Letters to the Editor, December 12, 2012

PUBLISHED: 10:15 20 December 2012

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Archant

Biased

I WOULD like to make comment regarding your article headed ‘Union claims ‘serious’ issues over money-saving contract’ in the Mercury dated December 6.

Not for the first time do I get the impression that the Mercury is a little bit biased towards the Unison point of view.

How on earth can there be ‘serious issues’ when it agrees that there have been savings of £740,000; the outsourcing is doing well with job creation and in terms of income, it also confirms it is in line with expectations.

It is quite clear that Unison, upon surveying its own membership, has turned a positive into a negative.

It says that 78 per cent disagree that services were quicker.

Not knowing the exact wording of the question, one could say that 22 per cent think that services were quicker!

You could also say that 78 per cent might agree that services had not changed.

Eighty per cent disagree that services were better, so once again one could say that 20 per cent think that services are better or that 80 per cent might agree that services were no worse.

Forty eight per cent disagree that services were cheaper so by the same token 52 per cent must think services are cheaper, as shown by the £740,000 savings thus far.

So to sum it up, we have a situation where jobs are being created, costs are reducing and I, as a taxpayer, am getting a better deal because the council is using my money for this contract. So what is wrong with that?

If you are very selective with who you ask and how you ask the question, you are then manipulating the type of answer you want.

Couple that with the ‘spin’ and you could end up with a completely skewed picture.

There are a lot of people who see the glass as half empty and then there are those progressive positive individuals who see the glass as half full.

It depends on your agenda.

PETER JONES

Main Road, Hewish

Safety in mind

FOLLOWING the tragic accident in Worle High Street I think it is time that the safety of pedestrians is looked into as a matter of urgency.

There have been a number of accidents in recent years notably the one several weeks ago involving two pedestrians.

I am not aware of how many accidents there have been recently but I am sure the statistics are available.

Worle High Street is no longer treated as a village street by those using it.

The dangers are there for all to see especially during school arrival and departure times.

With safety in mind a speed limit of say 10mph does not seem unreasonable.

R DUNN

Brangwyn Square, Worle

Well deserved

IT IS sad to learn of the demise of the Senior Citizens’ Forum, but the news is not surprising.

The forum was founded by Ken Lacey and he was the chairman, editor of the forum newsletter - in fact the forum was Ken Lacey.

With his resignation there was nobody fit to fill his shoes.

Ken received his MBE for services to politics and as a councillor he was loved by his constituents, respected by his opponents in council and served both as town mayor and chairman of the district council.

Ken was also the chief instigator of the town council and although small in stature he was head and shoulders above any other local politician over three decades.

Much of this time he has been supported by his wife, Linda, and they will be sorely missed on the political scene.

We therefore thank Ken for all his work for the community, especially the pensioners, and wish both him and Linda a very well deserved retirement.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Vote of thanks

I THINK our town’s pensioners owe a sincere vote of thanks to Ken Lacey, chairman of the Weston Senior Citizens’ Forum, for the 12 years service he has devoted in their interest.

With the help of his wife Linda, and others on the committee he has given his free time to put forward the pensioners’ point of view and liaise with North Somerset Council, to our advantage.

His contribution to our town over the years has been significant.

All good wishes to Ken and Linda on their retirement from the sadly now defunct forum.

EDNA R WEEKS

Clarence Road North, Weston

Fracking

THE Government has given permission for two energy companies, UK Methane and Eden Energy, to explore the potential of part of North Somerset for gas extraction.

They will be prospecting in an area to the east of a line drawn between Flax Bourton and Blagdon.

Fracking is a way of extracting gas by cracking underground rocks.

It can cause groundwater contamination with chemicals, among other problems. It also causes leaks of methane, a gas which helps to cause climate change.

It has been practised in the USA, where there has been brisk opposition from community groups, and evidence of damage to animal and human health. Given the fact that the USA has far less population density than the UK, North Somerset Green Party is concerned that problems may turn out to be more prominent in the UK.

Clearly there is a risk that the valuable water resources under the Mendip Hills could be contaminated if permission is eventually given for fracking to go ahead. It is unlikely that North Somerset Council would have either the power or the will to block fracking.

There is something that concerned residents of North Somerset can do. As things stand, fracking is not insured against anything that might go wrong.

If enough of us write to our MP (John Penrose, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA) and request that at the very least, fracking is 100 per cent insured against immediate and long-term risks of water contamination, to environmental health and human health, we may be able to avoid the usual situation where private companies get all the profit, and risks are met out of the public purse.

DR RICHARD LAWSON

Dolberrow, Churchill

Excellent

I AM writing to say a huge thank you to West Woodspring Inner Wheel.

I attended the excellent charities fair at the Winter Gardens on December 1 and I was very fortunate to win a superb hamper, which was delivered to my home that evening by a lovely lady from the Inner Wheel.

The hamper contains lots of delicious Christmas goodies which my family and I will most certainly enjoy.

Happy Christmas to one and all.

SUE FREEMAN

Woodspring Crescent, Worlebury

Positive

YOUR recent article on council parking stated that Mike Bell “does not claim free parking”.

Hardly surprising given that he lives within easy walking distance of the Town Hall. His attitude seems to be that he doesn’t currently need Town Hall parking so why should anyone else have it.

But not so long ago, Mike happily used free Town Hall parking when attending work at his employer’s office across the road from the Town Hall. Incidentally, the council continues to receive positive comments on the new parking arrangements in Weston from shop proprietors and residents.

TONY LAKE

Greenhill Road, Sandford

All hope is lost

IN REPLY to Linda Hotchkiss’ letter in last week’s Mercury. She has hit the nail right on the head.

It isn’t because she is trying to move to Weston she cannot find anywhere to rent.

I was born in Weston 67 years ago and I also cannot find anywhere to rent and I have been looking for over a year. The estate agents hold all the cards and if you do not fit their criteria that’s it. As Linda says any mention of benefits or top ups or if you have the audacity to have pets then all hope is lost.

NINA EVANS

Hestercombe Close, Weston

Frightening

REGARDING the lady, Hazel Roach, whose dog was attacked in Churchill, I am absolutely flabbergasted by the statement by the police, that dog attacks are down by 40 per cent in Weston, in the past two years.

How on earth would they know? If you ring the police, as I have done in the past, they will say: “There’s nothing we can do, ring the dog warden”. When I last rang the dog warden he was on holiday.

The number of dog attacks has been rising in a frightening manner, but people do not ring the police, or the dog warden, as we all know now, nothing will be done.

MRS R V COOKSLEY

Quantock Road, Weston

Sad article

In THE sad article about the Yorkshire Terrier mauling in the Mercury on December 6 it states that the police recently revealed that dog attacks are down by 40 per cent.

Surely it should have said ‘reported’ dog attacks are down by 40 per cent as most people now realise what a waste of time reporting a dog attack is.

When or if the police attend no action is taken against the owner of the offending dog and the animal, which was usually off-lead and not under control, is allowed to attack again.

The victims are left with a vet’s bill and maybe even hospital treatment.

Perhaps the new police commissioner could find a solution as dog attacks are definitely on the increase.

ROBERT LOWE

The Swallows, Locking Castle

Pied Piper

DOES Weston employ a rat catcher? Recently, once at the top of Ashcombe Park and a number of times around the fishing lakes at Locking Castle, I have seen rats.

They have calmly gone about their business and in no apparent fear of me or my dog.

It would be interesting to know whether the council actively attempts to deter them. Both sites are places that children frequent and surely they are a health menace?

If the council does not employ one, maybe they could contact Hamelin in Germany and see if the Pied Piper is available for a short term contract.

COLIN HUNT

Ringwood Grove, Weston

Destruction

Why were all the trees in the Italian Gardens by the wall divider being cut down this morning?

It was really sad to see yet more destruction by North Somerset Council in our town.

MELODY COX

Park Place, Weston

Stamps

I AM asking people to save their Christmas stamps and donate any unwanted Christmas presents to help raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

As many of you have sent me hundreds of stamps/postcards already, I still ask everyone to send in stamps from their Christmas cards to support such a very good cause.

Unwanted presents can also be sent in to be used towards raising money through raffles and tombolas and anyone receiving a new mobile phone for Christmas can send in their old one to help the cause as well. Money can now even be raised from foreign coins and any old coins.

DAVID STAPLES

14 Kingsnorth Road, Twydall, Gillingham, Kent, ME8 6QY

Thank you

I WOULD like to express my very grateful thanks to the man who handed my handbag into Waterstones book shop which was then handed over to the security firm employed by the Sovereign Shopping Centre.

I sincerely appreciated their excellent service in eventually contacting me and returning my handbag.

MRS MALONEY

Arundell Road, Weston

FOLLOWING a story which appeared in last week’s edition, I would like to reiterate that Sweat FA, a successful privately-owned gym in Winterstoke Road, will be staying in Weston.

It was reported last week that the premises which Sweat FA currently occupies has been earmarked for development in the near future by developer Henry Boot.

The planning application has been submitted but has, as yet, not been approved.

Sweat FA will be staying at the current site until 2014 unless a better alternative is found. The academy has ordered new signs for the outside of the building to advertise the fact the gym will be staying.

Current and prospective new members can be reassured that we are not going anywhere and, in fact, we are looking for better premises. I have located a couple of suitable alternatives within a short distance of the current gym and will inform the Mercury of any significant developments.

Sweat FA is also expanding in the town and in Somerset and there will be a further two gyms by March 2013. They will both have the same facilities as the current academy - a weights gym, fitness studio and a martial arts and boxing gym.

We cater for everyone, from yoga enthusiasts to pro boxers and our members are aged from four to 77. Please come in or email us for a free day pass.

If you have any questions in relation to the story in last week’s Mercury or this letter please email info@sweatfa.com or visit www.sweatfa.com

STUART DAVIES

Sweat FA, Winterstoke Road, Weston

I HAVE known Weston since the 1930s, but only lived here since the early 90s.

In years past we regularly enjoyed Birnbeck Pier and the channel steamers which went up the Severn Estuary to see the then new Second Severn Crossing being built.

Across the channel to Barry Island and down the channel to Ilfracombe on a day-trip. Great fun.

But above all as a family, my children in particular, the old seafront swimming pool before it became the Tropicana with its high diving board and occasional bathing beauty contests was enjoyed by all.

Now Birnbeck is derelict and only kept as a means of access to the lifeboat station. Knightstone Island has lost its theatre, swimming baths, and sea water baths, and the Tropicana is now likely to be demolished. This in spite of several privately funded schemes to develop it as a much-needed facility in Weston.

Weston is known as a major seaside resort on the Bristol Channel, but surely the word ‘seaside’ must be a misnomer. All we get is shallow muddy water with a brief high tide twice a day; where can, not only residents, holidaymakers and even day visitors, now swim?

Forget Hutton Moor and Locking Road pools, fine though they are, who wants to pack up all their belongings while on the beach to travel inland to utilise these pools.

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

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