Letters to the Editor, November 19, 2015
- Credit: Archant
NORTH Somerset Council (NSC) seems determined to proceed with plans to turn the Tropicana site into an exhibition attraction whilst not entirely shutting the door on the possibility of a swimming facility emerging phoenix-like at some future date.
This decision is based solely on the success of the recent Banksy exhibition, but there’s only one Banksy and any future exhibitions have absolutely no hope of repeating his recent success.
I can’t imagine what sort of exhibitions are envisaged for the site but I fear that they won’t attract anywhere near the same interest and support and will be few and far between one another. That would result in the site being empty for weeks on end. Additionally, the lack of a roof will mean that bad weather, especially rain, will render the site unwelcoming and unvisited and together with gaps between exhibitions would create problems from a staffing point of view.
No, what is needed is an attraction that is open almost 52 weeks of the year – something like the Blue Lagoon swimming facility in Pembrokeshire which I have written about on this page on previous occasions and, most recently, a couple of weeks ago.
My friends and I swam in The Pool (its original name) 70 years ago – when, despite unheated water, the facility was so popular that would-be entrants queued 100 yards up the promenade to get in. However, The Pool was opened only through the summer months and closed for the rest of the year which, of course made it uneconomical. The 1980s revamp as the Tropicana (with the addition of plastic pineapples etc) only served to cheapen the facility.
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Talk of a roof can be traced back at least 50-60 years but, in turn, every council has determined that the cost would be too high. However, those costs each time made the previous estimates seem an absolute snip.
NSC should bite the bullet and enter into talks with, say, the Blue Lagoon developers to see if they would be interested in designing a similar facility in Weston. A basic pool would lose money (most of them do) but one supported by a restaurant, a café, a gymnasium and, say, a boutique might well prove to be a money spinner. Especially if there was a second floor housing other attractions. Even if such a structure only broke even or made an acceptable loss there would be the potential to bring in thousands of people from outside the immediate area who would doubtlessly spend money in Weston’s other attractions and local shops and restaurants.
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I invite Cllr Elfan Ap Rees and other influential councillors to take up my previous several suggestions to visit Blue Lagoon to see for themselves what a successful facility it is – so much so that visitors are limited to a set period inside and have to pay a ‘fine’ to get out if they overstay their allotted period.
If they don’t they will be showing local people that they are not prepared to explore every avenue that might satisfy the majority opinion that Weston wants and needs a covered pool on the seafront.
Elmsleigh Road, Weston
OAKUS and the street lighting company who have just repaired some of the kerb stones have worked exceptionally to bring Moorland Road up to date. They have both worked hard and should take some credit whilst working in the unpredictable weather.
These chaps are always polite, nothing is too much trouble. I praise these people for all the hard work done.
MRS M HALL
Moorland Road, Weston
ALTHOUGH we live in Lincolnshire we have strong links with both North Somerset and Somerset and are frequent visitors to Weston and keep up to date with life in the area through friends and family.
We have recently been made aware of reports in your newspaper concerning the proposal by North Somerset Council (NSC) to hand over registration services to Somerset Council. Information on the NSC website, in itself a very low key way of informing the public about what is an important service to the local community, does not indicate that there is actually any need to do this. Admittedly, some might find making appointments online appealing and the use of a call centre might have modest benefits, but surely it is possible to provide these facilities within NSC without handing over the entire service to a neighbouring council.
We know from friends in Somerset that the council there is inefficient and has presided over serious deficiencies, for example, the scandal surrounding the former children and learning chief. There have also been changes made to the way in which Somerset Council organise their registration service which, according to people we know there, have not been entirely successful. Why would NSC want to lose control of a key public service? There are bound to be costs involved in doing this, and there is no indication on the website, that there will be any significant financial benefit to North Somerset ratepayers. Surely local service users want the services they pay for to be delivered by the council they elected and that is accountable to them.
For some time, we were Norfolk ratepayers. We understand that the current chief executive of NSC was formerly a senior officer with Norfolk Council. During our time there, he was involved in a proposal to build an incinerator near Kings Lynn, a highly controversial project the handling of which, led to an enormous cost to Norfolk ratepayers. Whilst he was not held to blame for this, it is to be hoped that he has learned lessons from this experience and is scrutinising very carefully, any proposals recommended to councillors by his officers. It was apparently a failure to do so in the incinerator debacle that contributed to such a costly outcome for Norfolk ratepayers.
The registration service is not one we use every day, nevertheless, it is one that every one of us will have reason to use at some time in our lives and it is a service that should remain easily available to those whose taxes pay for it. Call centres and online access have their place, but are no substitute for an easily accessible, professionally run, comprehensive local registry office. Big is not always beautiful and it may be that the NSC should look at what measures could improve their own service before handing it over to a council that does not inspire much confidence.
MR AND MRS SIM
Latimer Gardens, Heckington, Sleaford
I SEE that the college has made an excellent job of refurbishing Grove Park tennis courts, recently taken over from North Somerset Council, which had wanted to use the area as an extension to the adjacent car park.
The area has a very realistic substitute grass surface marked out for a variety of sports,
but tennis doesn’t seem to be one of them.
Elmsleigh Road, Weston
THE sale of fireworks, usually confined to the week preceding November 5 has now been extended. The public now has to suffer the discharge of fireworks throughout the year. On November 6 residents of Falcon Crescent, Mead Vale and Swallow Gardens had to endure a sustained barrage of noise as fireworks, which should only be used at licensed displays, were discharged continuously in, presumably, a family garden party.
The following morning I went to use my car which had been parked on my drive overnight only to discover there was a large hole in the rear window with the remains of a rocket on the back parcel shelf. A rocket had misfired and damaged the bodywork of my car en route to the interior. There is an excess on my car insurance of £200 and that was the cost of replacing the glass. During the several days it took to get the repair done my wife and I lost the use of the car. My neighbour also suffered damage amounting to £300 as the result of another rocket mishap and I hope those responsible for this damage realise such fireworks are not safe in domestic hands. I therefore support the Streetlife comments regarding the tightening up of future sales of commercial grade fireworks.
Only licensed display organisers should be allowed to purchase these and be held responsible for any damage caused by misfires.
Swallow Gardens, Weston
CHRISTMAS has come early for North Somerset Council – they are full of joy.
With our roads paved with golden leaves, both wet and slippery, there was no sign of a scarab. Then on Saturday morning two gentlemen stood on our doorstep and one was Cllr Richard Nightingale who promised that he would take action. On Monday morning, lo and behold, the pavements and gutters were free of leaves so whether it was a coincidence or co-operation the council deserve our gratitude.
We now understand that the council are introducing wheelie bins to replace the green waste bags, what an excellent idea. Bags wear out quickly and are difficult to hump to the front gate and if anyone is worried that the bins are not large enough maybe the council will oblige with an extra bin.
We also hear that Devonshire Road railway bridge is being closed from Monday for ten days so does this mean that at long last it will be free of potholes?
Finally men and machines have been spotted in Dolphin Square, so all this means that we are truly in the season of goodwill.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
REGARDING the ongoing items on ‘Charges for dogs on buses’ may I introduce a short history lesson here?
One of the precursors to First Bus, Bristol Omnibus, when I started in 1970 we used to charge for all dogs. In response to small dog owners who felt that ‘their Mitzi’ didn’t take up as much room as ‘Tyson’ the Rottweiler, the company introduced free travel for lap dogs.
All over the town Alsatians were being retrained so as to sit on ‘daddy’s lap’. This obviously didn’t work so free travel was introduced and has been a great success ever since.
The argument that the public want charges does not stand up. Dog owners do not want to have to pay for their dogs and non dog owners have no axe to grind either way.
It can only be to the advantage to First Bus that Crosville policy continues. Anything else that Mr Jones-Pratt wished to think up to advantage can only be welcomed.
Windwhistle Circle, Weston
IN a recent local newspaper article there was strong criticism from Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, executive member for housing, with regard to the Government’s decision not to reduce the number of homes which need to be built in North Somerset. As Cllr Elfan Ap Rees stated “the housing plans will be unpopular with residents.” This is because of the ridiculous situation since the planning system has been turned upside down to allow major development simply for the reason of land availability, ignoring all reasons for refusal.
In 2005 when North Somerset Council were able to refuse a smaller application for housing at North End, Yatton, one of the reasons given was that the proposal had little regard to the desire to reduce the length and frequency of car trips. It was in the same year that the community beat officer wrote to the parish council expressing concern with regards to the traffic in Yatton High Street, its speed, volume and vehicle size, since then the traffic problems have obviously become much worse. Only a few weeks ago a letter in one of the local newspapers stated that the volume of traffic now going through Yatton High Street is unbelievable and there is an accident waiting to happen.
Now that housing applications from Bloor Homes and Oxford Instruments have already been agreed, who can estimate how many vehicles from those developments will be added to congestion and chaos in Yatton High Street?
There is no way that compensation arrangements from Section 106 can solve the problems that will be caused by more major development.
There are two other questions to be answered in the next few months. Will the planners decide to accept the Bloor Homes second phase of 200 houses and 120 new houses from Hallam Land Management and bring even more traffic not the village? Should the need for more houses be considered to be more important than road safety?
R V WATHEN
Chescombe Road, Yatton
WITH reference to a letter last week regarding the length of wait regarding 101, 1015 minutes waiting is very good.
I have waited up to 40 minutes on many occasions. Avon and Somerset Police will tell you crime is dropping. One of the results is because the public have given up reporting ongoing crime, as it is very time consuming. As a result the perpetrators get away with it.
I would add that even if you get through there is no assurance that the call will be answered. The public are only aware of these issues when they attempt to go through on 101.
There is no follow up as I have experienced many times, in the police giving feed back, you have to go through 101. No matter what time of day you ring 101 a recording always tells you they are very busy. This also indicates why crime is dropping - statistically!
I am aware that the police are struggling. Building a new custody unit in Bridgwater has made the situation worse as any arrest has to be escorted there by at least two policemen, tying them up for hours.
To a degree I have sympathy, as they are not allowed to strike, and cannot really complain about their lot, but however that is the profession they chose.
One further point in conclusion, the public I have found are very apathetic. This also has an impact on gaining intelligence, which in turn, hinders apprehension of people committing crime, and antisocial behaviour.
In a final conclusion some of the perpetrators seen on Neighbourhood Blues BBC1, 11.30am are spoken to in a better way than I have been when I have tried to get help with issues in my neighbourhood from the police.
MR D TINAY
Dunster Crescent, Weston
I AM looking to thank a young man who goes by the name of Sam. My wife was shopping at Sainsbury’s recently when on her walk home she slipped and hurt herself with some cuts and bruises. This young gentleman saw this and picked her up to her feet and helped her to a bench. He picked up all of her shopping off the floor and realising it was damaged went in and spoke to customer services, there was nothing they could do and my wife Edith had no extra money on her. Sam went around the shop and purchased all of the goods himself and from his own pocket. The young
generation are not as bad as people first think. He walked Edith back to our house and put the shopping on the table for her. He was wearing a black hoodie with NEATE on the back. This was a selfless act and I would love to thank him personally and reimburse him for his kindness.
Cabot Way, Worle
I AM informed that Bansky may have left an unfortunate legacy in the form of sooty staining to the Art Deco façade of the Tropicana. No doubt North Somerset Council (NSC) hopes that the stain cannot be removed. It will, however, be nowhere near as indelible as the stain which NSC will leave on the town, which was once known as the smile on the face of Somerset, as it seeks to convert Weston into a reproduction of downtown New York.
As for the ill-starred Dolphin Square, it seems to have escaped NSC attention that what the council would have us see as a triumph, simply replicates what the town already has in abundance. The Odeon would appear to cater adequately for cinema goers and there are plenty of shops. Those shops are mostly in the traditional shopping area around High Street and forgotten Orchard Meadows which could be a gem. The reason Dolphin Square (so named because of the tatty plastic dolphin which graced it) was never particularly successful not because of the less than salubrious shops, but because of where it is, tucked away between Oxford Street and Carlton Street.
The opportunity was there to create a really attractive revived main square without retail opportunities - take a look at Bristol’s College Green facing Bristol Cathedral. That would have given Weston something which would have supplied upmarket retailers with a reason to want to come to Weston. Unfortunately NSC lacks any attachment to Weston and its hinterland. Weston Town Council, in contrast to NSC, does care about Weston, but it is severely restricted in what it can do for us. Weston is in desperate need of a latter-day John Wood who laid out the streets and squares of Bath in the eighteenth century.
Priory Road, Weston
I WAS delighted to read in the Mercury how Historic England, the public body which looks after England’s historic environment is now preparing to assess Grove Park War Memorial to see if it could become a listed monument. The war memorial was designed by sculptor Alfred Drury and installed in 1922. Whenever I visit and pay respects to fallen heroes of war I read the inscription and remember the words on it.
For young and old alike the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is a time to remember. I hope Historic England who is assessing our war memorial will give it the seal of approval and become a listed monument.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston