Letters to the Editor, September 18, 2014

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WHY do councillors believe they should be exempt from rulings made by the Government and be treated differently to every other area of the country in continually ignoring these orders.

I am referring to the monthly issues of North Somerset Council’s Somerset Life magazine. Eric Pickles asked for these publications to be scaled back across the country in 2011 to save money for cash-strapped councils and to stop promoting themselves. However, Nigel Ashton really seems to believe that it doesn’t include our council. He has had three years to comply and cut these issues to quarterly, at most, but still the monthly issues keep coming through our doors. Mine, like many others no doubt goes straight in the bin.

There are many residents in the town who have expressed the view, on more than one occasion that this monthly magazine is a scandalous waste of money at a cost of £247,524 a year; especially when local services are continually being cut and worthwhile projects get ignored through lack of cash. It has also been mentioned before that the information in this magazine can be just as effectively printed in the Mercury.

Now we have Cllr Felicity Baker suddenly writing to defend its existence, she says after comments by Cllr Bell. So nothing to do with the recent correspondence from Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins, on behalf of the Secretary of State to Nigel Ashton saying he must toe the line on this or face the consequences?

Well I guess we just have to ‘watch this space’ and see if another issue wings its way through our doors in October. If it does then I sincerely hope that he (Cllr Ashton) faces the ministerial action threatened – at the highest level.


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JULIE POWER

Exeter Road, Weston

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AS I passed the time away recently, wondering if the previous day’s recycling van was going to turn up, my mind drifted to the man overheard explaining that the tide was caused by the land going up and down which – in turn – reminded me of another gent explaining how the tide going out in Weston meant it was coming in at Cardiff.

Back in the summer I was criticised for not using the internet where I could have leaned how the Queen was the head of an international conspiracy (and etc, etc).

Such odd things these days, such as Government advisors suggesting they fly the flag of independent Scotland over Downing Street to stop people voting for an independent Scotland.

With the above I would class North Somerset’s decision to defy Eric Pickles over Life magazine. Pickles is a member of a vindictive Government capable of reactions that would make life more difficult than it need be.

As for the plan to put a row of garden sheds on the seafront and call them beach huts – do I take it that whoever came up with that is not from around here?

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

OH DEAR, how sad that Weston Town Council saw fit to refurbish the toilets in Grove Park. Did they not realise the old ones were lovely?

Not only were they well looked after, along with a water bowl for passing thirsty dogs, they were a tourist attraction all on their own.

What a waste of money to say nothing of the distress caused to local residents, Grove Park Café business owner John Horler and all the legions of visitors that take great pleasure in visiting the beautiful place that is Weston.

WENDY WILLIAMS

Millfields Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire

RE BEACH huts in Weston. In July 1938 my parents had come to live in Bristol from the north of England and we had a holiday in Weston staying in Moorland Road.

I celebrated my 10th birthday here. I remember there was a line of beach huts along the beach wall of the sanatorium. If I remember the cost of hire was five shillings for a day. Also as a family many happy times were spent at the swimming pool. I spent time going down the water shute.

Happy days long gone.

JEAN JACKSON

Sedgemoor Road, Weston

MANY thanks to the Mercury team who have been supporting our campaign to keep ballroom dance events on the agenda at the Winter Gardens.

Thanks also to manager Mark Lammiman for his reassurance that the 2015 programme will include both evening and afternoon dances, and that they will be promoted more widely. (I was surprised that there was no mention of Sid Gateley’s dances in the monthly ‘Life’ magazine.)

I am sure that the many dancers who signed our petition will be delighted and relieved that the management have reviewed the situation and remain committed to reinstating both of these events.

Incidentally, it is unfortunate that these reports and discussions have perhaps given the impression that ballroom dancing is an activity just for the elderly.

Actually, many people of all ages enjoy this kind of dancing, which includes sequence and line dancing. Even juveniles aspire to be champions in international dance competitions.

I urge all dancers who love the Winter Gardens to show your appreciation by looking out for the new dance dates and putting them in your diaries.

ANN FOX

Wood Lane, Weston

ALAN Hamilton’s very well expressed concerns about litter on the roads and pavements hits the nail firmly on the head and I couldn’t agree with him more.

I believe that, by and large, the refuse men do a good job but there are still lapses which could be interpreted as showing a lack of pride in their work.

Dropping various forms of litter - and knowingly so - is unacceptable since it doesn’t take a moment to bend down and pick up articles inadvertently dropped.

However, it seems to me that the Town Hall officials who should be responsible for monitoring rubbish collection, etc, rarely, if ever, get out of their comfortable offices to check what’s actually happening. My own road is an absolute disgrace with grass and other weeds growing in the gutters and on the pavements. I do periodic litter-picks and take home tins and other packaging to bin. I am constantly emailing streetsandopenspaces@n-somerset.gov.uk to report matters which require their attention - most recently the state of the pavements where several elderly people live and pavements have been pushed up dangerously by shallow tree roots. I maintain that proper and periodic inspections by council officials should make my calls completely unnecessary.

However, the visit by the refuse lorry is only a weekly event. It does not explain or excuse the main volume of items which litter almost every road in the town. This is principally down to local residents who seemly don’t have a pride in their own environment. Just imagine what Weston would look like if everyone adopted a responsibility for the section of road and pavement outside their own property. The problem would be solved overnight.

And neighbourliness could re-emerge and reflect the attitudes that were commonplace 50 or more years ago. Able-bodied people could keep a watch out for the areas outside elderly neighbours’ properties whilst making sure that their bins and boxes were put out on the correct day and taken in again after they’d been emptied.

There is no reason why young people living in flats and bedsits couldn’t join in this good neighbour approach, too. The future of their town is at stake.

Alan Hamilton is right to suggest that persistent offenders should be fined but they should firstly be cajoled into assuming their share of their neighbourhood’s responsibilities. Perhaps a growth of neighbourhood custodians would help generate a greater pride in every area - and such a pride would, hopefully, lead to a lessening of graffiti and vandalism as well. Unless public-spirited people take a lead, Weston will continue a downward spiral that will be in no-one’s long-term interest.

JOHN LEY-MORGAN

Elmsleigh Road, Weston

WESTON-super-Mare, where is the super now? We have been visiting here for years staying with my brother and family.

In years past we would use all the amenities it had to offer. Clean parks with beautiful flowers, pier’s times two, market and the Tropicana. It did not matter that the sea was out, the mud not sand, the place was happy, the sun always shone.

This year things have finally got to us. What has your council not done? Wake up from your sleep.

The piers, you now have to pay to walk on one. The other falling apart, so much so the lifeboat cannot live there, we depend on these brave men, you have let them down.

The Tropicana shut 12/13 years now, still boarded up. Can you afford to miss this income? Demolished market place, boarded up like a bomb site. Empty shops, only charity shops. Toilets now café plus 20p to use. Dirty streets – fag ends, litter, cans, paper. Dumped this week alone – note in good area, settee, boards, glass and today a mattress. Bins and three containers containing food left out ready for collection and dogs, cats, mice having a midnight feast. Containers when emptied thrown about.

Come on, wake up you councillors. Try to earn some respect and give back to Weston something to be proud of to attract visitors.

We will be back at Christmas. Please let us see what you can do. We won’t hold our breath.

GRAHAM AND HILARY CHURCHMAN

Southlands Avenue, Morton, Gainsborough, Lincs

I DID not live in The Lynch as was stated in the recent article about the Sidcot School all-weather hockey pitch development - hence I cannot be accused of being a Nimby by those supporting the scheme as is their usual tactic.

Until a few weeks ago I lived on Sandford Road, well away from the playing grounds, but the sight of the floodlights on the playing fields was an annoyance to me even living that far away.

Driving back to Winscombe on a dark autumn evening one could see the glare of the floodlights creating a sky glow over the village from miles away.

I dread to think what it must be like for those who have to put up with them right next to their homes. And for the planners to say that this additional facility will not be excessively intrusive to the near neighbours of the site because the site already has similar facilities on it is simply ridiculous. What is already there is bad enough and should not have been allowed in the first place - this latest scheme will just compound the damage that has already been done to the tranquillity of this rural village.

Incidentally, I think more should be said about the fact that the planning officer in his or her notes to the South Area Committee actually said ‘the development will conserve and enhance the AONB’. If anything were to reveal the true nature of the ‘planners’ of North Somerset, that statement pretty much does it. How having what was once an open field surrounded by high fencing and illuminated by floodlights within a few hundred yards of and almost surrounded by an AONB will ‘conserve and enhance’ the AONB beats me. What can such things possibly do to conserve and enhance natural beauty? It is simply nonsense. There has been no sense or balance applied in their consideration of this planning application whatsoever, and no willingness to listen to the collective voice of the local community which is quite strongly opposed to it, either. There has just been a determination bordering on mania to approve the development at any cost from day one. I am not alone in wondering what the ‘motivation’ for that is - it certainly has nothing to do with caring about the community that these people are supposed to be serving, or conserving and enhancing (what was once) an area of outstanding natural beauty.

DR GAVIN RIDER

Sandford Road, Winscombe

SOME years ago I attended a newly-formed fundraising committee. It was suggested to this novice committee that we organised a dance.

There was an almost immediate response of ‘We can’t do that’. Nevertheless, we had our very successful dance.

I have recently wondered if Mr Pitch was at that meeting. In history there are many examples of ‘It can’t be done”, sailing off the edge of the world, travelling faster than five miles an hour, breaching dams and even the jet engine for example. “It can’t fly, it has no propeller.” There is a way if there is a will.

It seems that Mr Pickles, the government environmental minister, has changed his mind about the viability of resurrecting our Tropicana. I wonder where he received the new details from for him to change his mind. He obviously does not have time to closely examine every facet of the problem but takes advice from various sources. I believe that there was an initial visit to the site and it was agreed that a rebuild was possible. Further visits deemed unnecessary and time consuming. Why then did Mr Pickles, on advice, change his mind? Was it perhaps information from the Somerset Environment Committee which seems to have blown hot and cold about the problem? If, of course, receive some direction from the North Somerset Council (NSC) and vice versa, so it is not surprising that there is now a negative attitude towards the rebuild.

Perhaps someone could explain the connection between NSC and the Somerset Environmental Committee? I am sure that your readers would be interested in any and all connections between these organisations and if some members sit on both committees.

Just after the local airfield was closed there was a proposal by a millionaire to build a theme park on the site. A flier was produced and distributed to residents. What an attraction that would have made for Weston. However the project was dismissed and the theme park was built elsewhere.

In the corner of the airfield a helicopter museum grew. Another of the attractions is a helicopter flight over Weston, starting and finishing at the museum. There have been objections by some residents to the flights being dangerous and noisy. Wouldn’t it be a better proposition to have a landing site close to the beach? Just think of what an attraction that would be for holiday makers and within walking distance of the town too.

What would be required would be a reasonably flat surface, possibly about the size of the Tropicana. If builders’ rubbish was used to fill the pool area and the rest of the building levelled what an ideal site it would make. Oh, but the builders did leave rubble in the pool but then had to remove it. Who gave them permission to dump it there I wonder and who had to pay for the removal?

M TITCHARD

Goddard Drive, Worle

AT A time when most shops are trying to make all areas in store accessible to people with disabilities, Sainsbury’s have taken a giant leap in the opposite direction with its self-pay tills. It has changed the previously excellent layout of banks of hills far enough apart to allow mobility scooters, wheelchairs, prams, etc, to pass through easily, with an area enclosed by metal posts and poles.

A staff member has to open the wide disabled entrance to this area for wheelchairs, then there is a 90 degree turn to get to the tills then another 90 degree turn to get out of the exit, difficult for wheelchairs with stacks of baskets and waste bins, all of which have to be removed for mobility scooters.

Put the tills back where they were – access problem solved.

MRS J EDWARDS

Constable Drive, Worle

I WAS surprised to read your article in last week’s Mercury regarding Bakers Dolphin saying that more people are taking day trips rather than longer trips, as it was only last week that a day trip I had booked was cancelled due to not enough people signing up.

It was a big disappointment as I was using the trip to visit St Paul’s Cathedral before spending the rest of the weekend in London, so I ended up spending more than £20 to get to London due to this cancellation. As someone who has used Bakers Dolphin quite regularly I was disappointed at this.

I was also disappointed when the London Flyer service was stopped some time ago as this was a very helpful service which allowed you to sit back and relax as the coach took you to your choice of a number of stops within the city and picked you up later on in the day.

I can’t speak for any other day trips as I have only used Bakers Dolphin for trips to London either on days out or to see musicals, but I always find them very helpful and friendly.

We need to support our local businesses and although they say people are booking onto day trips, I hope none of the other trips I have planned are cancelled.

SAMANTHA BALL

Wansbrough Road, Worle

HAVING read the letter from Jean Overy in the Mercury of September 4 regarding the fire at the Playhouse in 1964, I can tell you that the police sergeant living above the premises was Harry Lane.

Harry, Douglas Overy and I were all police sergeants who knew each other very well.

KENNETH KNIGHT

Kiniver Court, New Road, Teignmouth

AS A qualified approved driving instructor I do believe that I am suitably qualified, after 15 years, to speak-out about the ludicrous situation, regarding speeding traffic through areas where schools, etc, are situated (Councillor Elfan Ap Rees please note),

I have been qualified to drive since 1968, when there was only one roundabout in Weston.

It was situated in Earlham Grove, and the answer is so obvious to me. Make areas near schools 20mph zones, as in the case on the Bournville estate. I think that would be the obvious solution.

MARK REDMAN

Martins Grove, Worle

THE Friends of the Playhouse would like to thank everyone who came along to the open day and for making it yet again a huge success.

The feedback was very positive and the backstage tours fascinating as always.

To the new members of the Friends, 28 on the day, welcome, we look forward to another successful year.

PAULINE PRIESTMAN

Clarence Road East, Weston

MY THANKS to the Traditional Pasty Company for hosting the recent charity night in aid of RNLI and the Weston General Hospital Cardiology Department.

My thanks also to Nigel Turner auctioneer, B Sounds for providing the music and all the companies and individuals who donated prizes and helped and supported in anyway and to help an enjoyable evening raise £500.

PAUL HOBBS

Event organiser

Broadwalk, Knowle, Bristol

WE ARE very lucky in our area to have a patch of green, as per the attached photograph, and our council (I presume) do their best to keep it maintained for old and young alike.

With this summer’s weather, grass has grown rapidly, so management of the process is vital. I am confused therefore why these tasks are not performed in one mower visit, as many recent cuts have entailed two or even three visits.

Now to complaints about the users of our green space, as I do at least twice per day, walking our pet dog. There is a bin provided (as the picture shows) so why don’t others clear up their dog’s mess. I regularly clear up at least two other spots, other than my own dog’s. I really hope the council doesn’t revert to a no dogs green - and I know many fellow dog walkers who clear up behind others to avoid this being considered.

My final complaint, just look at the car tyre tracks over our green - wanton vandalism, I really hope this doesn’t become a regular feature.

DAVE STANFORD

Wigmore Gardens, Weston

I HAVE attached a photograph that I took this morning at about 7am of one dog poo bin located near Greengage Close just off Maltlands.

I would not be writing this letter if it were not for the fact that is the umpteenth time that this bin has been found in this state at the beginning of each week. The bins are supposed to be emptied at least once a week on Monday but even September 8 it was overflowing with poo bags.

It would appear that the town council and North Somerset Council do not seem to actually know who is responsible for the emptying of these bins although what I have established is that Glendale is the company contracted to do the work whether it be town or county council.

I have written to and telephoned both councils who seem to do their best to get the problem resolved and both have given me the name of John Carson as the council official responsible. I have also met our local councillor with a representative from the council who assured me that the issue would be sorted. This was several weeks ago, but after maybe a couple of weeks of keeping the bins emptied we are back to the extremely unhealthy situation of seeing this bin and also a bin near to Maltlands pond which is similarly overflowing quite regularly. I have suggested that more bins would be a help but I am told that this will not be possible until the next financial year. Just how much do these bins cost?

I know that most of my fellow dog-walkers who do their best to clean up each time their dog ‘performs’ share my views that this lack of attention hardly encourages those less diligent dog owners to clean up. I am also told that this problem is not unique to the Maltlands area. I was told by another dog walker I spoke to this morning that he once saw Cllr Elfan Ap Rees out and about and raised the matter with him, and the reply he got was ‘put it in writing’. Unbelievable.

I wonder how many more dog walkers can relate to this problem in other parts of Weston?

TIM WALTON

Sutton Close, Locking Castle

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