Letters to the Editor, October 31, 2013

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- Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

ON THURSDAY evening, North Somerset South Area Planning Committee elected to sacrifice the last public sports facility in central Weston.

Against considerable local and national opposition, the Grove Park tennis courts were voted to become a car park on the casting vote of the committee chairman.

Rev Richard Taylor, rector of St John’s Church, spoke vigorously against the proposal as did several local ward councillors.

At a time when there is enormous concern about sedentary lifestyles and obesity, it really was extraordinary to hear arguments presented in favour of more car-parking in preference to health. Rev Taylor also pointed out the restrictive covenant held by the church protecting its pastoral and recreational use.

It’s grotesque that North Somerset Council will now have to occupy the moral low ground in a costly legal fight with the Diocese of Bath and Wells.


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ROSIE AND HOWARD SMITH

Stafford Place, Weston

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I WONDER does anyone know why when the new seafront sea defences were designed and built a Dutch dam system was installed at the entrance to Knightstone Causeway when all the other access points were fitted with hinged flood gates? Having observed the operation of all these devices it is very obvious that the hinged gates are simple and quick to operate, whereas the Dutch dam is a very complicated and labour intensive device to put in place whenever required. In fact it normally requires in the region of four and six private contractors from Balfour Beatty to erect and dismantle it and takes around half a day to erect and a further half day to dismantle! How much is this costing us the taxpayers on each period of spring tides?

Surely a more cost effective alternative would be to install a pair of wide hinged gates at Knightstone similar in size to those installed at the entrance to the Grand Pier and the Marine Parade near the Royal Sands apartments. These gates in the ‘Splash Wall’ at the Grand Pier entrance and Marine Parade are of a size suitable for giving unrestricted access to the largest rigid and articulated delivery/contractors’ vehicles as well as vans and cars.

If my memory serves me correctly when the contractors were putting in the foundations for the Dutch dam a great deal of alteration work had to be carried out after the concrete had set.

It beggars belief that senior staff didn’t realise that installing such a structure below ground level in a salt water environment was inviting problems of operation due to continual contamination by wind borne sand and regular drenching by sea water with silt in suspension. A perfect recipe for corrosion and contamination thus causing difficulty in operating the equipment whenever needed to be deployed.

In these days of austere measures needing to be taken by North Somerset Council in light of reduced financial support from Westminster, surely the council executive and officers should be looking at where ongoing costs could be reduced. Afore-mentioned subject is one such example, no doubt there are many more around the area.

This would appear to be another example of insufficient consultation and investigation to fully understand the tidal conditions in and around Weston Bay and the seafront in particular before deciding on the most suitable and cost effective equipment to install.

Be aware this will be an ongoing cost to us the council taxpayers, unless the system is changed.

PETER HOLDER

Severn Road, Weston

I NOTICE the article related to the creation of a new coastal path states the measurement in metric ie 90km.

As all distances on signage on our highways and by-ways is stated in imperial measurement, I take it that your paper is just like the BBC in its creeping metrication of our imperial system probably to suit our European masters. Soon we will see road signs in other languages eg Polish and next year probably Romanian and Bulgarian because as usual we, in this country go overboard in our compliance.

Some local authorities are more proactive in this metric conversion than others but the official line from Government is that distances are imperial measurement.

We do have total confusion in this country with regard to metric/imperial and the sooner we change over the better in my opinion.

The confusion arises for example in speed signs and repeater signs. The sign displays MPH yet the size of the sign is metric.

Signage at junctions can only be measured in yards and are not allowed to use feet or metres. Signage to junctions use miles or part of miles.

On motorways and major A roads metric posts are placed at 100 metre intervals to help with accidents and incidents identification.

I pity anyone studying the Highway Code today. Look at the stopping distances for given speeds. The speed is in MPH yet the stopping and thinking distances are in metres. In parenthesis we have the stopping distance in feet. Neither feet nor metres are allowed to be displayed on signage, so who came up with this dogs breakfast of information?

I am sure if UK signage was converted totally to metric the confusion especially for the emergency services would benefit from the road marking system. It needs legislation to change the system over totally and not left to the politically correct left leaning busy bodies in our society.

PETER JONES

Watermans, Hewish

SO MOTHER Nature will not have the chance to work her wonders with the Severn Barrage, instead a new nuclear reactor will be built at Hinkley Point - something that could eventually destroy Mother Nature.

To add insult to injury massive pylons will be built to convey electricity from

Hinkley Point overland to Avonmouth, yet I have still not had an answer as to why the cables cannot be laid on the sea bed?

The Daily Express blazes out headlines that tell us we are in for the worst winter for decades, but this is the same newspaper that prophesied a terrible summer. However if they are right, how appropriate that two energy companies have announced such large price increases.

What do our leaders say? Ed Milliband has promised that he would freeze prices but is this electioneering or wishful thinking? It is more likely that it will be us that freeze. David Cameron advises us that we should switch energy companies yet the very next day a third company announced an even bigger increase.

This is going to be a very difficult time for those on low incomes but they can take comfort from the fact that boffins, in their warm offices will advise them to wrap up warm and stay housebound.

There we have it - millions being spent on new reactors, prices going through the roof and so many having to choose between heating and eating.

What a sorry state of affairs and nobody seems to care.

I could write much more on the subject but I must now blow out the candle and ensure that I save my energy.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

I WAS very concerned to read in Mr Penrose’s Mercury column that he will no longer be able to speak out on energy issues.

Whatever his duties in the whips office, Mr Penrose in his capacity of MP for Weston has a duty to represent the interests of his many elderly disabled and low income constituents who are finding it difficult or impossible to meet spiralling gas and electricity prices.

This is especially important now that for increasing numbers of people winter means a choice between heating and eating.

MRS J EDWARDS

Constable Drive, Worle

WITH reference to the letter headed Background I felt compelled to put pen to paper.

Its first paragraph seems fairly reasonable but then deteriorates rapidly into what can only be described as an anti Derek Mead diatribe. This coming from a councillor who in his time was on the finance executive that lost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the Icelandic bank debacle.

It is public knowledge that Cllr Mead has put up over £50,000 of his own money in an effort to restore the Tropicana thereby improving the lifestyle of Weston residents and if successful will also be a boost for tourism for the town. Perhaps Tory Cllr Tony Lake would like to inform your readers how much he has put up, or not, to help the town of Weston. Probably easier to show the tens of thousands of pounds he has collected in his cllr expenses and allowances etc, all funded by us the taxpayer.

He also states that it was very wise of the local Conservative Association led by John Cole, to refuse to make Derek Mead an appointed Conservative candidate. I would also like to congratulate Mr Cole on his decision. Thanks to him and the constituents of the Worle area exercising their democratic right at the recent election we now have one of the finest Independent candidates representing us on the district council and not just another Tory yes man.

I remember when I was a member of the Conservative Association and we had approximately 646 members, under the present leadership this has decreased to approximately 260. Mr Cole blames the Conservative Policies of boosting foreign aid whilst 50,000 UK citizens face the choice to heat or eat this winter but forgets to add that the reason for the huge increases is the fact that successive Governments have chosen to reduce our CO2 emissions in line with European Union directive that was subsequently written into UK law. So Mr Cole if you and other Tories don’t like your own policies then what are you doing there? Why not do the sensible thing and follow lots of your fellow Tories that are now swelling the ranks of the UKIP party?

I hope by now that the constituents of Weston are now seeing the light like Mr Cole. If they want ever-increasing energy bills, ever-increasing red tape and suffer even more surveillance into their private lives then vote Conservative, Lib Dem or Labour it doesn’t matter which because they are all the same at the end of the day. But if you wish for a change for the better then voting UKIP is the only way this can be achieved. Who knows we may even see Cllr Mead standing in the next General Election.

ADAM NASH

Newland Road, Weston

WELL I never! It just struck me that 2013 is the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Tropicana, and for those who may not remember it was the rather cheap construction that smelt of new plastic and was built to replace the much admired Swimming Pool.

It is also the anniversary of the demolition of the spectacular diving platforms, once featured on the front of the Radio Times, a demolition licenced by the same Government Minister who had put a conservation order on it a couple of months previously.

Ah well! That was then and this is now and there are no confusing policy changes from Ministers like Eric Pickles. My how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

COUNCILLOR Elfan Ap Rees’ obduracy in refusing to listen to residents’ legitimate concerns has once again shown the disdain with which he treats ordinary people.

I have therefore, after exhausting all avenues of pleas to North Somerset Council, submitted my complaint about the Weston centre residents’ parking fiasco to the Local Government Ombudsman.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

FAR from scoffing, I wish David Curtis and his Woodspring Esperanto Circle well. But I object to Esperantists making exaggerated claims for it.

Mr Curtis acknowledges that “the argument for Esperanto as a world language was lost in the 1920s, when the language of the United States and the British Empire took the place of French on the world stage”.

There are probably few under the age of 70 who have heard of Esperanto let alone knowing what it is.

It is a constructed language conceived by Dr Ludwig Zamenhof faced with communal violence where he lived in the Russian Empire.

Subsequently he came to see it as the universal language, a role which has fallen to international English (Ancwe).

Today, Esperanto has the more modest role of facilitating friendships among enthusiasts around the world. It should definitely not be taught to children in primary school.

In Weston’s primary schools, the UK’s second most spoken language, Polish, would be a better option than Esperanto, albeit in an informal setting.

Mr Curtis’ point, about how a native speaker of Ancwe (Ancillary/World English) would have an advantage and be in a superior position, is increasingly less true, since it is now spoken by more non-native speakers than native speakers.

As a result, ownership has shifted from native speakers to non-native speakers who are shaping its future. Under 20 per cent of the vocabulary of Ancwe is English and that percentage is getting less.

Despite the support given to Esperanto by the Chinese state since the time of Mao Zedong, the chances of meeting an Esperantist in China, except by arrangement, are slim, but tens of millions of Chinese speak Ancwe.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

I WOULD like to tell you of my experiences during a recent visit to Weston.

My car was broken into on my way to your lovely Town; I lost my phone, laptop and satnav, and my car was damaged. The garage that came to my rescue had a taxi office on site – what an excellent idea.

The lady in the taxi office was wonderful, kid and sympathetic, she couldn’t have been more helpful, so was the driver she called to take me to my elderly mother’s house.

My car was out of action for a week so I was obliged to use taxis every day. Four different drivers picked us up during this time and each one was as helpful and efficient as the last.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to know that my mother’s needs were being met by these lovely people. It’s so rare these days to find a company that puts people before profits.

So a huge thank you to Weston and Worle, the friendly cab co, and its crew, Julie, Alan, Richard, Keith and Tony.

I hope you print this as this company deserves a medal for its uniqueness. I can’t possibly be the only person to have this experience. Does anyone else have anything to say? I’d be interested to know.

MR G TAYLOR

Westtown Avenue, Vancouver

PLEASE continue to send enlightening letters of people’s integrity, honesty and kindness.

My tale is so different. I lost a gold gate bracelet, which was a gift from my husband who died in 1982, in the ladies changing room at Hutton Moor swimming pool.

I would like to let this kind of person know the distress they cause when they pocket personal items. The sentimental value far outweighs what they will receive for this bracelet.

That’s why when you print letters of pleasure received from individuals it’s a reminder that there are only a few rotten people around.

ROSIE CLEEVES

Gimblet Road, Weston

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.

JULIE DARLINGTON

St Austell Road, Weston

SAD disbelief that we may lose our lollipop folk.

I always thought that the safety of children was dear to all our hearts, including the councillors.

Sadly I was wrong.

REGAN CALLOW

Severn Avenue, Weston

I READ with great alarm, the story in last week’s Mercury, that it is probable that school crossing patrols will shortly be withdrawn.

I just cannot comprehend how our councils continue to make such disastrous decisions – especially when set against their profligacy in erecting the carrot, the arch on the seafront and other dreadful attractions in and around Weston.

I write as a retired lollipop man at Uphill Primary School, given over 10 years ago when the traffic was much lighter. I had several ‘near misses’ in the five years I was doing the job, and I believe my presence was much valued by the school governors, parents and children alike. Our ‘lollipop’ men and women turn out in all weathers for a pittance to keep our children safe.

I will always remember a Westhaven School boy’s comment. It was a terribly wet morning and I was clad in all my wet weather gear. The lad shouted from across the road “Rock on Granddad”.

Let’s stop this ludicrous waste of our money on meaningless monstrosities. Our children’s safety is far more important and I hope that ‘lollipop’ patrols will be allowed to continue for many years to come.

JEREMY C NORTON

Nithsdale Road, Weston

LOOKING at the rubble of what was the Dolphin Square, and dreading the building of yet another corporate commercial shopping complex, I saw that there was another possibility for this area.

It could be a green area with benches and trees, maybe an opportunity to grow a whole range of flowers or vegetables for the community and not for some multi-national companies that will likely not pay their taxes thereby taking money away from the town without re-investment.

I would say that the council often doesn’t listen to the community (every week there are letters about the Tropicana et al in this newspaper) but it seems that people really want more shops though why they should limit their leisure to just shopping, I don’t know.

There should be more to the town than just retail, it should be able to offer more and various things that the community who live there can be pleased about. It’s possible to get imaginative about the area and not just copy and paste shops that can be seen everywhere else.

Why not use the space for something daring and exciting other than another setting for a J G Ballad novel. The escape to the country, as in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Going, Going’, should not be continually retreating and should not be confined to the country.

ALISTAIR DAVID TODD

Wadham Street, Weston

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