Letters to the Editor, June 30, 2011


I MUST say Geoff Malham was extremely lucky to get such prompt attention from the council regarding a tree in his road.

There is a tree in a similar condition outside my bungalow which has not been touched for years.

When I complained someone from the town hall said they did not pollard trees because it made them grow faster. I also suspect the roots have damaged my wall as well as the pavement.


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Annandale Avenue, Weston


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I NOTE from your columns a number of executives on North Somerset Council (NSC) are to meet to discuss the future of the Tropicana.

I find it desperately sad that after 11 years of closure nobody at North Somerset Council seems to have a clue or a positive idea of what to do with this once fine facility.

How many more times does North Somerset Council have to be told by the residents of the area – and no doubt holiday-makers – that all they want is a decent pool with a retractable roof for year round use?

The loss of income over 11 years must be immense, but apparently of no concern.

I regret to say I find it laughable that Weston must be one of the very few seaside resorts in the country without a swimming facility. The muddy, all-too-shallow sea is in and out twice a day before you can say Jack Robinson.

Though now too old to enjoy such a facility as the Tropicana as we previously did as a family, residents and holiday-makers alike must forever wonder if and when. I really do find this constant prevarication all too pathetic and wonder when, if ever, a decent Tropicana will rise again.

As for moving the Boulevard library to the town hall, this ridiculous idea leaves me speechless.


Bleadon Hill, Weston


I READ with some surprise that North Somerset Council is suggesting creating a skatepark within the walls of the derelict Tropicana. Presumably by skatepark they did not mean an ice skating rink, but a facility for skate boarders.

Both an ice skating rink and a skate boarding park have merit, but why in the Tropicana? Weston with its burgeoning population of new residents is under provided with places where people can swim.

Weston’s seafront pool was purpose-built as somewhere for residents and visitors to swim.

It simply needs to be renovated and brought back into use for its original purpose. That has been done successfully at Portishead.

With a new high diving board, it could be used for training Olympic divers from all across the Bristol region. I believe that the nearest suitable high diving board is in Plymouth.


“Preserve Weston’s Legacy Lido”

Priory Road, Weston

In support

I AM writing in support of consultant haematologist Dr Booth’s, letter in the Mercury June 23.

I am not surprised at the content of Dr Booth’s letter, for I know from past rumours that circulated the clinic that he wasn’t happy with the in-house politics at Weston General Hospital. Negative personal feelings for colleagues should be put to one side in order that patients with very serious health problems have the best possible care, patients need continuity. Dr Booth is an excellent, patient caring-consultant and if it had not been for him I wouldn’t be here now. It took nearly 17 months through my own GP and the departments that I attended at the hospital to finally come to the conclusion that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I have only three doctors to thank for that Dr Srivastava who was standing in for the doctor I had an appointment with and recognised the problem immediately, Mr Gallegos the surgeon who did an urgent biopsy, and finally my treatment and care with Dr Booth.

I had heard the rumour that Dr Booth had applied for the post he had held at Weston General Hospital and had not even been short-listed, at the time I wasn’t sure whether that was true or not, however with his letter to the Mercury this has now been confirmed.

All I can say to the Weston Health Trust is shame on you.

Patients do not need politics, managers or locums to help them through any illness, what they need are excellent doctors and continuity, so what if these doctors give management a hard time, listen to what they are telling you!

I am sure there will be many letters from past and present patients supporting Dr Booth’s letter of explanation, personally I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the doctors I have mentioned and especially a big thank you to Dr Booth.

Although I am now into two years remission, I would like my life line back at Weston General and that is Dr Booth, and like so many other patients that miss him.


Turnbury Close, Worle


WALKING around town I am struck by how scruffy some of the town centre streets are strewn with rubbish from black sacks which have been ripped open by scavenging dogs.

The councillors for central Weston need to get a grip on this eyesore, and the executive member for environment should make some decisions.

I would suggest that the council provides several 1,100 litre industrial bins located every few houses and the householders are issued with unique keys to avoid misuse of the bins. This would make town centre refuse collections much quicker and more efficient and avoid the unsightly black bags.

In the long run money would be saved and the streets would be smarter.

This system works well in Spain and could easily be employed here.

Let’s clean up the centre of our town, the seafront looks good but a few streets back looks dirty, the appearance could deter shoppers and visitors.


Dunster Crescent, Old Mixon


WITH concern for the possibility of the imminent teachers’ strike and its inherent disruption, may I put forward a solution that would satisfy all parties and purposes ie teachers, parents, children and unions.

It’s based on the following premise. That the three months-plus children’s holidays a year is not teachers’ holidays at they are always at pain to explain that that is the time they are steadfastly working; that their primary concern is for the welfare, development and education of children and that they are constantly working to establish a positive liaison with parents to develop a good working environment to develop a coherent working relationship for all three parties.

So, taking all the salient facts into consideration the answer is simple,

If strike action is going to be taken, take it during the children’s holidays. After all it is a teacher’s strike not a children and parents’ strike.

In that way you achieve all your objectives by causing major obstruction during teachers’ working time.

You maintain your assertion that you have kept the children’s interest uppermost in your concerns.

You have kept the support of thousands of parents without risking their wrath and alienation. You have made your point. Problem solved.


Milton Hill, Weston

If you are lucky

MILLIONS of people plan to strike on June 30 over their pay and pensions.

Growing old is something you do if you are lucky. Unfortunately, not many Africans are lucky. To them, pay and pensions are the stuff of dreams, like clean water and food in their bellies. Why don’t we protest about that?

If everyone in the world reached out and helped somebody else, what a wonderful world it could be.


Taunton Road, Weston

Thank you

CAN you help us? I am a paramedic for Great Western Ambulance Service who attended a lady who had taken a fall in Lawrence Mews, Worle, last week (11am, June 24).

When we arrived to help her, a passing postman and some gentlemen who work for the council doing the recycling, had already very kindly helped her up.

My patient was very keen to thank these people but they had already gone on their way by the time she had been checked out by our crew.

On behalf of my patient and myself I would like to thank these gentlemen for making our job a bit easier and our patient more comfortable.

The lovely lady herself is fine and none the worse for her ordeal.


Clinical Team Leader, Great Western Ambulance Service

Dying Matters

WE ARE writing to say a big thank you to all members of the Dying Matters Coalition and to local residents in Somerset for their commitment during Dying Matters Awareness Week in May.

With hundreds of members in the local area and more than 15,000 across England, the Dying Matters Coalition is starting to make a difference to breaking the taboo around discussing dying, death and bereavement. Unless all of us feel more comfortable talking about dying and death, we are unlikely to have our wishes met about how we are cared for and how we are remembered.

By working with care homes, hospices, the NHS, funeral and legal service providers, retirement organisations, charities, community groups and faith and belief groups, Dying Matters is aiming to make good end of life care a reality for everyone. Talking about our plans for the future, wills, funerals and where we want to die is a key part of having a good life and couldn’t be more important. For more information about how to discuss issues dying, death and bereavement please do visit www.dyingmatters.org.


Chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care


Director, Dying Matters Coalition, National Council for Palliative Care, York Way, London


I WOULD like to thank the person who took my money out of the cash point outside Tesco Express, in the Boulevard, and handed it into the store.

I was telling the cashier and she said a gentleman handed it in.

Thank you, you put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.


Bristol Road Lower, Weston

Strange attitude

CONGRATULATIONS to the Mercury for highlighting the strange attitude we have locally, and indeed nationally, in the question of who is the criminal and who is the victim – front page, June 2.

In it, the victim seemed to be guilty in the eyes of the law.

It seems every day, here in Weston, that we hear about serious crimes on our streets – murders, cars scratched, bicycles stolen, houses burgled, teachers threatened, needles found in our parks – and so on.

Our crazy society now seems afraid to name the guilty in the press, and there is a move to lessen punishments, whilst the innocent receive the blame. I went to the aid of a young woman being attacked by her boyfriend, and it was me that was threatened with arrest when the boyfriend accused me of grabbing him.

At a Neighbourhood Watch meeting I asked the police what action we could take against an intruder on our property.

I was expected to understand the phrase ‘reasonable force’ against a criminal with ‘human rights’.

I had the use of my very sharp, cavalry sword more in mind though.

If I understand British justice then we must not upset the disruptive pupil in our schools, we must not defend our homes or property too strongly, and certainly not name or shame them in our local press. So keep up the good work Mercury – what a silly nation we’ve become.


Addicott Road, Weston


THE new improved Weston is looking good in the sunshine, but one thing that is missing is sun umbrellas.

It seems as though the cafes and bars on the seafront and in town have an aversion to providing any shade and as a consequence everyone has to sit in the sun and turn bright lobster pink.

Surely it cannot be that expensive to provide a little shade?

And in addition, colourful umbrellas give the place a cheerful aspect. It would be nice to see some around.


Lyndhurst Road, Weston

Alive and well

RICHARD Birtill’s letter ‘Potholes’ in last week’s Mercury reminds us that Victor Meldrew is alive and well and living in Weston.

Why is it that Mr Birtill and his fellow armchair experts never seem to have a good word to say for our council and its employees?

I’m sorry to disappoint him, but I have had a very different experience recently.

I emailed the highways department to report some potholes in my road which had been marked with surveyor’s paint some time ago and had remained unrepaired - I wondered if they had been overlooked.

Within a few days I was telephoned by the engineer in charge to reassure me that the work was still in hand but had been delayed, awaiting funds.

He told me that the money was now in place and the repairs would happen before the end of the month.

I was very impressed by such a prompt and business-like response.

But if Mr Birtill used the same abrasive tone of his Mercury letter when lodging his complaints, perhaps his lack of success is understandable.

Not content with potholes, Mr Birtill also moans about the condition of Herluin Way. Yet the Mercury reported on page 35 that the work is to take place this week.

Any delay is explained by the council: “We’ve thought about the motorist too, and so by carrying out the work in the same week as we cut the grass verges, we’ve kept the need for road cones to an absolute minimum.”

Evidence again of council planning and consideration.

But Mr Birtill saves the best until last with a predictable diatribe against North Somerset’s planned rationalisation of resources. Unless he lives in a time warp, Mr Birtill will know that the council has suffered a massive reduction in its grant from Central Government and has to make appropriate economies.

We have been told that, by investing in Weston Town Hall and a new office in Clevedon, not only will services be streamlined (by releasing 16, yes 16 other buildings) but will offer an annual saving of nearly �1million. Isn’t that what we’re paying the council to do in our best long-term interests?

There is a simple solution, though. As Mr Birtill clearly has such little faith in our elected representatives, let him stand for office rather than snipe from the sidelines.

If chosen, perhaps he’ll then discover that local government isn’t quite as easy as he thinks.


Church Road, Winscombe

I’M WRITING with regard to your story about the residents at The Veale in Bleadon, who will be left stranded when the new bus timetable comes into force.

Firstly it’s a shame there wasn’t time to talk to the other residents besides me, as this bus saga affects all these people as much as it does me.

Fifty per cent of the residents who live in The Veale are aged over 60, with some being in their 70s, 80s and 90s and most have lived here for several years, some even having lived in Bleadon their whole life.

The bus service is a lifeline to many of them. For trips to doctors, dentists, hospital appointments, etc, but also to be able to pop into town to pick up their groceries or just to have a coffee with a friend, but sometimes just to get out of the house and have a change of scenery.

The removal of this bus will leave the residents isolated and stranded in their homes.

The comment that there is a bus stop ‘nearby’ is misleading, it would be nearby if you had a car or bike, but not so near if you have to walk. Some of the residents can just manage to get down the hill to this stop but would be unable to get back up to The Veale on its return due to the steep inclination. The removal of this bus will leave the residents isolated and stranded in their homes.

Regarding Dial-a-Ride, I’m sure this service is a blessing to many but it is not a suitable alternative to a regular bus service. The pensioners cannot use their bus passes on this service and also have to pay a fee to register, plus I believe the fare is about �6 which is double the bus fare.

Not all the residents are incapable of using a public bus which picks them up near their home and returns them to the stop near their home, but they do not have the agility to climb a steep hill back to their home.

One of the explanations given to me by Paul Conolly, when I first enquired about the reasons why, was that the bus service 83 had been running late. So on my next three trips I took note of the times the bus arrived at selected stops. The first selected stop was three minutes early, and four minutes early to the next stop in the town centre. This was repeated on all three trips. When I put this to Mr Conolly the ‘reason’ changed, this time it was because in the summer months (approximately eight weeks, what about the other 44 weeks of the year?) the beach road gets busy so the bus runs late due to the amount of traffic so if we miss out The Veale we will be able to make up on the time.

North Somerset Council stop making excuses for some of the bus drivers that moan about turning a bus, Webberbus was aware of the routes when they took on this contract.

Do the right thing for these residents and find a solution to this problem.


The Veale, Bleadon

THE heading of ‘Shark alert’ on the front page followed by further shark-fear phobia on page 17 together with a the photo of the innocuous and harmless fish gives little credit to this widely read newspaper.

A simple phone call to an officer of one of three recreational sea angling clubs in this town would have quickly supplied facts instead of some of the printed fiction.

Over the past four years the starry smoothhound has not been uncommon in Weston waters. Their presence was more in the clearer waters south of Minehead but then your midweek paper of a few weeks ago carried the story of a new Bristol Channel Federation shore-caught record near 19lb smoothhound caught by Outcasts SAC member Phytos Yianni when fishing from Sand Point.

Last year even Welsh charter boats were crossing over to sample Clevedon Bay for these fish and their cousin the common smoothhound.

Contrary to the well known ‘Jaws’ image, most sharks are small and harmless to humans. Those fearsome pointed teeth associated with the tiger and great white sharks are absent in the smoothhound who only possess crushing pavement – shaped teeth for its main diet of shellfish and molluscs.

The Bristol Channel does contain a number of other different species of the shark family, namely the lesser-spotted dogfish, the greater-spotted dogfish or bull huss, the spur dogfish and tope.

Off the North Devon coastline I have also accounted for the bigger three-figure porbeagle shark who do not appear to like our upwards muddier waters.


High Street, Worle

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