Letters to Editor May 17

PUBLISHED: 10:20 18 May 2012

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Alarmingly

SEVERAL weeks ago Tesco announced that it was intending to purchase the Cheddar Football Club pitch.

Tesco wants to put up a 20,000sq ft store and a petrol station. Then alarmingly four weeks ago Sainsbury’s declared that it had bought rights to purchase Steart Farm, demolish some barns and put up a supermarket.

The two stories would clutter up either end of the village like vast, ugly bookends. This is a tourist area of outstanding natural beauty.

Two sheds loosely based on something from World War Two designed by the Air Ministry, commonly seen with a Lancaster bomber sticking out of it, is not wanted in a rural setting.

There are squillions of environmental issues as well, briefly, increased traffic, noise, lights, air pollution, HGVs, petrol tankers, road alterations, demolition of houses, narrow roads and ancient preserved bridges, flood plains, lack of pavements, visual pollution, traffic from surrounding villages and so on.

There are 14 Tesco stores within a 13 mile radius.

The recession is hard enough for shopkeepers without putting supermarket or two into the mix.

Tesco told a resident that it required 6,000 customers. These are core regulars per week and would be a minimum number of shoppers to make the store financially viable.

Those from Wedmore, Axbridge, Draycott, Rodney Stoke, Westbury, Shipham, Winscombe and the rest would all be encouraged to shop here and contribute to that core.

This new trade away from the villages will hardly profit the shops in each of their own high streets and so lead to a downturn in trade and bankruptcies away from Cheddar.

This core minimum of 6,000 would necessitate 12,000 car movements per week.

This is far too much for our small country roads. On top of this we would get petrol tankers, HGVs day and night and other delivery lorries.

Tesco will be a 24-hour operation and Sainsbury’s up until 9pm.

People choose to live in a village precisely because of what it doesn’t have.

CAROL S WILKIE

Keep Cheddar Special Group

West Lynne, Cheddar

Real cost

IN HER letter ‘Despite setbacks’ last week, Pauline Platten criticised North Somerset Council for wanting to demolish the Tropicana at a cost (still to be confirmed) of £1million ‘which would be paid for by you and me – the long-suffering taxpayers’.

She went on to say: “Saving taxpayers’ money, providing a much-needed amenity and jobs, attracting visitors – let’s hope common sense prevails and Derek Mead is given a chance.”

But Ms Platten’s hope ignores the real cost of a new Tropicana to us taxpayers. A recent report by property experts DTZ stated that Derek Mead’s plan is not financially self-sustaining.

It requires a £1million subsidy from public funds and a council tax rise to meet its £4.6million target.

Just giving Mr Mead ‘a chance’ with our money is not acceptable. If he can’t raise the cash himself, surely he’s the wrong person to undertake the project.

PETER JOHNSON

Stonewell Park Road, Congresbury

Grumbled

DEREK Mead continues to complain about his treatment by North Somerset Council over the Tropicana project.

In the Mercury last week he grumbled that ‘there is no reason why the council should not be talking to us to get the Trop revamped’. Has he forgotten that there is a very good reason why it won’t speak to him? It’s because he is in the process of taking it to the High Court. To get things moving again, surely the obvious course of action is for Mr Mead to withdraw his application for Judicial Review.

NICHOLAS FERGUSON

Devonshire Road, Weston

Purely residential

I WISH to comment on the proposed parking restrictions and charges for the town centre, including Alma Street, a purely residential street, where I live.

We who live in the town spend far more than any shopper who just pops in for an odd hour or two, yet the council is going to make it increasingly difficult for us to park. Many elderly or slightly disabled people who don’t qualify for a Blue Badge will find it extremely hard to park and walk the distances suggested, eg Locking Road car park, let alone pay the charges.

A few years ago a residents’ scheme was mooted, a sticker on the windscreen with five named roads in which a registered resident could park without incurring parking fines. It didn’t guarantee a place, there are not enough anyway and they are public roads, but it would have given everyone a chance of parking. This works very well in other towns.

Surely a park and ride scheme would also help as many people, including visitors, prefer to use them rather than waste time driving around looking for parking.

A special bus lane wouldn’t be needed as there would be less traffic on the roads.

The proposed changes will make it quite unpleasant and difficult to remain living in the town centre and remain independent.

NADINE KILVINGTON

Alma Street, Weston

Flats and bedsits

HAVING read your report regarding the proposed parking measures for the town centre, this whole matter further illustrates how totally out of touch the council is with the people who fund their town.

Not everyone who lives in the town centre who owns a car has a job.

Some are retired, some are sick, and some spend a substantial proportion of their income just keeping a car on the road for the benefit of their families, etc.

This council has allowed properties in the town to be converted into flats and bedsits, adding to the population and to the demands on the local infrastructure.

Not everyone owns a shop, and while I have every sympathy for these businesses having been a shopkeeper myself, the fact that parking is a problem in the centre is not my fault, nor is it the fault of anyone who finds themselves resident in those affected streets, and we should not pay the price for the council’s failure to come up with a solution in at least the last twenty years.

I do not object to paying maybe two or three pounds a week for the ‘privilege’ of parking outside my own home, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay £70 to park at night, with two hours ‘thrown in’.

This is a further indication of the council’s culpability in the destruction of Weston as a vibrant, healthy and sociable town. For Weston’s future, let’s have some new ideas, and definitely some new councillors.

STEVE WEBB

Alfred Street, Weston

Uneven

LIVING in North Somerset, I travel quite regularly into Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire to visit my daughters and their families.

Nowhere – and I do mean nowhere – are the road surfaces so pathetically bad as they are in Weston. Even when and where repairs have been carried out an uneven road surface is often the result.

Over 12 months ago I wrote to the council to point out that road signs are still in place indicating the route to RAF Locking, closed down over a decade ago. They are still there.

A major road sign at the roundabout junction at the end of Drove Road and Hildensheim Bridge was severely damaged by a storm in the winter of 2010/11 with only about one third of the sign remaining. To this day the damaged sign has not be repaired or replaced.

How very helpful – I think not – to holidaymakers and visitors who do not know the town or a route to the seafront.

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

THIS is a very belated thank you message to say how very pleased I was to win tickets to Have you had it long Madam on April 18.

It was really excellent, Paul Atterbury and Hilary Kaye (pictured) were terrific, so many anecdotes and amusing pieces about the Antiques Roadshow and it was lovely to see the Playhouse so full.

MRS VERLIE EDWARDS

Charlton Road, Weston

MERCURY reader Ron Ellis has donated a large selection of children’s books as competition prizes – see page 24. Here he writes of his literary journey:

I WAS 15 years old when I made my first visit to a bookshop.

It was a second-hand one in Chelmsford. On entering I made for the section where there were hundreds of books, mostly Penguin paperbacks, arranged on several rickety wooden shelves.

My eyes danced along on the line of books and back again, then on to the next. I noticed a section labelled ‘classics’. I reached out for one of them. It was called The Black Tulip, by Alexander Dumas. I picked out another, Pilgrims’ Progress, by John Bunyan. The third was called, I Claudius, by Robert Graves. Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe also found their way into my hands.

I moved onto another section and spotted a book called The Blue Lagoon. I liked the sound of the title so added it my collection. The unpleasant but acceptable musty smell from the books gave me the impression that here I was in the midst of history. This seemed to make my purchase of thre’pence each for the books all the more worthwhile. I was excited. Considering I had never read a book before I wasn’t certain I would read these. But to have them in my possession was a great feeling. I had to read them. I wanted desperately to do so. And I did.

It took me three readings of I Claudius before I understood what it was all about. When I did it was like a breath of fresh air. I felt I had achieved something.

I read all six books over a period of five months. I was a very slow reader then because it took me a long time to absorb and understand many of the words and their meaning. To help me out I went back and bought a small dictionary.

Having thoroughly digested all I had read gave me a feeling of having been on a long journey.

I found myself breaking on the coral reef. I would climb up wavering palm trees and take coconuts. I became a personal friend of Long John Silver. I sat with Tiberius Claudius and the notorious Agrippina. I saw Man Friday’s footprints in the sand. In my dreams I steered the Southern Cross. Fantastic journeys that allowed me to travel to all parts of the world.

Proud of my second-hand treasures I made a point of keeping them safe in a large biscuit tin upstairs in my bedroom. I now look back 70 years later and vividly remember reaching out for those six gems that helped to change my life and the direction I was going. Books which introduced me to a world of literature hitherto known to me. In addition to which I was able to command a better understanding of the English language.

I have remained eternally grateful to the intuitive feeling I sensed at the time in the bookshop that here was something special for me. And so it proved to be. It was now I began to satisfy my thirst for knowledge and to try and educate myself in the process.

Much has changed since I was a youngster in the 1930s. I would strongly urge children to experience the joy of reading, and what it can do to help them in many ways in later life. But the encouragement must first come from parents.

Those who are exposed to reading are much more likely to choose books over other forms of entertainment which today is stifling personal creativity.

Books have the power to benefit young people in a myriad of ways. And parents have such an important role to play; to introduce your children to read by reading to them at an early age is one of the most important things you can do for them.

RON ELLIS

Westbrook Road, Milton


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