Some important points were missed out
YOUR front page story last week referred to Sophie Michael's 'blood boiling' after being told about the seafront road works.
YOUR front page story last week referred to Sophie Michael's 'blood boiling' after being told about the seafront road works. Frankly, so was mine after reading your sensationalist report and editorial, especially since officers and myself had taken the trouble to explain it all personally to your newspaper with a plan and supporting information and gave ample time for questions.
Whilst accepting that any newspaper has limited space and editorial independence, I do think important points were missed out that would have better explained what is being done.
Firstly to say the road is 'being dug up again' is a gross exaggeration .Whilst it is true to say that some patching has previously taken place and some temporary traffic lights used to protect work on the inner seawall, the road itself hasn't been rebuilt and resurfaced for many years.
So, having discovered that the Victorian gas main and the equally archaic water main running down the road will soon have to be replaced, surely it made sense to ensure that the work the utilities have to do (not the council) is done at the same time as we continue with the seafront enhancements programme?
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To leave it for a couple of years as you suggest so everyone can see a brand new surface being dug up would surely be irresponsible and give the public a real reason to complain. In any case I make no apology for pressing on, the Council has too often in the past been criticised for dithering.
The work we have to do is to finish off the edges of the promenade and install the flood gates and crossings, but we are also widening the pavement in front of the hotels where needed ,which will be advantageous to those businesses and the public at large.
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Resurfacing the road itself comes as a bonus, thanks to the utilities and that way, when the work is complete, the road won't need digging up for a long time to come. Seems good value for money to me.
Secondly your report fails to explain how most of the work is timed to be out of season. A 'Diary of Events' as published doesn't tell the full story.
Officers spent a good deal of time discussing and consulting with key colleagues and business how we could minimise the impact.
So the work near to the Sovereign Centre should finish by mid November before the Christmas shopping season, whilst the section of road to be closed, which is not in front of any commercial premises other than the Winter Gardens, will be in January-March, outside the tourist season.
Finally the relatively short diversion and one way traffic system between Marine Lake and the Thatched Cottage will maintain access to the seafront businesses and ironically may actually make for a better traffic flow through Upper Church Road, where currently traffic juggles to pass each other in the restricted space.
Thirdly, perhaps I should have called a meeting of all the businesses and residents to explain exactly what was going to happen, instead of relying more on the media.
However time was of an essence and although we had begun to explain all the detail to everyone at the time we gave the information to the media last Tuesday, we hadn't completed the exercise.
But then, we assumed that you would spread the word for us in a calm and informative manner, not turn it into a front page headline. Obviously I therefore need to apologise to the local traders and residents for being so na�ve.
Meanwhile I understand all but one of the hotels and traders along the road now understand and accept the planned works and all are fully behind the overall seafront enhancement programme, which will transform Weston once completed.
COUNCILLOR ELFAN AP REES
Town Hall, Weston
EDITOR'S NOTE: We don't believe there is anything 'sensationalist' about publishing the views of traders who are upset by the timing of these works, and what they judge to be a lack of consultation.
Indeed, we feel our decision has been vindicated this week by others who have come forward to share similar views of their own.
For the record, our report did explain the timing of the work, and include a detailed schedule as provided by the council.