LETTERS TO EDITOR JULY 21

PUBLISHED: 11:45 22 July 2011

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Naturewatch

I WRITE to acknowledge receipt of £62 collected in Weston on June 25 for Naturewatch.

Naturewatch campaigns against live exports and puppy farming. It promotes humane research and produces a very useful compassionate shopping guide, and run animal shelters in the Ukraine. Every penny raised goes to relieve animal suffering and promote humane treatment of animals.

Contact Naturewatch on 01242 252871 or visit www.naturewatch.org

GAIL WOOLFENDEN

The Animal Information Bureau

Highcroft, Woolavington

Chernobyl

THE Lions Club would like to thank the people of Weston for all the support given so freely to us, throughout the year, enabling us to channel resources to help the less fortunate in our, and the wider, community.

This was exemplified lately, when a group of children from the still-stricken area around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, visited the town. The charity, Children of Chernobyl, raises money to bring a few children a year on a respite holiday. We host them for a day at the seaside.

The support of local businesses was superb. The children enjoyed the donkey rides, the land train, the SeaQuarium, lunch at the Queenswood Hotel and the Grand Pier.

MALCOLM TIMMIS

Event co-ordinator

Lions Club of Weston

Shrubbery Road, Weston

Help out

I NOTICE that North Somerset Council is asking the public to “support our transport bid” with dozens of signs all around the town.

Well excuse me, I thought last May we had elected 61 councillors and we have the esteemed Councillor Elfan Ap Rees who seems to be everywhere in the press. The last time I looked we also had a Government Minister as our MP and many well-paid council officers. With all this going for us how come the public has to help out and support the so-called bid?

On the transport topic do any other motorists think that all these stripes around roundabouts and road junctions are a complete waste of paint and money?

DONALD MCGREGOR

Dunster Crescent, Old Mixon

Outside pool

WHEN oh, when are Weston councillors going to give us back a renovated Tropicana.

I feel sure if they can finance a complete renovation of their offices, and give away used furniture, then let’s see them spend some money on the rate-payers.

We do not need a hotel, conference centre, etc, nor a massive complex as has been shown on many occasions.

I feel sure if Portishead can provide an outside swimming pool, then surely so can Weston.

The money spent on consultations, etc, could have been used for better purposes. You councillors need to remember, it is the rate-payers who pay your allowances, expenses and your refreshments, etc, and elect you to represent them, not your political parties.

We have a nice new pier so let’s have a nice new proper Tropicana without all the rest of the hotel, conference centre rubbish tagged on. Not more talk, talk, talk, but more action, action, action.

TREVOR S HUNT

Copperfield Drive, Worle

Shame

IT IS a shame that the popular HeliDays event will not be held on Beach Lawns this year.

However it is reported that Elfan Ap Rees has come to the rescue and will hold a mini HeliDays at the Helicopter Museum, which he runs.

I am wondering if he has any land near the museum where he could build a covered leisure pool - he could call it the heliTROPter. Just a thought.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Unfair

THERE were a number of letters in the Mercury dated July 14 putting all the blame for the Tropicana on Cllr Ap Rees – some calling for his resignation.

I found these to be most unfair, and lacking in facts. We must remember that North Somerset, and Weston, have been poorly funded by Central Government for many years which makes it very important that our limited funds are spent wisely, and we do not run up huge debts.

Previous Governments have given us today more debt than at any time in our history. We need councillors like Cllr Ap Rees to be honest about how council funds are spent. Indeed we have to pay for education and social services which accounts for 80 per cent anyway – this has to be done.

Parks, libraries, roads, etc, all run at a loss, but they are a service. No business will take on the Tropicana – it cannot make money.

There have been wonderful improvements in Weston and North Somerset, so the question is could we afford a new Tropicana?

Cllr Ap Rees should be commended for pointing out the cost implications before we face a huge council tax rise, given the funding savings needed for years to come.

JOHN CARTER

Addicott Road, Weston

Unhelpful

MANY congratulations to Mrs Annabel Tall, local Tory councillor and woman of the people, who wins this week’s Duke of Edinburgh Foot in Mouth prize for diplomacy.

At a recent social event Mrs Tall was asked about the progress of her campaign to get Wakedean Gardens adopted by the council. She spoke warmly about how she had braved the potholes deep enough to swallow a small child, and the jungle of vegetation growing up through the cracked pavements to speak to local residents.

The councillor went on to say that she had passed the residents’ concerns on, and that they could look forward to a visit by local Tory MP Dr Liam Fox, though she conceded that there is little chance that anything will be done, because the estimated £300,000 needed to repair the street is simply not available.

Meanwhile Mrs Tall suggested that residents form a committee, (presumably forgetting that the person who showed her around Wakedean Gardens, Tim Vickery, actually chairs the present action committee, which has existed for many years), and that if “they all do a bit of weeding” it would make things a lot better.

These comments are at best unhelpful and at worst insulting for the people who live in a street where it is safer to walk down the middle of the road and risk being run over, than attempt to negotiate the broken pavements, have to put up with cars being dumped in the street because the DVLA has no powers to enforce SORN declarations there, and endure a winter-long, foot-wide channel of dirty water outside all the houses on one side of the estate, due to the subsidence of the road surface.

As for the weeds, it is indeed a running joke that Wakedean is the only street in Yatton where the people are obliged to ‘mow the pavement’, however Mrs Tall seems to have missed the point that despite paying the same council tax as those in other residential streets in the village where the road edges are regularly sprayed with weedkiller and cleaned by an industrial cleaning lorry, in Wakedean Gardens this is not provided.

No doubt Mrs Tall approached this issue with good intentions, but flippant suggestions can only damage her reputation as a new councillor and anger the very people she purports to want to help.

Here’s hoping she will redeem herself by campaigning on this issue in a more serious and empathic manner, and that Dr Fox’s visit turns out to be more than a mere photo opportunity.

LUCI MAY

Wakedean Gardens, Yatton

No excuse

EVERYDAY I walk the Strawberry Line from Sandford to Winscombe with my dog.

There is, sadly, an irresponsible minority which has absolutely no regard to the health hazards associated with fouling where one walks.

There are some dog walkers picking up their dogs’ mess and hanging the bags on trees or throwing them onto the farmer’s field.

There is no excuse for doing this at all as there are dog bins, one at the start of the walk at the Sandford end, and another bin further along the line.

Dogs’ mess is an eyesore and a very unpleasant smell, especially when the weather is hot.

So I urge these people to pick up, bin it and show respect towards the dog owners who do pick up and walkers and children with no pets to walk.

B SHERGOLD

Orchard Drive, Sandford

Up for sale

WESTON like many towns, looks like it is up for sale with so many ‘For sale’, ‘Sold’, ‘To let’, ‘Let by’ etc, estate agents signs littering the roads; some of which are left up for months and a few for over a year.

Today with papers showing colour pictures of properties on the market and many agents printing their own property magazine there is really no longer, any real need for these unsightly signs.

Years ago when approval was given for these limited sized signs, there were no pictures in papers of the properties and the agents had to use written descriptions, since then the whole property market has changed and what is more signs, other than ‘For sale’ are comparatively a new phenomenon and as such may be illegal.

Let Weston lead the way by passing a by-law prohibiting these signs on private property, or at the very least charge a monthly advertising fee for each one, which in all probability would have the same result.

C J PEVERELLE

Edinburgh Place, Weston

Brilliant

AFTER our daughter, aged 19 years, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma our world fell apart, she was frightened of what would happen and how we would all cope.

We had a brilliant consultant called Dr Frank Booth who was from the haematology oncology department. He was fantastic.

In one week our daughter had full bloods, lung function, ECG, CT scan, pet scan and a bone marrow aspirate. How many consultants can do this in one week?

Our daughter went through six months of chemotherapy two weeks apart, which was very upsetting watching your child having to go through this. But through all this Dr Booth and his haematologist nurse were there for us. We would phone up and Dr Booth always saw her the same day which was fantastic, very reassuring and also put our minds at rest, which in itself helped to relieve some of the stress involved.

Our daughter has gone 2.5 years in remission now thanks to this man. When we were told Dr Booth was leaving we were all devastated. We understand a lot of the reasons were politics in the hospital which we feel is very sad, as all Dr Booth was doing was putting his patients’ wellbeing first not politics.

All I can say Weston Hospital is you have lost a brilliant caring consultant and shame on you.

After 10 months there still has not been a permanent consultant.

I’m sorry Weston Hospital but I think 10 months of locums is not really good enough especially when you had the chance to have Dr Booth back. You let a brilliant caring consultant slip through your fingers through politics.

If ever you get another chance to have Dr Frank Booth back I would grab it with both hands and let him do what he knows best, his job.

MRS E A YOUNG

Ashtree Road, Burnham

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mercury also had an anonymous letter on this subject. If the writer would like to contact us with their name and address we can publish the letter.

Scandal

IN RESPONSE to S White’s letter on July 7 entitled ‘Most Important’. I agree with the correspondent who said: “Clearly teaching is the most important of all professions… it is vital that the remuneration package is attractive to get the best possible teachers for our children”.

I also agree that the financial crisis is not the fault of the ordinary working person. I entirely agree that more should have been done to regulate the financial industry which ultimately caused the enormous deficit. I should have been the duty of all politicians, both in Government and Opposition, across the political spectrum, to ensure that a proper regulatory system was in place.

Furthermore, I agree that previous Governments of all colours have left those working in the private sector with appalling pension provision, and that this is a scandal which must be addressed.

However, I must seek to correct a number of points made in the letter.

The trade unions which took strike action on June 30, the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Lecturers, the University and College Union and the Public and Commercial Services Union, are not affiliated to the Labour Party and therefore do not finance the party (therefore to follow the analogy of S White, we did not finance the ship).

As a member of the NUT I know that teachers take strike action reluctantly (the NUT has only taken nation strike action on one other occasion in the last 20 years, and the ATL has not done so previously in its 127-year history). I also know that friends and family working in other areas of the public sector (whom S White references to as ‘non-jobs’ and ‘nuisances’, but who keep our lifeboats, airports, military sites and job centres running) are equally reluctant to take strike action unless absolutely necessary.

We recognise that for the majority of those working in the private sector, pension provision is appalling. That is why our joint union campaign is entitled ‘Fair Pensions For All’. We are campaigning not only to protect our pensions (far smaller than is often reported, the average teacher’s pension on retirement is £10,000, and for women in the public sector as low as £4,000 per year). We are campaigning for decent pension provision for all, including our family, friends and colleagues who work in the private sector.

If we really are all in this together, surely we should be working towards best practice across the public and private sectors rather than entering a race to the bottom, which was begun with the undermining of private sector pensions.

LYNN CUNNINGHAM

NUT President North Somerset

Teacher Worle Community School, Redwing Drive, Worle

Five attacks

I WAS shocked and saddened to read your recent report how frontline ambulance crews in Weston suffered five attacks in one year while carrying out their duties but staff representatives fear there were many more.

This followed a Freedom of Information request sent to Great Western Ambulance Service.

There’s a general consensus among ambulance personnel that the working environment is now more hostile than at any time previously, with paramedics facing escalating levels of violence on a daily basis.

I’m sure the reason why these attacks are happening is poor housing, poverty and few facilities.

Boredom, alcohol and drug use all fuel the problems of youngsters in communities. They feel they are on the margins of society and also there’s a lack of responsible parenting.

Kids have more freedom than they used to. I see a lot of children that shouldn’t be out after dark and some parents are afraid of their teenagers, also I believe boredom is a big problem.

Councils put so many people in a small space with no entertainment for the kids. They are then more likely to build a fire or be antisocial.

Violence these days has become sensationalised and glamorised. Look at some of the content on YouTube.

I believe that some youngsters have a cartoonish view of the world. They’ve watched violence on TV and don’t realise that shooting or stabbing may kill them. What I hear from people working in the public sector again and again concerns the link between violence and alcohol.

The Government brought in the Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act in 2006 which can attract a fine of up to £5,000. It aims to tackle violence against emergency service workers in the course of their duties. I hope this message gets across to those responsible for the attacks on our crew’s while trying to save lives. Our ambulance and fire crews do a wonderful job especially in our town of Weston, saving lives.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

Regulations

REGARDING your report of St Georges Parish Council’s meeting, may I point out that there are regulations which have to be followed.

Members of the public are not allowed to speak if standing orders are in place, which in this case they were, and as a former councillor the person concerned was well aware of this.

Standing orders had been suspended for the previous item on the agenda for public participation and the gentleman in question did not take this opportunity to speak.

The objection mentioned in your article was not valid as it was during an item that was updating the councillors of progress on a decision made at a previous meeting that he did not attend. The meeting was closed because he was unwilling to accept an explanation and continued to be disruptive.

JANYS WARREN

Chairman St Georges Parish Council

Willow Gardens, St Georges

WHAT an appalling tale of incompetence and ignorance your front-page story concerning the late Robert Collins describes.

It is made even worse by the smug smokescreen of utter drivel that came from the pen of the outgoing chief executive Lorene Read.

“There had been insufficient training of staff in the use of the appropriate assessment tools.”

“Assessment tools?” You mean eyes? You mean common sense? You mean conscientious checking of patients who are in bed for extended periods?

Ms Read - you are responsible for the training of your employees. If it was insufficient, it is your fault. Personally I would have thought that a daily check on patients’ welfare was the least anyone could expect during their stay in hospital.

The fact that Mr Collins was discharged with these sores still untreated surely provides convincing evidence for a case of culpable negligence to be brought against the trust, not just a five-figure compensation pay out.

BARI W SPARSHOTT

Thornbury Drive, Uphill

IT SADDENS me that one of your letter-writers in last week’s edition says that “many people believe that Weston has been in decline for 30 years”.

Sometimes, I do wonder whether people take some pleasure from running our town down, and choosing to ignore the good things that are happening here.

In the last couple of years, the massive sum of £86million has been invested on our seafront in two projects alone - £52million in the rebuilding of the Grand Pier, and £34million on the programme of seafront enhancements. Going back just a little further, we have the regeneration of Knightstone Island, Marine Lake and the Cove Restaurant - all now highly popular with residents and visitors alike.

In addition to this we have a new hotel opening on the seafront this week at the Cabot Court Hotel following months of renovation. Before the end of the month, McLaren Life will start work on the first phase of another major redevelopment project for the town - its £35million redevelopment of Dolphin Square.

Next week we have the Princess Royal coming to see for herself how much has been achieved on our seafront, and to name the square opposite the pier ‘Princess Royal Square’.

The Royal Family does not allow places to be named after them on a whim. This honour has been granted as recognition of the very high standards of public open space we have created here.

I hope that recognition at this highest level demonstrates to those who revel in diminishing Weston at every opportunity that we live in a town of which we can all be proud, and shows that when the circumstances are right, we can be extremely successful.

The circumstances have not been right up until now for the Tropicana, and the last three attempts to regenerate the site have failed. Whilst some still can’t face the truth, I am a realist living in a world currently faced with a dire economic crisis. That is not being defeatist. Equally, I am not prepared to sit back and watch the site fall into an even worse state of disrepair while we dream of a solution for the building which just cannot be delivered.

Tomorrow we are meeting a variety of people who all have their own ideas for the site, and I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say. I sincerely hope one or more has a viable solution for the Tropicana – whatever that might be – and if so, I look forward to working with them to solve the last piece in the seafront jigsaw once and for all.

ELFAN AP REES

Deputy Leader

North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston

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