LETTERS TO EDITOR JANUARY 20

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 January 2011

Mercury letters

Mercury letters

Archant

Tropicana

ONCE again I would like to thank all the residents of North Somerset for their continued support.

We have always intended our proposal for regeneration of the Tropicana to have its roots in benefiting the community and we therefore believe residents should be kept fully informed at every stage of its progress.

Regrettably, it has now been nearly 14 months since North Somerset Council became aware of our detailed aspirations for the site. Since then we have been passed through the first hurdle of financial capability to carry out the work, set by the council in September, and many hurdles since. But after several submissions, presentations and numerous meetings later, we seem no closer to commencement of the project.

Our plans have never changed; we still propose to build one of the largest and most advanced water parks in the country, with separate pools for leisure and exercise. Upon completion, it would be over 5,000 square metres in size, with the inclusion of an adventure ice-skating park.

As our proposals are leisure-based, we estimate that this will create 850 permanent jobs on the development, whilst also contributing nearly £25 million to the local economy every year. This could not be achieved if the site was developed to create permanent residential housing!

In trying to create a tourist attraction, whilst trying to keep the size and scale of the building to a minimum, it is very difficult to accommodate cars on-site without obviously decreasing the size of the water park.

It is clear that some compromise will have to be made regarding parking and we have suggested that a ‘park-and-ride’ facility should be considered. After all, it should be recognised that our scheme, when considered in line with current Government proposals, would mean an increase in business taxes of £2.2 million to North Somerset Council and this, in turn, would benefit each and every member of the community.

I must say, to obtain approval by the council up to this stage has been a difficult and expensive process. This, together with the recent proposed development of Dolphin Square by Simon Berry, who previously was involved with the failed Tropicana development with Henry Boot, is something which has hampered proceedings.

The extent of retail owners being attracted by Dolphin Square has meant that we have had to re-evaluate the scale of retail in our proposals. There is simply not enough in the current economic climate to fulfil the needs of two major sites within a mile of each other.

In our last submission to North Somerset Council, therefore, we have had to consider this, and make two minor changes which do not affect the size of the water park, the ice-skating rink, or the appearance of the building itself.

Obviously for the site to be viable, which is the council’s primary stipulation, it does need supplementary commercial outlets to cover the cost of operating the water park.

We always intended that these should only be purely retail, cafes and restaurants; however, for the scheme to remain viable, we have now been forced to allocate some of the retail space to a small cinema, the use of which we hope the Odeon cinema might consider.

We anticipate that having a new modern building from which to operate might protect against any job losses when the new Dolphin Square cinema opens.

The other amendment is to accept that this new tourist attraction will appeal to holidaymakers from across the country and there will, therefore, be a demand from these visitors to stay on the site itself. Although we are not sure yet of the form this should take, it will, unfortunately, simply mean a re-allocation of some of the retail space to holiday accommodation.

We are keen to work with the council on this exciting project, but there is no doubt that every day which goes by and every day on which a decision is delayed brings more pressure to bear on the proposals. In my view, the success of our scheme would be an major asset to North Somerset for years to come.

We feel we have now reached a stage where deliberation on the Tropicana regeneration cannot continue indefinitely. We fear that unless the matter is brought to a head, this site may never be developed and I hope residents will understand, therefore, that we feel it does not benefit Weston to continue in this same manner in an air of uncertainty.

With this in mind I have written to North Somerset Council and asked that they appoint a preferred scheme within the next eight weeks, so development can begin without further delay. We understand this is possible under European Law.

I hope very much that we can continue to rely on the support of residents at this difficult time and would like to reiterate our total commitment to our proposals to regenerate the Tropicana, in my home town of Weston.

RICHARD NIGHTINGALE

The Nightingale Group

Aisecombe Way, Weston

Incapable

I AM not sure about everyone else, but I feel it’s time that something is done about the Tropicana.

We have left it to the council, it seems incapable of doing the right thing or even listening to people’s views.

We can’t leave it to this Wiltshire-based company, who says they have support of the town, or we will end up with a block of flats.

Mr Nightingale’s ideas are first class, but we cannot ask him to do any more on his own.

We need to make sure both the council and Harvard Tisdale, understand how everyone feels.

Can I encourage anyone who cares about having a decent pool for our children, to visit the Tropicana exhibition at the Winter Gardens on January 21 (tomorrow), fill out any questionnaire, but don’t answer the prewritten question, use it as a vote for your favourite design.

Then join us to protest outside the back entrance of the Winter Gardens at 12noon to make sure we are no longer ignored. I have asked both the BBC and ITV to come along, and it is my hope we can embarrass the council into the right decision.

This may be our only opportunity to make a difference, there is strength in numbers, so please come and let your voice be heard at the back entrance of the Winter Gardens, tomorrow (21st) at 12noon.

MRS HEIDI GRIFFIN

Coronation Road, Banwell

Astonished

I WAS astonished to read in last week’s Weston Mercury that a decision on the scheme for the regeneration of the Tropicana will not take place until the summer at the earliest. Why the delay?

I am even more concerned that Mr Nightingale has now been forced to issue an ultimatum to the council just to get them to make a decision. He must be as frustrated as the rest of Weston, after offering everything people want, paying for it himself, yet he is still snubbed. This reminds me of four years ago. We are all aware this site has now been derelict for many years and my fear is that it will remain so for many more to come.

Weston is a holiday resort therefore we need leisure facilities to attract tourism to this town, not more flats, so I urge the council to look at the bigger picture for the good of the town and all its already struggling businesses.

Mr Nightingale’s proposal will attract far more visitors than any residential and hotel complex.

More visitors mean more revenue therefore everybody benefits so regarding the eight week ultimatum, I urge this council to stand up and do the right thing for once, give the green light to Mr Nightingale now, for the good of Weston.

MRS P BALL

Careys Way, Weston Village

Another year

I HAD hoped that the letter I wrote in November would be the last on the subject of the Tropicana, no chance as the whole sorry saga goes on and on ad infinitum it seems.

We are now into a new year and no nearer resolving the issue, according to the Mercury of December a decision on who gets the contract will not be made until July.

Then by the time various hoops have been jumped through work might actually start at the end of the year.

So another whole year wasted, it’s pathetic. If the contract had been awarded to Richard Nightingale when he just applied to replace the eyesore that used to be an asset to the town if might have been up and running now instead of which every council were to do the right thing now we must be looking at 2014 as an earliest finish date.

We, the public, know that the choice between Richard Nightingale and Harvard Tisdale is what the younger generation would call a ‘no brainer’. By no stretch of the imagination could H Tisdale’s be described as a tourist attraction or leisure facility.

It’s a residential development with a pool in order to comply with requirements – it’s what the Prince of Wales would label a monstrous carbuncle and with justification.

It’s not at all what is needed to encourage and attract visitors and holidaymakers to the town, the proposed building is totally out of character and out of place and where were the planning people when it became clear that what H Tisdale has in mind is a hotel and apartments.

How can such a development be allowed on the beach, why were its plans not discarded immediately as being entirely unsuitable?

H Tisdale is reported as saying it had positive comments from the public, I would guess only from those who could afford to live in their monstrosity should it ever get built.

The council has escaped the shackles of the EU if it had thought outside the box as I suggested ages ago and given or sold the Tropicana to Richard Nightingale so it was no longer owned by the council and he could have got on with his development which would give us something to be proud of, an attraction that would appeal to visitors and complement the Grand Pier, something that actually belongs on the beach and promenade.

Why is the council apparently time wasting and why does it give the impression that it doesn’t want to award the contract to our local man? The council is lucky he has the patience and tenacity to be willing still to take on the challenge.

According to the Mercury the council says the public would have no say in the decision though it changed that since to some, albeit small, influence.

Where does David Cameron’s Big Society and local choice feature in this?

Councillors should remember that we do have a say when it comes to local elections so it would be in their best interest to make the popular decision before they happen and not wait until July, or is their strategy to prevaricate until afterwards hoping we will still give you the chance to do the right thing?

SUSAN GIBSON

Brimridge Road, Winscombe

Commonsense

THANK you P Hobbs and T Probert for your commonsense suggestions concerning the redevelopment of the Tropicana site.

I only hope the council will take note and stop their shilly-shallying and give Richard Nightingale permission to start work on something the people of Weston and the surrounding area want and require.

Please, no more plans for grand hotel schemes with small pools, which will not be useful to local residents, which would probably become another ‘white elephant’ if Harvard Tisdale were given the go-ahead.

If that happened, I know who I shall not be voting for in the next local election.

MRS A M JONES

Barton, Winscombe

Switching

NO DOUBT there were many who, when switching on their TV on January 11, discovered that they would have to carry out yet another re-tune.

There was no mention of this on the ‘Digital UK’ website which states that the next re-tune is not until September 28.

Re-tuning is not a simple matter, if one uses the ‘automatic’ option those living in Weston, Clevedon, etc., will find that when they press ‘1’ or ‘3’ on their remote control they will get a Welsh programme.

To avoid this one needs to tune ‘manually’, but to do this one needs to be aware of the frequency band numbers being broadcast by the transmitter one wishes to receive from. This information is invariably available on the ‘Digital UK’ website provided one clicks on ‘Tradeview’, but yesterday it seems they were caught on the hop as the information was not there.

Programmes which until yesterday were broadcast on frequency band (channel) 59 are now broadcast on band 67.

To avoid Welsh language programmes one needs to manually retune to bands 54, 56, 61, 62, 67 and 58 if one has a high definition decoder.

This, according to the aforementioned website, will remain until September 28, but they didn’t seem to know about January 11 change, so who knows?

It is quite likely that many will be contacting their local TV repair man who no doubt will be happy to do a re-tune - a ‘nice little earner’.

J LUXTON

Lyddon Road, Worle

Artistic view

I HAVE seen the artistic view of the new seven-story high 80-bed hotel and leisure complex plus 60 apartments at the Tropicana but what would be included in respect to the provision of the swimming pool?

Only giving us a picture as seen from the sea made me curious as to what we would be seeing looking at it from the land side.

This must surely be a big monstrosity as it is and is so large it is so completely out of place right there in prime position on the middle of our seafront.

I contacted the architects to find out where I could see a picture of it only to find that they would refer me to the PR company. I tried three times to get to talk with someone and nobody contacted me even though I left a message and email address. All I wanted was to see what it would look like from the front. I then went on line to see what I could find out.

The only information of interest was the site plan, this showed the outline of the existing Tropicana which was outlined in red.

Outlined in blue were the plans which were granted to Henry Boot. But this only showed the main part as pertaining to the Tropicana itself and did not show that the existing permission included all of the Beach Lawns and the Promenade, which stretched from Ellenborough Park South, all along to Severn Road, to be used for car parking and landscaping, in other words extending the front of the old Tropicana by three times the present length.

Finally we had the outline of the Havard Tisdale site plan, but this also showed that their plans included a further area for landscaping, but did not show to what extent this would cover and what would be included.

The main worry on all of the Havard Tisdale proposal plans is he wants to just build a big hotel and flats complex and all that the people of Weston are looking for is a swimming pool. As it stands the Richard Nightingale plans are the ones which fit in with what is wanted.

I hope that our planning department and the council can ensure that Weston can keep its Beach Lawns and Promenade and that we are not going to get something which we as a town will live to regret.

LAURENCE F ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Parish precept

BANWELL residents should be told the full facts regarding the parish council decision to increase the parish precept by 12.38 per cent at their meeting on January 3.

The report published in the Mercury this week was incomplete and misleading. The report suggests the increase is necessary to compensate for ‘axed services’ - then goes on to state the additional money is to pay for fencing around the recreation area?

The clerk suggests that the proposed increase is small, and the cost is only £1 per week.

The suggestion in the article is that Banwell residents will have to pay more to the parish to fund a reduction in services by North Somerset.

This is just not true. There are no further proposed cuts to any village services and loss of facilities to residents to my knowledge.

The library has not closed, and the toilets closed some years ago now. I am appalled that parish councillors are trying to justify huge increases in the parish precept by throwing false accusations on North Somerset Council. Under the recent boundary review; Banwell Parish Council has ‘lost’ 59 dwellings which means that their ‘income’ from the council tax will be reduced pro-rata by £2,941. If the council kept the same precept as 2009/10 of £57,805, then this drop in the number of dwellings contributing to the fund means that in real terms the residents pay an additional £2.67 each which is an increase of 5.4 per cent in real terms.

Banwell Parish Council has agreed to add an additional £3,850 on top of the previous year’s figure. This is an additional burden to residents on top of the increase to cover the loss from Elborough - in real terms up £6,791. The figures quoted in the Mercury this week only refer to the increase from last year. The true additional cost to the residents of Banwell is an increase of over 12 per cent well hidden by the way the figures have been presented.

By the time this is printed the final decision will have been made (on Monday) - I only hope that parish councillors see sense and properly consider their community, many of whom are on a fixed or low income and who should not have to pay such an increase in local taxation.

TIM MARTER

North Somerset Councillor

High Street , Banwell

EDITOR’S NOTE – Banwell Parish Council backed down on their initial plan to increase the parish precept, instead deciding to freeze it for 2011/12 at a meeting on January 10. The budget will mean people living in Band D homes will pay £52.51 a year to supporting parish funds.

Spot on

WHAT a superb letter from Marcos Eastman published in the Mercury last week.

Everything was spot on. Weston in those days was as I wish it was today.

I too was born and bred here many moons ago and it makes you weep to see what subsequent councils have allowed to happen to our town. They have taken no notice as to what real locals want, and they plough on regardless with profit making schemes. Everything these days seems to be ruled by money. I was particularly pleased to see Jacksons Faces mentioned as I have one photo taken by them of me and my later husband on October 29, 1945. Thank you Mr Eastman for recalling Weston at its best.

MRS E GITSHAM

Drove Road, Weston

Tunnel

I EXPECT that you are aware that there is a tunnel underneath Queens Way in the vicinity of Priory School enabling pedestrians to get to and from the Sainsbury’s complex.

Recently this tunnel has become flooded and unusable, probably understandable in view of the recent heavy rainfall, however, having used this tunnel for the past 26 years I am fairly confident that this is the first time the tunnel has been rendered unusable due to flooding.

The unofficial crossing, helping those emerging from, or wishing to access the tunnel is frequently flooded after heavy rain, but one can pick one’s way around this. Although this flooding of the crossing is frequently reported, nothing seems to be done about it.

You may be aware that several years ago a similar tunnel underneath Queens Way was filled in. It had a history of flooding so rather than fix the drainage it was decided to take the easy option of disabling it totally.

No doubt those who may not know where Worle is, let alone the tunnel in question, may be tempted to make the current problems ‘go away’ by filling in this tunnel, as happened with the other one. I feel that this would be a retrograde step.

No doubt there will be those who will point out that there is a light controlled crossing over Queens Way quite close to the tunnel; I have calculated that this would add 500 yards to a journey to and from Martin’s newsagent. A mere trifle to those who are as likely to walk to Sainsbury’s as they as they are likely to walk on the moon. The 500 yards would be reduced if an extra pedestrian access to Sainsbury’s complex was constructed. As things stand when one has used the crossing one has to walk to the vicinity of the McDonald’s to get into Sainsbury’s. Any addition to the journey is however undesirable, especially for the elderly or young mothers struggling with a push-chair and children on foot.

It is unfortunate that when the Sainsbury’s complex was first laid out those involved with the planning could not envisage people wishing to get to the complex on foot. This is despite the close proximity to Priory School, where few of the occupants are able to drive, and a vast acreage of housing north of Queens Way.

Had someone had a little foresight it would have been a simple matter to lay two cut and shut tunnels instead of the one such that pedestrians would be able to walk to and from without getting in the way of the motorists.

Finally I cannot help but feel that rectification of the frequently reported flooding of the crossing has been neglected to ensure the tunnel floods, thus giving ‘justification’ to having it closed forever and also removing any problems resulting from someone being killed or injured whilst using the ‘unofficial’ crossing.

J LUXON

Lyddon Road, Worle

Large number

THANK you for the mention in your newspaper of today’s concert at the Weston Odeon with international concert organist Chris Powell.

For the West of England Theatre Organ Society that runs these concerts it helped make a wonderful concert that much more enjoyable because of the large number of people who turned up.

There was not only a festive air about this concert, made with the help of the Weston-super-Mare Choral Society (one of the oldest musical groups in Weston under the direction of their conductor Ray Willis and accompanied by local organist Richard Lennox) but also they all worked together to produce an immense air of fun. Just the occasion for blowing away the winter blues.

Now we can look forward to the next concert at the Odeon on March 6 with Mr Blackpool himself, Phil Kelsall. See you there. Tickets available now from the Odeon. Price £7.

Thank you once again for your support.

P G YOUNG

Warrilow Close, Weston

Lesson

IS COUNCILLOR Ap Rees, deputy leader of the council, fit to do his job?

First, twice he has been in charge of building the Tropicana, Mr Nightingale has offered to build the Tropicana with the support of 90 per cent of the people of Weston, but it looks like Mr Nightingale will pull out. Second, last January and December the main estates, Bournville, Oldmixon and Coronation had no buses for two weeks because the roads hadn’t been gritted.

Surely he should have learned the lesson from last January. We need more gritting lorries, older people were stranded.

Third, Pier Square should have been finished in September, it’s the middle of January and it is still not finished with no buses going up the seafront.

S BARRINGTON

Beach Road, Weston

Tidal power

AS LONG as the moon continues to orbit our planet we have an inexhaustible supply of free energy, namely tidal power. However, this compromise Government, or should I say Chris Huhne the Lib-Dem minister responsible for such matters, has ditched the proposed Severn Barrage as being too costly at an estimated £20 billion of public funds.

This is about the same cost as the proposed High Speed Line from London to the North. The former would provide about six per cent of the UK’s annual electricity consumption (and a road probably), whereby the latter will cut off about 30 minutes travel time between London and Birmingham at a premium ticket cost and despoiling some our most beautiful countryside into the bargain.

In rejecting the public funding of a Severn Barrage the Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State says that all of his and our Government’s financial support is to be given to the development of solar panels and wind farms according to the requirements of the Climate Change Act 2008. This Act, unique to the UK commits us to reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 40 years. The Government estimates that this will cost up to £18billion a year

We also have an EU commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity.

By 2020 from renewable sources such as wind and solar power when other countries are reducing their funding of these sources as they are turning out to be a total waste of money for no return. Are we mad?

All this expenditure will bankrupt the UK more than it is now and for what? Combating global warming? What global warming?

PETER MARTIN

Cecil Road, Weston

Free walk

THANK you, Mercury for publicising the free walk around Goblin Combe arranged for the public last Saturday.

In just a few minutes of starting out I’d learned how to spot a badger track, then saw the claw prints of one little fellow that I’d certainly have walked by in ignorance if I’d been on my own!

Soon I’d learned how to differentiate different types of beech, spotted numerous kinds of fungus and heard about the habits of the dormice that are encouraged in the Combe.

Soon we were looking at one of the recently re-discovered Lime Kilns and a ranger demonstrated how they operated, giving us some of the (alas macabre) details of their history.

We stood at the site of, probably, the last remaining unexcavated Iron Age village in the country and were told about the construction of the houses, way of life and the problems with ‘the neighbours’.

We heard how the inhabitants communicated with the other iron agers in the area then went up to Combe Toot and wondered if it were true that human sacrifice was offered on that lonely, eerie spot. With a buzzard wheeling above us we looked at the magnificent view out to Flat Holm and surrounds, then (some of us) climbed to the top to look at the more recent tombstones engraved at the summit.

Again the rangers gave us historical detail about these memorial stones then we descended, wondering how many Iron Age feet had skipped down these limestone rocks without a thought.

Onto the fascinating lead mines with some history thrown in and back towards the environment centre, our walk interspersed with observations of the wonderful natural world around us. Three wonderful volunteer rangers had kept just us four visitors fascinated for two very quick hours. Where were the rest of you? You missed a treat.

JOAN LEWIS

Glastonbury Close, Nailsea

I have to get up

Reference your article ‘Noisy Nights for Neighbours’ in last weeks Mercury regarding Sainsbury’s new petrol station, I and some of my neighbours have also been affected: so much so I have had to get up in the middle of the night and close the bedroom windows.

Believe it or not we live in Hutton.

K G BOYD

Elmvale Drive, Hutton

Great influence

I WAS amazed to read the letter that you printed this week from Peter Jones (Dose of reality) because it was mainly about national politics which you generally don’t publish.

Can I beg you to give me an opportunity to respond to Mr Jones – who is clearly a right-wing ideologue – and to whom you gave one and a half columns to viciously rant and rave.

I ask for a favourable decision to my request because it is very clear that your columns have a great influence on the readership and Mr Jones’ statements need to be disputed.

In his condemnation of the Labour Government he said that they sold, robbed, borrowed and cheated without giving any clear evidence of these accusations whereas my response to his allegations can be proven by merely ‘Googling’ on the internet.

He totally ignores the fact that the Thatcher and Major Governments presided over 15 per cent–22 per cent interest rates during their reign and he clearly wants to forget that under 13 years of a Labour Government inflation rates never went into double figures whilst the Thatcher and Major years rarely, if ever, sank to single figures.

He goes on to condemn Labour’s investment in the NHS whilst choosing to forget the fact that during 18 years of Tory rule the funding allocated to the NHS was the lowest in the western world – including America - and the Labour investment merely brought it up to the levels of our European partners.

This investment gave suspected cancer patients a minimum of a two week wait to see a specialist - which was a spectacular improvement from previous years - and waiting times for operations were below nine weeks which were two or three years under the Tories.

Already the coalition has scrapped NHS targets so that no one can monitor waiting times, etc, and are also imposing £20bn worth of cuts to the NHS budget which is already extending waiting times and deeply affecting the morale of those devoted and poorly paid hospital staff.

He goes on to condemn public services whilst at the same time in his letter he admits to using a public library and if he is of the age that I suspect then no doubt he is receiving a free bus pass; an old age pension, free eye and hearing tests, etc, etc, which are all part of public services and which if the Tories have their way will soon be permanently scrapped or sold off to the private sector so that shareholders can be paid massive sums of money by the taxpayer!

He also accuses Labour of robbing pension funds. This was not the case; they merely abolished a tax advantage introduced by the Tories whereby investors’ profits were not taxed in the same year as the proceeds were made but were allowed to pay their taxes the following year. This was a way of reducing the amounts they paid. Surely he cannot approve of this scheme when he and millions of others have to pay taxes on a weekly or monthly basis.

He is evidently content that his Government is hurling over half a million people onto the dole this year and obviously took great pleasure during the 70s through to the early 90s when nearly 3.5 million people were unemployed.

Likewise he must be approving the huge bonus payments being distributed among the bankers otherwise he would presumably have condemned their practices. Also he noticeably does not want to expose the fact that his party during their 13 years in opposition continuously condemned Labour for not totally deregulating the financial sector.

I could go on and on but am confident that I have already put the record straight on some of Mr Jones’ rantings.

As a last request whilst writing this letter would you let me refer to a letter also in your letter pages from ex-Lib Dem candidate Mike Bell (Still choices) where he criticises the cuts to children’s services by our Tory council.

I abhor and condemn any cuts to essential services but Mr Bell needs to own up to the fact that the Tory-led Government supported by the Lib Dems are responsible for these vicious cuts to our children’s services and for the huge 75 per cent rises in tuition fees which the Lib Dem manifesto promised to abolish.

TONY PROBERT

South Lawn, Locking

Hire your own

WHAT an extraordinary letter from Peter Jones. It was greedy bankers chasing bonuses who got the economy into a mess.

Gordon Brown did nothing to curb their excesses, and Cameron, Clegg and Osborne have indicated that they won’t either.

In the meantime, a convenient crisis is cover for the Lib-Con Coalition in its drive to cut public services like libraries.

In future if you need a policeman, hire your own. And who deregulated the banks in the first place? It was Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor Nigel Lawson. Now we are reaping the whirlwind that he sowed.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

EDITOR’S NOTE: This correspondence is now closed. We do not want the Opinion page to become a political football.

Responsible

YOUR issue on January 13 was full of letters from residents regarding the fiasco of rubbish and recycling collections over the festive season.

OK we did have a few inches of snow, but everything else continued to function, except this facility.

Where as all concerned, from those in the Town Hall who are responsible, to the bin men, are all entitled to their seasonal breaks, like many others it does not surprise me in the slightest to learn of Town Hall incompetence – yet again – i.e. Tropicana.

Having lived in many parts of the country under councils of differing political persuasions, including other Conservative councils, I can only say North Somerset is by far the worst and the most inefficient I have experienced.

To quote a rather appropriate phrase, they could not organise that well known event in a brewery!

The word shambolic regularly springs to mind.

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

Mystery

NORTH Somerset’s “Recycling Revolution” is now six months old. And what a six months it has been.

So far we have had the “teething troubles” when the revolution was launched and waste remained uncollected for up to four weeks.

I understand the wait was even longer for some who lived in blocks of flats/sheltered housing units/a coach house property - due to the locations of allocated waste collection points somehow being a mystery to the council, despite managing to collect from these locations until this revolution started.

Then we had snow and Christmas. A leaflet went through many letterboxes announcing the service would continue as normal during the festive period. Having managed to get to so many houses to deliver the note, the actual waste vehicles didn’t manage to reach those same homes.

The snow brings difficulty to everyone and at first there was sympathy for the waste collection. But the snowy conditions lasted at most 10 days, but the waste collection was not back to normal for nearly three weeks after the snow melted.

I have also heard it claimed part of the problem was more waste was put out over Christmas than normal. We are paying a company, supposedly an expert in the field, millions of pounds of council taxpayers money to collect our waste, but apparently it didn’t realise more waste is produced over Christmas?

It is worth remembering the “Recycling Revolution” was a contract negotiated and signed for by the current Tory administration now running North Somerset Council.

As far as I can tell these Tories seem to make a lot of their decisions based on numbers in a spreadsheet rather than by considering what effect a decision will actually have on our streets.

Spreadsheet politics is no way to run North Somerset.

COUNCILLOR EDWARD KEATING

South Worle Ward

Town Hall, Weston

All and sundry

WHAT high expectations people have. We have experienced one of the coldest Decembers on record, roads impassable due to ice, a holiday shutdown, and commensurately more refuse during this time than normal.

What do people expect? Evidently not a huge backlog that will take time in clearing but an administration to apportion blame. I take this newspaper to task also for printing all and sundry, one or two letters would suffice, most of us would get the point.

Incidentally, would the person who stole my wheeled bin over the holiday period, please return it, less the rubbish of course. I suppose I was lucky, mine was collected if not by authenticated means.

M K WILMOT

Roman Road, Bleadon

Editor’s NOTE: The Weston Mercury has had a large number of letters on the recycling and wheelie bin backlog. Last week there was not enough room for all these letters and we hope we have addressed this problem this week. Obviously some people felt more strongly about their rubbish not being collected than you.

Displeasure

I AM writing as a footnote to the sorry saga of failure in waste disposal over these last five weeks.

I agree with Ron Moon’s letter in last week’s Mercury when he says that those responsible should come forward and admit their mistakes.

We’ve experienced so much arrogance in decision-making over the last four years where Conservative North Somerset Councillors have effectively told us ‘they know best’ so ‘butt out’ ordinary citizens of Weston and accept our decisions.

Unfortunately, so many of their judgments have been inept, and thanks to the Mercury, recorded here for all to see and they don’t need repeating. But the breakdown in delivery this winter goes far beyond incompetence – not only on recycling, but also in the way major bus routes have been left un-gritted and icy-as-glass pavements un-cleared.

Now, we can solve the problem of this week and uncaring council by throwing them out in May at the elections – that’s the only time ordinary people of Weston like me can exercise our displeasure. What concerns me more is that the whole edifice of delivery in North Somerset, what we pay our hugely expensive council tax for, seems to be built entirely on foundation of sand; one wave and delivery crumbles and falls over like a sandcastle.

This is a mighty malfunction of performance from North Somerset’s army of very highly paid, full time bureaucracy, many of whom don’t even live in Weston and don’t have to live with the problems that we have to live with.

It seems clear that the contractual agreements made with out-sourced providers aren’t up to the job.

They are clearly not robust enough to cope in adverse conditions – just at the time when we demand more, they provide less. This is wrong and we suffer because of it.

It would not surprise me if some enterprising lawyer came forward offering to represent a class action against the council. If it happened, I don’t think there would be a lack of takers.

DAVID CORDINGLEY

Stafford Place, Weston

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