Letters to the Editor, October 23, 2014

I AM writing to you regarding the councils plan to re vamp the Winter Gardens. We all know what this council is like, after all look at the Tropicana, it took them 14 years to sort it out. Are the Winter Gardens going to be pulled down like Dolphin Square and we all know what happened to that? Nothing. If they pull down the Winter Gardens how long will it be before they rebuild it, five maybe ten years?

People come to Weston to see the pier and look around the town. They do not want to see building sites that we have been left with because this council has big plans which they don’t have the right firms to finish them. Look at Dolphin Square none of the people involved had committed properly and we are left with an eyesore.


Camberley Walk, Weston

I READ with amazement that North Somerset is to give away our open space at the Winter Gardens to a higher education development. A higher education development of study which is resource light giving maximum flexibility for later even less suitable re-development of our open space.

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How can student accommodation be considered regeneration? Students pay no council tax, have small incomes and, when graduated, are very unlikely to stay in the town which offers few jobs that use degree level skills and abilities. And during the holidays, what then? Holiday lets maybe with profits to be made but not to benefit us residents. We subsidise through taxation, by paying our council tax, by being deprived of access to our open space and not being able to rest a while on the few seats that may remain. We support rubbish collection, street sweeping, road and pavement repairs and street lighting. Our hospital runs to capacity, our GPs have large lists. Do we want to throw a shadow over the High Street and turn it into year round tundra?

Is there a civil engineer’s report available? Has the fire service been consulted? Would the police have a view?

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At the other end of town we have a burned out hotel which was made safe at public expense. It is time to see some backbone from our elected members. Seize the building for the money owed. Sell it as a place for higher education student accommodation. The college should associate with industry and run demonstration projects and engineering degrees based on the regeneration of the old pier or the building of a new one so that the lifeboat may launch and business and pleasure craft may call in. This is regeneration. Keep the height down to the pre existing level to prevent over shadowing of Prince Consort Gardens and we have a problem solved and a real contribution to the town.

Make that work and then talk to Cardiff University about marine studies as an option. Dr Phillips will be familiar with the funding arrangements in Wales as well as in England.

Bridgwater College has a two generation tie in with EDF which benefits students and residents alike.

Better to build on the rock than the sand. Make your decision councillors, it will be the last that many of you make in that capacity. We are aware that you make it in unseemly haste. It’s we who will repent at leisure.


Ashdene Road, Milton

LOCAL politicians are in a fix. People are noticing their failure to regenerate areas in the town. Piles of rubble and rubbish are featured in key development areas. On top of that an election looms.

Scratching his head Councillor Cobble – Upquick looks round for something to ally the local authority’s almost existent development plan to. The Nibblers go to work. ‘Let’s annexe more public open space and give it to the successful Kiss-me-Quick College and bask in the reflected glory of joint regeneration, political self interest and public good.’

The whips are out as there is no mandate for the plan neither has there been any public consultation but it must be rushed through by Tuesday. Away with ye fag packet architecture bring on the computer generated image, that’ll fool ‘em. Never mind arty-farty theories about architectural bad manners and lost light, let’s have plenty of glass and bolt on ornament. When it’s done we will fill it with people who pay no council tax, have a subsidised and meagre income which barely covers the cost of living and will leave with a debt which they may never pay. This apparently will regenerate the local economy.

‘Hooray it’s a winner,’ says councillors Sir Gye i Wessuntrop, Baron Sikowsky and Captain Weathervane in the middle, who murmurs qualified support but adds, ’Hmm, let’s coalesce’ and is immediately put in the teapot .

Meanwhile some members of the electorate rumble, ‘Who is left to represent our views?’ then say ’It must be alright, our leaders tell us so,’ as they exit trying to slap their thighs whilst on their knees begging.

If you have been, thanks for reading this. Any idea how to make it more Christmassy?



Ashdene Road, Milton

REFERENCE last week’s headline. I beg to differ. The Winter Gardens, in this council’s care has gone from the social hub of the town to an under-utilised ‘market’. This because the fees charged in order to subsidise the rest of the district became prohibitive for locals (watch out Playhouse)

We are now to allow residential development on the ‘Town Square’, that bleak piazza where no-one lingers. This is being done under the pretext of being ‘educational’ therefore not at all money-grabbing. This monstrous carbuncle looks like some left-over Knightstone drawings, out of scale and out of character – how lovely.

Then we have a report which says that retail is dead and what is needed is lots of tiny accommodation. Only the council can put ‘high density, high quality’ together without laughing out loud. Sensible people will know this means building a slum in the town centre, without facilities except the supply of junk food and alcohol. This will create an even bigger no-go area for citizens than currently. The police will have gone but one can always run round to the Town Hall. Hang on though, isn’t that the seat of the governance that created this situation in the first place?

There really isn’t any change at all, just the same policy re-hashed in a slightly different guise, viz: let Weston pay the bills and get the rubbish while the rest of the district benefits.

We probably have the council we deserve, but when, oh when, will we get the one we need?

Poor old Weston.


Shrubbery Road, Weston

AS A patriotic Saxishman, I am somewhat disappointed by the old fashioned names which topped the Times list of most popular children’s names, eg Sophie, Isabelle, Joshua and Jack. The popularity of French names such as Sophie and Isabelle is fairly recent. Joshua (Jesus in Latin) is a Hebrew name, Jack, until the late 20th century was just a nickname; not a name in its own right, it is a version of John which is itself from Latin Johannes from Hebrew Yohanan. The strange names chosen by celebrities for their offspring in the past containing elements such as Bear, Daisy, Blossom, Honey, Thin and Moon do at least have the virtue of being English (Anglo-Saxish) in part.

Rather than Ancwehi (Ancillary World-English hybrid inter-language) names, such as those listed in the Times, I’d like to see a return to good Anglo-Saxish names such as Edward, Edwin, Oswald for boys, and Edith (Eadgifu), Godiva (Godgifu) and Emma (Elfgifu), and so forth for girls. And why not Alfred for boys. It was the name of the great Saxish king who stayed the advance of the Danes into Saxland in the tenth century by defeating the Danish army under its leader Guthrum at Edington in Wiltshire. Except for Essex which was lost to Saxland for a while, that victory confined the Danes to Engla-land, ie, ‘the land of the Engles’, which became Danelaw.

The good folk of Westun-on-Mere have more reason than many Saxish folk to commemorate King Alfred’s Day on October 26, since he has local connections, having held the royal estate of Banwell, also known as Winterstoke, and, reportedly built the beginnings of the Royal Navy on the banks of the Axe at Uphill, which means Ubbo’s Pill, ie, Ubbo’s Creek; not the obvious “Upon the Hill” - Ubbo was a Viking.


Priory Road, Weston

SO OFTEN it seems there are negative stories in the press about the NHS. I hope you will want to let your readers know of a positive experience.

I recently had a total hip replacement at Weston General Hospital. All the staff, from cleaner to consultant, offered me good treatment, kindness and respect. I have written to the hospital to let them know of my appreciation.

Our NHS is under threat. The staff who offer care need to be cherished by all of us. They are there for us and we never know when we may need them. Thank you Weston General Hospital.


Wrington Road, Congresbury

IT WAS very sad to see the staff situation at our hospital highlighted in this week’s Mercury but I would urge all concerned to voice their concerns publicly - as an NHS whistleblower nearly two years ago, and not, I have to stress, in Weston, the management concerned counted on the fact I would be more worried about reprisals and/or losing my job, and as a consequence, like many of the people reading this would put up and shut up and do nothing.

That is not the answer! It is a well known fact the NHS have always counted on ‘good will’ - but that ran dry years ago. Now they believe people will do anything to keep their job and avoid hassle. However, if the situation is as bad as reported, whilst staff manage on the bare minimum they will do what they can to spend less money and let them carry on.

Unfortunately this situation inevitably leads to bad practice, purely through lack of staff and resources and time, and the ultimate price is paid by both exhausted staff and patients not getting the proper care.

If those concerned are not prepared to ‘stick their necks out’ for themselves and their colleagues they only have themselves to blame for the consequences. It’s that simple.

I won’t admit it is easy but I personally have no regrets, I’ve never looked back, and as well as constantly refusing more work than I can ever accept, my conscience is clear that I did the right thing. So is my health.


READING Steve Bridges’ letter ‘Not cost effective’ in last week’s Mercury, it’s clear that he doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good story. I was at that recent meeting to discuss the establishment of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) for Winscombe and Sandford, in response to a proposed large and inappropriate housing development in the village. At an otherwise informative and polite gathering, Cllr Bridges was booed when he attempted to dominate proceedings by speaking at great length and great volume. At no time (other than in the councillor’s imagination) was there any opposition expressed towards affordable housing. On the contrary, it was Mr Bridges’ unjustified personal attack on his fellow councillor Cresten Boase that turned the packed hall against him. Had he stayed, rather than flouncing out in a fit of pique, he would have heard general agreement for the establishment of an NDP to strengthen the case against large-scale local building. Coincidentally Cllr Boase sets out the main points in another letter ‘Pressure’ this week in a similarly calm and cogent manner, to put Winscombe and Sandford on a par with Long Ashton and Backwell who already have plans in place.

I believe that the insensitive siting of inappropriate housing development will be a key issue in the election next year. At present, we have the absurd situation of major Government policy dictating that North Somerset has to find up to 26,000 new homes in the next decade. And yet our local Tory MPs, John Penrose and Liam Fox are both strongly opposed to the proposed expansion of Yatton and Congresbury. In his latest newsletter, Mr Penrose emphasises that, although it is not easy for local residents to fight large issues, Bleadon has recently fought against a large solar farm and won. “Dozens of other communities are fighting similar developments across the country” he said.

Let’s hope that Winscombe and Sandford will also soon join the fray.


Church Road, Winscombe

EACH year I support the British Legion poppy appeal and all I ask in return is a red poppy that I can wear with pride. Imagine my anger when I received, in the post, an invitation to win a prize in the Poppy Raffle, first prize being a red Mini Countryman car and thousands of pounds in other prizes. I contribute in memory of the blood that was shed for us all in the field of battle and to help those in need and helped by the Legion. In no way do I give money to enable somebody to swan around in a blood red car or for others to fritter away thousands of pounds on themselves. I realise that some of the money has to go on operating costs but not wasted on raffles. The prize money would be far better spent on the aims of the Legion and bring comfort to those in need. Shame on the British Legion for wasting our money in this way.


Clarence Grove Road, Weston

RECENTLY after suffering a fall and consequential hip replacement surgery in Weston General Hospital, I would like to say that my impressions of the hospital are nothing but favourable.

Ten years ago when I had a knee replacement the hospital conditions left much to be desired. This time things were so different.

The nurses in particular were all so patient and dedicated, their caring was second to none. The ward cleaners where all cheerful, keeping everywhere spick and span. The food too – though not like home cooking was tasty and palatable.

I personally feel some people expect too much from our NHS and must always have a grumble. No doubt there are unfortunate incidences, life does not always run as smoothly as we would like it to, as we all know. However my very grateful thanks to Weston General Hospital.


Elmsett Hall, Wedmore

MAY I through your opinion page give grateful thanks to the staff in Weston General Hospital.

My husband had suffered a dreadful cough since March and visited our GP many times over several weeks receiving various treatments ie inhalers and steroids.

Eventually he was referred to a chest consultant, the appointment was to be in November. Early September my husband’s condition became much worse. I decided to take him into A & E. We arrived 9.45am and left at 4.30pm. Seeing Dr Ajit who was so caring. During the whole day, tests were carried out, everything was explained to us and how long we would have to wait for the results.

The following week we were referred to Dr Papadopuios and were given the devastating news, lung cancer.

The doctor was unable to perform a biopsy. There is no treatment, ie radio or chemo therapy, as this would shrink the cancer, but prove fatal because of the area it is in near bronchial tube. We haven’t been given any length of time, so each day is a bonus.

My husbands care is now with Weston Hospicecare, another wonderful team of dedicated people. Also we have a loving, caring family to support us.

I can’t praise enough each department at the hospital for their caring and sympathetic kindness. Keep up the good work.


Barrow Road, Hutton

WHAT good news to read how European Union approval for a new £16billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point near Bridgwater and could pave the way for a multi-million pound boost for Somerset’s economy in last weeks Weston Mercury.

Mother Earth is in trouble. Every time we click a light switch or start a car, something sinister happens. From power station chimneys and car exhausts immense volumes of gases such as carbon dioxide are pumped into the sky where they pollute the environment and act like a greenhouse, overheating the globe.

The ever rising temperature will cause dramatic physical changes, such as rising sea levels flooding coastal cities and landscapes.

But there is a lot we can do to forestall disaster. Global warming stems form our dependence on carbon fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. If only we could avoid burning these fossil fuels global warming would lose momentum.

A lifeline does exist, and it is dangling in front of us. By grasping it now we can rescue the world from both the consequences of global warming and our looming energy shortages. It’s safe, proven, practical and cheap.

Our lifeline is nuclear energy. Unless we stop fretting over tiny statistical risks, even if they exist, and focus instead on protecting the planet we live on, our prospects look bleak. In this electric world, nuclear energy is our one spark of hope.

So it’s good news all round that the European Union approved a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point that will be a great boost to Somerset’s economy, creating jobs and saving our environment from global warming.


Victoria Park, Weston

I AM sorry to have saddened Mr Adrian Ellis again, particularly when he was starring in your Picture Past, but my letter was only intended to set out the facts relating to the all weather pitch proposed by Sidcot School.

Clearly I have failed because his letter refers to a handful of vociferous nimbys (including myself) opposing the wishes of the silent majority.

I repeat there were over 100 written objections to the application and there are only five houses so affected that their owners could be classed as NIMBY’s so I can only assume that the remainder feel as I do, namely that this is an attractive piece of land next to the AONB with much birdlife which will be ruined by the construction of the floodlit pitch, which as Mr Ryder said, will look like a prison yard at night, leaving aside of course the other grounds of objection.

Moreover, if no acceptable sharing agreement can be reached with the school (as with the swimming pool) it and the AONB will have been despoiled forever for the benefit of an annual handful of privileged schoolchildren.


Fox Lane, Sidcot

I HAVE to hope that last weeks letter on the silent majority and opposition by NIMBY’s to the planners from Mr Adrian Ellis of Winscombe does not include the 184 new houses at Woodborough Farm in Winscombe as this is far too early a judgement because of the health hazard.

The sewage farm at Max Mills beside Winscombe is overwhelmed every year and sewage backs up the pipeline. The locals say the sewage and floodwater pour out onto the Woodborough Farm site which relieves the pressure build up in the rest of Winscombe.

I believe from the North Somerset website that the law has changed so that site developers no longer have the automatic right to connect in to the existing sewer system so I wait to see what is in the plans when they become available.

So to Mr Ellis I say please wait so that we can judge things when we know more. And only then can the silent majority accept or act to object.


Church Road, Winscombe

A LOT of us feel very disenchanted with the need to pay to park in the town roads of Weston. At the time these charges came in Weston councillors were up in arms, mainly because Weston was the only place in North Somerset to suffer them, however these same councillors agreed to take over the running of public toilets to ostensibly avoid further closures, but they did this without sufficient funds from North Somerset Council to cover the running costs. Finding this more costly than expected Weston councillors, then quickly decided to introduce a 20p charge by making very expensive alterations to toilets and fitting them with meters. Once again many of us are disenchanted with this imposition not only on cost, but public hygiene. The two most important services our Victorian ancestors achieved were rubbish collection and sewerage, which greatly improved the health of the public. (Many people will have noticed an unpleasant smell in parks and other places around town, which is due to the 20pm charge).

The simple answer is for Weston to receive all the parking fees and remove meters from toilets. This will more than balance the books for Weston, but North Somerset would cry foul. The truth is the need for more accountability for events in Weston to be governed by people living in Weston, which of course means Weston council.


Edinburgh Place, Weston

I WRITE in response to a letter by Ben Nicholas, October 9, regarding OAP discounts in taxis’.

My husband was taxi driver for a number of years in North Somerset. The fees to get the necessary licences are astronomical. North Somerset Council charges hundreds of pound to allow a person to drive a taxi, for which they give nothing in return.

So to suggest said council might subsidise a discount for OAPs is utterly ludicrous. (No disrespect to Mr Nicholas).

Ninety nine per cent of taxi drivers are self employed. Their wages are the fares you and I pay to take a taxi ride. So no work, no wage.

However, there is a small independent company operating who put people before profits. They keep their fares low for everyone, not just OAPs. I travelled with them regularly before moving away from Weston and found them most reliable and reasonable. I got the number from Dentons; their name is Weston & Worle, the friendly cab company. I hope this info is of help to your readers.


Passmore Close, Boscombe, Bournemouth

IT WAS reported in the Weston Mercury recently that Yatton villagers are pleading with North Somerset Council to reject plans for more new homes at North End.

As the Bloor Homes planning application for 150 new homes in the area was agreed recently, the Hallam Land Management plans for another 170 houses would obviously cause more problems in an area where there are few local amenities.

The Yatton villagers need to be given an assurance that every effort will be made to object to more residential development in an area where necessary education and traffic infrastructure is also inadequate.

The total of 320 new homes would bring too many additional patients to the Yatton and Congresbury Medical Practice, too many children for the local schools and could bring traffic in the narrow congested Yatton High Street up to a dangerous level.


Chescombe Road, Yatton

A BIG ‘Hello’ to our tried and trusted Council- NOT! So you were out there all along? I guess someone send a carrier pigeon to your Ivory Tower to let you know that there is an election on its way? And where have you been illusive Mr Penrose? Do you really think that we mere mortals of Weston are stupid enough not to comprehend the connection? Or to not have the commonsense to vote for any of you again?

If we Westonians want to save our precious piece of England we need major changes and the first place to start to grow is at grass roots. I for one have had enough. A spring clean is pending; May elections are our chance to enrol loyal and enthusiastic blood, people with vision and action to regain Weston as a thriving town where we can offer jobs instead of commuting. Where visitors come pouring in for a holiday or a great day out. I remember it well, and want it back for my grandchildren to benefit from too. My vote has changed fresh new blood in Parliament and council. Time to make a stand or lose everything. It’s our choice who speaks up for what we want in our town and country.

So folks, in May 2015 stop moaning and take action.


New Bristol Road, Weston

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