Letters to the Editor, March 27, 2014

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Helicopters

I AM writing in reply to yet another ridiculous letter written by R Fisher in this week’s Mercury.

I am the aircraft restoration manager at the Helicopter Museum and I am getting increasingly annoyed with a very small minority of people who seem to be intent on sniping at the museum for one reason or another.

My feeling is that these people have basically got a grudge against Elfan Ap Rees and seem to think that they can get at him through the Helicopter Museum.

Well, I think it is time to put the record straight. Elfan Ap Rees does not own the Helicopter Museum, it is a registered charity.


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He may be a member of the trustees committee but does not own it.

I have now been a volunteer at the museum since 1989 and look after the dedicated team of volunteers, who are, and always will be, the mainstay of the museum.

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They are mostly ex-servicemen from the RAF, Navy and Army but also a number of dedicated personnel from engineering companies throughout the country and from abroad.

The knowledge and experience that we all bring to the museum allows us to restore and maintain the large number of historical artefacts contained within the museum.

The fact is, that Weston probably owes its very existence to the aircraft industry, and certainly since the Second World War.

Aircraft were then built at the factory at Banwell and the site on the south western corner of the airfield, which later became Bristol Helicopters and then Westland Helicopters employing up to 6,000 personnel.

Therefore, R Fisher and a few others need to understand that helicopters and aircraft are actually appreciated by the larger majority of the population of Weston and the country as a whole.

The reasons put forward to stop the flying only prove that the writer has so little knowledge of aviation.

Considering the number of aircraft and helicopters flying and the number of hours accrued, the safety of people flying is so much greater than driving on the roads.

Also the comment about helicopters being noisy, smelly and unwanted, actually had me rolling about the floor laughing.

So in reality R Fisher should be trying to ban all cars and lorries from the roads as they contribute to more pollution at lower altitudes than all the aircraft and helicopters flying.

Also, the comment about the flights being unwanted are not true. I hope he never needs the help of the air ambulance or the police helicopter.

If the flights from the helicopter museum were unwanted, we would not arrange for the hundreds of people to have the experience of flying and seeing how wonderful Weston looks from the air.

Also, the majority of the helicopters visiting the museum are in fact, military aircraft from all three services which use the registered CAA Heliport as a part of the very important training that must be carried out to maintain their readiness to act on our behalf when required.

Maybe he would also like to stop all flying from Bristol Airport as well.

So people of Weston, please show your support for one of the best attractions in Weston and the country.

We are one of only two dedicated helicopter museums in the world and we are the biggest.

All other museums are aviation biased so have both fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

ROD HOLLOWAY

Aircraft restoration manager, The Helicopter Museum, Locking Moor Road, Weston

Aviation industry

ANYONE has a perfect right, of course, to complain, but this is balanced by the right of other people to pursue their legitimate business and we have all sorts of Government procedures to ensure fairness.

Some people object to church bells, and I am not too fond of barking dogs, but in the case of helicopters over Weston, I think we have to look at their history in the town.

Your correspondent Mr Fisher may not have lived here long, but Weston had a huge aviation industry in the 1940s when 3,336 Bristol Beaufighters were flown from here, succeeded by Bristol Freighters and Britannias, and then helicopters - the airport resounded to Sycamores, Belvederes, Whirlwinds, Wessexes, Sea Kings.

It all ended in 2002, leaving only the Helicopter Museum and its landing ground - but it is, I understand, the world’s greatest helicopter museum, of which all Weston, and Britain, should be proud.

We should not begrudge children and their parents the pleasure of a saved-for short flight from which they always seem to return thrilled and inspired.

CHRISTOPHER MAY

Leewood Road, Weston

Potholes

NOT only are potholes hazardous to road users, but sunken grids are a big danger to cyclists and bikers.

On roads that have recently been resurfaced, eg Uphill Road North and the road in front of the Grand Pier, grids have already sunk.

Call the contractors back to do a proper job. What is also galling, is that we hear about so much money being spent on repairs, and yet we don’t see anything being done.

PETER OGDEN

Links Road, Uphill

Road surfaces

I WAS pleased to see the front page article lamenting the state of the road surfaces.

If you really want to see and experience them yourself drive to St Georges via Shepherds Way and Station Road.

These surfaces are so bad, they are dangerous. I was personally assured back in 1997 that they would be resurfaced and the footways re-aligned in the works programme for 1998. Sixteen years and we are still waiting.

The parish council has worked tirelessly to persuade North Somerset Council that these works should be a priority and completed without delay even going to the extent of considering to contribute 50 per cent of the cost of £80,000 and meeting senior North Somerset Council staff on site to examine the roads

Apart from ‘old age’ the surfaces were further damaged by developers’ plant and vehicles during the massive house building programme which has resulted in the traffic flow increasing many fold by commuters seeking to access Junction 21.

The developers should have been made to restore the road surfaces on completion of their work but they were not.

Let the residents of St Georges be assured that we will continue to work on their behalf until proper resurfacing is completed.

The occasional shovel full of tarmac in the odd hole is simply not enough.

We acknowledge the efforts being made in our support by our district councillor Tony Lake.

CLLR JOHN WARREN

Chairman St Georges Parish Council,

Willow Gardens, St Georges

Uneven

AFTER living with the state of our roads for as long as I can remember, I was pleased when I saw that Wansbrough Road had received some attention last week, but that was short-lived when I travelled along it.

Although you no longer fall in and out of the potholes, the road is equally uneven with them filled in causing just as much disruption as before.

I’m aware that the council is trying to save money by filling them in instead of re-surfacing the roads, but it seems a waste of time by doing a half-hearted job as no doubt the filling will soon start to sink and the potholes will be back again within a few weeks.

Let’s hope some of the money promised by the Government in the recent budget will reach our roads in North Somerset some time soon.

SAMANTHA BALL

Wansbrough Road, Worle

Badgers

I GET so fed up with the do-gooders of this world who go on about the badger cull.

Badgers are in their main environment, which is the country.

When they come into the town and cause damage to our human life I get very annoyed.

A lot of local Westonians have allotments at Hutton Moor but after the badgers undermined the access road, we are unable to take our cars in.

So many people need to use their cars to get to the site and also to bring in equipment.

Badgers are a wild animal from the country and we live in the town.

We pay for the pleasure and try to keep everything tidy and up to the standard that is expected.

No need to kill the badgers, just catch them and re-home them to the country where they belong.

People towns – badgers country. Simple.

D LAWRENCE

Laburnum Road, Weston

Dangerous

I HAVE been hammering away at North Somerset Council to deal with the dangerous potholes both on the Banwell Road leading away from Hutton near the garden centre and ones on the road leading from Banwell to near the Morrison’s roundabout.

What makes me extremely angry with the council is it is now wasting taxpayers’ money needlessly by paying these contractors who blatantly only half do the job. Why?

Prime example is my complaint to the council to repair the holes on the Banwell Road. Work has only just been carried out in the past two weeks yet I first complained about these roads in December as being dangerous.

But then all the contractors have done is just thrown tarmac in the holes and not compacted it down properly and some they have only half filled the holes.

These sort of repairs at best will be lucky to last a few months.

Why are these contractors allowed to get away with that when our lives are potentially at risk? I draw an example to what I am saying again on the Banwell road at the bottom of the hill near the Hutton Garden Centre where it is particularly dangerous right on a bend, again the holes have not been repaired correctly and only half the repair has been carried out. Why? Many drivers are now taking dangerous avoiding action when they see these potholes by swerving around them which is not good especially on a blind bend.

What makes these road issues even more of a farce is when one passes unfinished roadworks like that on the Christon road that have been left now for over a year to my knowledge with just cones stuck around the area in question on a T-junction.

I just hope the councillors can live with themselves when they allow this abuse of taxpayers’ money to continue?

AUSTIN SAYER

Dunster Crescent, Weston

New bus stop

A FEW weeks ago I sent a letter to your paper about the dangerous place a new bus stop that had been put up near the Plough Inn on Brinsea Road, Congresbury.

Since then there has been two accidents at this spot. The first one a vehicle smashed into the wall six feet away from the bus stop sign.

The second a van driver, I think collapsed at the wheel and the sign was demolished.

Thankfully thanks for the prompt action from the people from the Plough Inn and the ambulance service the man survived the accident but I think this just shows what a dangerous spot this bus stop is in. If we ever get the crossing we have been promised I hope a lot of thought goes into where it is put.

I cross this road regularly to take my dog on a short walk up to the waterfall so I know first hand how dangerous it is to cross the road there.

If you try to cross near the bus stop you cannot see traffic coming from the main road.

I hope the people responsible for the siting of this crossing try crossing this road before it is installed.

TED CLARK

Chestnut Close, Congresbury

Service

ABOUT six months ago, ‘our’ post box was knocked over (slightly), by a car. Rather than push it up straight and tarmac around it, it was removed and the hole tarmacked over (probably more work to remove than repair?)

Four months ago I wrote to the Royal Mail and asked when it would be replaced.

Its reply was “that due to procedures and contract agreement with the supplier and maintenance, it may take approximately three – four months before we can replace the box.”

I waited four months and wrote again. This time a different reply.

To summarise - it’s now in the hands of their legal department and if the driver doesn’t accept liability it can’t afford to replace it.

It says: “I should inform you that Royal Mail has to be mindful of its operating costs.

“Should we deviate from the above process, we would be unable to sustain our policy of a reasonable and cost effective service”. What service is that then? It removed it.

If readers or residents want to write also, my reference number is 1-2741026713 or email customerresolution@your.royalmail.com

And if you were the driver, please accept liability and let us have our box back.

ALAN BALL

Prescot Close, Weston

The end of the pier

HAVING just finished watching a programme on BBC Two on March 16 called The End of the Pier Show. I sincerely hope that someone from our North Somerset Council was watching.

The programme was about the demise of many of the piers at our various seaside resorts, and we have one here in Weston, the old pier.

The programme covered the fact that with the right encouragement things can be done.

In the case of the Hastings Pier it was owned by a company in Panama who had no interest in it nor maintaining it.

But in spite of this the local people who wanted to save it formed a charity called the Hastings Pier Trust and in the end managed to obtain a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But it then took three years for the charity to obtain the freehold of the pier and the £14million agreed from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

So it just goes to show that with possible aid from North Somerset Council things could be done?

At least if someone could contact Hastings and find out all the facts.

Perhaps if the owners of the pier were willing to hand over to a charity it may be possible to get funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

LAURENCE ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Air pump

IN REPLY to Terri Borash in the letters page in the Mercury on March 13.

The complaint is about the price of the air pump at Shell stations increasing from 20p to 50p.

This is surely due to the rising cost of ‘inflation’.

SHAUN HEATHER

West Rolstone Road, Hewish

Hope

LAST week Ian Pitch concluded his weekly Mercury column on the Tropicana with the line, “I rest my case.”

There are many of us out here that sincerely hope Mr Pitch means this - at least for three months. Please.

TIM NICKOLLS

Upper Church Road, Weston

Thousands

I REFER to the letter by Mark Hughes in the Mercury dated March 20.

What else would we expect from someone who views life through rose tinted glasses from behind his desk at the Town Hall?

He states that we residents of Hewish blame the travelling community for the mayhem, illegal occupation of private land, abuse of toilet facilities at local hostelries, children urinating on the floor in local restaurants, theft of merchandise from a local filling station, attempted theft from a local car sales, the cost to local business to employ security guards to safeguard their property, the dumping of litter in the fields, the list goes on and all this from a supposedly religious group.

It wasn’t the residents of Weston or the residents of Puxton or Congresbury who caused the major problem but the ‘so called’ travelling community that descended on Hewish in their thousands. So don’t give us your politically correct garbage, point the finger where it needs to be pointed, yourselves and the police for your inaction and those members of the travelling community who descended on the village for one week.

You state ‘your procedures’ you follow, ensure the welfare and rights of the travelling community, residential community and landowners are all considered in deciding what action to take. I tell you now, the only one of the three groups you considered were the travelling community. The other two groups had to put up with the mayhem that I described.

It would have been too politically incorrect to say to the group you haven’t given enough notice therefore the meeting was illegal. But you didn’t and once they were on private land, you couldn’t.

Just like you say the council takes enforcement action where there are unauthorised encampments on its land.

Council land, not private land, so once they were in situ there was nothing you could do about it, it was left to the landowners.

The police could have used Section 64 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 so why didn’t they? Too sensitive an issue perhaps?

The owner of the land next to J21 where there was an illegal encampment had to use his own resource at his own expense to shift the ‘unauthorised encampment’, this then led to the wholesale search of the area for fields with open gates for them to set up their camp without authorisation.

Landowners were in a hurry to block their gates and entrances with whatever they could get their hands on to avoid the illegal occupation of their land.

You have a very long way to go to make sure this sort of thing never happens again to the residents of Hewish, Puxton and Congresbury.

So I would suggest you avoid the usual platitudes Mr Hughes, you didn’t experience ‘the invasion’, the council taxpayers of this parish did.

PETE JONES

Bristol Road, Hewish

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