Letters to the Editor, October 10, 2013

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Un

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Unit 3, Old Station Road, Barnstaple, EX32 8PB. Please keep letters to maximum of 300 words and also include your name, address and contact telephone number. - Credit: Archant

IT WAS interesting to read last week of the revival of a working group to re-examine the Tropicana development plans.

Presumably this is to enable the parties involved to revisit their ideas and find an alternative solution to the current impasse. But it is hard to see what will change. No doubt Trop (WSM) Ltd will continue to maintain that its scheme is financially sound and deliverable while North Somerset Council (NSC) will still maintain that it is not. And because this saga has gone on for so long, it will now be very difficult for either side to back down and save face.

In the past Trop (WSM) Ltd told us it had already identified a number of potential sources of funding for its project. The real irony is in Cllr Mead’s latest suggestion that his company should now ‘enlist the six people at North Somerset who look for funding’ to further its cause. After years of haranguing NSC at every opportunity, suddenly it is now his best friend. But there will be many who ask why our cash-strapped council should provide taxpayer-funded staff to subsidise what is still a private commercial venture. The Secretary of State’s conclusion was that the case to refurbish or demolish the Tropicana was ‘finely balanced’. Could Derek Mead’s U-turn herald a change of heart, or is he finally realising that NSC may have been right all along?


Church Road, Winscombe

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AS A former rector of Weston, I have been both interested in and concerned at the matter of the tennis courts adjacent to Grove Park.

In my time as rector there was a move made by the then council to change the use to a car park. As rector I advised the then bishop that it was not in the interest of the people of Weston that such a proposal should lead to a change of covenant and the matter was dropped. Indeed certain improvements were made so that the courts were available for both tennis and other sports.

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I remain opposed to any change of use and would hope that, with due repair and renovation, games and recreational activities will be able to be played on this site for many years.

I understand that a new proposal has been put forward that for a trial period of two years the site of the courts be used as a car park. It must be a very naive person who believes that once the first car is driven onto the courts there will ever be any chance of tennis or any other game being played there. This suggestion has all the hallmarks of the most underhand quality of local council dealing and the perpetrators should be thoroughly ashamed of their obvious deceit and the proposal sternly rejected and due notice taken of the lengths to which such protagonists are prepared to go and to stoop to attain their objectives.


Rector of Weston super Mare 1971-1992, Chelswood Avenue, Weston

IN RESPONSE to the recent articles concerning the Grove Car Park in which Katy Waterman, crime prevention design advisor for Avon and Somerset police, indicated concern over vehicle related crime, I would like to confirm the following.

Grove Car Park has, like many other North Somerset Council car parks, been awarded the ‘Park Mark’ safe car park award and to achieve this has to demonstrate low rates of crime. This is awarded through the British Parking Association in partnership with the police. Before the award is made the car park is surveyed and checked with independent site visits and crime statistics checked.

The car park also has lighting and council CCTV in the area and is regularly patrolled by council parking attendants. In our experience, any increase in footfall is normally associated with reduced crime.

For those reasons we were surprised and disappointed by Ms Waterman’s comments.

While we are aware of issues of crime in the area, such as Grove Park and the tennis courts in which evidence can regularly be seen, this evidence is not seen in the car park and we are not aware of any issues related to anti-social behaviour or car crime.

On checking the public police UK website for crime statistics, there is nothing recorded in this car park and if a car park has lighting, is well used and patrolled regularly this is normally what we expect.

Extending the car park is, therefore, likely to make the old tennis courts and surrounding area safer, not less so.


Parking Services Manager, North Somerset Council, Town hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston

OUR MP, John Penrose, owes it to us to answer some questions about Weston General Hospital.

He argues that private companies are only being offered a ‘franchise’ on Weston hospital. But ‘franchise’, by definition, refers to a business arrangement.

It is a fact therefore that Weston hospital could change from being a service (as in National Health Service), to a business arrangement, where a product is sold to customers (us) by a private health corporation. We will pay for the product first via their taxes, and later on, no doubt, by some form of insurance.

If Weston is franchised out to a private health corporation, it is undeniably taking a step in the direction of privatisation, even if our MP would deny or question that what is happening is an exact example of privatisation.

So we must ask John Penrose will he accept that franchise is at least a step in the direction of privatisation?

The second question that we should put to him is how can it be more efficient in cash terms for a private contractor to provide a product for the NHS, given the turmoil and administrative work associated with granting the franchise, given the fact that a private corporation’s primary responsibility is to make sure that its shareholders get a bigger dividend each year, given the fact that generous salaries and bonuses must be paid to the directors of the private company, and given the fact that the company is very likely to pay large fees to tax accountants in order to minimize or annihilate the amount of tax that they will pay in the UK, and given that Labour has pledged to undo this process if it forms the next Government?

Our MP must explain to us, the people whom he represents, how this can be in any way financially sensible.

Third, given that several Cabinet members have financial stakes in private health corporations, he should tell us the exact number of Cabinet Ministers who have such financial interests, their names and their interests, and then tell us whether or not, in his view, their financial interests will influence their decisions regarding the way in which the future of Weston hospital and the NHS will be handled?

Fourth, does he agree that Kathy Headdon should resign from her post on the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group on grounds of conflict of interest since she is also a consultant for Capita Symonds Ltd, who is interested in making a bid?

Finally, will he ensure that Serco is required to withdraw its interest in the Weston franchise on the grounds that Serco is under investigation for fraud?

More details about the risk of private franchise is given on the website of the Weston Hospital Patients Before Profits Campaign, www.wghcampaign.blogspot.com


Dolberrow, Churchill

THIS has not been a good year for Weston’s heritage sites.

I spend the first half of it watching the Town Square struggle to recover from the fiasco that ‘celebrated’ last Christmas, and then passed the summer months keeping track of the council’s carefully planned sabotage of the Beach Lawns.

I would lay odds that having covered every available section of the lawns with cars, markets, a fairs, a circus, and tents for the BBC they must, by now, have destroyed any remaining rare plants that might have inhibited development.

Having followed the controversy over a proposed car park on Grove Park tennis courts, I was fascinated to see a helicopter land there even though it wasn’t piloted by Cllr Ap Rees. That situation became even odder when I found the entire area around the bandstand covered in cars. Good job it was a dry day.

Leaving that bandstand to rot all summer deprived the town of a fair number of musical events, so thanks for that. Bearing in mind that the bandstand is the logo of the Civic Society I’m surprised that it didn’t offer to help fund the repairs rather than offer money toward ‘replacing’ the Boulevard trees that have not been cut down (yet).

The Italian Gardens, beside the High Street, have not been sabotaged yet but there is, of course still time.


Alma Street, Weston

THIS coming weekend there will be several hundreds of young, potential soccer starlets pitting their skills against each other, but more importantly they will be enjoying a healthy sport and meeting new faces and making new friends.

There is a great deal of hard work in running a junior football club. So much is done by a group of dedicated managers, secretaries, trainers, treasurers, and others who give of their time freely and willingly, and whose only demand upon you the parent, is for your wholehearted support.

The amount of work undertaken by these sporting enthusiasts for the benefit of young soccer players is greatly underestimated by the general public, and parents whose sons are involved in junior soccer. I would like to see them get away from Saturday and Sunday television and bring out their cars to help with transport to away matches. And by the way have you ever considered what your son or daughter could be doing were it not for the weekly training stints, the games on Saturday or Sunday, and the general interest in the club he plays for?

Local junior soccer clubs such as Weston Crusaders, Hutton, Priory Pumas, Milton Nomads, Kewstoke and others are making a serious contribution providing a healthy outlet for natural exuberance.

Through this form of recreation, together what is offered them at school, and by imposing a code of discipline - not to be confused with punishment for misdemeanours, but a creation of conditions: physical, mental, moral, and goodwill. This will help these boys and girls to grow up, and giving them a whole lot of fun in the process is, to my mind, helping them to become better citizens of the future.

Please, don’t misunderstand me. No organisation however impressive can take the place of the home environment and parental control in the formation of character. But at least those who manage junior football clubs are trying their very best to help.

Of course I’m not forgetting all the excellent work done on a similar level in junior rugby. My comments apply equally to all those involved in the game.


Westbrook Road, Milton

AT LAST! How refreshing that Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, has struck a blow for education and common sense by his move to end GCSE resit “cheating” (his word, not mine).

This practice, used by some schools to boost their own ratings by entering students for GCSEs a year or two early and with subsequent multiple attempts to boost grades, has done nothing for the quality of education as a whole.

Most exam boards stipulate a minimum amount of teaching time for each subject and to cut this by up to 50 per cent and to make subject available to students who do not possess the required maturity can only be described as catastrophic.

Teaching to pass an exam without encompassing the broad range of the curriculum cannot be in the best interest of the student and can only serve to make a mockery of an education system that was once the envy of the world. Of course, results are important in a world where success is measured in these terms but this should not be the only consideration by which that success is achieved or measured.

Education should enrich the understanding of future generations, not limit it!


Elmsleigh Road, Weston

JUST a short letter to say how much my wife and I have enjoyed all the events in Weston over the past two weeks.

This has included an International Sand Yachting event, a food festival weekend in the town centre, classic cars in Grove Park, a triathlon, a half marathon, Weston Bike Night, the Weston Prom Series five mile run, a truly fantastic flying display of model fighter aircraft at Uphill, a scarecrow festival and superb shows at the Playhouse.

I think that most seaside towns across the country would be rather envious of what Weston has to offer on that basis. To those who still say that there is nothing to do in Weston I would suggest they should make an effort and get out more because it was fabulous.


Landemann Circus, Weston

LAST week’s monthly issue of what should be re-named ‘North Somerset Council Trumpet Blower’, lauded 16 recent road resurfacing schemes.

Out of these, only A370 Uphill Road North and Milton Hill related to Weston. Priority is clearly being given the northern part of North Somerset – why? – because the bulk of the councillors either live in or represent that area.

Weston is becoming a depressed area despite the plaudits the council gives itself. We are also being asked to identify potholes – it would be easier to name decent roads which are in the minority.

It is so disheartening to see the constant decline of a once clean and pleasant town.


Pennycress, Locking Castle, Weston

I WOULD like to say a big thank you to the green bag men who were working in Underhill Drive, Uphill on Monday.

My husband had been pruning an apple tree and filled a lot of bags which the men emptied and then looked round and saw my husband still there lopping the branches. There were a lot of big branches still on the drive and these young men just came and scooped them all up without being asked!


Underhill Drive, Uphill

ON HOLIDAY in a town with a bigger town centre than Weston I saw a row of terraced houses with parking reserved for residents.

The houses were in a small street off the main shopping street 15 yards away.

What had Councillor Elfan Ap Rees got against residents in residential streets near our town centre? He has never justified the £9.60 per day cost (plus £80 a year now) and having to move every two hours!

He knows it cannot be justified.


Palmer Row, Weston

WOULD it be possible to include a short piece in your newspaper concerning the theft of my camera/lens from the Grand Pier at Weston?

It has been reported to pier security and the police to no avail. I am hoping that whoever took it may read this and feel guilty and hand it into the police. The camera is a Canon 5D SLR with a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lens, in a black Lowepro bag.

Also in the bag were a spare battery, polarising filter, and three memory cards (one in camera).

Obviously return of this expensive kit would be welcome but more importantly I would like the memory cards which hold a lot of irreplaceable photos.

Could it be handed into police quoting crime reference number 90730/13.

This loss put a considerable damper on an otherwise enjoyable holiday to Somerset with my partner, her disabled father and her sons family.


Kingholm, Fox Hill, Hayward’s Heath, West Sussex, RH16 4QY

MR THORNE, I am the lady that found Daisy last weekend.

I really appreciated your letter and would do the same all over again.

She was very scared and I can imagine how worried you and your family were.

So many people drove straight past her and I have to admit she was running very fast down a busy road.

Please if anyone sees a dog/puppy that appears lost, try and help.

Yes, she had lost her collar, ate two plates of my own puppies’ food, borrowed my rug to cuddle up on and made me drive five miles to ensure she would be safe but it was so worth it when I found out she had been returned to her loving home.


Kewstoke Road, Kewstoke

IN HER letter, Mrs J Hinton referred to David Curtis’ expertise in Esperanto, which is the most successful of constructed languages.

Personally, I find it more satisfactory than most of them, nevertheless, Esperanto remains a constructed language, which is both a strength and a weakness.

There is no doubt that Esperanto is an interesting hobby and it can be used as a language between those who have studied it. After more than 100 years, Esperanto has not lived up to the hopes of its founder Ludwig Zamenhof and it is unlikely to. Languages such as Spanish, Hindi and Putonghua are spoken by hundreds of millions, while Esperanto is used by hundreds of thousands at most.

English in its Ancwe manifestation is probably the most useful language for anyone to use around the world. The English speaking countries are less influential than they were, and the USA has an increasing Hispanic population, but Ancillary World English is entrenched as the leading interlanguage.


Priory Road, Weston

THANK you for publishing the shocking photos of Birnbeck Pier - and I say shocking because of the terrible state of what was once one of the jewels in Weston’s Victorian crown.

It is appalling that this has been allowed to happen and the current owner either does not care or the funding is not available - so why buy it in the first place? I find it truly horrific that such a landmark is in this state and am sad that it will end up collapsing because no one seems to care enough. Obviously I refer to the owners.

The other issue highlighted by this is the RNLI crew themselves. Is it not enough that they put their lives on the line with no thought to the consequences to themselves to rescue others without actually putting themselves in danger by having to cross this poor crumbling relic to get to the boat?

Shame on you, Wahid Samady. If you have no intention of doing anything then let someone that can, before it is too late. This is a disgrace.


Bristol Road Lower, Weston

ON THURSDAY evening we saw the opening performance of the Sound

of Music by Worle Operatic and Dramatic Society.

The players and scenery were terrific. Stephanie Coates and Dave Bailey

did fantastic presentations of Maria and Captain Von Trapp.


Whittington Drive, Worle

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