Letters to the Editor, January 28, 2016

Mail falling from letterbox onto doormat (Digitally Enhanced)

Mail falling from letterbox onto doormat (Digitally Enhanced) - Credit: Getty Images

I am writing to thank the Mercury for its help in my quest to find music fans who witnessed any of the appearances by The Beatles at the Odeon Cinema in Weston-super-Mare. I am collecting stories for a ‘people’s history’ of the Fab Four and several readers have got in touch with some great memories, including Christine Pierce, who was 15 at the time and who remembers:

‘It’s extraordinary how small the single amps were and how sparse the stage was, especially compared to how things are today. I particularly remember tins of sweets flying through the air. Someone had reported that one of them liked toffees, which were dangerous enough being thrown individually for them and for us in the front row. But some of the girls decided to throw tins, one of which caught Paul on the bone above his left eye. After recoiling, but still playing, he clearly mouthed to no-one in particular ‘I wanna go home’. Lesley Wells, who was 10 years old recalls:

‘We sat in the stalls. Everyone was screaming so much. My mother had to put her hands over her ears for all the noise that was going on around her.’

These Beatle memories are a fantastic insight into the past and I’m delighted to have received so many stories, but I’m still interested in hearing from anyone else that has a tale to tell. I’ve got a publisher interested in the book and I’m hoping it will be published later this year.

I can be contacted by letter or via email at thebeatlesinthe60s@gmail.com


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RICHARD HOUGHTON

Hartley Road, Manchester

Most Read

Mr Craig is wrong! This misfit of a county was abolished in 1996. We now live in the unitary authority of North Somerset and the County of Somerset. It was confirmed in Parliament that the counties such as Somerset were not created by Parliament and therefore could not be abolished by it. Some bodies do of course still use the redundant name of Avon.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

As I passed the EU referendum office by the college this morning it was closed, and I thought ‘so what, if we all vote to remain in the EU’.

We are often told that the greatest threat we face is global warming, which surely results from too much commercial activity and so-called prosperity. The EU on the whole, is now less successful than the UK, and so staying in seems likely to hold us back - which must therefore be a good thing.

From the narrow selfish perspective of Weston, government and regulation from Brussels ought to be preferable to government from London, because it is further away. The Scots certainly seem to think so, in the same way as North Somerset’s leader would rather be bossed around by a minister in London, rather than by a so-called mayor reclining red-trousered in all-too nearby Bristol. And then there is Weston Town Council...

So let us all support ever closer union amongst the States of Europe in the confident expectation that it will produce ever greater chaos and confusion, enabling us in the West Country and elsewhere to get away with more and more, in relative peace and quiet. Actually it sounds a bit like the USA without guns.

CHRISTOPHER MAY

Leewood Road, Weston

My husband and I live in one of six houses in Mulberry Road which adjoins the field in Venus Street where Strongvox, the multi-millionaire developers want to build 14 houses. These proposed houses would have a major impact on our lives and all six houses would be greatly affected with regard to:

Light: The new houses would affect the light and sunshine in our homes and gardens

Privacy: They would be built right at the bottom of our small gardens. We would be robbed of peace and quiet.

Outlook: A two-storey brick building (built on land 1.5mtrs higher than ours) straight in front of us, overlooking us and blocking views of outstanding natural beauty across open fields and distant hills.

Had the council proceeded with the planning officer’s recommendation last year when it was widely reported that the planning officer was minded to refuse the Strongvox application, then the application would not have needed to come before the Planning and Regulatory Committee on January 13 and it would have been up to Strongvox to appeal to the Secretary of State.

We are devastated that last Wednesday at this meeting the Planning and Regulatory Committee went against the original decision of the planning officer to refuse the application. Had they supported the planning officer’s recommendation, I believe that any appeal by Strongvox would not have been likely to succeed.

Each individual case regarding these developments is of the utmost importance to the people affected personally and also greatly important as to the long term effect on villages, communities and green fields. However, I believe what is of even greater importance is the issue itself.

Meetings should be handled professionally in a fair and honest way with care and consideration for the people affected. We believe the meeting (which would not have happened if proper procedure had taken place) was not held in a professional manner. Many comments were flippant and appeared to have no concern at all for the reasons on which the original refusal was made. Considering the life-changing consequences which would affect many of us, there was a lot of laughter and humour which we thought was out of order.

Why should people who do not really understand or even care about the consequences (maybe have never looked at the site in question) make decisions for us? Why are multi-millionaire developers allowed to bulldoze over our lives?

I want to know what has changed since the original decision. Is it political pressure, pressure from developers or other external pressure? If nothing has changed, why are we in this position? We feel bullied and we know that there should be a moral code of right and wrong.

BRIAN AND JOAN WILLIAMS

Mulberry Road, Congresbury

Congratulations and thanks to all who organised the successful and fun wassail in Hutton on Saturday. The rain didn’t dampen the dancing spirit!

CONRAD COLLINGE

Spring Hill, Weston

D J Tinay’s letter in the recent opinion page mentioned a wish list which many of us who live in Weston can wholly or at least partly identify with. As we begin a new year, it’s interesting to look back at 2015. Of course the council’s new session began after the May elections. It’s hard to believe that we are still not even a year into a new term. The number of councillors had reduced, and many new faces had been elected, especially in Weston, all contributing and offering a new insight and bringing new ideas to proceedings. There were small victories and larger accomplishments, all due to an immense amount of work. The early part of the session saw the beach hut location beginning its review. The fantastic Weston Air Day which complimented and enhanced Armed Services Day, which was held on the same weekend. This was a respectful tribute to so many who sacrificed so much and a triumph of organisation and commitment to those who were involved. Then during the summer we hosted our own 15,000 strong music festival, and within a few weeks, a hugely successful Lions club beer festival, raising thousands for local good causes.

Cheery Weston, our smiling seaside town, suddenly became dismal for almost two months. Though the air might have been solemn, the £20m injection into the local economy made us all smile. Also we were famous on just about every TV station all over the world. The Tropicana once again became a living and thriving building, proving to those who may have given up hope on the site, that it can once again make a worthwhile contribution to Weston’s future.

Then came the sound of workmen from the Dolphin Square site, which over weeks turned into earth shattering piling, preparing the ground for Weston’s ever growing regeneration. Almost at the same time came the new town centre development plan, with millions being ploughed into the town’s future. Possible proposals for Meadow Street followed, showing that no stone was going to be left unturned. The much loved Dairy Festival returned to the beach lawns, bigger and better than ever before and CBBC made a week-long visit. A council lead antisocial behaviour team were trained, with new powers, in an effort to make our community safer and to work on many issues that affect our daily lives, such as dog fouling. The road resurfacing programme steamed ahead across the county and a new water park is proposed for Weston. North Somerset Council applied to take over public parking enforcement powers from the police, enabling among other things, and proper control of dangerous and inconsiderate parking.

One of my lasting and most moving memories of 2015 was Weston Town Council’s Service of Remembrance at the War Memorial in Grove Park. So well attended and received by both the veterans and the public. As a simple bystander it will be something that will stay with me and in fact the Order of Service still has pride of place on my coffee table.

Much was done in 2015, but no-one is under any illusion that there is still much more to do. Speaking from my own personal experience, the commitment and will to do this has never been stronger.

COUNCILLOR RICHARD NIGHTINGALE

Aisecombe Way, Weston

We’d like to thank Mr Steve Timmins for his letter of January 21. It was our pleasure to care for him and we are delighted that he was pleased with his treatment at Weston General Hospital.

We’d like to reassure Mr Timmins about the future of Weston General Hospital. The TDA and NHS England have made a public commitment that the long-term future of Weston General Hospital is secure.

Like all NHS hospitals, we need to review our services to see where improvements can be made, and to assess what services are best delivered locally or with our partners in the region. Those decisions will be made in line with our community’s health needs.

Weston is a great small trust with excellent resources. Our aspiration is to continue on our journey of improvement and we’re currently developing a three to five year strategy to determine where there are areas to build on and how we can best achieve that.

I’m really excited to be a part of this trust and there is a real sense of optimism about what the future holds for Weston General Hospital.

JAMES RIMMER

Chief Executive Weston Area Health NHS Trust

The problem of electricity pylons has reared its ugly head again with the Government giving permission for these monstrosities to be put up across North Somerset.

There were three options, pylons, underground cables or under the sea but it appear that the pylons were the cheapest option, even though so many have campaigned against them. We can understand that digging trenches would be expensive but with Hinkley Point being in a direct line with Avonmouth surely the easiest and most efficient method is using the seabed. If Victorians could lay telegraph cables under the Atlantic Ocean to connect Britain with America, it should not be impossible to use the Bristol Channel with all the modern technology available.

It just seems that the authorities have completely ignored the wishes of the people who do not want to see our beautiful countryside scarred by theses giant towers. The authorities just want to ‘pylon’ the agony, but there is still hope because appeals have been planned. Let’s hope that people power and common sense prevail.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Mass migration of motor vehicles to Weston hillside, (Grove Park Road, Queens Road, South Road and Cecil Road) leaving no residents parking. Are the money grabbing meters responsible?

LINDSAY SMITH

South Road, Weston

I am not entirely convinced about the antiquity of wassailing as described in the Weston Mercury of January 14. The practice of cider making was introduced from Normandy and shotguns are comparatively new. In addition, the language seems wrong. ‘Wes’ is the imperative of the Old English infinitive ‘wesan’, meaning ‘to be’, but the West Saxish equivalent imperative is ‘beo’ and the infinitive is ‘beon’. Here in West Saxland, the toast would most likely have been, “Be hail”; not “Wes hail”. The practice seems to have its origins in South Devon and North Cornwall, possibly early in the nineteenth century.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

It was good to read in last weeks Mercury how The Playhouse in 2016 promises to be even bigger with a line-up of renowned comedians and West End shows in store.

While last year was a big year with the arrival of The Mousetrap and Blood Brothers, smashing box office records, and not forgetting our wonderful pantomimes over the years, The Playhouse has a name for being the friendliest theatre in the land. Encore, the magazine for people in the trade, held a survey and it came out as the most hospitable theatre in the country.

It is the Friends of the Playhouse, a vital support group which provides volunteer staff and fundraising, ensuring that everything backstage is clean and tidy for them.

The Playhouse has a wonderful set of friends and a happy atmosphere. The lovely Playhouse is still a popular part of the town’s cultural scene and given thousands of people a lot of happy memories.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

Being a keen cyclist as I cycle around Weston I am amazed at the amount of rubbish on the inland roads and cycle ways. It would appear the contractors are not doing their job and the council inspectors not doing theirs. I can appreciate budgets are tight but parts of Weston are looking disgraceful with the amount of rubbish laying about the sides of roads. Not a very good impression for locals, visitors and holidaymakers.

STUART HEBDEN

St Austell Road, Weston

I write to offer another perspective in response to the tirade of criticism of the Government’s pending employment legislation produced by Mr Norton and Mr Drinkwater in the Opinion column of the Mercury (New Legislation, 21/01/16).

They contend that the reasons for the Trade Union Bill 2015/6 are neither clear nor pressing.

Well, firstly, on the issue of clarity, Nick Boles, Minister of State says: “People have the right to expect that services on which they and their families rely on are not going to be disrupted at short notice by strikes that have the support of only a small proportion of union members.” In support of this issue, Mr Boles points out that “Last year’s NHS strikes led to cancelled operations and appointments across the country but only 19 per cent of the 60,000 Unite members balloted returned their ballot papers and little more than 10 per cent of those eligible to vote, voted in favour of a strike.”

Whilst the Trade Union bill covers a number of issues, one of its central thrusts (as outlined above) I find absolutely clear. Moreover, it addresses the issue that the main players in industrial disputes all too often pay scant regard to the interests of the rest of us who are not involved directly but who may be massively affected by the results of any impasse.

Secondly, on the issue of there being no pressing need for reform, I would argue that the development of employment legislation should always be a case of ‘fixing the roof when the sun is shining.’ There’s little point in considering, in the middle of a serious employment dispute, that perhaps its route to resolution could have been easier if the content of the appropriate legislative framework had been different.

The anguished cries that the right to strike is being attacked are plain wrong. The right to strike continues to be enshrined in law. It’s the threshold of proof of support for individual strike action that is, quite properly, now under scrutiny.

Overall, the vitriol expressed about the proposed legislation leads me to ponder: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

I see no link whatsoever between the proposed Trade Union Bill and the heart rending individual incapacity case cited. Provided the portrayal of the facts on the latter is more balanced than the description of the proposed employment legislation, then every right minded citizen should rise up in support of the stance taken by the individual’s work colleagues and the CWU. Because I’m confident that they’ll have sought permission to do so, Mr Norton and Mr Drinkwater should be congratulated on bringing this case into the public domain.

ALEX KIDD

South Road, Weston

Elfan Ap Rees says that house building should be taken out of Weston and into the countryside to relieve the A370 of more traffic.

It is obvious that he doesn’t live in this direction otherwise he wouldn’t have made such a daft comment.

Everyone knows that there is a housing shortage, but the houses that are needed should be built in suitable places with a school that can be expanded and roads that can cope.

North Somerset Council have agreed that 141 houses should be built in Langford increasing the size of the village by over a quarter in one go!

Churchill Primary School is already full and cannot be expanded. So all the extra children who would live within easy walking distance of the school would have to be transported somewhere else, more traffic on small roads, good thinking.

The road system around the area is already congested. The access onto the A38 by Budgens is poor and can take quite a while. The more worrying road is Ladymead Lane, single carriageway, which is dangerous to walk along already and very precarious to drive down. Another 200 residents vehicles plus all the extra delivery vans etc to service the new housing doesn’t bear thinking about.

The proposed area also has drainage problems. Any building on this site will surely put all residents at risk from flooding.

What I would like explained to me is how the University of Bristol were allowed to appeal against the original quota of houses to be built in North Somerset when they have a vested interest and plan to make money as the 141 houses are to be built on their land. The quota has been increased dramatically. Surely that can’t be right?

During the initial consultation phase we were told that there was a housing shortage in the area, this is true but the university has greatly contributed towards this as many of the students who attend the vet’s college rent much needed family homes within walking distance of both schools. The phrase ‘having your cake and eating it’ springs to mind all at the expense of the local people.

JIM THOMPSON

Broadoak Road, Langford

I wondered if your readers might be able to help with my research. I would like to know about the Sundays at Three shows that used to play at the Winter Gardens back in 1963 and 1964. Might anyone remember seeing comedy act Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd performing there then?

I would welcome any memories/information.

GARY WHARTON

Flat 4, Oak House, Hollybush Estate, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7DW

I applaud the dedication of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust personnel, but remain concerned that they are becoming a bit of a Trojan horse for CNM Estates.

In previous years North Somerset Council (NSC) swallowed the ‘save the old lady’ bait which enabled the Royal Pier Hotel plans to subsume part of our public promenade and be pushed through four storeys over the existing roof line. Whatever next? Well, we now have the new proposal to close Birkett Road so CNM might (not) build another hotel at the northern end of his estate. Is the Sand Bay traffic detouring via Birnbeck Pier; Upper Kewstoke Road is not wide enough?

We now read in the Mercury of the proposal that the Pier View lower floor will be renovated by volunteers in order that the food offerings might be expanded. Maybe their charity status is blurring any objectivity which NSC should apply, but this is a Grade II listed building so where is the planning application. Furthermore, every other Weston food outlet needs a council licence and including the provision of toilets. In this way all such outlets operate on a level playing field.

BRIAN WILKINSON

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

May I recommend that Weston’s waste/recycling crews go to Taunton for training? I was in Taunton last week and I watched recycling crews emptying wheelie bins and green boxes; they obviously have pride in their work. Both crews placed them back neatly up against the wall or back into the front garden. Any waste dropped was picked up. Some Weston crews leave wheelie bins wherever, blocking pavements, green boxes are thrown down often outside the wrong house and broken. Recycling dropped in the road is left, Drove Road for example has empty bottles, cans and boxes which have been in the gutters and pavements mainly blown out of green boxes since before Christmas as do many other streets in the area. Where have the street cleaners gone?

P WASH

Amberey Road, Weston

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