Letters to the Editor, January 31, 2013

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Choices

I WONDER sometimes just who it is that North Somerset Council is supposed to be serving. Judging by the comments from Councillor Elfan Ap Rees about the “success” of the pay-and-display on-street parking charges in Weston, I can only assume that it certainly isn’t residents.

Not once in his press statement does he refer to residents, especially those living in the pay and display zone. Cllr Ap Rees talks about “increased prosperity” being delivered by the scheme. Well, residents within the zone have a wonderful array of choices to increase their prosperity. They can pay to park outside their own homes at £2.40 for two hours - though if they do that, they have to move their vehicles every two hours, just to maximise the inconvenience.

They can buy a residents’ permit of course. For £31, they can park for free between 9am and 10am and 5pm and 6pm, but otherwise have to pay and display for all the times when, you know, it might actually be useful to be able to park.

Or if they are really dedicated, they can pay out £130 and park in Locking Road car park. But as this is some way from where most people live, the take up is derisory. In fact, the council has only sold 27 of both types of residents’ permits to the 1,100 residential addresses within the zone – an amazing two per cent take up rate.


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Whilst I accept that the pay-and-display scheme has increased the turnover of vehicles, it has also made life more expensive and more inconvenient for town centre residents. It has definitely increased the prosperity of the council though, with its coffers likely to be hundreds of thousands of pounds richer as a result of the fines and parking fees.

Another thing completely ignored by Elfan Ap Rees, is the impact of the parking charges on the roads immediately outside the zone. Residential parking has never been easy in the town centre area, but it has gone from bad to worse now that many people are seeking to avoid paying the charges by gridlocking roads like Swiss Road, Gordon Road, Neva Road and Stafford Place, etc.

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So come on Elfan, how about using some of this extra revenue to improve the parking permit for residents and take action to help residential streets hit by the knock-on effects of the “success” of your scheme? It’s only fair.

MIKE BELL

North Somerset Councillor for Weston Central

George Street, Weston

Toilet charge

SO NORTH Somerset and Weston town councils want to charge up to 30p to use the toilets in Weston from April of this year.

May I suggest that if taken short in the town we visit the facilities in either the town hall or town council offices in Grove Park.

It is surely better to spend a penny in council offices than pay 30p in public toilets. Just a thought.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Will not conform

FURTHER to the letter from Sara Redding. It is very unfair to suggest dogs should be banned from Ashcombe Park.

I walk my dog in the park twice a day, every day. As usual all dog owners get tarred with the same brush regarding dog mess. I always pick up my dog’s deposits, as do most of the people I see walking round the park every day.

As with everything, you will always get some moron who will not conform to the correct and decent way of doing things. The same as the odd few out sledging in the park last Saturday who left a whole load of mess all over the park, including discarded broken sledges, cardboard, black plastic bags and anything else they could use to slide down the slopes on, also cans and bottles. I went over with a dustpan and brush to sweep up broken glass which had been smashed and left by the top gate for anyone to walk into (I didn’t want my dog getting glass in his paws). More rubbish was left in the park that day than the other 364 days of the year, but I would not call for the banning of sledging, and spoil the majority of peoples fun because of this.

Ashcombe Park without dogs – never.

JEN HOBDEN

Underwood Avenue, Weston

Should be banned

REFERRING to Sara Redding’s letter published on January 24 (‘same issue’). Yes, dogs should be banned from our parks.

It seems that dog owners use our beaches, parks, beauty spots and even our new promenade as toilets for their animals. It appears that there are more dogs on Weston beach at the weekends, than there are at Crufts.

Dogs are not suitable animals for an urban environment and so, should either be confined to the countryside, or as per my previous letter, forced to wear nappies when out in public.

This would solve the problem once and for all.

Notwithstanding, Marianne McAleer, has written regarding the closing of public toilets – I agree, there is nothing more inconvenient that a lack of convenience, when needed. Should we stray far from home, we might all have to wear nappies.

D HARRIS

Moorland Road, Weston

Way ahead

I REFER to the letter by Helen Thornton in last week’s Mercury regarding council tax increase.

I know I am in my late 60s and my memory may be fading, but wasn’t it the same Helen Thornton, quite some months back via your pages, advocating the council increases the council tax to save her colleagues’ jobs (and the usual line of to protect the vulnerable)?

Yes, now I remember, because I replied that perhaps instead of then advocating an increase in the council tax, she should be pursuing a policy of saving taxpayers’ money by thrift.

The amount of taxpayers’ money wasted in the public sector by non jobs e.g. senior policy and equalities officer, future shape programme manager, social inclusion co-ordinator, diversity officers etc, the list goes on.

It is not only the cost of the non jobs either, it is also the massive increases in pay and staff numbers these jobs attract.

The average hourly salary in the public sector is way ahead of the private sector by 25 per cent.

So instead of blaming this Government for the last Government maxing out the country’s credit card, perhaps she should look closer to home to advocate thrift. Instead of North Somerset Council paying circa £25,000 per annum as an internal cost to allow Unison members to have time off to attend union business, she should be campaigning for the union to compensate the taxpayer for that.

Most of the public is unaware that trade unions received a subsidy of at least £113million of taxpayers’ money in 2011-2012, made up by £92million in paid staff time plus £21million in direct payments from councils.

Nationally, at least 3,041 full-time public sector staff worked on trade union duties at taxpayers’ expense in 2011-2012.

As she works in the Town Hall, perhaps she should also be campaigning for all Town Hall workers to pay for their own car parking, just like everyone else who works in Weston has to.

So Helen, instead of blaming everyone and in particular the Government, try looking a little closer to home.

PETER JONES

Bristol Road, Hewish

Concerned

I AM very concerned about the creeping privatisation of the NHS and would strongly urge our local Clinical Commissioning Group to adopt the 38 Degrees amendments to their constitutions. Many of us are desperate that this wonderful people’s institution should not be sold off.

There is a large 38 Degrees petition that shows this very clearly. Hopefully our numbers will continue to grow.

PETER HOLYDAY

Uphill Road South, Weston

Battling

WRVS volunteers have been battling through the snow and ice to continue to deliver services to older people and check that they are safe, warm and well.

Fear of slipping on icy paths and treacherous road conditions mean that older people often cannot get out and about and without our volunteers they may not see anyone else for days at a time.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to our volunteers across the region who have continued to deliver vital services like Meals on Wheels to the housebound, despite the bad weather.

Many volunteers have gone beyond the call of duty and have carried on when other services have stopped.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

SARAH GITTINS

WRVS South West, Cardiff Gate Business Park, Cardiff

Cold spell

I WOULD like to thank all the people involved with Meals on Wheels (especially the drivers) who have looked after us so well during the cold spell.

The meals are delicious, the drivers so helpful and cheerful. Something to look forward to every day. And thank you all, too, for the big bag of goodies we were given in case of emergencies – such a kind thought.

MARY BERRY

Fairacre Close, Locking

Highest standard

MY FATHER-in-law was rushed into Weston Hospital A & E unit last week. The care that he received was of the highest standard. He was later transferred to the intensive care unit, where he sadly passed away the next day.

The doctors and nurses in the intensive care unit were so caring and compassionate.

I would like to give them our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Durbin family.

ROGER CHRISTIE

George Street, Weston

Samaritans

IT IS so nice to know that there are still good Samaritans in Weston today.

I recently arrived at the checkout at Tesco (a store I seldom use) and discovered that I had temporarily lost my credit card.

I had only done a small shop, but the lady in front of me in the queue – I believe she was called Jackie or Debbie - absolutely insisted on paying for my goods.

She would not give me her surname or address so I am unable to now reimburse her or to thank her properly at the time.

May I please use your paper to convey my gratitude to a lovely modern day Samaritan and to thank her for her kindness to a confused OAP.

JEREMY C NORTON

Nithsdale Road, Weston

Thank you

I WOULD like to say a very grateful and sincere thank you to the lady who passed my purse into Weston’s general post office.

I had dropped it in the vicinity between the fruit and vet shop and the charity shop. Another lady shopper, hearing my distress told me she had been behind a lady who had picked a purse up and had taken it into the post office.

Within 10 minutes I had my purse back again intact. I asked had the lady left an address or phone number so I could phone or write to her but unfortunately she had not.

So I hope my letter of thanks is printed and that the lady sees it.

MR G N FLETCHER

Baker Street, Weston

Teenagers

LAST Friday at about 5.20pm a knock on our door revealed six teenagers who said they had been asked by our neighbour to let us know that she was home and distressed. Apparently they had found her in Worle High Street confused and not knowing how to get home.

She gave them her address and they took care of her by bringing her home and letting us know.

We never got to know who they were so if you print this letter it would be great. Then the teenagers will know that they really were wonderful in what they did for an old lady. And they say teenagers don’t care. I think this belies that opinion don’t you?

DIANE SIMS

Thorn Close, Worle

UNTIL now the Boulevard has been the sophisticated end of Weston Town Centre. Now businesses are closing or relocating, and the Boulevard is in danger of becoming a dead area.

Firstly the probation service moved away, then the library moved to the Town Hall. North Somerset Council wants to close the adjacent public toilets this year. The New Court doctors surgery and the Longton Grove surgery will both move to Locking Road this summer.

Later this year the register office will move to the Town Hall. The NHS wanted to close their walk-in centre, but agreed to keep it open following a campaign by patients and local councillors. Years ago the town centre Christmas lights extended as far as the Boulevard, but not any more.

What will happen to all these premises, and what do we need to regenerate the area? If nothing is done there is a danger that the Boulevard will become little more than a corridor between Worle and the High Street/seafront area.

RAY ARMSTRONG

Town councillor for Ashcombe Wood Ward

Stanley Grove, Weston

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