Letters to the Editor, March 17

WHAT is going on with our council or its officers and the problem with Richard Nightingale and his plans? I don’t think that anybody can understand why we have this big difference.

Surely it would be in the council’s interest and clear the air and to publish the plans, proposals whatever, and show us exactly the size that Nightingale is trying to build and show us what is it they are so concerned about and also show where the proposed on the sands parking would be and why it will effect anything?

It doesn’t wash that the council are concerned that the taxpayer is going to be involved with bailing out the developer if it is allowed to go ahead.

As I understand Nightingale’s are prepared to put up a bond of �1million as a sign of good faith.

Get all this in prospective for all to see. I challenge the council to publish the plans which they have already passed for the Henry Boot project, the one they published in 2008 showing the actual scale of what was going to be allowed, which showed the street layout, showed how it included all of the Beach Lawns and Promenade going from Ellenborough Park South up to Clevedon and Clifton Road right up to Severn Road which included all this space for car parking and a public piazza.

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But even though this meant the town had given away a big chunk of the Beach Lawns and prom all would have been lost to us had Henry Boot not pulled out.

Then let them show exactly how much different Nightingale’s plans are, and whether or not this development is a lot smaller and has not included any of the Promenade or Beach Lawns and in light of this, what is it that they cannot agree on.

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Weston is getting something which it needs and everybody wants and it is not costing the ratepayers one penny, the council will have passed on one if its hottest potatoes and if by some chance it didn’t manage to succeed well they can then say it wasn’t their fault.

As it stands it looks to everybody that the council is just not willing to let Richard Nightingale prove to everybody that he can, after trying for many years, get this off the ground and even now it looks as if the council and its officers are hellbent on not letting him have the chance.

The council should think long and hard on this matter, by turning this down, if they do, it will be remembered for a long time and will always be brought up by the local people and, of course, visitors.

Who can imagine a leading seaside resort without a swimming pool when they can have had one built for them at no cost. I take it we are still one of the leading holiday resorts in the country?

Judging from all the letters to the Mercury it is not just me who feels strongly on this subject. The problem is the people who matter do not appear to feel the same. Perhaps if the people who care contacted their local councillor it might make a difference.


Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Remain open

MAY I seek assurances through your paper, that the public lavatories along the seafront and elsewhere in Weston shall remain open.

It seems every council in the country is closing their public lavatories to save money, or so they believe.

Carlisle City Council decided to put itself ‘on the map’ (show me a Council which isn’t) and invested in an all-singing, all-dancing, non-bending French lavatory which cleaned itself every time it was used.

Well it would have done if it had been plumbed in. That took three years and a letter campaign in the local paper.

Carlisle Council was happy to buy the lavatory, but not happy about paying for the running costs.

It is closing down lavatories in the Lake District, a major tourist destination.

Guernsey is boasting about closing its public lavatories, and saving �100,000 in the process. How many people go to Guernsey for holidays?

For information, I have heard ‘rumblings’ about the lavatories from people on the front. The council should pay attention.

As a result of external issues, I think more people will be having holidays in Britain; Weston is very good for holidays.

As for the cleaning, perhaps the Magistrates should be contacted and some of their customers could be detailed off for some honest proletarian toil.


Cresswell Close, Worle


ENID Blyton has been busy in your newspaper this week.

“They’ve wasted millions of pounds buying a second Town Hall in Clevedon.”

“The council needs to find a use for the Town Hall now it has jumped ship.”

“The council has already moved to Clevedon, at least from a psychological point of view.”

I hate to spoil the fun by confusing people with facts, but here they are:

? The council is slimming down from 18 buildings to two.

? The council is halving the space it occupies. The council (and taxpayer) will save �700,000 per year from these proposals within three years.

? The number of staff in the Town Hall will increase from 600 to 900, ensuring the council keeps its commitment of no net loss of council jobs in Weston town centre. The council is co-locating with workers from the NHS North Somerset, to give improved public services more efficiently.

? The council is investing in a new library, which will be on one floor, larger than the existing and at a time when other councils are closing theirs.

So, the council is saving money, not wasting it; it has not “jumped ship” it is increasing its occupancy of the Town Hall, not decreasing it; and it is providing a modern, new library on one floor rather than spread over three.

I hope this is helpful. The council and the local community face a significant challenge in the future. This will be difficult enough, without being deflected from the real issues by letters and opinions in local newspapers based on mis-information.


Greenhill Road, Sandford

Supply teachers

THE figures released last week for supply teachers for Churchill do require a little explanation.

Incidentally, on the Government’s Financial Benchmarking website, our figures are about average for like schools – schools of similar size and performance.

The actual figure for supply was �106,000 – which I agree is a great deal. To this would need to be added c. �46,000 – the costs of staffing our in-house cover room, the L-pod, where about 100 students can work on computers if their teacher is absent.

Two things keep these costs high. Firstly, we have introduced ‘Rarely Cover’ – an initiative introduced by the last Government in collaboration with the main classroom unions; this ensures teachers are not required to cover for ‘known’ absence. This especially becomes an issue if any staff are off work for a protracted period of illness or disability. Here we have to cover lessons with qualified staff – these come out of our cover budget.

Secondly, at Churchill we hold on to our commitment to enrich students’ learning with field work, trips, visits, outside professionals, competitions, fixtures and so on. These do not come cheap but their value is inestimable in inspiring young minds.

So – guilty as charged but the quality of the learning experience for our students – both in the classroom and beyond – is something we believe worth investing in – their future could depend on it!


Headteacher, Churchill Community Foundation School and Sixth Form Centre,


Volunteer drivers

WESTON Hospicecare would like to thank the local community for the overwhelming response to their plea for more volunteer drivers.

More than 20 local people have come forward to offer their assistance, which is just incredible, meaning that the hospice is now able to offer a free taxi service to patients that are unable to get to the day hospice themselves.

The hospice is also able to fulfil other errands such as going to the hospital to collect results and medication or taking samples.

There are still volunteer jobs within our shops network especially in Worle shop and also within the hospice itself that need filling so if anyone would like to find out more please do give our volunteer team a call on 01934 423900.

One in every 100 people in Weston and the surrounding areas are in our care at anyone time and we touch so many more through friends and relatives of our patients.

It is vital that we maintain the support and presence in the local area to enable us to offer this service and we can only do it with the help of the local community so thank you.


Marketing and communications officer

Weston Hospicecare, Jackson-Barstow House, Thornbury Road, Uphill

That was unfair

WITH reference to my letter, which the Mercury published on March 10, regarding the Tropicana. It has been brought to my attention that in the vote in 2006, not all Labour councillors voted in favour of the Henry Boot scheme. I am happy to put the record straight.

Labour suffered badly in the Conservative landslide four years ago which gave the Tories a free hand to do as they pleased in North Somerset, as they have ever since, e.g., transferring council staff to Clevedon.

Labour took a bashing locally, not because of anything they had done, but because of the unpopularity of the party nationally. That was unfair, because our Labour councillors were doing a good job having stepped into the breach to keep the council going when the Tories walked away from their obligations and their Lib Dem coalition partners.

Among those who lost their seats was Richard Tucker the popular councillor for East Ward who had voted against Boot, but in favour of the simple open-air pool with a sliding roof which Weston Labour Party and the people of the town have always wanted.


Priory Road, Weston

Local politics

EVERY major (and minor) project in the district seems to be linked to local politics.

If our representatives would spend less time trying to score points off each other and instead directed all their energies into doing the jobs they were elected to do our town and district would be a better place.


Montague Mansions, Weston

Parking charges

DR GEORGE Papworth makes a very fair point about the weighting of car park charges which favour Clevedon/Portishead at the expense of Weston.

The Mercury reported that staff at the hospital are to be charged for parking and I wonder who is entitled to park under and opposite the Town Hall and whether a charge is made. If not, why not, and is the revenue notified of what is a substantial benefit in kind and similarly what are the parking arrangements at the new offices in Clevedon? Perhaps the Mercury will enquire.


St Nicholas Road, Uphill

Wrong place

IS IT just me, or are other people getting fed up with those that want to leave the library where it is? Yes, the fa�ade of the Boulevard building is something to be treasured, but let’s face it, the rest of the building is a dump, and in the wrong place for a library.

At a time when councils across the country are closing theirs in desperate attempts to balance the books, ours actually wants to invest in a library. I cannot believe that the vocal minority are actually trying to stop this. How dare they try and deprive the town of the sort of quality public facility it deserves and that other large towns have had for years. Its plain selfish in my view.

I have got a young son with a burgeoning love of books, and quite frankly, I would not want him to set foot in the current building. It smells, it looks horrible once you get past the front door, and it’s just not an environment I want my family to spend any time in.

Whereas, if the library moves to the Town Hall we will get a brand new facility, all on one level, in the centre of town, close to other facilities, and it will be designed around the needs of a 21st century community, not the Victorians.

So come on people of Weston, don’t let those who’d like to see the town mothballs get their way. If you want a new library, get along to the public meeting at the Blakehay on Saturday and have your say.


Amberey Road, Weston


I AM often reading in your columns, of criticism of Weston General Hospital and only last week your article headed ‘Watchdogs demand quick improvements at Hospital’ was published.

When one read on the facts were that the hospital failed to meet standards set in three out of 21 areas.

My belief having visited A & E last week is that my level of care was excellent: ECG’s, X-Rays, blood tests, etc, were done in the minimum of time, with great care and attention and with great professionalism.

Why do we have to keep throwing brickbats at our hospital which is doing it’s very best to serve an ever-increasing demand under great financial restraints. Let’s hear more praise.


Nithsdale Road, Weston


I FELT that I must contact you to voice the opinion of many nurses working at Weston General Hospital. It seems that many people are unable to comment on the trust and the work we do however we are seldom given the opportunity to respond for fear of reprisals.

In your paper dated March 10, 2011, there was a letter published from D Lawrence who commented on nurses wearing their uniforms to and from work and also going out smoking, it stated that the blame for norovirus is put onto the visitors.

We currently have restricted visiting due to many wards becoming infected with a form of diarrhoea and some vomiting, not all were confirmed cases, but the wards were put under observation to prevent spread.

I feel that D Lawrence has not fully understood the reason for the restriction. If you have had the typical symptoms of norovirus infection in the past 48 hours, you are infectious even though you may be showing no symptoms, Norovirus infection is more serious and even more easily spread among people who are already ill, which of course patients are. Any staff working who have symptoms go home and do not return for 48 hours after symptoms disappear.

Visitors, however, and I have spoken to many, arrive on the wards, openly admit that they had diarrhoea this morning, but haven’t been since and promptly sit on a sick person’s bed. This is not a one off. Once we explain to them that they should not visit the hospital they seem surprised. These are the same visitors who bring food and drink to the wards, leave the rubbish for us to clear up and reluctantly stick to the visiting hours or numbers of visitors permitted.

Guidance from the Department of Health states: “There is no conclusive evidence that uniforms or other work clothes pose a significant hazard in terms of spreading infection. But the Government does acknowledge that the public believe there is a risk and do not like seeing nurses wearing their uniform when they are off the premises.”

In relation to the article on page 15 whereby it was noted by The Care Quality Commission that record keeping was an issue at the trust despite a new patient care document being introduced last year, may I state that from a nurse’s point of view this could be misleading as the care document mentioned is placed at the foot of the patient bed. Many nurses do not write too much in this document due to the issues relating to patient confidentiality and data protection, whilst the document clearly states that patients’ permission must be gained for visitors to read it. Many don’t ask permission and read it regardless, then feel that they can comment on its contents to nursing staff. All care carried out is in fact documented in the patient’s medical notes which cannot be read by anyone passing by, and can be seen by those who need to see it.

The other letter from David Stott stated his concern at the amount of extra cars that may park in Uphill due to the introduction of staff car park charges in April.

I for one will not be paying to park and so am sorry to say that I will be finding a road to park on. I will do this legally and will take care not to block or obstruct driveways of residents.

The Trust has stated that they can no longer afford to allow staff to park on land owned by the trust. All staff will now have to pay, in addition to this we have lost our payment for recruit and retain (around �30 a month) and work overtime on a regular basis with no payment or time back.

We don’t mind doing this as it comes with the job, however, a bus for Worle or Burnham, for example, takes an hour to arrive at the hospital, that would mean leaving at 6am to arrive by 7am (if you are lucky).

The other issue here is that to drop the children to their childminder the bus does not follow the same route and so I would need to leave at approximately 5.30am to walk with the children to the childminder and then catch a bus to work. This is not a practical situation.

Many of trust employees are parents and have other commitments, and whilst we are sorry to park in the roads surrounding the hospital, we feel that we do not have any choice.

Nursing is no longer a vocation, and whilst we love our job we have to live our lives and if that means being parents and juggling our profession with our family then so be it.


Weston General Hospital

Name and address supplied

Not surprised

FURTHER to your report last week concerning the rescue of a young man from the rocks near Birnbeck Pier.

I’m not surprised that he is safe, there were two coastguard, four ambulance and four police vehicles plus six fire engines at the scene, although the majority of the crews appeared to be spectating. Whilst I have every confidence in the professional abilities of the emergency services, I question the suitability of their communication systems. There may have been other people, in urgent need, waiting for one or more of these vehicles. We continuously hear about lack of money, cost cutting, redundancies and moans about over stretched services. Well if this incident is anything to go by that young man may not be alone in finding himself between a rock and a hard place.


Mayfield Avenue, Worle

I WAS pleased to see the letter you printed about safety at the water park last year has done some good.

I saw the inside fencing so children cannot run out on the road has been put up plus the issue about toilet facilities and payment of �1 to cover any expenses of night-time security. Let’s hope the council planners see sense over the rebuilding of the Tropicana. As for the council wanting parking to be included in the design, I didn’t see problems when the pier was rebuilt over parking facilities. Weston has always had problems over parking especially when it is so expensive for some tourists they have to park in the side streets.

Why not use the old airfield for a park and ride facility when there are large events planned for Weston i.e. T4. The airfield is used for parking, why not make it a car park – park and ride - and provide buses into the centre of Weston. Then there would be no problem catering for the extra tourist visiting the area.


Oxford Square, Weston

WHEN viewing events in the town from afar it’s hard not to shrug one’s shoulders and think ‘only in Weston’.

I refer to a couple of ongoing sagas in the town - Pier Square and the Tropicana.

On a visit to the town on the weekend I thought I’d check out the ‘dangerous’ area of shared space.

I fully expected to be horrified by the lack of organisation and confusing road layout, where scared children would be narrowly missed by reckless drivers at five minute intervals.

I was therefore surprised to find that the highway is infact a completely different colour from the pavement and adjoins a road at either end.

One side of it even has lamp posts following the line of the strip used by vehicles.

I can’t be the only one hoping Councillor Elfan Ap Rees ignores the narrow-minded naysayers and sticks to his guns, because as far as I can see the area is much better than it was before the work started and the council has done a fine job seeing the work through.

When more places in the world that I care to mention embrace the shared space concept, why is it that only our town cannot?

As far as the Tropicana goes, how on earth can this still be going on?

It’s obvious to everybody, apart from his own fan club, that Richard Nightingale’s plan is a no-goer and the council’s exclusivity contract is nothing more than a piece of electioneering.

His design doesn’t even fit the brief, so how can he possibly expect to get the contract?

And the fact that despite a Europe-wide search for a developer failed to produce any other bidders for the site suggests it is a dead duck. Of all the commentators on the subject, only former Councillor Crockford-Hawley seems to have a handle on what’s going on.

Yet he seems to take a lot of flack for just telling it like we all know it is.

Only in Weston could this shambles be allowed to rumble on and on and on.


Ashford Road, Cheltenham

having received a number of letters this week which we deem to be of a political nature we have decided not to publish them

This is because they would not be able to be answered before restrictions come into force next week in the run-up to the local government elections.

This restriction will apply until after the election.

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