Letters to the Editor, January 30, 2014

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- Credit: Archant

DESPITE the Mercury’s excellent efforts to keep us all informed, I’m often surprised by the lack of a sense of proportion displayed by many quoted therein.

And there was a perfect conjunction of stories to illustrate this point in last week’s edition.

We were reminded by North Somerset Council (NSC) leader Nigel Ashton that, despite slashing £47million from the council’s spend over the past two years, the Government’s brutal budget cuts mean that a further £53 million still has to be saved by 2018.

Which area of essential NSC services will bear the brunt of this callousness – the young, the weak, the vulnerable?

According to pensioners’ champion Ken Lacey it will be the elderly, as the cost of meals-on-wheels is soon set to rise by 6.5 per cent. He said: “With rising costs of heating and electricity anything that adds to that is not good news for pensioners”.


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Elsewhere in the paper, we learned that NSC’s lowest-paid employees (school crossing patrols, cleaners, mobile meals helpers and such like) will not get a pay rise to match the living wage, a move described as ‘shameful’ by their union UNISON.

And if that was not enough, we were also told that eviction and homelessness beckon for the poorest council tenants following a decision to raise council tax contributions. As all these cuts continue to bite, even LibDem councillor Mike Bell - certainly no friend of Tory-controlled NSC - said he sympathised with the Conservative executive members that Government funding is being reduced.

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And yet, in a seemingly parallel universe, it seemed that the issue most exercising some of Weston’s great and good was that the Grove Park bandstand hasn’t been repaired. In these cash-strapped times, where do they think the necessary £100,000 will come from? Of course innovative Victorian design, engineering and heritage should be celebrated and preserved wherever possible, but until NSC discovers a magic money-tree, surely people should come first, whatever the consequences.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Winscombe

READING the article on the sorry state of the Grove Park bandstand raises a few issues. Firstly a North Somerset Council asset and Councillor Peter Bryant wants others to help pay for it but with the dire pressures that the council finances are under I suppose it is not surprising.

Secondly I was surprised to see the comment from Rosemary Dowie, chairperson of the Civic Society, that the “Society cannot put money into it”. The society sold the Heritage Centre and received a large sum of money leaving it in a very strong financial situation. Ironically the bandstand is the symbol of the society and I would have thought this would have been an excellent opportunity to put its funds to good use.

If they cannot spend on this type of project what is the money going to be used for?

P DOWNS

Mansfield Avenue, Weston

THERE has been a noticeable improvement in Grove Park since the Weston Town Council has become involved in its running.

That is in marked contrast to the state of the bandstand which remains North Somerset Council’s responsibility. While the gardens are again showing signs of being loved, the bandstand continues to deteriorate.

North Somerset Council’s estimate of £100,000 to do the repairs seems high on the face of it, but what do they intend to do? Wait for it to fall down?

In the meantime, how much is being added to the cost by surrounding it with scaffolding (presumably on hire) and doing nothing?

Weston Town Council and the south area committee should be given autonomy to look after their own patch, freed from the constraints of North Somerset Council. That could involve the town council and the south area committee occupying Weston Town Hall and North Somerset Council and the north area committee decamping to Castlewood in Clevedon where they belong.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

HEARTIEST congratulations to Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, the town council, and the RNLI for sorting out the new temporary boathouse at the Marine Lake.

Prompt action was needed and prompt action materialised from those who mattered. What a refreshing situation from others that have prevailed for so long in Weston.

Clearly if only available in use for 50 per cent of the time - ie high tide +/- three hours then it is only a stop gap. Though if it was not I cannot see any real reason for complaint. We live at the seaside and the RNLI needs a boathouse and a launch facility. Those involved have made a very good job of the boathouse, all highly professional - well painted, varnished wooden battens, advertising for the RNLI. If a few appropriate murals were added showing, maybe, an ancient galleon shipwreck with the early rowed life boat in attendance; and a few other suitable pictures - Campbell’s Steamers etc, then it would blend in even better.

Those complaining - maybe those few opposite could have a little whinge - stop moaning and think of the potential lives saved.

In the meantime if the plan is to have a station for the RNLI at Weston it seems clear there are only two alternatives. Anchor Head - boathouse, slipway and all else as needed below the tatty old shelter north of the Royal Pier Hotel derelict site. Access by the life belt. There is an observation platform halfway down to the beach. If that existing platform was to form the level for the boathouse and the slipway ran away to the permanent water below I think there is enough angle and water to make this feasible.

Part of the wall to the car park would have to be temporarily demolished to get a crane in to lower all necessary equipment but it would mean the life boat would be back near to where it started. Once completed there would be less of a security problem, I feel, than the alternative site at Uphill. Uphill would have to be a complete new enclosure - all of which would be easier to build as it is all on one level and therefore access is easier. Again I believe there would be a permanent 24-hour access in/out of the water. I do not know which would provide the better depth of water and what other considerations may be important.

Perhaps when those involved have sorted out the new permanent boathouse then the RNLI, Cllr Ap Rees and the town council could all get together and sort out the Tropicana, the Royal Pier Hotel, and the old pier with similar enthusiasm and efficiency with which they sorted out the new (temporary) boathouse

LEIGH WILLIAMS

Wigmore Gardens, Weston

OUR hearts go out to those who are suffering on the Somerset Levels and our heads tell us that it should never have happened.

The rescue services and other agencies have done a fantastic job under difficult circumstances but where are the leaders of our political parties to offer support and members of the royal family to give comfort?

After three weeks the Environment Minister has arrived and made promises and so he should, because much of the flood problems have been due to the lack of river dredging over the years.

We are a generous nation giving millions to the third world and more millions are raised by television programmes such as Children in Need and Comic Relief but somehow there never seems to be any finance to keep ourselves safe.

It is reported that £30 million is required to set up a dredging system but this is only a drop in the ocean (excuse the pun) against what we spend abroad.

Dredging is not the only answer and there will always be flooding on the levels but a plan must be developed to ensure that this year’s suffering is not repeated.

Sedgemoor and Somerset councils cannot bear the burden themselves, the Government must act and act now.

Charity begins at home and the homes are on the Somerset Levels.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

WHAT good news it was to read on the front page of last week’s Weston Mercury how Weston Hospicecare is preparing to embark upon the biggest and most ambitious project in its history by relocating to a new purpose-built headquarters after the organisation grew too large for its current HQ in Uphill.

I’m sure with Weston Hospicecare celebrating its 25th anniversary this year this move to a suitable site with plenty of room and state-of-the-art equipment to support every single person who will need the charity will be welcomed by everyone.

I have heard so much good about Weston Hospicecare from local people saying when the time comes they do everything they can to make those final days comfortable and free from fear.

At Weston Hospicecare they rely on the kindness of the local community and businesses for around 80 per cent of their income.

Every year around 1,300 people living with a life-limiting illness and their families will turn to Hospicecare for support. That support is provided free of charge. It costs £3million a year to provide the services and only 19 per cent of this is funded by the NHS and our Weston Hospicecare volunteers save the hospice approximately £11.million a year in salaries and the money they saved is issued to fund support for one in 100 locals living with a life-limiting illness.

So let’s also salute all those big-hearted Weston Hospicecare volunteers who make a great difference to our world by providing support and advice to so many patients doing a grand job in our community.

So I hope when our charity Weston Hospicecare finds a suitable plot the people of Weston will still put their weight behind this move and do all they can to support our new Weston Hospicecare that does so much to help make our cancer patients’ lives as comfortable as possible when the time comes.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

HAVING recently moved back down to this area after 55 years away, I can quite honestly say I’ve never seen (and only just) so many cyclists out there in the dark trying to get themselves killed as I have in the Weston area, and in the centre of Bristol.

Having been a cyclist and car driver myself for decades, I know how invisible a cyclist with no lights and in dark clothing becomes to motorists, particularly on wet nights when multiple vehicle headlight reflections only add to the almost complete invisibility of the suicidal rider.

Next to die or be seriously injured will very likely be one of the newspaper delivery boys in Worle.

Shopkeepers - do you actually allow your delivery boys to do their rounds in the dark on bikes with no lights? Who are the parents going to try to sue the pants off when their little Justin (or whoever) is killed one morning on his rounds? (I just missed two this week, around 6.30am.)

Parents - when that knock at your front door comes one night or early morning, and a policeman informs you that your teenage child has just been seriously injured or killed, is that the only moment when you’ll check on their bike lights?

It’s not just the ones I only just manage to see in time which worry me, it’s waiting for that horrible sound of crunching metal and bones.

JOHN LILES

Savernake Road, Worle

I AM a relative newcomer to dog ownership, my small dog is a year old but has only

been with my family for six months.

I try to walk her regularly in the hope she will become more sociable in the company

of other dogs, but given that at the moment she is a little scared, I always keep her on a short lead and never let her off, not even on the beach.

But I have had the misfortune on a couple of occasions recently to come across dog owners who seem to have a whole other understanding of how a dog should behave.

I am under the impression that if your dog does not come when called by its name then it should remain on a lead, but when faced with three dog owners and five dogs my dog and I were ambushed and chased. I suggested leads may be needed and was called a silly cow for my trouble.

On a second occasion I was out having a run without my dog, in the same park area in Weston village. I was knocked over by a young dog not on a lead. I was OK if not a little muddy but did not receive an apology from the owner.

I feel very concerned and nervous now when faced with other dogs and their owners and just want to urge owners to really consider just how obedient their dogs really are.

MRS HANNAFORD

The Seven Acres, Weston Village

OPEN letter to John Penrose MP - Dear John Penrose MP,

As one of your constituents, and a volunteer at a local blind charity called EnergEyes, I need your support.

Losing your sight has a devastating impact on a person’s life. Not only does it have a massive emotional impact, but it also means having to re-learn almost every aspect of your life.

I and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) welcome the long overdue Care Bill which is currently being debated in Parliament.

I’m calling on you, with your powers sitting on the Care Bill Committee, to act now and ensure the Bill properly recognises the struggles blind people face in their daily lives.

We believe there are some significant areas which must be addressed to ensure the essential needs of people with sight loss can be met both now and in the future.

I want to be reassured by you that all newly blind and partially sighted people are offered rehabilitation to help get back on their feet after first being diagnosed. I would also like you to make assurances that the Bill will clearly state that rehabilitation isn’t limited to just six weeks as often blind people need longer to gain the new skills needed to remain independent.

Being left alone to cope with sight loss is wholly unacceptable. No matter how tight the budgets of Government are, this is essential support which must be provided.

AILEEN MILSOM

Greenland Road, Weston

I AM after any wrestling posters, leaflets, from way back up until now.

Has anybody got any of these?

It was suggested to me that I write a letter to the Mercury to see if anyone could help me.

ARTHUR AYERS

Flat 11, Golby Court, South Coast Road, Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven, Sussex, BN10 7HH

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