Letters to the Editor, March 19, 2015
- Credit: Archant
I KNEW our dear council has become quite absurd with many of its decisions but has it finally totally taken leave of its senses?
I was very annoyed this weekend, to find yet more road closures enforced by North Somerset Council.
The Kewstoke Toll Road is something I need to drive daily as the easiest and most efficient route to enable me to check on my elderly relatives, so closures can be upsetting at the best of times. However while, yes, I can accept the odd closure for maintenance purposes, I find to my dismay the council had closed this together with some other council owned roads in the town to turn Weston into a car racing track. On whose authority and why were we not informed of this until stumbling upon the road closure sign just a few days before?
Whoever thought this was a good idea needs their head boiling in engine oil. Not only did my family and many of my also very aggrieved neighbours have to endure the disruption and inconvenience of driving into town via diversions along congested roads on Mother’s Day, but we also had our usually peaceful neighbourhood drowned out by the screeching boy racers. Come to that where are the police to sort these speeders out when needed? What kind of example is this showing to the driving standards of our youth?
In recent times we are told as taxpayers to pay more and endure cutbacks but what do we find? Our council being completely irresponsible in wasting resources in nonsensical ways such as this. It beggars belief.
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Well if the council think this is a good way to fritter away our money then perhaps we should all ask for a rebate on our council tax?
Council please remember Weston is a town. There is a place where these people can drive as fast and as furious as they want and I believe it is called a racing circuit which our town certainly is not.
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MR M NOBLE
Kewstoke Road, Kewstoke
APART from announcing that 200,000 houses are ‘needed’ to be built per year within five years or so, nothing more has been heard from our esteemed Government.
To my mind this is as far away from ‘planning’ as it is possible to get.
Firstly, there is no chance of meeting this so called ‘target’. None whatsoever. Everyone knows this but no one wants to talk about it.
Why? Well firstly, there are insufficient skilled bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers and other technical skills, etc, thanks to the inadequacy of our education system brought about by the failure of earlier and present governments. It will not even be possible to import such numbers from abroad.
The skilled craftsmen in the UK have become self-employed and as a result have far greater job security and earning potential than employment with a big property developer. We all know this when we need a plumber, electrician, etc. Why would they want to give up £90 plus per hour, working only when they feel like it and join a building firm which will dump them as soon as look at them?
Secondly, the capacity to manufacture such things as bricks, tiles, concrete, windows, doors, etc, has been run down to such an extent that demand, on the scale suggested, cannot be met for some time to come.
Thirdly, the financial industry is far more wary than ever of funding lending without huge deposits being put down. Although interest rates are low at present the catastrophic consequences of an inevitable rate rise in 2016 will leave many of these families with unaffordable debts.
The average house price is now apparently £270,000. To be able to buy this property you will need a deposit of £35,000 and an income of £45,000.
Not many young families can meet these demands.
The Government is now hinting at 20 per cent discounts for first time buyers with very few details as to how this will be done. When you read the small print you can be sure it will not be all it seems. Even with these discounts it will still be difficult for most.
The employment market has become much more fluid in recent years with little job security. This makes it important for employees to be flexible in terms of where they can find employment. Many young people feel that renting rather than buying gives them that flexibility without the burden of having to sell a property if they have to move with all the risks that might entail.
Finally, if we are really serious about the future planning of our environment then we need to do more, much more, than simply say we need ‘x’ number of houses.
We need to be able to forecast the types of houses we need in any one area such as a village in the countryside for example.
How many one or two bedroom flats, two bedroom bungalows, three bedroom houses, detached, semi or terraced suitable for families, single parents, elderly, disabled, or sheltered accommodation. What proportion of rented, purchased, subsidised or social are needed?
All of these have differing demands in terms of price, space and communal needs.
And then whatever blend and quantity of homes you plan to build one needs to consider and develop an appropriate infrastructure that will support and meet the needs of this new community before building commences.
Schools, GP facilities, safe walking and cycling, pavements, road traffic and safety, sewers and drains, social services, open spaces, recreation and sport and, of course, employment.
Importantly this needs to be community led and have the support of the community.
Let’s stop grandstanding and playing political games for votes and the personal survival of politicians at all levels and start being sensible for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
We may well need more homes but let’s stop the indiscriminate destruction of our countryside by greedy housing developers whose sole motive is profit and start using our brains to put this sorry mess right. It’s not impossible you know.
Brinsea Road, Congresbury
THERE is no point in going on about the Winter Gardens if you don’t start by checking the facts.
Henry Butt did not leave the site to the people of Weston as he never owned it. The Weston UDC purchased the site from the owners of the Royal Hotel subject to strict covenants about height.
The developments took ages because of council infighting caused by Butt’s behaviour, he having lost his place after a major court case brought against him by the UDC after his vehicles smashed up the local roads carrying stone to the station from his quarry at Milton.
In an attempt to get back in Butt later made a donation toward the proposed development and presented a bemused council with some ornate stonework his agent had found on a rubbish tip in East Grinstead.
He was also responsible for the much missed putting green and for suggesting the basic design for the frontage of the building itself.
Another thing to be aware of is that North Somerset Council passed the building to the college to try and stop carrying financial losses on it.
The quoted ‘one pound’ could have done with some explanation beforehand but we have now to note that Phillip Green has just sold the entire chain of British Home Stores for the same amount. The rich and the powerful now have a new way of doing things which, although they appear dodgy, seem to be legal.
So, deep breath and check before starting a row you can’t win.
Alma Street, Weston
OOPS! I seem to have upset Mr Pitch with my ‘negative comments’ about Weston.
I would question Mr Pitch’s interpretation of the word negative when he himself confirms that I wish to “restore Weston and North Somerset as the town and area others would aspire to.” I would consider that pretty positive but perhaps Mr Pitch would prefer us to retain the status quo and continue to be led by the nose by the current administration further and further into a quagmire of half truths and half baked projects. How he can think that the Dolphin Square, Winter Gardens (remember, sold for £1 without open debate) and Tropicana debacles are anything more than an absolute disgrace. Does he not realise that had these decisions been taken in a commercial organisation the authors of such a mess would certainly have been sacked?
Well Mr Pitch the opportunity for the owners, those of us that live here, of North Somerset and in particular Weston to finally hold this reckless council to account will arrive on May 7 and if I may say so, not a day too soon.
Mr Pitch, you have been invited to meet with my colleagues to discuss various issues you have raised through the medium of print but to date you appear to have chosen to decline this.
I would therefore, once again, like to formally invite you to meet with a few of my fellow prospective candidates at our shop in Weston High Street where we would be delighted to discuss your concerns.
As for policy Mr Pitch, the opinion pages are not the place for what is, after all a very important and detailed communication and I would refer you to my invitation above.
However I hope you notice that I have continued to communicate in an open and honest way with you and I can state here and now that a strict policy of openness and transparency is number one on our agenda.
In closing I notice from your last missive that you consider yourself ‘strictly non-political’ which would indicate that you have an independent view of politics and if that is the case you would be most welcome to join with us to rid ourselves of the current ‘dogma ridden residents’ of our Town Hall.
Prospective candidate, North Somerset First Independents
Old Mill Way, Weston
I’VE long been a science fiction fan, especially of Star Trek. But, judging by recent Mercury letters, even the redoubtable Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew would be puzzled by the parallel universe that exists on Planet Weston.
I refer to the steady stream of complaints that the town is a dump and has ‘gone to the dogs’. These remarks seem to demonstrate an incomprehensible mismatch between fact and fiction.
In addition to the many major investment projects already under way, we read last week that the hugely successful Sand Sculpture Competition and big wheel are returning to Weston this summer and that the museum has won a marvellous £1million Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.
If this wasn’t enough, Weston College has also been voted the Times Educational Supplement’s FE College of the Year. As if to emphasise the disconnect even more, last week’s paper also contained a number of letters - including one from an Australian émigré no less - supporting Richard Nightingale’s recent assertion that ‘Weston is a growing, regenerating and evolving jewel in North Somerset’s crown.’
And yet, despite all the good news, people still grumble and whinge. For example, why is there such opposition to the college’s proposed expansion? What’s wrong with further investment in one of the town’s greatest assets? These aren’t just the usual predictable gripes from UKIP, North Somerset First and its claque of supporters but from a regular group of disaffected individuals too.
A perfect example came from Martin Woolls who wrote last week that ‘we are now actually full up in this town. You have to queue everywhere for everything…we do not need more flats and more people’. Of course there’s still much to be improved in Weston but, based on all the evidence so far, the town has a bright, vibrant future rather than a slow decline back to the 1950s. As Mr Spock would say ‘it’s all highly illogical Captain’.
Church Road, Winscombe
AS IN the story of the little boy and the Emperor’s New Clothes there comes a time when someone has to state the blindingly obvious.
In my opinion the voters in the forthcoming local election need to be completely clear as to who and what they are in fact voting for. For the main political parties they will have a pretty good idea as to what each one stands for and will know what they are going to get if elected.
However I would suggest they take a good, hard look at this new North Somerset First party and consider if it is all that it seems.
This very new party, formed only a few months ago but just one man promotes itself as a party made up completely of Independent candidates. Quite how this might work is just one of many things that voters need to consider. This party now has premises on the High Street, produces leaflets, etc, and will presumably incur all the usual costs associated with an election campaign. Are these costs being shared equally by all these independent candidates or are they being supported by their creator and leader? If the latter is the case how can they be truly independent if they are in debt to the party?
If we look at their most visible indication of policy we might be forgiven for believing that they are a party concerned with only one issue, the regeneration of the Tropicana. I am not unduly cynical by nature but I do believe that if something seems too good to be true then it sometimes is.
The glossy illustration of their vision of the new Tropicana can be achieved, they say, for £5m, the new pier, about the same size but minus an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a Lazy River cost 10 times that much.
I would suggest that a more honest name for this new party might have been the Trop Trust party. They are called North Somerset First but what are their policies for example regarding the encroaching property development in the villages of North Somerset such as Congresbury, Yatton and Sandford?
Their claim to be a party of Independents is a total contradiction of terms. If elected what wider influence might this ‘one trick pony’ party be able to exert?
These and many other questions need to be asked and answered in order for voters to make a considered and informed decision on May 7.
Prospective UKIP Candidate Winterstoke Ward
Old Mill Way, Weston Village
CUTS, cuts and more cuts, but what is really going on?
We are told constantly by the ‘rulers’ of North Somerset Council (NSC) that they are having to make serious cuts to its services as a result of reductions in the rate support grant from Central Government. These cuts having drastic effects on services such as education, social services, road repairs and much, much more.
However these measures do not seem to be applied within the council itself, although seemingly cash strapped it can give away millions by selling the Winter Gardens (valued at approximately £11million) for a paltry £1, yes £1. It seems able to spend freely on the Town Hall and its surrounds and the satellite office in Clevedon.
It is now working at revamping the junction of Walliscote Road in front of the Town Hall, a junction and pedestrian crossing that worked quite well and really only required the road resurfacing and some repairs to the footpath. Instead the area has been totally redesigned, expensive paving’s are now being laid and, of course, the pedestrian crossing being altered. I would hesitate to think what this is all costing. Why mend something that is not broken? The cost of the necessary work mentioned above would be considerably less and the savings made could be used to carry out some of the urgent repairs needed on other roads in the town. For example Quantock Road on the bus route 105 to the hospital the surface is so bad that passengers have to cling to their seats to avoid ending up on the floor of the vehicle especially if it is a double decker.
I could go on and on with more such examples of the failings of NSC which I believe results from the executive system.
For example the Hans Price library building closed and unused, the Tropicana neglected until it was beyond saving. Parking charges being raised to ridiculous level and the hours in the car parks being extended until 10pm, whilst parking is mainly free in other towns in the district and, of course, the fiasco over the closing of the public toilets which the town council is trying hard to maintain despite its limited income. I sometimes think that NSC has never heard of preventative maintenance.
Enough is enough, it is time that Weston had control of its own resources, budgets and of the future of this great town.
Let up put the ‘super’ back into Weston.
CLLR KEITH MORRIS
UKIP Weston Town Council
Beach Road, Weston
WITH the elections only a few weeks away there seems to be a complete lack on enthusiasm from the electorate.
When I was a boy candidates or their representatives visited many homes and most homes displayed posters with pictures of their favoured candidate.
My mother took me to meetings in the local school hall and loudspeaker vans toured the streets blasting out their messages.
At the time of writing we have had two leaflets through our letterbox, from the Green Party and Liberal Democrats and no doubt more will come, but the chance of coming face to face with candidates is very remote, even those for local council elections. Television beams party leaders into our homes but those wanting our votes completely lack the personal touch.
The electorate is divided into three groups, the first of which are those who support the same party at every election even if the candidate is a donkey. Then there are the floating voters who actually put people before parties and decide who would be their best representative. Finally there are those, so fed up with politics they do not intend to vote and it is these people who are the loudest critics of the Government or local councils. They should turn up or shut up. Personally I believe that voting should be compulsory, but of course this flies in the face of civil liberties.
This time round UKIP threaten the balance of power, although at local council level I fail to see what it can achieve. I just hope that enthusiasm will improve over the coming weeks, for what is expected to be the closest contests ever, and every single vote is so important.
I would like to pay tribute to Jeremy Norton who recently passed away. Jeremy was a regular contributor to the Opinion page and we often chatted about current affairs. He was a true gentleman and is sadly missed, so Jeremy, rest in peace.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
ALONG with hundreds of other parents in the Weston area (and indeed across the country) I face the anxious wait until next month to find out which school my child will attend this autumn.
I share the typical concerns of parents with children starting school - how big will the class size be? How will discipline be handled? Will my child ‘fit in’? However I drew encouragement and reassurance from Richard Nightingale’s letter last week, outlining his pride at being an associate governor of one of our schools and describing the innovative partnership led by North Somerset Council.
It is not merely achievement and attainment and the concerns I described previously that matter to parents, as fundamental as all of these things are. The cultivation of core values and instilling the right ethos are vital to educate and help our children develop into well-rounded individuals, equipped for life’s challenges.
Despite rightly receiving considerable protection from necessary public sector cuts, the education sector still faces fiscally austere times and it is exactly the kind of thinking and dedication that brought about the innovative partnership Richard describes that is needed. I want the very best for my child and I feel optimistic about the provision we have here in Weston.
Lastly I must commend Richard for putting himself forward in to such a responsible and important role as governor. We all want our institutions to operate with accountability and to be reassured there is the correct governance in place but with so many other things in our community, it takes people to give their time, dedication and willingness to stand up and be counted.
Worle Moor Road, Weston
SUCH a shame the CC/Viyella shop in the High Street is to close.
For the last four years we have got used to having a top quality shop in town.
Some people keep saying we only need cheaper shops here ie Primark, but surely a town the size of Weston needs good shops as well as cheapie ones.
I feel so sorry for the assistants who have provided me with fashion advice and help over the years. Not many shops provided good customer service these days.
I have heard them having to tell customers over and over that it is not just the Weston shop that is closing.
Austin Reed (the parent company of CC/Viyella) is closing 40 shops throughout the country.
They will be greatly missed.
MRS E BARNES
Milton Road, Weston
WHAT good news to read in last weeks Weston Mercury how Weston’s popular Sand Sculpture Festival is to return to the beach for its 10th year, after worries over its funding were resolved with backing from town authorities and support from businesses.
Sand modelling is a seashore pastime which has been a great attraction and an engaging art which sand modellers operated on Weston sands.
It’s good to know this seashore pastime has not died out.
The festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the sands each year.
So let’s all say a big thank you to project manager Cindy Lap both North Somerset Council and Weston Town Council and all those hard-working sculptors from across the world, including some international champions who create the majestic features out of 4,000 tonnes of sand.
The Sand Sculpture Festival celebrates 10 years of theses including Under the Sea, Great Britain and Hollywood.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston
ON February 13, I fell at home and split my knee so badly that is required stitches.
I therefore went to the A & E department at Weston General Hospital.
The staff at the A & E were absolutely brilliant. They were so kind, helpful and extremely efficient. I had the wound attended to, x-rayed and stitched in 1.5 hours from start to finish.
The hospital was very clean and it was a pleasure to be a very satisfied patient and I am very grateful to have received such wonderful attention.
Atlantic Road, Weston
RECENTLY I spent just over a week in Steepholm Ward at Weston General Hospital.
I would like it recorded that I could not fault the care and attention I received. Everyone gave me the utmost in their kind and caring attention, despite my sometimes quirky sense of humour.
From the anaesthetist, operating and ward nurses, physiotherapists, and general ward orderlies, everyone was kindness itself.
Even after leaving hospital I had a problem, which was dealt with promptly by the staff in the surgical assessment unit, and the physiotherapy department.
My sincere thank you to all of those involved in my care.
Clarkson Avenue, Weston
NOW in my eighties, I don’t think living longer is favourable at all.
When I go out to join the land of the living, I look directly at each one I pass with a smile in my eyes ready to reach my lips, but there is no response whatsoever. I feel invisible.
Unlike the days when people were happy to greet you, and engage in eye to eye contact – how well you can read people.
Harvest Lane, West Wick
HAVING tried out the ‘newly refurbished’ Odeon I have decided I will not be going back there.
My husband and I were in Room Three to watch The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The seats were so uncomfortable and upright that our backs were killing us when the film finished, also the arms are so short that your elbow rests in the place that holds the drink.
The seats are so short and feel slightly tilted that you feel as it you are slipping off the seat. There is no leg room as the seats in front are very close and are not tiered, so you are unable to see the screen clearly if a tall person is sitting in front of you.
I can’t understand where all the money has been spent in this cinema, it was certainly not on the seats.
MRS S HUMPHRIS
Notgrove Close, Weston
I AM looking for a picture of the original Bournville Church (St Andrew’s) in Coniston Crescent.
It was a wooden structure built about 1940. If you can help please contact Bill Caple, tel 636202 or bill.caple@talktalknet
Stradling Avenue, Weston
REGARDING the recent Life magazine reference troubled families, the article states families living with crime and antisocial behaviour. If ever there was a misnomer this has to be it.
While I believe some families, indeed people, need help, there is no mention of the victims of this type of behaviour, let alone the cost involved.
Everyone must be responsible for his or her own actions; it would appear these people get all the help yet the victims get no help at all.
If people have issues in their life, of course, help should be forthcoming, but not seek it by behaving in the ways described in Life magazine. I fear that some of these people will exploit the situation for their own ends, and further to that jump any queues that are relevant to their needs.
And even worse at the expense of the people who face up to their responsibilities and receive nothing for behaving like a responsible citizen.
I note that Mr Chinn (Alliance Homes) says we live in a complex world, which is true, I would add there are a lot of people living in Alliance Homes who are model citizens, are we to believe that only people in Alliance Homes have issues? Some of these people, of course, live in private accommodation albeit paid for through the Government.
I myself come from a social housing environment so I understand some of the issues involved but being poor and out of work did not make my family act in an antisocial way or turn to crime.
I hope that other families receive help in circumstances, which are beyond their control, but do not forget the rest of the citizens suffering from bad behaviour form the small minority.
MR DJ TINAY
Dunster Crescent, Weston