Letters to the Editor, May 3, 2012


I AM glad I made Ron Ellis laugh last week. And he need not fear ‘the skill of my punch’ as I fully respect his right to disagree with me – he’s just as entitled to his opinion as I am to mine - but his letter ‘Final episode’ makes some claims that need correction.

My criticism of Derek Mead has not been ‘drawn out’. I have merely charted the course of what I believe to be his impracticable plan to rebuild the Tropicana.

And no, I’m not a ‘professional moaner with an axe to grind’ nor am I against businessmen. In fact I’ve run my own successful company for more than 20 years and have great admiration for people like Kerry Michael, whose entrepreneurial talent has brought so much to Weston.

However, I believe that Derek Mead’s Tropicana proposal is very different to Mr Michael’s regeneration of the Grand Pier.

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The entire �51million he needed was raised privately, with no recourse to Government, council or lottery funds.

In stark contrast, a recent report told us that Mr Mead’s group requires financial help, and from us too. A massive �1million public subsidy plus a rise in council tax is necessary to fund its �4.6million project. At a time of severe council budget cuts, what further services must be sacrificed to bestow such largesse on a private company?

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To add insult to injury and at great expense to North Somerset Council, Mr Mead is taking it to the High Court to prevent the Tropicana’s demolition. Ironically, if successful, he wants to rebuild the ruin with us poor citizens helping him to foot the bill.

And it is not just me that feels this way. There have been many other Mercury letters over the months opposing Mr Mead’s methods and tactics. The latest appeared next to Ron Ellis’ submission last week. Deborah White wrote: “At a time of increasing austerity, why are we tax-payers expected to bankroll an unrealistic vanity project from a bunch of wealthy businessmen?”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.


Church Road, Winscombe

Greatest danger

HOW much longer can we expect household deliveries of the post and milk?

Letters and cards are gradually being replaced by the computer and supermarkets are selling cheaper milk than can be obtained from the milkman.

However the greatest danger comes from within with Royal Mail raising the price of stamps by a huge amount and now Dairy Crest getting rid of their local office staff and replacing them with a call centre in the Philippines.

A number of customers in Weston, who have not received milk, have tried to contact Dairy Crest without any success and have had to buy their milk elsewhere so what chance for our friendly milkman and also the future of the postman? I may be corrected but I thought that both Royal Mail and Dairy Crest should be promoting their services not trying to knock nails in coffins.

I know that we should move with the times and accept changes but some changes are certainly not for the better.

The word service is now regarded as a dirty word and cannot compete with the god - profit.


Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Once again

LONGLEAT Enterprises, who own the Caves in Cheddar, have once again raised the issue of constructing a cable car to go onto the top of Cheddar Gorge cliffs to enhance their profit margins. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Apart from ruining the natural beauty of the gorge, this proposal, if it goes through will set a precedent for future development in the gorge itself and on the top of the cliffs, at and beyond the station for the cable car.

As well as affecting local flora and fauna, the visual impact of this monstrosity will be apparent from some distance.

The base station proposal will mean demolishing a historic building (a building that they have let run down over the past few years) and destroying the view from that point across the lake towards the cliffs.

People walking up the gorge will pass underneath this and all the eye will be drawn to is pylons and cables.

The proposals also include a visitors’ centre at the top of the cliffs. This will need access roads for equipment, emergencies, etc. Toilet facilities will be needed and presumably they will want to have refreshment facilities as well. Where will it stop?

Would the electricity companies be allowed to construct a series of pylons in the same place? This cable car will have the same deleterious effect on the environment as pylons. Pylons that the power companies would probably not even dream of considering, given the impact on the area and public opinion.

The attraction to people of the gorge is its inherent natural beauty.

The natural landscape, that has appealed to us all for millennia, will never again be as it was. It will create an excuse for further development when Longleat Enterprises find that the novelty has worn off, numbers have dropped and they need another way of boosting their profit margins.

With the price of a ticket for the caves (all inclusive only: adult �18.50, child �12 that means for a family of four �61) the cable car (who knows how much), there won’t be much left for the other traders.

The Caves say numbers have dwindled but that is for their entrance numbers and not necessarily the number of visitors to the gorge. At those prices no wonder. The traders would probably get more money if there was no cable car.

This is a serious state of affairs and the villagers have no real voice, when compared to the loudness of a large organisation such as Longleat Enterprises. This is not a new idea and the village has been fighting this for more than 20 years.

It was public opinion that countered previous attempts as well as common sense and the beauty of the gorge.

Please save our gorge. It is not their gorge but all of ours and should remain a place of tranquil beauty for all of us to enjoy for several millennia more.


Union Street, Cheddar

Very rare

KEN Burrell’s picture of an otter in his garden is great news, showing that they are present in the village of Uphill.

The shame is the report “Rare - and potentially dangerous – creatures...”, will perhaps cause concern among parents now worried that they and their kids will be attacked by otters, this is wrong.

Otters have been present in the area for many years, yet has anyone heard of anyone being attacked, bitten or savaged by an otter, or even know somebody who has seen one?

Let’s put this in context, it is very rare to see a live otter, and if an animal realises you are there it will disappear very quickly, they do not chase down humans and attack them. If one is foolish enough to pick up a three foot wild animal that is injured they might get seriously bitten, but arm ripped off, I don’t think so.

Treat otters with the respect they deserve, look but don’t touch.

If anyone finds a dead or injured otter call in the RSPCA, Otter Group or Environment Agency as they will be able to pick up the animal for a study group at Cardiff University carrying out a long term study of otter populations.


Sunnyside Road. Weston


FOR the last 18 months, we have seen in Weston and surrounding areas the installation of energy saving lampposts, causing lengthy and unnecessary traffic delays as they have been put in.

I get up at 3.30am to go to work and walk out of my front door to be met by total darkness, as all these new green and efficient lights on Locking Castle are switched off.

I have to feel sorry for our local milkman who must wear infra-red glasses to navigate himself around the local area, and to myself and many others this is one cutback too many.

I have suggested before, as I know this is a time of austerity, to switch the lamppost on alternatively.

I am frightened to walk the 30 minutes to work, so get in the car which is hardly adding to the ‘green’ image North Somerset Council (NSC) still attempt to portray. I would now like to mention the ‘old pier’. A year ago I watched BBC Points West, and saw Mike Davies, a member of the National Pier Society pleading for its restorations and maintenance.

He was joined by Cllr Elfan Ap Rees who said NSC were working hard to find a solution, that they wouldn’t let it fall into the sea that the council committees were sorting out the issue.

One year later, the old pier remains derelict, it looks like a carbuncle at the forefront of the seafront and no solution appears to have been found.


Sutton Close, Weston


WHAT is that white carbuncle on the seafront? Who agreed to that?

Whoever it was, I’ll wager that they were not residents of Weston.

Local democracy? Give us a break.


Cecil Road, Weston

High Street

I REALLY do miss Woolworths

I must admit it’s true,

Walker & Ling and BHS

Don’t want to lose you too!

That magic that was Butters

And just across the road,

Was Trevors, such a lovely shop

The fashions – a la mode.

Coulstings, what a gift shop

So many things to see,

There was also Lyons teashop

For a smashing cup of tea.

Littlewoods and Marks & Sparks

Have always been in town,

A very busy High Street

With the buses up and down.

Mac Fisheries, the Maypole,

And shoe shops by the score,

The posh Cadena Cafe

We couldn’t ask for more.

Burtons for the menswear,

Maynards for the sweets,

Leavers for the hardware,

Hoskins ciggies were our treats.

Two chemists standing side-by-side,

Boots and Timothy Whites,

No more window shopping

On balmy summer nights.

I know we can’t turn back the clock

It just seems such a shame,

That shopping in the High Street

Will never be the same!


Little George Street, Weston


MAY I put forward a radical idea! If people wish to send money to a particular charity all they need to do is to log on to that charity’s website. So there is no need to carry out fundraising in the street any more.

Could I also point out to charities that your street collectors are not very popular and could have a very negative impact on the very people you are trying to help!


Cresswell Close, Worle


I HAVE a bone of contention with North Somerset Council (NSC) and its inability to listen and this concerns public safety.

Burrington Combe is the most dangerous road in North Somerset and well-researched reports concerning the dangers have been submitted to NSC and meetings arranged to solve this problem.

The solution by the council was to make a better road surface, which it did, but this is already in disrepair, and to install a speed activated sign that only comes on when you exceed 50mph approaching a dangerous bend, which by then is too late.

Again, I will not bore your readers with all the research documents that have been made available to NSC but suffice to say yet another serious accident occurred. As a concerned individual I only hope there will not be a fatality on this very dangerous stretch of road.

If a fatality occurs and the council has not undertaken sufficient steps to warn and prevent such an accident then a coroner might hold it culpable and liable.


Harbrow Nursery, Lower Langford


I LIKE 100 watt electric light bulbs. We have a few around our house. Switch them on; dim them up or down, they provide a nice relaxing light and to operate one probably cost, at most, around 12 pence to run for 10 continuous hours. In their heyday they were very cheap to buy.

But now, you cannot buy these down at your local shop. Is this because some new marvellous technology has superseded the old fashioned light bulb and made it an obsolete commodity?

No... it’s because interfering bureaucrats have convinced the ruling classes that these light bulbs are old fashioned and that new low-energy lamps are the best option.

They have effectively and collectively banned the tried and trusted light bulb, so that even if I wanted to buy one at the supermarket, I cannot.

Of course, the new energy-saving light bulbs do cost less money to run but they are very expensive to purchase and the type of light they give is not as nice as the old fashioned light bulb.

But what really gets my goat is that I have no choice. I have to buy new energy-saving light bulbs because I cannot buy the old 100 watt type.

In days gone by, I presume that the simple wax candle was the only form of artificial light. Then someone had a bright idea and thought about using oil lamps and after that, town gas to illuminate the thousands of domestic properties across our land.

But when this new gas technology was commercialised did they ban the sale of candles or oil fuel? Of course they didn’t.

Later, in my historical timescale, when electricity became the new technology to light our homes and the simple light bulb was mass produced, did the ruling classes ban the use of gas lighting? They most certainly did not - its use gradually diminished because the British public switched to electric.

In both cases; when gas lighting superseded candles and when electric light bulbs superseded gas lighting, it was market forces that decided the outcome. It was not some interfering bureaucratic menace who thinks he or she knows best.

Of course low energy high frequency fluorescent lights and LED technology (not yet fully perfected in respect to cost) has some place in our future within the domestic environment, but not just yet.

We are not ready for this and are certainly not prepared to pay these inflated costs for this so-called new technology.

If it were left to the great British Public to decide the outcome, then the 100 watt light bulb would still be selling like hotcakes and would beat all alternatives.


Wentworth Close, Worle


I AGREE with the comments in a letter recently in the Mercury stating we have the worse council possible.

North Somerset Council is mainly Conservative, so those having the most say on the running of the town are from outside Weston and treat Weston as a poor relation, especially when it comes to gritting the roads, car parking etc. Weston has the dearest car parks and a lot of the places outside Weston have free parking.

Please could the magazine North Somerset Life which costs �250,000 to produce and have delivered be stopped? It doesn’t give any useful information.


Underwood Avenue, Weston

Thank you

THANK you so much for organising coverage for our event on April 22 of the Brimar Vintage and Classic Car Run and Display which started at Sanders Garden World and ended on the Beach Lawns at Weston. You certainly helped, I know, to boost our event.

It is with great pleasure I can announce that we made �4,283 prior to the event and on the day and that since then we have a pledge of �1,000 bringing the total in aid of the Children’s Hospice South West to an amazing �5,283.

We would like to thank all those taking part with their classic and vintage cars, all the people who have helped with the organisation of the event on the day and those helping with collections and raffle.

The Weston Scooter Club who so wonderfully marshalled the road junctions for our run and the Weston VW Club who marshalled on the Beach Lawns in Weston. We would also like to thank Michelle Michael for setting off the cars for their scenic run to the Beach Lawns.


Brimar Friends’ Group of Street for the Children’s Hospice South West

Houseman Road, Street


I RECENTLY attended The Solid Silver Sixties show at The Playhouse, Weston. It was great to see the original acts still performing today with so much enthusiasm.

The show opened with Vanity Fare who have been going since the mid 1960s.

‘Candy Man’ Brian Poole followed and all the way from the USA came Chris Montez.

After the interval another visitor from across the Atlantic, Brian Hyland.

After these four great acts came Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. It was a joy to see the original acts because I was brought up in that era and nothing is better than the real thing.

Well done to the management of The Playhouse for bringing a superb show to Weston.


Mendip Avenue, Worle


CONGRATULATIONS to John Butler on the excellent writing of his new political satire Dave’s Coalition: The Musical which we had the pleasure of attending in March at The Theatre in the Hut in Weston.

For us, Ann Widdecombe portrayed by Gail Mee was simply excellent.

The performance of the rats, the Queen, Prince Philip, David Cameron and, not forgetting, Nick Clegg had our bodies aching from laughter from the opening scene to the its dramatic conclusion.

We understand from talking to some of the cast members following the performance, that lots of improvisation had been required at very short notice to cover cast absence due to illness or ‘stage fright’.

The professionalism in which this was carried out is a credit to all involved as none of the humour or continuity was lost and indeed the audience, whose participation on the night was both lively and supportive, was none the wiser.

We admire the efforts that John and his experienced cast put into their work with new performers of all abilities.

An excellent evening’s entertainment - keep up the good work.


Norfolk Road, Edgbaston

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