Letters to the Editor, January 16, 2014
- Credit: Getty Images/Hemera
IT WOULD seem that North Somerset Council is proposing a council tax increase of under two per cent having made enormous cuts and reduction in staff levels. However, not so our town council, which appears to be in denial that there is, or ever has been, a cash crisis and is once again proposing an increase, this year of 17.7 per cent.
The town council has never restructured, reduced staff or even given a thought of the cost to the town council taxpayer – ‘Upwards and Onwards’ is the new town motto. It has pushed their tourism budget up from £68,599 to £131,464, it has spent £159,500 on Barcode - the most expensive youth club in town, just imagine what a real youth club could do with that sort of money.
North Somerset Council has been relieved of paying for the toilets which now cost the Weston taxpayer £66,217, or, put another way, almost £3 on your council tax bill – that really is inflation to spend a penny.
Now the town council wants to go into the bus business, paying out £20,000 to bring visitors in from Brean.
District authorities are restricted by Government to keep their council tax to a maximum increase of two per cent. The loophole is that town and parish councils are not restricted, so it is tempting to pass on from district to the town council whatever services they can, thereby pushing up the local council tax whilst maintaining a low district rate increase.
You may also want to watch:
Another loophole, of course, is that over 50 per cent of Weston Town Council is also, under another hat, North Somerset Councillors, so it isn’t too difficult for them to influence the town council to take on added responsibilities which the district would like to get rid of.
However, common sense may prevail, I understand that the Minister, Eric Pickles, is introducing a cap on town and parish council tax in 2015, so maybe this is our town council’s last fling at double digit increases in its council tax.
- 1 'Not the slightest chance' Tropicana lido will return to Weston
- 2 Weston-super-Mare's Jake Cornish in Love Island 2021
- 3 Wetherspoon staff isolating after positive Covid-19 case
- 4 Unusual spike in Covid cases in parts of North Somerset
- 5 'It was just horrible' says Tiktok influencer after visit to Weston beach
- 6 Family pub reopens after lockdown transformation
- 7 Large house and grounds in a favoured semi-rural Weston village
- 8 RNLI volunteer 'will be sorely missed'
- 9 Revo Kitchen opens in Weston
- 10 Coronavirus vaccine centre for young people opens in Weston town centre
I love Weston, but I do prefer to spend my own money. I also love the newspaper quote of one councillor who when asked “will this added expenditure work?” replied “I don’t know, but at least we tried, we must do something”.
He should know before he commits to spending £20,000 of our money in an attempt to raise his status.
However, under his other hat as a North Somerset Councillor, perhaps he could redirect some of the £2.3million the district made in parking fees in Weston to bring in the buses from Brean, tourism is one of North Somerset Council’s functions so it is worth a try, after all, the £2.3million spent on parking was £2.3million the shops didn’t get.
Knight Close, Worle
IF THE town council wants to double the tourism numbers it better ask McLaren Life when phase three in Dolphin Square is going to start.
It was going to build a cinema, bowling alley and restaurants but nothing has started yet.
Plus Darren Fairchild for North Somerset Council said an adventure golf course was to be built on the site of the wheel, nothing has started?
Beach Road, Weston
HAVING recently appointed a new chief executive to North Somerset Council at £150,000 a year, the executive committee finds itself in such a mess that it feels the need to get help from an outside consultant at a cost of £100,000.
Surely the best people to consult are the council taxpayers who, between them, would have many ideas of their own.
If the executive wrote a letter in the Mercury it would no doubt be swamped with suggestions and it is duty bound to listen to those it serves.
It can find money to re-vamp the town hall and relocate staff to Clevedon.
If it really believes it needs an outside ‘expert’ and honestly believes it needs to spend £100,000 it should pay for it out of its own money - not ours.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
THE Secretary of State’s demolition decision was reversed, North Somerset Council (NSC) granted outline planning permission for redevelopment and unanimously agreed to offer a future leasehold for a viable development plan.
So, in last week’s Mercury, why was NSC accused of ‘stalling’ by Cllr Derek Mead? As ‘figurehead’ of Trop (WSM) Ltd, he knows full well that the only condition the council placed on his organisation’s scheme for the redundant pool was that it should make technical and financial sense. Moreover, his suggestion that NSC is waiting for Eric Pickles to be replaced is simply absurd.
Now, barely two weeks into the New Year and still to submit the first required progress report, Cllr Mead already seems to be making excuses. Rather than reproach NSC for obstruction, could it be that Trop (WSM) Ltd is already finding that in the highly competitive world of charitable funding, its grandiose plan for the Tropicana is already found to be wanting?
Church Road, Winscombe
ONCE again the Tropicana is not being allowed to get any further in a quest to be rebuilt.
We have on one hand North Somerset Council saying it is willing to allow a lease to be granted to the Trop (WSM) Ltd because it has lost the battle with the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, but as reported in this paper Cllr Derek Mead says it appears to think it will be able to change this ruling if it can delay the granting of the lease.
I would ask if someone is willing to undertake the cost of refurbishing or developing the site what business is it of the council to interfere and then give us the reason that the proposed developer is not able to fund it.
As I understand it the Trop (WSM) Ltd has already undertaken to fund the cost of tearing down the old Tropicana in the event that it would not be able to raise the necessary funding? If the council is not happy can a cast iron guarantee be obtained to cover this point?
What is the council objection? I am sure the council’s legal department can draw up a lease renewed as long as the property is always being used as the original planning application, and that the developer will provide an all weather swimming pool, shops and restaurants, etc. No mention of any residential facilities.
Mr Mead wants to approach various bodies to solicit funds, surely this could also be one of the conditions that the lease was granted. It looks to me that the council already holds the strings in this case.
I would also ask would the council take the same approach to a prospective tenant? If the council was leasing out any of the other properties it owns would it be saying no you cannot have a tenancy as we don’t think you could make it pay.
The council appears to be quite happy giving Clevedon and Portishead support why is it they are not interested in Weston?
They even allow these places free car parking as well so need I say more.
LAURENCE F ORME
Shrubbery Avenue, Weston
WITH reference to the Mercury’s lead story ‘It’s good news & it’s bad news’, and millions of pounds to be spent on health services in North Somerset is good news. Credit is due to Councillor Mike Lyall who has campaigned doggedly for years to draw attention to the deprivation to be found in Weston’s central ward. Central ward is one of the most deprived in England, while the areas nearer to Bristol are at the other end of the national list.
Weston’s politicians must make sure that the southern part of North Somerset District, including Weston’s central ward, sees improved health services as the result of the extra funding.
Unfortunately, what the Government gives with one hand, it takes with the other.
The bad news is that Central Government funding for local services will be cut further.
The fear is that Weston and the surrounding villages will bear the brunt of the resulting reductions to essential services as North Somerset Council struggles to do what is demanded of it by Whitehall.
The affluent northern half of North Somerset must take its fair share of cuts which should not fall disproportionately on Weston and the southern half of the district.
Priory Road, Weston
I HAD the misfortune to go to the Town Hall in Weston to make enquiries about something this morning. What a shock.
I am well aware it now houses the town library, but I always thought you had to be reasonably quiet in a library so people could read/study. Not any longer. I have never in my 60 plus years been in such a noisy chaotic place with books all over the place and a really scruffy place.
In front of this you have the computers with wires spilling all over the place. People sat around the first floor or entry floor almost like a day centre talking and laughing. This is a library. Children were running around. Yes I love children and love to see them enjoying books but this was like a playground.
I went to the reception desks, a circular construction with receptionists in the middle. About three people sat trying to help people with their enquiries and more people stood in that area, employees just talking to each other with queues waiting to be seen. Not very efficient or professional.
I was not impressed and even less impressed when you think also that this houses the front office of the police station apparently but it would seem you have to enquire at the reception desk to see a police officer. Not a good situation. The police front office should be in the police station, not the Town Hall. Not everyone wants the whole of the town listening into private matters. It’s fine walking into a police station, and preferable to discuss things rather than have to ask a Town Hall employee to speak to the police.
What is happening to this town? Penny pinching, that’s what is happening.
MRS M J GUISE
New Bristol Road, Weston
WHAT a terrible eyesore the band stand in Grove Park is.
It has had scaffolding around it for nearly a year; all last summer bands had to play from ground level, which greatly reduced their musical impact and enjoyment by the public. Even if funds are limited, as a seaside resort, it is very important to keep up appearances.
Dolphin Square is now a building site, more the pity. Retail shopping is decreasing at an alarming pace and it has become virtually impossible to find suitable retailers to fill this large space. Having lost the beach front bus station, surely there is now a wonderful opportunity to develop one on this site? These glass fabricated buildings (like the bath one) are not expensive, but offer the public a far more comfortable waiting area than the seafront/Alexandra Parade bus stops.
The old magistrates court and tax office both empty for years have joined the many vacant retail shops and offices that have little maintenance or heating spent on them and are therefore slowly falling into decay.
The auction sale price of the large Co-op/Hughes shop in the High Street was very informative and only by such deals that these buildings will be given a new life. Don’t just keep them, sell them on.
C J PEVERELLE
Edinburgh Place, Weston
WOULD it not now be an ideal time for the council to ban or curtail the flying of helicopters from the helicopter museum to confines of the old airport due to the terrible crash in Glasgow last year.
This is one of many tragic crashes last year ending in the deaths of many people in this type of transport and our thoughts do go out to their relatives.
The police helicopters used are maintained at a very high level so the crashing of it was a terrible accident but it does happen even to them.
Another helicopter crash in 2014 resulted in the deaths of four more highly trained air crew but luckily no one on the ground was killed.
As the ones from the museum in Weston fly over so many residents’ homes it could happen here.
There used to be only flights from 2pm until 5pm now they are using two on a Sunday all day and in the school holidays. It makes a day at home not a place to be because of the Polo aviation copter flying in and out every five minutes and when landing throwing it about in a steep dive to land to make even more noise.
These so called experience flights are noisy, not necessary and not wanted by a great many of the residents on its flight path.
What is going to happen when they build houses on the land at the airport. Will they be able to sell them?
If they want to give flights, take them from Bristol airport they have the facilities and the open spaces to do it and not make a resident’s Sunday at home in Weston a noisy one.
Woodcliff Avenue, Weston
WHILST the Avon to Weston cycle path would provide the only direct route into Clevedon, starting at Wick Lane will add many unnecessary road miles to the journey.
After crossing Wick Lane, it should continue along the railway track bed to Ebdon Lane, and then onwards to join up with the present cycle track around Worle. There is a bridge near to the Banwell Brook crossing point.
Also, there is no need to delay the cycle path because the road into the waterworks is not the railway track-bed. This follows a parallel route.
It should also be realised that the Government is sponsoring councils to build a path around Britain’s coastline. This path can be part of it because it would provide the only crossing point of the River Yeo, unless a new bridge was constructed nearer to the sea.
Regarding the crossing of the River Yeo: There is a possibility that the two bridge supports (two metal poles) could be used to construct a brand new bridge, which would bypass the waterworks altogether. It would give the cyclist a true perspective of the crossing, and with careful planning may become an iconic bridge - a county landmark - thus drawing more people to the pathway.
Finally, the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead railway group would like any pathway to acknowledge its origins as an old railway route. Two signboards about the railway have been put up, one in Weston (Colonel Stephens Way at the end of Ashcombe Road), and Portishead (at the end of the town, next to the petrol station - actually close to the site of the second railway station). See website www.wcpr.org.uk
Railway Society member, Harvest Way, Wick St Lawrence
I HAVE just received the information from Bloor Homes with regard to the development of 150 homes on land off Arnolds Way, Yatton.
Yatton does not have the infrastructure to sustain another 150 houses. This would mean approximately another 600 residents coming into the area with at least the possibility of 300 new vehicles. No way can Yatton sustain such an increase. Without a doubt Yatton is certainly one of the best served villages with its excellent railway connections, access to the M5 motorway and, of course, Bristol Airport only 15 minutes sway.
The only way this planning application should be passed would be for the developers to extend Arnolds Way to the A370 (Bristol/Weston road) which would then alleviate the bulk of lorries coming through the village illegally and also ease the traffic coming through the High Street, which, to say the least is most frustrating at times.
Also, to be taken into consideration, is the availability of school places for children. Also 600 new residents for the doctors where parking is a nightmare at the best of times.
We had this same problem a few years ago when Bryant Homes wanted to build 50 odd houses on the rugby pitch. The infrastructure was the same then as it is now, so no way should this application be passed.
Wemberham Crescent, Yatton
A RECENT article gave details of the possibility of a planning application being submitted in the coming weeks with a request for permission to build 150 houses on a site off Arnold’s Way, Yatton.
Older residents of Yatton can remember when in the North End/Horsecastle area there were four shops, two banks, four or five farms and a furniture factory. All these sites have been replaced over the years by housing development, with the result that between Yatton Station and Arnold’s Way there are now more than 600 houses with very few social amenities. This is just one of the main reasons why it does not seem to be a good idea for another 150 houses to be built at that end of the village (outside of the settlement boundary). I am a former resident of Horsecastle for 30 years.
MR R V WATHEN
Chescombe Road, Yatton
A BEAUTIFUL fabric bag was either picked up or removed from my Skoda Fabia on Orchard Street last Wednesday near the parking machine.
It was a gift from a special friend last year and I’d like it returned to the Town Hall or Rose & Amber in Meadow Street (for Jean).
It has an integral fabric strap and has beautiful colours, purples, lilacs, creams etc and is lined in the same material.
It’s not a handbag, but an over the shoulder bag for lightweight things.
Spring Terrace, Milton
I WOULD like to thank the people who have spoken to me about my letter last week but, if we need to change things in Weston we need councillors to be close to the people.
Councillor Tony Lake should sort the Tropicana letter issue within three months or resign. We need dynamism not excuses. The Tropicana is the single biggest regeneration project in Weston. I know the people of Banwell, they are a part of Weston so beware Tony if you want to be taken seriously. Party politics are now about the person not the party as Derek Mead has shown.
Every councillor should visit shops in the High Street, Meadow Street and Orchard Street. Apologies for other streets, but regeneration will benefit you. The case of Sarah Schranz and business rates in James Street is disgusting. There appears to be a business consensus that people park for 20 minutes for 20p to go to the bank, pick-up or drop-off, shoppers don’t therefore casually look around. My kids look to Bristol, my wife to Clarks Village, Street. There is nothing wrong with charity shops, they provide a good part of the shopping experience, they do bring people in to town. The problem is there is nothing else for shoppers and absolutely nothing for holidaymakers.
Councillors should write to the Mercury with their observations. The readers should otherwise assume they haven’t bothered, so write to them and ask why not? If you the voter can’t be bothered you will be a part of the destruction of Weston. Destruction of Weston? What have you to look forward to? A questionable future for the Tropicana with the council dragging its feet? A new Dolphin Square with a lot of restaurants and a new cinema which will close the historic old one, it could become a new indoor market or a bigger Tesco. We closed the 10 pin bowling alley which kept open since the 60s when all of the Bristol venues closed.
Wake up Weston residents, write your letters and make your feelings known.
There are councillors that have Weston’s best interests at heart, with the exception of Derek Mead I am not sure who the others are. The Mercury has always taken a neutral stance, I wonder if they should now take a view to take an active part in the regeneration of Weston and start taking councillors to account.
The Mercury has become a formidable weapon for local viewpoint and I would not want the Mercury to be biased in a general manner, but some single issue matters require for a heart-felt approach and should be a core of the paper’s locality to its readers.
Boundary Close, Weston
I THOUGHT readers might like to see the picture of these two little egrets.
They came to Hewish and Puxton last year and seem to have returned to overwinter here again.
Egrets can be seen regularly at RSPB and other wetland centres, but it’s interesting to see them so locally.
Maysgreen Lane, Hewish
IN LAST week’s Opinion section M T Kerr stated that the resiting of the Lifeboat station to its new ‘temporary’ location was an eyesore.
I would suggest that he/she turns around and looks at the mess behind him next to the Madeira Cove Hotel.
The enormous dump bin and all the rubbish alongside it has been there for I believe two years. Now that is an eyesore.
The lifeboat is positioned there to get to the slipway, 100 yards away.
MICHAEL E RYAN
South Road, Weston