Letters to the Editor, January 9, 2014

TWENTY-FOUR years ago, Friday, March 16, 1990, I sent a letter to the Opinion column to congratulate the editor on how Weston’s new baby – the fresh-looking Mercury tabloid - was at last looking and reading like a local newspaper should.

What a transformation compared to its predecessor, the lacklustre, lame duck, and Tory mouthpiece the old broadsheet was.

At the time I was encouraged to think that the tabloid version would become more of an integral part of Weston life; full of vigour in its efforts to seize upon many controversial issues (so often skirted by the broadsheet), that arise from time to time concerning the town. But more important, to attack those in local government who make lunatic and demented decisions on one thing or another which affects the everyday lives of Westonians.

The editor and her staff have pursued these issues with much vigour and determination throughout. At last Weston had a quality newspaper to be proud of. It has remained so since its inception.

This year Judi Kisiel is leaving the Mercury. I’m sure readers will join me in wishing her much happiness in retirement.


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RON ELLIS

Westbrook Road, Milton

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*Editor’s note: There is still time for me to challenge a few more ‘lunatic and demented decisions’ before I leave!

THE case of Mrs Schranz, the shopkeeper featured on page 3 of last week’s Mercury, is a shocking example of the modern tendency to put profit before people.

To charge her a large sum on retrospective business rates, way over what had been agreed, is an example of another modern trend whereby actions can be legal without being honest.

Mrs Schranz helped the Weston commercial district by trying to upgrade her space and was severely fined for her efforts. The question that now arises is why should any shopkeeper attempt to improve their shop when they know they could put themselves out of business by so doing?

I have never heard anything like this before and I hope Mrs Schranz remembered to contact the ombudsman. I don’t know much about the organisation responsible for fixing those rates except that they have the same moral approach as people running a ‘protection racket’. Its decision could have very bad results in any attempts to improve our shopping area.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

HOW correct Councillor Mike Bell is in his criticism of Councillor Elfan Ap Rees in the Mercury.

A few weeks ago I took a drive around Clevedon and Portishead. In Portishead’s main shopping area, not a parking meter in sight, on their seafront by the lake there are no parking charges, there are not even any parking restrictions, park all day every day for as long as you want.

Clevedon is the same and in addition has a council run car park in Marson Road with no charges or time restrictions. Recent comments by Cllr Ap Rees that the policy for parking applies the same across North Somerset are quite simply laughable and deluded.

If more parking is needed in Weston by destroying the Grove Park tennis courts, why are there so many empty parking bays in the streets of Weston? Some roads such as Alfred Street have hardly any cars parked on them during the day, why aren’t these streets made parking meter free and made more convenient for the people whose homes are on them (I am not one of them and have no vested interest), instead of blindly and pig headedly ploughing forward oblivious to what is reasonable.

Have parking meters been a success in Weston town centre? Then ask why did businesses call for a parking charge free day in the run up to Christmas to encourage trade to the town.

Is the parking policy to raise cash (which would be illegal)? Cllr Rees says no, but then this is the same person who said the Tropicana was never left to decay, he presumably is in denial about the mountain of debris from the seafront dumped in it.

Under this Conservative administration (I up to now have voted Conservative) Weston has been run down but Clevedon and Portishead spared the same treatment. Many times over the years during the Tropicana saga people have questioned his motives of apparently turning against his own. Is it because his title is only ‘deputy’? Perhaps he has his eye on a bigger role and needs the support of other councillors across North Somerset to achieve this. Hence the different treatment of other towns to his own.

I hope the voters of Hutton and Locking at the next election consider carefully the detriment being done to Weston.

RON FIELDHOUSE

Boundary Close, Weston

SEEING all the recent flooding, I do wonder what will happen when the development of Weston airfield goes ahead.

At present there is a vast area of grass and very little tarmac but when the developers finish there will be just the opposite.

Where will the rainfall go?

Past experience shows that drainage is never top priority.

I hope anyone living there or even working there have either a boat or at least water wings.

D M LAWRENCE

Laburnum Court, Weston

WE ARE shocked to read that a local MP, Liam Fox, is calling for the financial rug to be pulled out from under the NHS by removing the protection of its budget.

His rigid Tory ideology has clearly overridden any care for sick patients that he may

have had as a GP.

David Cameron has broken his election promise to defend the NHS from top down organisation and financial cuts, but we can be sure of one thing - if he promises to cut spending on the NHS, then that is one promise he will almost certainly keep.

Fox cherry picks the items of NHS performance he wishes to pick up on, and ignores the big picture. The main figure that we all should remember is that the NHS budget per patient is about half that of the USA, which cuts vast numbers of poor people right out of health care altogether.

Yet it is the US healthcare system which Government changes are constantly edging us toward. Serco is a health care company which lost their contract in Cornwall for false accounting, and is currently under investigation by the Serious

Fraud Office for overcharging the Ministry of Justice.

Incredible though it seems, Serco could get the ‘franchise’ of Weston Hospital

unless the people of North Somerset stand up and let their MPs know that the NHS is not for sale.

DR RICHARD LAWSON, Retired GP, Green Party press officer, Delberro, Stephen Timmins, Protect our NHS, Don Davies, deputy leader of opposition, North Somerset Council, Gwyneth Powell-Davies, vice-chair UNITE Bristol Health sector, Helen Thornton, North Somerset UNISON, Town Hall, Weston, Shaun Murphy, Egerton Road, Bristol, Dr Nasser Madani, Copse Road, Clevedon, Richard Capps, Secretary of Weston & North Somerset Trades Council, Tim Taylor, Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Weston, Kelvin MacDonald Fraser, the Family Solicitor, Montpelier, Weston and Mrs D Canham, Highdale Avenue, Clevedon.

MAY I, through your newspaper, thank some individuals and companies following our 2013 Comfort at Christmas homeless shelter at St Paul’s Church Hall in Walliscote Road.

First thanks must go to St Paul’s Church for allowing us to hold another shelter. The help and support they give us is amazing. I must also thank our oldest benefactor, Peter Castell, for a TV and DVD. This must be at least 20 years they have supported us.

This year we were helped financially with a fantastic £1,500 donation from Waitrose; over £250 from Beach Lawns Care Home; £500 and £250 from Weston and Worle Lions Clubs respectively; six enormous turkeys from Puxton Park, and extra turkeys from Tesco. We were also very lucky that Charles and Theresa Larkin from Figtree Dementia Care stepped in and provided a huge amount of meat and provisions.

This year we had on average 40-45 for meals and on Christmas Day served up a whopping 70 full Christmas dinners with all the trimmings. We had guests from Weston, Nailsea, Bristol and also Gloucester.

None of the above could have been achieved without our volunteers. We run four shifts a day with 8-10 volunteers covering most shifts. They give up their precious time so readily and even come back year after year to help out. Special mention to Sue and Gwen for the organisation of mealtimes, when apart from the normal Christmas dinner guests were offered some mouth-watering food throughout the day. Two of these meals were supplied by two independent cafes in Weston - Loves Cafe in West Street and Stones Cafe on Knightstone Island. Lastly to all the good folk of Weston and surrounds who donated cash, food, clothing and bedding please accept my heartfelt thanks.

But finally a pair of ladies trousers was donated (and made use of); and in one of the pockets were some items of jewellery. They may be of some sentimental value, so if the person missing them cares to ring me (07766 448889) I will return them.

JON CODD

Chairman Comfort and Warmth (sponsors of Comfort at Christmas), Bisdee Road, Hutton

WHEN the plans of the Dolphin Square development were published, with a fanfare of trumpets, the market traders realised that they would have to relocate.

What better place than St James Street, which would be the link between the much vaunted development and the High Street.

They tarted up their stalls and as they tried to keep their heads above water, along came the council and pushed their heads beneath the waves.

Instead of praising the traders of the lost square for showing initiative the council decided to nearly double their business rates.

No notice was taken of the fact that that part of the development has stalled, because no retailers want to be involved

The old square remains a heap of rubble and to many people the council’s reputation is in the same state. No wonder the centre of Weston is dying - who would want to chance their arm against such odds.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

IT WAS good to read in the Mercury how the doctors, nurses and other staff at Weston Hospicecare spent their day on Christmas morning making it a truly special time for the patients and their families.

Weston Hospicecare is a registered charity. It was founded in 1989 by a group of volunteers who recognised the need for a hospice for the people of North Somerset and the surrounding areas. It took a lot of research, fundraising and community support to get the first community nurse specialist in 1990. With the involvement of volunteers, the idea of a local hospice has evolved today to an organisation of more than 115 staff, who together work tirelessly to support and raise funds for patients.

Being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness changes everything. It changes the way you feel both physically and emotionally. It affects your work, your home-life and those you love. That’s why at Weston Hospicecare they’re dedicated to providing holistic care and support for patients and their families – for as long as it’s needed.

Whether a patient’s journey with them is long and short they will make their precious times as comfortable as possible. This can be through their day hospice and in-patient unit, their community nurse specialists and hospice at home or through their complimentary therapists, chaplain or bereavement team who are there for the patients.

Each year more than 1,300 patients and their families will turn to Weston’s Hospicecare for support and all the care that they provide to them is free of charge. It costs £3million a year to provide these services – only 19 per cent of which is Government funded. The rest is raised through their shops and through the generosity of the local community. In my opinion I think all the hard-working doctors, nurses and the staff who do a great job at Weston Hospicecare in Uphill are truly amazing.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

WE WERE staying in Weston and went to the Carols by Candlelight in Kewstoke Church and I would like to thank everyone who helped make it such a special celebration.

The music was spectacular, the church was breathtaking – every ancient part of it was highlighted in such a beautiful way and the climax was the moment when lights were out and candles lit – wow!

In this day and age thank goodness for such an opportunity to reflect and rejoice about the real meaning of Christmas.

EMMA JACOBS

Malthouse Drive, Dudley

AS COUNCILLOR Elfan Ap Rees gets into his car in the morning there is one thing that is certain. He has not thought about the residents in the residential streets of our town who cannot park anywhere near their home during the day.

If he had, surely he will have thought of the very old, the very young and all the rest of us who struggle quite long distances to our cars in the appalling weather we have been having. Then surely he will relent and let us and our visitors pay to park close to our homes for more than two hours during the day.

Perchance to dream fellow residents. He doesn’t think or care about us one bit. So much for councillors serving the people

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

I AM looking for two ladies who I believe are in the vicinity of Weston.

I knew these two when they were both four and seven years old. Since then I lost touch with both the mother and daughters. I have been told that, Evon, the mother, died.

The names of the two sisters are Karen and Anne Pearce. Karen is approximately 34 years old and Anne is 30 years old.

The came to stay for a day with both my wife and myself. I suppose they could be married now.

I am sure that Karen will remember me.

I am an old man, 90 years in June, so I would be so grateful if they could contact me.

K COTON

13 Withy Road, West Huntspill, TA9 3RA

PLEASE help me to reconnect with a pen pal I had in the mid 1960s-1970s.

My friend, Anne Dudley, was a teenager at the time who lived at 15 Teasdale Close in Weston. We were both fans of The Beatles and Anne really enjoyed Cat Stevens.

She married Keith Hewlett and they had two daughters - Katie is the elder daughter. For a time they lived in Frome but in 1979 they sold their home to A Burge and moved back to Weston to be near parents.

I live in Valparaiso Indiana, USA which is close to Chicago.

If you can help me in my search to reconnect with Anne, I may be reached via email at bnangeldeb@yahoo.com

DEB STIPP

Valparaiso, Indiana USA

WORDS cannot convey our deep gratitude for the way my husband was cared for during the last few days of his life at the stroke unit at Weston General Hospital after having suffered a massive stroke.

We were impressed both medically and in the caring way the staff ensured his comfort at all times. They also supported us as a family at this difficult time.

CHRIS CURNOCK

Milton Hill, Worlebury

AFTER visiting my GP on New Year’s Eve, I was admitted to Weston General Hospital with possible appendicitis.

The care from start to finish was brilliant. I was moved quickly into A&E, then onto the surgical assessment unit, then moved on to Hutton Ward and at every stage I received brilliant care. I had my operation on New Year’s Day and was sent home the following day.

I feel very fortunate to have such good care at our disposal. The NHS is something we need to look after and our staff in hospitals do difficult jobs and I for one am very grateful for the care I received.

ANNABEL TOOGOOD

Woodspring Farm, Kewstoke

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