Letters to the Editor, November 7, 2013

Undermine and discredit

THERE has been much publicity recently concerning the way healthcare professionals treat patients. Although there can never be any excuse for neglecting patient safety, the blame must surely fall at the feet of senior managers and the Department of Health.

The NHS is one of the worst environments anyone should have to work in. In a majority of cases I have seen senior executives so obsessed with maintaining their own positions they see the brightest and most dedicated employees as a threat and not as an asset. With little concern for labour laws, good working practices, or even the well-being of the individual, they will undermine, bully and discredit them until they resign. In some cases these individuals will sue and the NHS will settle out of court but in many cases employees will not sue and are just glad to get away from the hassle.

In my dealings with the NHS I have seen many extremely devoted and experienced medical professionals question their own abilities because of the pressure from these types of managers. Many of these practices run downhill and become included in the practices used to manage frontline staff. On the other side of the coin, politicians have given patients expectations knowing full well they are unachievable.

Legislation, directives and guidelines continually being pumped out by the DoH have made it almost impossible for a GP to give a patient a consultation of more than 10 to 15 minutes. As a result, many top quality GPs are leaving general practice and either going abroad or working in the out-of-hours service.

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Should the question be asked of patients and GPs as to the quality of service they give and receive, and those answers be compared to the statistics generated by the CQC and other monitoring bodies, there would be a huge discrepancy.

In North Somerset we are saddled with a dysfunctional commissioning group and, like the PCT before it, it has done nothing to better healthcare provision nor has the ability to keep the high quality staff needed to ensure patients are well cared for and safe.

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Patients are now an inconvenience to the system, as are frontline staff who ask hard questions. The end result is friction between staff and friction between patients and medical professionals, leading to compromised quality of care.

Our demographics in North Somerset tell us we need the most funding, yet we get the least. We need a hospital that can cater for a broad range of age groups, yet we have a dysfunctional one.

The consultants and staff at Weston hospital, for the most part, are highly professional and try, despite management and DoH failings, to give a high quality service. I know many of them and, like primary care professionals, they are in continual despair at the non-medical restrictions been placed on them and the effect they have on patient care.


Is pier scheme really viable?

HAVING studied the new plans for the Birnbeck Pier development I am a little bemused.

I understand that, to make the project pay, the villas will not be enough and that the flats need to be built on the shoreline.

As there will be 170 flats, where will all the cars be parked? There is certainly no room on the road and they would not be parked on the rocks below, so I assume there would have to be a car park on stilts. This was not shown in the pictures in last week’s Mercury so what else is missing? Something must be done quickly to save the pier but is this scheme really viable?


Clarence Grove Road, Weston

n Editor’s note: There are additional pictures of the development on the Mercury website, one of which shows the proposed parking area.

A Vietnamese fishing village

TWO years (730 days) ago, when Wahid Samady and Michael Ross told the town they would have the answer to Birnbeck in 60 days I, through the Mercury letters column, wished them well.

Now, they have finally revealed their masterplan on the front page of last week’s paper which needs to be re-titled ‘Birnbeck’s lost hope’.

The island development seems to have been drawn up by the same architect who designed Alcatraz. Maybe it could be used as a prison when nobody buys what will be overpriced, luxury apartments in the middle of the murky Bristol Channel and the three fingers on stilts idea seems to have been cobbled together to look like a Vietnamese fishing village.

As for the orange plastic-looking phallic symbol in the middle of the island, which I guess must be the listed clock tower, well you will have to use your own imagination.

If this is the best the Samady etc think-tank can come up with, it is no wonder he kept it under wraps for so long. Let’s all hope common sense prevails and the council gives two fingers to the ridiculous three fingers idea.


Moorland Road, Weston

Worshipping the bottom line

I AM writing to offer my support to our Rector, Reverend Richard Taylor, and the Diocese of Bath and Wells in their stance against the recent ill-considered decision of North Somerset Council to replace the tennis courts in Grove Park with a car park.

The covenant, which reserves the space for recreational use, was drawn up in times when public servants served the public with reverence and respect. Today, the deity they worship is called bottom line and his creed is to be above all things – even common sense. He’s worshipped in the health service as well.

If those who were party to this ridiculous decision knew more about parking around Grove Park and its environs, they might have decided differently. My wife and I have lived in Queens Road for 39 years, and during all that time neither of us can think of a single occasion when we have failed to find a parking space in the existing car park or neighbouring streets.

Since the on-street charging initiative began parking spaces in the Grove Village area are in abundance. Further up the hill, it’s a different story. Refugees who can no longer afford to park outside their own homes in town, have sought sanctuary in Upper Church Road (full), Grove Park Road (full), Queens Road (full) and, increasingly, Bristol Road Lower (almost full). Shifting the cars from Lower Church Road to remove the existing ‘one way at a time’ system, where tooting and glaring is a daily ritual, will do nothing other than create an even louder cacophony of sound and rising blood pressures further afield. All the roads mentioned above are already ‘one way at a time’, some without passing places, especially during college term time.

People who currently park all day, near to their homes, for free, are not going to relocate to Grove Park and pay, and anybody who thinks differently must be delusional.

Currently road congestion in Lower Church Road is bad, but the solution is not to make it worse elsewhere, and to lose precious open space for youngsters to enjoy at the same time.

If only deity bottom line could grasp the concept of the post-Olympic legacy.


Queens Road, Weston

Time to get your priorities right

I WAS appalled to read that North Somerset planners, against all opposition and probably a costly legal fight with the Diocese of Bath and Wells, are hellbent on removing the tennis courts at Grove Park to extend a car park that is already more than adequate.

I personally use Grove Park car park at least three times a week. It is never full, even in the height of summer it was half empty. This last week, half term, it was the same - half empty.

As North Somerset planners seem to have money to spend, spend it on the tennis courts so that children and adults alike have somewhere more central to play tennis rather than having to go out of town.

Wake up North Somerset. Get your priorities right and spend money where it’s most needed.


West Garston, Banwell

Renew the courts for the public

HAVING dropped a family member and a friend at local sports field at 1.15pm on Saturday, I drove my car through the centre of town.

I could not help but notice the multi-storey car parks had over 700 car spaces available. Grove Park car park was half empty.

Why would we need to destroy Grove Park tennis courts for more parking? Please renew the tennis courts for the public to use, rather than have more empty car parking spaces.


Atlantic Road, Weston

Has council gone parking mad?

SURELY the council’s decision to allow the change of the tennis courts in Grove Park into a car park at the present time would be illegal? Incomprehensible.

We don’t need the parking there anyway. The arrogance of the council in refusing to allow residents to park in the near empty streets outside their homes is also incomprehensible. Has the executive member for transport on North Somerset Council gone parking mad?


Palmer Row, Weston

Half the money was recovered

IN HIS letter last week, Mr Nash alleged that North Somerset Council lost millions of pounds in the Icelandic bank crisis.

In fact, over half of the money has been recovered and we expect the balance to be received in due course.


Greenhill Road, Sandford

Asking some key questions

IT’S ALWAYS entertaining to see Tories past and present fighting amongst themselves, and Adam Nash’s letter last week ‘Boost for tourism’ was no exception.

But Mr Nash is aiming at the wrong target. Rather than criticising individual North Somerset councillors, surely he should be asking some key questions of his evident hero Derek Mead?

In a recent Mercury interview, Cllr Mead declared that his Tropicana project ‘still had the backing of the Mead Group’. But hasn’t it occurred to Mr Nash to ask why that successful company isn’t putting up the money itself (or even some of it) to rebuild the crumbling pool? Nor why, after more than two years of campaigning, Cllr Mead still has no idea where the funds will come from?

Mr Nash also excitedly celebrates Cllr Mead’s election to represent North Worle as ‘one of the finest candidates representing us on the district council’. But shouldn’t he be asking why the councillor continues to delay a long-promised play area in his new constituency by refusing to pay for essential maintenance work on his property? Although Cllr Mead said recently that the work was ‘all under control and on its way’ he hardly seems to be acting in the best interests of his new electorate by withholding the necessary funds.

But Mr Nash kept the best laugh for last by suggesting that Cllr Mead might be considered as a prospective UKIP candidate at the next General Election. I know it was Halloween last week, but I wondered if April Fool’s Day had come twice this year.


Church Road, Winscombe

I was appalled

WITH reference to the letter ‘Boost for tourism’, the point of Cllr Lake’s letter has been buried under political wrangling.

The meeting to which he refers was just one of many held to try to resolve outstanding matters preventing the adoption of the new areas in St Georges, one of which concerned the rhynes. The building companies in the consortium are responsible for works to bring the rhynes to an adoptable standard and this should have been done some years ago.

Mr Mead, through his representative, made it clear that until all matters concerning the finalisation of the planning permission for his development at Brimbleworth Farm were completed, he was not prepared to make Mead’s share of the funding for the remedial work to the rhynes available. I was absolutely appalled.

Mr Mead can be admired for trying to save the Trop but since this meeting I can appreciate the council’s point of view. Meanwhile the work, which is time restricted due to bird nesting etc, does not get done again this year.


Willow Gardens, St Georges

Heartfelt thanks

THANKS to everyone who participated, helped and supported the recent Family Walk along the Prom in aid of The British Heart Foundation, Weston General Hospital Cardiology Department and the North Somerset Heart Service.

Thanks to the sponsors Traditional Pasty Co, Brooking Ruse & Co, Protect Safety Signs, Cheddar Water Ltd, to The Grand Pier and its events team staff, Weston General Hospital and its staff.

Thanks also to the town mayor, Councillor Keith Morris and mayoress Mrs Jocelyn Holder for their valuable contribution.

The day is expected to raise around £1,500 and next year we hope it will be even bigger and better.

Thank you all for helping make it such an enjoyable success.


Event organiser, Canberra Road, Weston

Worthy of West End

I JUST had to write and wish to thank all of the cast involved in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, which was performed by the Weston Operatic Society at The Playhouse last week.

For those who did not manage to see it, all I can say is you missed a great show.

From the opening scene to the final curtain, you would have been entertained by a show full of music and dancing and singing of such a high standard.

It could have been in one of London’s West End theatres, but it was all provided by local performers.

I did notice, however, that The Playhouse wasn’t completely full and I think that if more people from the Weston area could support our theatre everybody will gain. If it is not supported, we shall all lose.

So next time you see an advert for a show think about going along - you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.


Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Making it complete

WILL somebody please tell Councillor Siggs, of Somerset County Council, that a walking route along the coastline of the whole county will not be available until the route reaches Portishead.

Somerset does not end at Brean Down. The route, however, could be extended easily into Uphill and thence to Middle Hope as it needs only a path across the new sluice near the sewage works and a path either through the adjacent caravan site or, preferably, along the flood wall on the Brean bank to make it complete.

Quite often I walk along the river bank on the Bleadon side of the river as far as the new sluice but am unable to go the last short distance into Berrow because of the lack of access over the sluice.


Wingard Close, Uphill

Wear them with pride

WITH Remembrance Sunday upon us, the thoughts of many will turn to loved ones in graves near and far.

World War One was destined to alter all previous concepts of war and to render the idea of armed conflict so horrible that rationable men hoped it would never happened again. Sadly, we all know what has happened since, with World War Two and other conflicts taking place.

The Royal British Legion, as always, will carry out parades and remembrance services to remember and honour Weston’s and North Somerset’s heroes. Having lost relations and friends in war zones, I consider myself lucky in having managed to escape from Jap-invaded Burma in the spring of 1942.

War memories never fade with age and now, at the age of 92, remain as vivid as ever. The legion continues to do a great job. This coming Remembrance Day, wear your poppies with pride.


Beaufort Road, Weston

Everyone excellent

I RECENTLY had a knee arthroscopy under Weston General Hospital’s Day Unit.

My experience from beginning to end was excellent. All my appointments were on time and dealt with in a professional manner.

All staff need to be praised for the excellent service they provided. This includes the X-ray and MRI scan staff, pre-operative staff, anaesthetics staff and my consultant Mr Shannon.

I have recuperated well at home and returned to work thanks to the occupational therapist advice following my successful knee surgery.

Many thanks to everyone involved with my care.


St Austell Road, Weston

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