Letters to the Editor, October 4, 2012

Plaques

IN REPLY to J P Vinnicombe regards the money raised for plaques on the old pier.

When the pier was sold to Urban Splash the previous owners, the White Funnel Ferry Company, gave the donations and sentiments to the Friends of the Old Pier to hold in trust for when the pier is restored. They did write to everyone, I am sorry that J P Vinnicombe did not receive a letter.

Obviously all money will be refunded if the pier does not get restored.

I must disagree with John Ley-Morgan’s sentiments.


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We have lost so much of Weston’s history and boats going back into Cardiff once again would help bring the best part of Weston back to life plus old crafts could be learnt and sold. Guess I’m an optimist.

LESLEY MCCANN

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Secretary, Friends of the Old Pier,

Southside, Weston

Crumbling

THE photo in last week’s Mercury of 50-or-so Tropicana ‘protesters’ desperately squeezing themselves together to look like a crowd fooled nobody.

Nor did the latest batch of predictable, ill-informed letters in your Opinions column. But, over the many months of the Tropicana saga, there is one key question that is never answered by the anti-demolition brigade – where will the money come from to rebuild the crumbling pool?

We know that Derek Mead’s Trop WSM doesn’t have it. It needs at least a �1million subsidy from North Somerset Council plus a precept on council tax and parking income to help fund its scheme. The best it has come up with so far is the vague ‘major grants have been identified which could cover the cost of getting the Tropicana back to life’.

And we know that the council doesn’t have the funds either. It is struggling to maintain essential public services as it is, while facing a future �86million budget cut.

We all agree that Weston needs a new, covered pool but it’s simply unrealistic to rebuild the existing seafront ruin. So protesters, if you think you know better, let’s hear your bright ideas.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Recyling habit

I HAVE been recycling for many years now, starting when I lived in Germany in the 1980s, and once your attitude is changed towards recycling it becomes habit.

Having recycled extensively in the last two towns I lived in, when I moved to Weston two years ago I was surprised how far behind the town was, but pleased to see that it was starting to make an effort.

However I have not been impressed with the progress and have contacted the council on a number of occasions about the poor service, but have been ‘fobbed off’. This time I thought I would go public.

I know of the fact that currently black recycled plastic is not permitted, and accept this, though I feel this is a failing in having a company that cannot fulfil a public service to recycle.

My latest grievance is over plastic tubs and plastic bags. I put out a white bucket tub of about four litre capacity, the contents had been dry goods so was clean and the container clearly had a recycling symbol.

It was rejected by the collection service, however being at home I approached them on why it was not collected. Although very polite, they informed me it was ‘against the rule to take tubs’.

I have not seen this rule, but am amazed to find out that large recyclable items are not accepted.

As for plastic bags, provided to cover furniture from a Swedish company, again displaying a recycling symbol, these are also refused to be collected.

The council has a waste strategy where it is trying to reduce its landfill content, yet it contracts a company that will not take all of our recycling.

Is this really a good service that we are paying for and being provided with?

JAMES BERRY

Wagtail Gardens, Worle

Same council tax

HOW much more does the Government want local councils to cut back?

In Hutton we have no street lighting which I have now accepted and got used to. We have no buses after 7.15pm every night, no buses on a Sunday and Bank Holidays. We are constantly told to use public transport and get out of our cars; how can we when a lot of our buses have been cut out?

We pay the same council tax, in fact a little more for living in the country, so why should we not have the same services as people living at Worle, Oldmixon and the Bournville and other areas.

I am sure there are other villages suffering the same problem. It’s about time this country woke up and started going forward instead of backwards.

DOREEN DAVIDSON

Moorcroft Road, Hutton

Consortium

ON THE agenda for the full meeting of North Somerset Council on September 25 was a motion proposed by Councillor Richard Tucker that the council oppose the introduction of a regional pay policy within Weston Area Health Trust.

It seems that 20 trusts within the south western area, including Weston Hospital, have formed themselves into a consortium and are “exploring options for change and flexibility around pay, terms and conditions”.

This is management speak for the introduction of a regional pay policy which, inevitably, will result in lower pay or job losses or both. Moreover it is another step towards the dismantling of our National Health Service, the words national and regional are polar opposites.

The whole idea is unfair, unjust and further promotes inequality. Why should a nurse in Birmingham or Southampton earn more than one in Weston for doing the same job? I think it is very important that we all understand what is going on and being done in our name and so I went along to listen to the debate.

Realistically I knew what the outcome would be beforehand. The Tories, who dominate North Somerset Council, are quick to distance themselves with anything to do with equality or justice, especially when it applies to public sector employees. They will scuttle off behind the crumbling barricades of the hugely discredited neo-liberal free-market dogma that considers the ideal worker to be one who will work long hours, commute long distances and expect no employment protection or a living wage. Nevertheless I hoped to hear a reasoned, informed and intelligent debate.

It was not to be. The quality of the audio system in the council chamber is so poor that, from the public gallery, many councillors were completely inaudible and others partially so.

I suspect it is similar on the floor of the chamber. In their multi-million pound refurbishment of the Town Hall I trust the council has considered upgrading the sound system.

The Blankety-Blank microphones together with the odd poses speakers have to adopt to use them give proceedings a faint air of the ridiculous.

I recall thinking that the executive members who spoke against the motion could just as well have been reciting the verses of Blake’s Jerusalem – the result would have been the same.

The result was the motion was overwhelming defeated by 27 to nine with eight abstentions, which means that North Somerset Council supports regional pay policies. Among the abstainers were two of the three Liberal Democrats whose leader, the very next day, declared it to be the only party that will deliver a fairer society.

However I was able to understand that when Cllr Tucker called for a named vote it was rejected out of hand. All the Tories and Lib-Dems voted against.

Now it seems strange to me that the formal recordings of how councillors vote is not standard procedure.

They are, after all, accountable to voters who, in turn, should know what the person they elected has been up to.

My question, from the public gallery, to all those councillors who voted against a named vote is ‘why’? Please justify your decision.

DAVID DRINKWATER

Atlantic Road, Weston

Soft sentences

I READ with absolute disgust the opinion of defending counsel Nadeem Aullybocus that drug dealers and users should be given soft sentences because they live in Weston.

Adding insult to injury Judge Mercer agreed. Just which planet are they living on?

After years of hard work by the police, and no doubt other agencies all working together, our intake of these people has thankfully somewhat diminished. With opinions such as these in the courts it’s an open invitation for miles around to our town. No one holds these people down and pours the drugs down their throats. If they are so weak willed and lacking in pride and self-respect that is their problem, not the residents of Weston.

When one upset and tragedy on top of another a few years ago struck my family I could have quite easily become an alcoholic almost overnight but I didn’t. I thought of the misery my actions would have caused my parents, my family and friends.

If there were no users there would be no dealers making vast profits out of weak- willed users. So all of you pack your bags and hit the road out of Weston taking soft touch judges and defending counsel with you. You’re neither welcome nor wanted here.

G N FLETCHER

Baker Street, Weston

On death’s door

I AM sure Bob Wareham would prefer to have his leg back instead of the top end of �750,000 but he has done much better than I did with my payout.

Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2000 I had major surgery at Weston General Hospital. The operation was a success in removing the cancer but the surgeon inadvertently opened up a cavity/fistula from the bowel into the buttock. I went through 10 weeks of the most horrendous/indescribable pain. The same surgeon investigated and said it was all in my mind. Later it was said I had picked up an infection.

Months later my weight dropped from 15 stone to seven stone nine pounds. The same surgeon would not return calls and refused to see me saying it was not his problem.

Eventually hospitalised I was diagnosed with septicaemia, gangrene and peritonitis. The fistula had re-opened.

I was unconscious for three weeks and three times my family was told: “Do not hold out much hope for the morning”. I was on death’s door.

Surgeon George Langkamer was advised to ‘take the leg off’ to save my life. He refused and saved my life almost certainly, and definitely my leg. I was 11 times in/out of theatre. Every time he saw my family he gave an update/prognosis. The original bowel cancer surgeon was uncommunicative.

A year later Frenchay Hospital tried to put right what had been done wrong in Weston but could only tidy up and finish the job properly. Frenchay asked if I had commenced legal action against the hospital.

I sued the hospital, it took three-and-a-half years. Eventually I ran out of steam and money and settled out of court for �35,000. I was forced to pay back �25,000 to the Government as I had been on benefits.

I still have both legs. I am legally and permanently disabled. I do not claim benefit and still work full time aged 66. Maybe I should have used Pardoes solicitors.

LEIGH WILLIAMS

Wigmore Gardens, Worle

Forget the baths

I HAVE to wonder just what goes on in the minds of North Somerset councillors.

Need I say yet again, the utter and completely frustrating disaster of the Tropicana.

We all know only too well the sad, sad saga which has been allowed to go on for more than a decade.

A major facility totally unused except for building materials dumped there for the renovation of the seafront promenade. Ironic and totally shameful.

Years ago Weston, which I have known since the 1930s and which is a major seaside resort but without any sea, except for a few minutes twice a day of muddy shallow water, had the baths on Knightstone Island and the old seafront swimming pool with its high diving board and, if I remember correctly, to many people’s delight, bathing beauty contests.

When my children were young we used to visit both Knightstone and the old seafront pool on a regular basis, but now where can youngsters swim? Forget the baths at Locking Road and Hutton Moor.

Good as they are, who wants to pack up everything at the seafront and travel inland from the beach simply to find somewhere to swim at the seaside?

In my former occupation as a sales rep I used to travel extensively from Carlisle in the North West, down through the West Midlands and then south to Portsmouth. A huge territory which also included all of Wales.

During my travels I visited many of the coastal towns and cannot think of a single one that did not have a regular sea, or an alternative facility in which you could swim. But I forget, I am referring to one local authority known as North Somerset Council.

In my 80 plus years I have lived in many areas of the country: Lancashire; Yorkshire; Derbyshire; Bedfordshire; North London; Wiltshire; South Gloucestershire; Bristol and now North Somerset.

Nowhere are the road surfaces as bad as they are in North Somerset and particularly in Weston.

Do those responsible have any idea of the poor conditions of so many roads especially in our local area? Potholes, more potholes and uneven road surfaces where they have been repaired. But then North Somerset Council (NSC) obviously could not care. There are still road signs directing traffic to RAF Locking closed over a decade ago, and similarly to the dear old Tropicana.

If I had enough of it I would tear my hair out.

I also note with horror the metal framework of another monstrosity erected beside the dual carriageway approaching junction 21, right next door to a housing estate whose residents must be shocked at the disastrous effect on their house values.

To my further dismay now there is a huge concrete monstrosity almost opposite the Grand Pier. Totally out of keeping with all other buildings along Weston’s seafront. I have to wonder how such a moronic decision to allow this was ever granted within NSC.

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

Difference

I AM puzzled by some of the comments printed in your paper on the Severn Barrage at various times.

It would appear that many opponents are ignorant of the difference between a barrage and a dam.

Some think that we will have constant high water in Weston. Obviously this is not so. The basin must still be tidal. No tide, no power. Hence the mudflats and sandbanks will still be exposed at low water.

The times of high and low water in the basin may be controlled to a certain extent depending on the operation of the barrage but at no time can the high water in the basin be higher than it would be without the barrage.

The opposition of the National Trust (without reference to its members affected) is hypocritical since it has abandoned some of its property near Porlock to the sea and ignore the risk to its property at Westbury Court.

The RSPB claims that the barrage will be harmful to birds. How? As mentioned above, the wharf, the mudflats and the sandbanks will still be available and the birds (unless they have given up flying) will still be able to fly up the Severn.

So, to the objection in the recent copy of the Mercury that the shore will be littered with dead fish. What evidence? Are the banks of the Rance littered with mutilated fish? I have heard that a person could pass through the Rance turbines without injury. I have no cause to doubt the author of this statement but no, I wouldn’t like to try it.

When I first became interested in the barrage proposal I was in the early stages of my engineering training and thought of it merely as an interesting project.

I now see it as vital to flood prevention with the addition of a means of generating electricity.

If built it would greatly or totally reduce risk of tide surges in the basin and prevent flooding due to rising sea levels.

I fail to see how the water would be cleaner especially if Bristol continues dumping near Denny Island. The silt will still be washed in and out of the basin and the rivers draining into it will still be bringing in more.

What are the alternatives? Nuclear? I have worked in the industry for both UKAEA and OECD. I am totally opposed to nuclear fission and the eyesores remaining for millennia. Solar? It only works during daylight.

Wind turbines? Not economical and only work in certain wind conditions. Too much wind and they fall apart or catch fire. Wave energy and flow turbines? Maybe.

KENNETH F TUCKER

Milton Road, Weston

Still off at 6am

WHY are street lights still off at 6am? I almost fell over one of the wooden posts as they are not visible in the dark.

I can agree that the lights should be turned off at night to reduce costs, but they should be put on early enough. This is the time that we go out to walk our dog before going to work, as do other people and it is dangerous.

Are the lights turned off at the council offices in Clevedon now?

Last November coming back from a coach trip the car park and building was lit up brighter than any Christmas tree or perhaps, this being council property, it doesn’t count.

BEVERLEY HIRST AND ROY SMITH

Worle Moor Road, Weston

Congratulate

REGARDING the news in last week’s Mercury, let me personally congratulate the sea cadet unit on its 70th anniversary.

I pride myself in serving there for 11 years, latterly as a CPO, during a time of great success when we were twice awarded the best unit overall out of more than 400 in the UK.

This has continued, and long may it. There are several reasons for this success, firstly the untiring and dedicated unpaid service of the staff, and here I would again highlight the CO, Barry Fear, and his wife, Natalie, who have provided the backbone for many years.

Also Lt Mick Fitch and his wife, Ady Main, Susie, Howser, Michael, in fact all are worthy of mention here, and should rightly be proud of their participation. George Coles and the committee give an outstanding service.

But above all the main reason is the cadets themselves who under guidance prove time and again what success can be achieved by younger people who are so often put down by society.

I will never tire of saying, if you are a parent of offspring between 10-18 years, and you would like them to have a sense of direction, fun, belonging, family, challenge, mutual respect, personal achievement, friendship, security, and dare I say it, discipline, then talk to them about at least a visit.

The experience will equip them well for whatever life throws at them.

KEN SHARP

Windwhistle Circle, Weston

Dark nights

HI FLY tipper, guess it’s dark nights again. Out come a bed, a sofa, tables, black bags and garden rubbish.

You take a walk with the dog, and on your return home there it is.

Also why can’t recycling boxes have lids to stop the recycling flying around the dark nights, fly tipping time.

DIANA GULLICK

Wynter Close, Worle

Fond farewell

FIRSTLY I would like to wish Bob and Sue Bullock a fond farewell and a happy retirement. We will miss the little train and caf� but most of all the putting green where many a happy hour were played.

My little grandson comes to stay with me in his school holidays and the first thing he would say every morning, can we play golf today?

Sometimes we would go to the two other crazy golf sites in Weston but he would always say he liked the other one best as it was like a proper game of golf, and he was getting very good at it. So to me it seems a crying shame that if this ‘Golfantasia’ take over the site this side of Weston is going to become very commercialised and not the peaceful end to an already fun fair extravaganza.

Once again the new leaseholders didn’t sign up in time and their offer to purchase the little railway has fallen through and been taken up and sold, so with that already gone what will now happen to this once ideal putting green and to this day a refreshing change from the other ‘fun’ types?

MRS J MCCARTHY

Oaktree Park, Locking

Thank you

MAY I on behalf of Diabetes UK (Weston Branch) thank you on behalf of the committee for putting an article in the Mercury regarding our pig race night to raise funds for diabetes research.

The evening was a great success. We raised more than �100 and everyone who came enjoyed themselves. Can I ask you to put reporter James Franklin’s mind at rest and tell him they were not real pigs, only fluffy ones.

Once again on behalf of Diabetes UK (Weston Branch) thank you for your help.

ALAN VICKERY

Diabetes UK (Weston Branch)

West Street, Banwell

A COUPLE of weeks ago you published my picture of the entrance to the new library at the Town Hall.

Well, I’m glad to say it’s been embellished since then. It looks a bit weird and does not blend with the brickwork of the building, but the photos are striking.

It is now at least better than some of the street art we have to look at around the town such as the crudely designed mural that hits your eye at the bottom of Lower Church Road.

Perhaps other readers of the Mercury would like to nominate their favourite (or least favourite) examples too?

MARTHA PERRIAM

Upper Church Road, Weston

THE residents of Little Orchard, Uphill, on behalf of Snow White, her seven little heroes and, of course, the very wicked witch, wish to say a huge thank you for all the donations given to the RNLI over the Uphill scarecrow weekend. The grand total of �139 was raised.

JEAN WILLIS

Little Orchard, Uphill

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