Hold-ups and housing on hustings agenda
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:22 28 April 2015
FIVE of Weston's General Election candidates debated housing and traffic problems when they took part in a village hustings last week.
The event, organised by the Churches of Winscombe and Sandford, was held last Thursday at St James’ Church Hall in Winscombe.
Although national issues such as immigration, the NHS and helping young people were mainly discussed, each candidate agreed that village housing development and traffic in Banwell were major problems affecting the area.
* John Penrose, The Conservative Party: “I think the crucial thing about Winscombe and Sandford is that we are a proper community at the moment and we do not want to lose that. It is absolutely essential we do not become ‘dormitory’ villages.
“We all know about the housing problems, but we need to make sure our villages are affordable for our children and our grandchildren. So we have to build developments sustainably.
“And of course, we go back to Banwell. We did try banning HGVs along there in the past, and it did make a slight difference, but we do not want to move the problem along to people in Sandford. We are essentially stuck with it until the South Bristol ring road is completed.”
* Dr Richard Lawson, The Green Party: “Housing is a major problem for these villages and for all villages. We do have to extend, as we have a housing shortage and the population is growing. But I think the amount of homes needed has been greatly exaggerated.
“Another issue is flooding. We really need to look at the rhynes, dig them up and get them flowing again. We are also so lucky to have such a beautiful countryside and people visiting Weston should also be brought out here to share in its healing properties.
“We want a clean, beautiful and lovely area. I am very keen on having every piece of street furniture painted so that it looks beautiful and is protected.”
* Tim Taylor, The Labour Party: “I think if we had a school report for Weston at the moment, it would say ‘could do better.’
“There will be 1,000 Winscombes and Sandfords up and down the country tonight who will be having this debate. HGVs going through the villages, as is the case in Banwell, are a huge problem. We need to assess the environmental impact of HGVs and restrict them to businesses delivering locally.
“Development needs to be sensitive and considerate to people’s needs, and I am also concerned with the challenges of an ageing population. I would also push for flexible GP opening hours, as so many people here commute to Bristol for work.”
* John Munro, The Liberal Democrats: “I want to be a champion for Weston and the villages because I know this area deserves better. I want to see new jobs and career happening here, and we can only get that when we have people in power who care about the area.
“It is mainly the solutions to problems affecting the villages we seem to differ on as candidates.
“I rather sensibly avoided Banwell tonight, and there was no bottleneck. Visiting my aunty, who lives at the bottom of the bottleneck, and getting stuck there was one of my biggest memories from growing up – it needs to be a priority.”
* Ernie Warrender, UKIP: “The villages do face challenges. Housing is a problem. It is much cheaper for developers to build on greenfield sites than on brownfield. That needs to be addressed.
“We also need to stop the privatisation of our NHS and end so-called ‘health tourism’ – we owe it to our ageing population.
“Having also come through Banwell this evening, I suppose no comment is the best thing to say about that. And then to put 1,100 houses just down the road? Enough is enough. There has to be a better way of doing things.”