it was not spent north of the Banwell river and it was not spent south of the Banwell river, what happened to it?

I suppose if you give up Knightstone Island for a peppercorn rate, hand over the Winter Gardens , valued at £11million, for £1, relinquish rents from dwellings and retail outlets in the erstwhile Dolphin Square, leave the Tropicana standing idle for years, without getting an income from it, the money from selling off assets would soon be lost. It is a measure of North Somerset Council’s disinterest with regard to Weston.

With his references to Greater Bristol, Mr Shopland overlooks the fact that Avon as an administrative area was never abolished, but continues as the West of England Partnership (WEP). The WEP differs from the earlier Avon County Council by being appointed; not directly elected as before. The WEP’s small democratic input has been lessened further following its takeover by the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Shopland says that if the north of the district was absorbed into a Greater Bristol under a Greater Bristol Council, the south of the district, including Weston, would soon follow. That is far from being the case. By escaping the clutches of North Somerset, the south of the district would also escape from the WEP/former Avon’s clutches.

Weston Town Region would be formed by combining the south of the North Somerset district with the area south of the Axe, including Burnham. For the town region, the higher tier of local government would be the administrative county of Somerset; not Greater Bristol (Avon without Weston and Bath). Getting shot of North Somerset and reverting to inclusion in Somerset is Weston’s best bet for not being part of Greater Bristol.


Priory Road, Weston

SO OUR ‘bold’ council has struck a deal with Dowlas UK Ltd to enable the building of Enterprise House.

It has taken a 15-year head-lease on two thirds of the proposed 25,000 square feet complex at an unknown rental.

Once again the secret squirrels at the Town Hall have refused to disclose the financial implications quoting commercial sensitivity.

Have the executive no confidence in their own councillors that these decisions are made behind closed doors and then presented to the foot soldiers who will, no doubt, have been briefed just minutes before as was the case with the Winter Gardens ‘sale’.

How many more of these underhand and sneaky deals are being done and why are so many being finalised just before the local council elections take place in May?

The deals that are currently being rushed through have not been discussed, debated or thought out.

They are presented as wonderful opportunities for Weston and North Somerset and anyone who questions the wisdom or viability of these projects is cast as a naysayer and made to feel they should walk the streets in sackcloth and ashes for having the temerity to argue their case against this wasteful and inept current council.

It is apparent that there are many within our ruling body who are only too aware that they are on borrowed time. They are pushing through legislation over which they will possibly have no control leaving those who take their places to pick up the pieces.

We have, on May 7 the chance to make this hopeless body answer for its mismanagement and elect a body of able men and women who care about only one thing, the well being of Weston and its residents.

Please, whatever your political views or allegiances make sure that you exercise your right to vote on May 7, that way we will get the council we deserve.


Prospective North Somerset First Independent candidate

Old Mill Way, Weston

I NOTE that in your issue of February 5, 2015 you published a letter from one of your regular panel of armchair experts bemoaning other writers for objecting to various decisions by North Somerset Council.

I also note that Mr Pitch has not explained his foolish support over several years of the council in its determination to destroy the Tropicana nor yet eaten his words now that the council has had second thoughts about demolition.

Perhaps he will have the courage to be a candidate in the May election.


Wick Road, Wick St Lawrence

AFTER reading the letter last week complaining about extra buses from Crosville running close to the First bus timetable, I thought I should reply, but then decided not to.

Then after yet another bad First bus experience this morning I felt compelled to reply.

First bus yet again caused me anguish. On boarding the X1 at the Borough Arms I was the third and last person to board and as the person in front of me was paying the driver shut the door and crushed the contents of my bag. In the bag was an expensive item which I was returning to a friend. Then having paid, the driver drove off leaving me stumbling down the bus to find a seat.

The person next to me said this happens a lot on First bus and often it’s an erratic ride with hard acceleration and sudden braking.

We then exchanged experiences and agreed that the drivers on Crosville are very polite, don’t drive off until you are sat down and drive more carefully.

On one recent Crosville journey almost every passenger was greeted with a smile and they knew the driver by name.

By the time we finished this journey we both agreed to avoid First bus and wait for a more pleasant journey on a Crosville bus. So I say to R S Davey: “Don’t knock it! Support it.”


Warwick Close, Weston

IN YOUR article regarding the proposal to install beach huts you reported the Civic Society’s objection to the planning application to place up to 97 beach huts and associated infrastructure at southern end of promenade - west of Marine Parade.

A statement was attributed to a North Somerset spokesman ‘views will not be affected’ and ‘the initiative will raise revenue’.

If the spokesman should look at the council’s own planning application documents he/she will see an illustration showing that the height of the proposed beach huts is higher than both pedestrians and pedal cyclists. One of the joys and main reason for using the promenade is the expansive view across the Bristol Channel.

It is accepted when viewed from a further distance, for example Beach Road, the impact of the beach huts would be significantly diminished and could even look attractive if suitably painted.

It is not difficult to think of ideas that could raise revenue for the underfunded council but surely this should not be at any cost.


Executive committee member, Weston Civic Society

Mansfield Avenue, Weston

WHEN is a beach hut not a beach hut? When it is not situated on a beach, so why does North Somerset Council persist on looking at sites on the promenade?

It is ridiculous to choose the site of the old bandstand where the view would be traffic, crowds and the front of the SeaQuarium.

Secretary of the Weston Civic Society also points out that the area between the Tropicana and Royal Sands is often closed for events such as concerts on the beach and the beach races which would make the huts difficult to access.

The police have now expressed their fears about possible vandalism and fanned the flames with their worries about possible arson.

Those who use beach huts want privacy which they are unlikely to find on the promenade.

The most obvious situation for these toy sheds would be the dunes at the Uphill end of the beach, with easy parking, panoramic views across the sea, safe from incoming tides and away from the crowds. Many residents, I have contacted agree, but I really do not expect the council to take much notice.

May I include in this letter a response to correspondent R S Davey who is worried about so many buses travelling empty through Bournville now that Crosville is running its 103 buses on the same route as First bus number 3 bus.

How lucky you are to have so many buses running to so many parts of the town but this may not last much longer. First has a habit of withdrawing services where there is competition as has happened on the Sand Bay, hospital and Worlebury routes and who is to say it will not withdraw its number 3 buses. Thank goodness that Crosville go where First West fear to tread.


Clarence Grove Road, Weston

MY DICTIONARY defines ‘view’ as ‘A sight or prospect, typically of attractive natural scenery, that can be taken in by the eye from a particular place’.

It’s not clear if the North Somerset spokesman is speaking on behalf of the applicant or the planning authority when he says the view from the Beach Lawns will not be affected, maybe he is in Castlewood. But that does not matter as the scheme will raise money.

The picture in last week’s edition is not what they will look like, they are grouped together facing the prom wall with no space for a deck chair as shown as that would block the access for the adjoining huts.


Hutton Hill, Hutton

FOLLOWING the letter in last week’s Mercury ‘Never been a problem in the past’ about The Race For Life being moved to a Wednesday evening, North Somerset Council would like to confirm that this decision was taken by the organisers, Cancer Research UK, with a view to refreshing the event.

We are wholly supportive of the Race For Life continuing to happen on Weston seafront and would be happy to accommodate either a weekend or evening event.


Seafront and event service manager, North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

WITH a general election in the offing it’s up to the rest of us to set the agenda. If we don’t then ‘politicians’ will take over and dominate right up to the ballot.

There is a nationwide campaign under way to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. Organised by 38degrees, these signatures will lend support to a message to every candidate, whichever party they might represent, making it clear that the NHS is of paramount importance to by far the majority of their electors.

More importantly, 38degrees intend to continue pressing elected MPs to keep the NHS in the forefront of their priorities in the months, and years, after the 2015 election.

38degrees is a pressure group independent of all parties and responsible only to its more than 2.5 million members. It is the members alone who finance and run all of its activities. Through organisations like 38degrees those of us outside political parties can have a real say on the national stage.

This campaign culminates on February 28 with on-the-street collections of signatures all across the country. From then on, 38degrees will ensure, right up to the election and beyond, that all Parliamentary candidates are in no doubt as to the importance of the NHS to their electors.


Forest Drive, Weston

I WOULD like to take advantage of the editor’s assurance of a lack of bias and reply to the letters of North Somerset First, UKIP and other detractors of Weston who refuse to see it as it is, a tourist and business hub, who see the present incumbents of the North Somerset Council as incompetents and self-serving who care nothing for the people who put them there.

In spite of achieving budget cuts of £47million, the council has upgraded junction 9 and 21 to cut congestion, have started building affordable housing, rebuilt the derelict Knightstone Island and was named Local Authority of 2014 by Insider Magazine.

While no council is always right, at least this council is trying. The choice is clear in the May election: the competence of a strong and successful Conservative Group which does its best to deliver real long term benefits for all North Somerset residents or putting everything at risk by the chaos that would result from the hotchpotch of weak and indecisive parties who are likely to be imprisoned by their own self-interests.


Prospective North Somerset Conservative councillor, Coronation Road, Bleadon

IT SEEMS that the outrageous parking plan in and around Weston General Hospital has been forgotten over recent issues.

Forgotten maybe by those council personnel responsible for the mess but not by local residents who live nearby.

This council does a very good job in wasting money on flawed projects and should be congratulated for its efforts so why shouldn’t it put this idea into motion to halt the ridiculous parking arrangements for the hospital and the surrounding areas.

Purchase the land opposite, turn into a pay and display car park. Land owner happy, locals happy and the good old council get a pat on the back for actually doing something right for a change.


Ash Grove, Uphill

AS I have recently put it to North Somerset Council, that I have a given right to know why it has still not penalised residents who continually refuse to recycle, instead like certain households on the Oldmixon they just pile everything into there wheelie bins.

I put it to the council if it is not prepared to take action against these people then why should we make the effort to recycle our waste plastics, tins, paper, cardboard or food, etc?

When this process first began some years ago North Somerset promised to send warning letters out to those culprits who refused to recycle. That promise has been broken, in fact North Somerset Council has done nothing to force those residents to change their way. So isn’t it about time something was done about this?


Dunster Crescent, Weston

RECENTLY you highlighted the high cost of cremations at Weston Crematorium, so I looked at the cost of maintaining a shrub plaque plot for 20 years which was £370 in 2013 and £416 in 2014 – a rise of 10 per cent plus.

Your readers might like to know that they own these memorials and can remove them from the grounds.

I have positioned mine in the greenery in the corner of the garden. This should be made clear on the renewal letter.


Highland Close, Weston

AS A Digital Unite tutor I spent several years supporting a 90 plus-year-old gentleman in Weston with his on-line adventure.

He originally bought his laptop as a replacement for his broken typewriter but, having been introduced to the world-wide-web, finished up with a website, several blogs and many online pen pals.

Pretty much confined to his room in a residential home, it became his life-enhancing link to the global, on line community. He loved it.

He left me a modest amount of money in his will. How best can I spend it supporting other ‘older’ Westonians who have not yet discovered the joys and benefits of the internet to do just that? Please email suggestions to wsmwwwaid@gmail.com


Hawthorn Hill, Weston

I WOULD like to say a big thanks to Weston Town Council for putting on such a fantastic Weston’s Got Talent Show over the weekend.

I was lucky enough to sing in the final on Sunday night along with seven other contestants.

Blakehay Theatre staff and volunteers, the compere and the four judges were so lovely, kind and supportive. It was the first time that I had taken part in such an event and the town council made it a very special experience for me.

My mum was very proud of me, expressed how well organised the whole event was and what a brilliant night of entertainment she had.

Congratulations to Connor this year’s winner.


Kewstoke Road, Kewstoke

PLEASE may I thank everyone for the Mayor’s fashion show on Thursday February 5 at Weston’s museum in aid of my charities.

More than £500 was raised and it’s thanks to Roman of the Sovereign Shopping Centre. Also thanks to Fine Finishings and Queenies hair (of Kewstoke) for also giving their time.

Finally my personal thanks to my mayoress, Jos Holder for all her work organising the event for me.

Thank you to everyone who attended, you helped raise lots of money for Sunshine Radio, Crossroads Young Carers and Avon Riding for the Disabled.


Mayor of Weston, Grove Park, Weston

I HAVE recently spent a week in the Harptree acute unit with heart related problems.

I have to say that I cannot fault the treatment I received whilst I was there. The care, kindness, and dedication from all of the staff was totally first class, nothing was too much trouble, and treatment was delivered with a smile and a cheery word. Both nurses and doctors were absolutely first class in their duties, the cleaning staff were always on the go, the ward was spotless.

I cannot find one fault with the time I spent there except that the nursing staff, through all their dedication, are stretched almost to breaking point, but they still keep smiling.

Every one of them deserves a medal for the treatment and dedication they deliver.


West Street, Banwell

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