Letters to the Editor, May 9, 2013



I AM writing in response to your front page article about Orchard Meadows in last week’s Mercury.

As a trader in the area I would like to point out that the area is busier than ever before with new shops moving in all the time. There are in fact 50 per cent fewer closed shops than 18 months ago, not the 10 per cent reported in the article.

There are already a large number of residential dwellings in this Orchard/Meadows area. I think customers would prefer to see different individual shops, providing a different shopping experience to the normal town centre one, where many shops are the same.

We need shoppers to be drawn to the area. We are trying to build something that will encourage people to visit the area like they do in similar places in other town centres throughout the country.

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It is also worth noting that the traders in Orchard Meadows and similar areas in the town are owned and run by people with an interest in not only their own businesses, but also in the regeneration of the town centre itself. Many of our customers comment that we are able to offer better customer service and advice than many of the multiples. I also think that we put more money back into the local economy than chain stores with bases somewhere else in the country.

I feel that Mr Cooke’s comments are just a means to deflect attention away from all the big names leaving the Sovereign Shopping Centre. I do agree with him that retail is changing, unfortunately for him it is away from his centre.

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There are a lot of people working hard to make Orchard Meadows an individual and interesting part of town for locals and visitors, and long may it continue,


Weston Furniture Warehouse, 3 Palmer Street, Weston

I avoid them

ORCHARD Street and Meadow Street used to be quite nice and I used to walk into town that way, but they are now so run-down that I avoid them.

There is not a single shop that I would use, and I find that I have to keep crossing the narrow streets to avoid inhaling the acrid smoke emitted by lowlife standing around smoking strange-smelling home-made cigarettes.

But replacing the shops with housing simply is not viable. There is no parking. You cannot yet prevent people from purchasing cars and there is no legislation yet which prevents them from parking their cars on the street. The area simply does not have sufficient parking to support residential use.

Town planning on a grander scale is needed. Knock down the entire area, pedestrianise the existing streets, build new homes, and provide hidden parking accessible from major roads outside. And why not? So much else in Weston has been beneficially renewed, why not this degraded area?


Baker Street, Weston

Easier to find

CONGRATULATIONS to all involved with the Town Council noticeboard in the Italian Gardens on High Street. A brilliant concept well executed.

I attended the town meeting in April. It was reported by the councillor responsible that the most successful visitor attraction is Weston Museum in Burlington Street. That has been achieved despite the lack of good signage directing folk to the museum. The success of the museum must be down to word of mouth. That success could be even greater with adequate signage giving directions to the museum which is somewhat off the beaten track.

Back in its old home in the Hans Price building on the Boulevard which was designed for it, it will be more prominent and easier to find.


Priory Road, Weston

Parking review

MAY is here and there is a supposed review of the Weston Town Centre Parking Meter System.

When is it and is it open to the public?

Day after day since the meters have been installed, Hopkins Street, Palmer Row, half of Palmer Street and Alfred Street have remained virtually empty all day.

I and my neighbours are bemused as to where all the cars that congested the streets virtually 24 hours a day came from and where they have now gone.

It could not all have been due to residential parking, else why are they still empty overnight and on Sundays?

As a local resident, I sincerely believe that the council should listen to the locals and introduce a realistic value-for-money permit scheme which allows residents to park in mainly residential metered streets.

Can the council seriously maintain that the streets would be ‘choc-a-bloc’ as a result?

Fair enough to leave the likes of the Boulevard, Meadow and Orchards Streets free of long term parking as the small independent-type shops found there need all the help possible and I am pleased for their increased footfall to-date.

Finally, the council should take into account that it prevents private ‘lived-in’ ownership of affordable and convenient housing, as no-one who runs a car will buy around here if there is no benefit of parking.

That devalues both the homes and the neighbourhood.

It has been suggested that is a long term aim.


Hopkins Street, Weston

Panic mode

A GRATEFUL thanks to Allan Taylor for his letter of last week which explained queries about traffic wardens in a perfectly straight-forward way.

In the spirit of honest enquiry may I now ask North Somerset what the hell it is playing at over at Knightstone?

Having been caught out last year, causing a minor flood by failing to shut a flood-gate, it has now stepped into panic mode and decided to erect its ‘Dutch dam’ thing every period of high tides thereby blocking off the access to Knightstone for days on end.

By doing that it handicaps the two restaurants, the boatmen, and the residents of the flats at times when there is no potential whatsoever for any flood event.

What makes it worse is that it leaves the adjoining floodgate open for access for those mentioned above. Not only does this sabotage flood prevention it puts pedestrians at risk from cars and lorries driving across the pavement after a very sharp turn where you can’t see any roaming kids behind the wall.

The Dutch dam looks to me to be better suited to rivers than tides but, as North Somerset officials proved last year that they can’t tell rain from sea water, I can understand the error.


Alma Street, Weston

Poor value

I WRITE to share my recent experience of using the service 7 bus last Sunday.

I had been a driver for 13 years until last Christmas when a change of job meant my car was an expensive luxury, rather than a necessity. Therefore my use of the bus has been very limited.

However, on Sunday, my mother, my girlfriend and I wanted to visit my brother. A journey from Severn Road to the Walnut Tree pub, barely a couple of miles.

I would normally walk or ride my bike but my mother is awaiting a hip replacement and unable to walk very far. We decided on the bus as she can ride for free using her bus pass.

I asked the driver for two adult returns to the Walnut tree pub and I could barely believe it when the cost was £8.20. That’s £4.10 per adult fare, for a couple of miles. I feel this is extremely poor value for money when you compare this to the cost of a taxi for example, which of course is door to door, of £5.

Fair enough a taxi fare is one way but when there is more than one of you travelling then the bus just becomes the worst option.

Obviously the buses need to be profitable to run but there is a paradox, it’s too expensive to use, but you can’t make it cheaper because it’s underused. How anyone would use the bus as a matter of choice is beyond me, it seems those that have no choice but to use the bus are at a serious disadvantage.

We all need a cost effective method of transport and we all need to limit the impact of our travel on the environment but we will never give up our cars by choice and encourage use of public transport unless the issue of fair pricing is addressed.


Clevedon Road, Weston


I HAVE read a good deal about the trouble small businesses have in getting loans from the banks, but here is something a bit different.

I called at my branch in Weston High Street to make an appointment to open an account for the sole purpose of receiving money as part of a trade. I cannot begin to trade until I have a specific account to which e-cash can be sent.

Unfortunately there was no-one at the branch who was authorised to speak to me about this - the specialist was on holiday for a week I left my telephone number and live in hopes of being invited to a meeting in due course.

I was told that a free banking service is available to assist trading start-ups in such cases. How nice. I would like some service. The bank must know which it is.


Leewood Road, Weston

Thank you

THANK you again Weston for digging deep and helping us raise £189 at our street collection on Saturday and well done Susan for winning the Teddy in the Bag.

We had a lovely day and it’s all for the bears. See you on September 7.


Animals Asia Volunteer

Offmore Farm, Kidderminster

Tram system

KEEPING the Weston traffic and economy moving.

A futuristic tram system and aqua dome proposed by Architect Ferguson Mann in September 2010, formed part of a vision for the Weston seafront and Tropicana revamp.

This tramway proposal, had it been successful, would have run between Birnbeck Pier and Royal Sands. It would have replaced the seafront land train.

Surely a futuristic tram system linking the railway station with a park and ride adjacent to the M5 motorway would be more useful and greatly benefit the Weston economy.

A raised tramway could run above and alongside the existing heavily congested road system leading in and out of Weston and bring in extra foot traffic.

A tramway could link the railway station and a route passing Halfords, the Range, Currys, PC World, Pizza Hut, then along past the Premier Inn A370, Aldi, B&Q, plus alongside the dual carriage way to The Bucket and Spade, Morrisons and Puxton Park.

A park and ride, plus stations along the way with additional parking would serve local businesses plus the new airport development.


Trevelyan Road, Weston

A lot of money

I WOULD like the opportunity to reply to the letter in last week’s Mercury by Ron Fieldhouse under the heading ‘So much time’

He refers to Helen Thornton, and how many column inches she seems to contribute via the Mercury from the address of the Town Hall.

The issue Ron raises is very important to the taxpayers. It costs us money, a lot of money.

Over the last full three years she and her colleagues have cost the taxpayer more than £124,000 in paid time off.

Before Helen Thornton once again puts pen to paper through your letters page and accuses me of plucking figures out of the air, like she did last time until I proved her wrong, that figure was obtained from her employer under the Freedom of Information Act.

As I stated in my last reply to Helen, the unions are taking their members for mugs and the members are taking the taxpayers for mugs.

According to Unite’s annual return for 2010, Derek Simpson, Unite’s retiring leader, received £510,659, the bulk comprising of £361,347 in severance pay.

He also received £97,677 in gross salary, and more than £51,000 in housing benefit and car allowances, so as you can see, it is not short of funds.

I have been unable to obtain the figures for the current Unison leadership, but you can bet it is similar.

Until our politicians in Parliament have the guts to stand up to the unions and say that the days of the taxpayer funding their activities are over it will continue.

It doesn’t matter what party is in power, they do not have the guts to take the unions on over this issue, so the taxpayer will have to keep on paying.

As the Labour party is bankrolled by the unions, the taxpayer is indirectly supporting labour financially.

How right is that?

The local authority is constantly telling us there is not enough money for this project or that project, we can’t increase wages because we need to make savings, etc, and yet the unions are the first to beat their gums about it, but when asked to fund their own activities they refuse. How duplicitous can they get?


Bristol Road, Hewish

FIRSTLY I’d like to congratulate the town council for allowing the Red Bull FMX event to go ahead in Princess Royal Square on Sunday.

I am a Westonian and not once seen such a well run and brilliantly put on event as Sunday’s.

I am 29 and every day here people of Weston complain there’s nothing to do or how bad Weston is, how wrong these people must be. The modern feel to the organisation of Sunday’s event was amazing. I saw street wardens offering help to ‘out of towners’, police offering support, also people of Weston, including many local businesses, offering support to a fantastic event.

Good on you people of Weston. The crowds produced from such events should be greatly helpful to local business and the reputation of our great town.

Long may such events return, it’s just what Weston deserves.

Viva la Weston.


Mead Vale, Worle

ARE visitors important?

With regard to the promenade railway, I got a shock when I hailed it with my stick at the entrance to the new pier and the driver took no notice and drove on.

I, along with my wife and friend, are in our eighties and needed transport towards the Royal Grosvenor Hotel from the pier.

The train started further down and not at the pier, so it is not much use to people like us who find walking hard.

When I tried to stop the train there were spare seats on board. We tried the buses but they were few and far between. Not very good is it?


Woodhall Road, Calverley, Pudsey

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