Letters to the Editor, January 17, 2013

PUBLISHED: 11:05 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 11:05 18 January 2013

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Unit 3, Old Station Road, Barnstaple, EX32 8PB. Please keep letters to maximum of 300 words and also include your name, address and contact telephone number.

Email your letters to andrew.keeble@archant.co.uk or write to us at Opinion, North Devon Gazette, Unit 3, Old Station Road, Barnstaple, EX32 8PB. Please keep letters to maximum of 300 words and also include your name, address and contact telephone number.

Archant

Hasn’t worked

CONGRATULATIONS on your excellent story and coverage in last week’s Mercury about the paedophile teacher and Kewstoke father and their bestial behaviour. I read the story at the expense of much discomfort in the pit of my stomach.

These perverted, misfit specimen of men who prey on innocent children to satisfy their heinous behaviour craving for sex leaves me searching for appropriate words to describe my revulsion and abhorrence.

Recently I read a report of a child molester who had his 10-month sentence quashed by three Appeal Court judges, who replaced it with a three year probation order. It was decided he would be better off if he received psychiatric treatment. The appeal judges who arrived at their decision were already aware that the person in question had received similar treatment before, but all to no purpose.

Is it any wonder, then, that such men who dispense this sort of punishment encourage these vile creatures to continue their odious practises?

We are now being told by the so-called liberal do-gooders, that imprisoned offenders should be treated in specialised therapy centres before they are released. As if this is going to make any difference. It has all been tried and tested before and statistics show it hasn’t worked. So why should it now?

The experts repeatedly tell us that the sexual seduction of children by adults for sex purposes is generally regarded with horror (that’s an understatement), which they say precludes rational discussion (try telling that to a parent whose child has been molested and abused).

Of course as far as I’m concerned the laws of this land must be at all times observed.

But for this I would like to see this pestilence in our society on the end of the gut feeling of the people whose children have endured the misery at the hands of these repulsive individuals.

My therapy treatment for these perverted, biological mistakes? I guarantee the incidence of their behaviour would disappear in no time.

RON ELLIS

Westbrook Road, Weston

Encouraged

ONCE again we have front page news of a teacher convicted of sex offences.

Surely it is time that school staff should be actively encouraged to raise any concerns about the behaviour of their colleagues with the police who are far more able to investigate these allegations than head teachers.

MRS J EDWARDS

Constable Drive, Worle

Protect views

WE NOTE that MP John Penrose is seeking new national laws to protect views and I do agree with his remarks in the Mercury where he admired the view of Weston Bay from the hill above Birnbeck.

This world-class view from Prince Consort Gardens should be preserved; indeed Friends of Prince Consort Gardens (FOPCG) are campaigning to protect this by having the gardens designated as a town green, which would prevent any future development.

More than 200 residents have completed our evidence questionnaire and the entire Weston Town Council voted in favour of town green status in November 2012. Our application has now been submitted to North Somerset - as owner of the land - and the next step will be its consideration before their next planning and strategy meeting.

However, FOPCG are aware that there are proposals by Mr Samady to develop his Royal Pier Hotel, Birnbeck Pier and the interconnecting mainland, which sit below and in front of the gardens.

In September 2011, the North Somerset Council executive approved the Royal Pier Hotel application, adding an extra four-storey height over the old building line (and over what was accepted by Weston Town Council).

A section of these plans were drawn over a section of land, which was not yet owned by Mr Samady. This public promenade was later offered for sale in September 2012, and described in the January 2013 committee report as ‘surplus land’. The resulting mass of hotel will mean that the view from the central path of the gardens will now be into hotel bedrooms rather than to Brean Down, and all this within the Birnbeck conservation area.

The respect which NSC might show for this view, and any safeguard it might enforce is exposed and evidenced by this behaviour.

The NSC development manager has replied to our Town Green application including “there may be situations where proposals around the periphery of the site could … confer additional benefits to the surrounding area, so we would be concerned that town green status could render the site sacrosanct but as a consequence could limit such potential wider benefits”.

We have also met with councillor Elfan Ap Rees and we conclude from these encounters, and with some certainty, that the cliff side of Prince Consort Gardens could be offered to Mr Samady to assist in his plans for development in this area.

Where will the world-class view from Prince Consort Gardens be then, John? Can the voters of Weston rely on your support against any inappropriate development proposed in your own back yard in a conservation area? We cannot await the development of national protection guidelines for views, as ours has already been eroded and is under threat, even as I write!

Note as well as protecting our view, last year FOPCG contributed more than 600 man-hours of maintenance effort in Prince Consort Gardens.

BRIAN WILKINSON

The Friends of Prince Consort Gardens

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

Parking review

THE council has now decided to have a review of town centre parking. It is proposed for May!

This is far, far too late after the problems of winter weather will have been endured. Contact the council now. We need that review now.

Ask for resident parking in designated residential streets, we then have happy businesses, shoppers and residents.

There is now an extensive photographic record showing how much residential streets are grossly under utilised.

Residents make your voice heard. Contact the council now.

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

Fine example

WHAT a breath of fresh air in the article about the campaign to preserve Beach Lawns and prevent an otherwise tacky and more permanent ‘attraction’ to be sited there.

A fine example of how one man could make a difference.

Come on Weston - show your support.

BRIAN WILKINSON

Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston

Wider issue

I SYMPATHISE with the comments of Mr Drinkwater, concerning the dominance of two local councillors in your reporting.

However the issue is far wider than this, fair representation of Weston’s issues is being lost due to there being for too many dual-hatted councillors.

Instead of Weston Town councillors only pushing for Weston, many of them have a loyalty to the wider district of North Somerset.

This is made worse by the executive leadership of North Somerset being dominated by non-Weston members, including the leader and the deputy leader.

The interest of Weston has been progressively side-lined in favour of towns and villages beyond Weston, despite Weston making up well over half the population of the district of North Somerset.

CLIVE DARKE

Town Councillor for Worle Central

Forest Drive, Weston

Recycling

TO BAG or not to bag, that is the question. The latest edition of North Somerset Life mentions the problem that recycling teams retain plastic bags which are used to separate items for recycling for landfill.

May Gurney have replied that crews are reminded that these bags should be left in the boxes in order that they can be used many times.

Clearly this message is not getting across, or perhaps it is?

I am sure that by separating the materials it makes kerbside collection easier, and probably quicker.

Could it be that the crews realise this and consider that if their employer sees that they are finishing their shifts early their jobs may be at risk as fewer crews could possibly cover a larger area?

In view of this, as I certainly do not wish to be the cause of someone losing their job, I will no longer be separating my recycling, apart from chucking it in the correct box.

J LUXON

Lyddon Road, Weston

Quality

IT IS quality we need not quantity and I feel that 46 councillors would be a better number for North Somerset Council and 21 for Weston Town Council. Unfortunately, under the present system, the third of the public who do vote tend to vote for their party colour and not for the quality of the candidate which can lead to enormous swings in party representation depending on which party is flavour of the month prior to an election.

At present North Somerset Council has 61 seats and the leading parties – Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – endeavour to contest every seat, so some 122 prospective candidates have to be found just by these two parties. Bearing in mind that politics and politicians do not hold the public respect which they once did, this is not an easy task. On occasions I have heard a newly elected councillor say: “I didn’t expect, or want, to be elected - I only stood to make up the numbers for the party”.

I would suggest that this is not a good enough reason to stand for election. Please, don’t get me wrong, there are many good, hardworking, caring and industrious councillors, but with 61 to find you do get the inevitable ‘dead wood’ and if the general public don’t vote how can they possibly moan? How many members of the public actually know who their councillors are?

Another thing to consider, if you do vote and your candidate is successful you should be aware that you have just given them a job with an income ranging from £8,112 up to £33,600 per year (not including national insurance). You have probably not even met them and may never do so, the only information you get will be in a party leaflet which inevitably describes the candidate as married with two children, to make them appear ‘normal’. What a part-time job interview that is.

The cost of having 61 councillors is in excess of £¾million. Twenty-three of them represent wards in Weston, so, yes, we are outnumbered and yes we are run by party politics, but it is good to see that the second largest group on council is the Independents which could be a sign that we are turning off from party politicians. Having said that, whether you love them or hate them, in these dire times of Government cuts NSC possibly has one of the best executive committees when compared with other authorities up and down the country and it has to be said that it has made savings without increasing council tax. However, if council abolishes car parking charges, as one reader suggested, then the loss of income raised by car parking would add at least another £20 to your council tax bill – that is, of course, if you pay council tax.

Finally, the shortage of good prospective candidates unfortunately results in more than 50 per cent of Weston’s North Somerset councillors serving also as Weston Town councillors and this, I feel, creates a very clear clash of interests. You cannot serve two masters and clearly the loyalty of North Somerset councillors lies with their party base at the Town Hall and not with the town council. The town council should be totally independent and working for the sole benefit of our town with no political pressure.

KEN LACEY

Knight Close, Worle

Friends

THE pantomime in 2011/2012 was enjoyed by 16,000 patrons; I am pleased to say the 2012/13 Sleeping Beauty was even more successful. More than 18,000 attended the show.

People leaving the theatre said how much they had enjoyed the pantomime. There were also comments that it had been enjoyable because it was a family show. Before the final curtain came down members of the cast said how much they had enjoyed working in the theatre (the leading lady wished she could take it with her for her next stage performance). The theatre staff and The Friends were thanked for being pleasant and helpful.

John Barnett and I had the pleasure of going backstage to meet with one or two of the cast. It was very gratifying to hear compliments from the producers of the pantomime, on behalf of The Friends, both John and I thanked them for announcing the bucket collections in such a complimentary way.

After hearing all the compliments I feel that The Friends, past and present, should feel proud that the many gifts they have donated to the Playhouse have not gone unnoticed.

FREDA M JOHNSTON

Vice chair and rotas organiser for Friends of the Playhouse,

Elderberry Walk, Weston

Proud

IT APPEARS that Weston has been given a chance once again to have a swimming pool again on our seafront?

Let’s hope that North Somerset Council will have a change of heart and vote to give the voters what they have been asking for, for a number of years.

Perhaps if the councillors who do not reside in the local area abstained from voting on any issues that concerns Weston, Weston could once again become the proud seaside town that it once was.

The Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, has given North Somerset Council a chance to reconsider knocking down our old pool.

My big question is has the council ever attempted to obtain a lottery grant or any Government funding to refurbish the swimming pool? I have read that the lottery people have given millions of pounds to other seaside places to support similar local projects. So why not Weston?

This council can spend £9.5million refurbishing the old Town Hall, close to £20million on a new Town Hall in Clevedon and £657,000 for the Clevedon Pier but no support of any kind for Weston. Does any of the North Somerset Council care about Weston, the town which gives the council the biggest portion of its income?

Now we are being told that this council is in the process of selling a small piece of land on the promenade to the developers of the Royal Pier Hotel who then said they, not the council, had any plans for Prince Consort Gardens. Why even mention Prince Consort Gardens? I thought that people were already trying to register this as a protected green site

However it is then also announced that the North Somerset Council grant will lease for 25 years a big chunk of the Beach Lawns near the Grand Pier for a new adventure mini 18 hole golf course after it had already agreed with Golfantasia Ltd (the same company) to take over the old putting course and miniature railway near the old Sanatorium which had operated there since 1984.

So now it looks that we will have the start of the Beach Lawns being commercially developed which means Weston will have lost them forever.

But I do see that Jim Hannam has already approached DEFRA to help us protect our Beach Lawns which date back to 1815.

But back to our swimming pool the council is saying that Trop (WSM) Ltd are not in the position to develop the Tropicana or that they do not have the finance.

Derek Mead has been putting up a sustained fight now for a very long time, why not give him a chance to try?

The council does not have to demolish the old pool at all. It has already tried to make it impossible for anyone to use it again, even going to the extent of filling in the old pool with rubble which it had to remove.

When the pool closed it was working fine just not making money, since then the council tried to develop it, but without success.

With agreed plans for something being built three times the original size and now limited any development to something with the same footprint? Why not give any proposed developer a reasonable chance to create something worthwhile? Let them have or develop something a little larger than what is there at present?

It might mean there would be more interest in attracting more new investors. Whatever the outcome hold fire if needs be. It can always be pulled down. Why not wait at least we have Mr Mead with some plans which should at least be considered.

Surely the council can agree on something or at least try. Weston needs and wants a pool. We are one of the most famous seaside towns in England after all. We should have a pool - after all we don’t have the sea .

LAURENCE F ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Obstacles

MUCH has been written about the Tropicana in Weston.

To the layman there is a simple answer. Whilst North Somerset Council wants to demolish the building at a cost of £700,000 to the ratepayer the consortium Trop (WSM) Ltd wants to develop the site into a leisure pool and if it fails to execute its plans it is prepared to meet the cost of demolition.

The council do not support commercial enterprise on the seafront, in fact they put obstacles in the way of the Grand Pier reconstruction, yet look at the success of the new pier.

Is it possible that the council fear that a pool by the sea would be in competition to the Hutton Moor pool one mile inland? - surely not.

When the council is cutting expenditure to meet the black hole in its finances why is it so hell bent on forking out such a large sum on demolition when there is a constructive alternative?

Why does it not want to give developers a chance to enhance the seafront with a new attraction?

On January 24 Eric Pickles will give the Government’s decision. Will he go along with the council’s backwards stance or will he back the forward looking plans for the Tropicana? We wait with anticipation.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

History

I WOULD like to thank the town councillors for arranging the work on the Memorial Rose Garden at the junction of Milton Road and Grove Road. It is a great improvement.

It would complete the job to have a plaque informing people of the history of this garden.

HELEN WHEATLEY

Woodcliff Road, Milton

Second to none

I WOULD like to say a huge thank you to the staff at Weston General Hospital for the way they treated my son Rob following his emergency admission to A & E last week. He was brought in by ambulance and the care he received was second to none.

It seems that people are very quick to criticise both the NHS and Weston hospital itself but on this occasion he could not have received better attention and I would like to express heartfelt thanks on behalf of Rob, myself and my husband.

The staff work so hard under such intense pressure yet remain so calm and efficient at all times and did their utmost to keep us well informed throughout our stay.

I would particularly like to thank Pete the paramedic who cared for Rob at home prior to his admission and who helped keep our spirits up. Thankfully Rob is now fit and well again, so thank you all once more for being such a great team.

JO PRINGLE

The Badgers, St Georges


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