Letters to the Editor, July 12, 2012
PUBLISHED: 10:15 13 July 2012
I HAVE just read your report about how North Somerset Council (NSC) has just given £650,000 to Clevedon Pier and reasons given why it is not able to even consider supporting The Tropicana swimming pool here in Weston with
The statement from the deputy leader Cllr Elfan Ap Reese said that “Chalk and cheese comes to mind”. How glib.
We have a swimming pool which, when it was closed 11 years ago by the council, was actually fully functional and used (but not making enough money) being the only swimming pool situated on Weston’s seafront, an outstanding and well recognised local feature which had existed there since it opened in 1936.
Clevedon Pier has been refurbished through the efforts of supporters and not through NSC, but as it is still owned by NSC it is willing to put a hand in the ratepayers’ pocket.
Can we all stand back and look at what has happened at the Tropicana site since it was closed?
First we had the council put it on the market for development and accepted plans.
These plans by the developer and then agreed by the council included it being given for development all of the Beach Lawns going from Ellenborough Park right up level with Severn Road, including the promenade, while under the Beach Lawns would also include an underground car park. The original Tropicana was now being developed to three times as long as it was before.
I don’t think any of these big changes to the Weston seafront were ever really brought to the attention of the people of Weston. Nobody was aware. It only became obvious if you could see the site plan of the area and see the area it covered. I have got one.
But as we all now know the developer pulled out and another developer was sought and appointed but again this fell through.
But now the council had a change of heart (maybe it had realised just how much of the seafront and Beach Lawns it had given away before when it had passed those plans) as now it was insisting that any new plans for the Tropicana could only be built within the original footprint. This, of course, now meant that nobody would ever be able to build anything at an affordable cost making it a viable proposition. The question I ask why go from the accepted to one third size. Can anyone be flexible on this?
This, of course, brings me to think that the council has had a secret agenda in mind? The council has never wanted the open air pool to ever open again.
Why is it that they let anybody use the old Tropicana at all and especially to use it as a store and dumping ground for rubble? Why allow anyone to just dump tons of waste into the original swimming pool area especially as the pool was closed, still usable? Why was no contract in place to ensure that the site was to be left as found? The council has never published any answers on this.
The council is now trying its hardest to ensure no one shall have a chance to do anything at all other than tear it down. Why this rush to spend almost £1million of council funds when it has no need? The Tropicana has been closed for so many years another two or three is neither here nor there.
Several years ago the Government was saying it would help any council with a pool or lido and funds at that time were available. To the best of my knowledge this was never looked into.
Weston is the largest town in Somerset, it produces the most revenue for the council. Weston is famous throughout the world. Weston, a town where the tide goes out twice a day, without anywhere for visitors to swim.
The trouble is we do not have a swimming pool. Yes a wonderful Grand Pier but not what the town and the visitors expect a pool.
Yes, we have a new wonderful seafront and promenade, the new Pier Square (as the locals call it) but no pool.
Times are hard for everybody. Why does the council want to waste this money when it is not necessary at this point in time?
I should think with all of the money spent by this council up to now what with moving its Town Hall, losing or moving libraries, plus buying more property, putting up new street lighting, it would be pleased to hold tight for the time being and wait for better times.
LAURENCE F ORME
Shrubbery Avenue, Weston
SOMEONE from Avon Wildlife Trust recently put up notices at Uphill saying that there had been two incidents of dogs chasing cattle in the last few months, that as a result a young bull had been killed and that cattle had been chased through a barbed wire fence.
The writer reiterates the trust’s ever-repeated demand to keep dogs on leads near cattle.
As the old question about fights always goes: “Who started it?”
The NFU and other expert individuals and organisations warn us that if dogs are ‘chased’ - the NFU’s word - by cattle, the owners should let their dogs off the lead for their own safety.
Cattle kill dog walkers. Avon Wildlife Trust should put the same warning in its notices.
The trust’s allegations are amazingly vague? On what dates did the two alleged incidents occur? Who witnessed the events? What are the names of the witnesses?
How was the ‘bull’ killed? Why was a bull allowed to roam free in a place open to public access? Was the bull, in fact, a bullock or steer - ie, a bull that has been castrated?
I would very much like to talk to the person who composed this notice.
Cattle are notoriously aggressive towards dogs. Sometimes, in their efforts to kill dogs, they kill the dogs’ owners instead. As a young reporter in the 1960s, I covered an inquest in Wiltshire on a retired farmer of 70-plus (my age today) who was killed by his own cattle on his own family farm when he was walking two pet dogs. The cattle knew him and the dogs well but for some reason went wild with fear and rage on that day. The coroner, Dr Leopold Lush, said there was no doubt that the farmer would have survived if he had simply let his dogs off the lead.
I have twice been attacked by cattle while walking my 13lb jack russell. On the first occasion I was knocked down among a sea of trampling hooves.
These gigantic and sometimes belligerent animals generally weigh anything up to 1,000 lbs but my dog had no trouble seeing them off. Once he had turned them away he did not chase them. The pair of us simply walked away.
Thornbury Road, Uphill
Down and out
MY FATHER brought our family over to Weston in 1948 and in those days it had lots to offer to residents and holidaymakers on the seafront, paddle steamers calling with passengers to drop off and pick up at the old pier, indoor swimming and water polo matches, a theatre at Knightstone with also the marine lake, the Grand Pier for amusements (out of the rain) and swimming in the pool.
But now what is left? The old pier and pool down and out like a bombed-out site – what a sight for sore eyes. Shame on them for letting it get so run down.
Good job the Grand Pier burnt down for it to be rebuilt to bring it up to modern standards, while only some residents are lucky to live on the Knightstone site.
T LE SUMMERS
Haydon Road, Loughborough
RE: £5MILLION to be spent on troubled road junction 21 M5.
We are all aware of the problems of traffic being held up at junction 21. To help relieve this problem consideration needs to be given to opening a railway station at Uphill, and building a new station on the Weston avoider line that takes trains on the main line around Weston without stopping at the main Great Western London terminus Weston station, to cater for the expansion of newly-built houses that have sprung up in North Somerset.
Unless we give road users an alternative like the railways, they will use their own transport.
Also the single line into and out of Weston from Worle Parkway needs to be returned to its original two track layout. This section of track is a bottleneck and was singled in the 1960s and is causing delays to our local rail network.
With £100million pound earmarked for the Bristol Metro railway network, reopened stations are required and needed to free up our overcrowded road network.
Mr Penrose - will you raise this issue in Parliament with the Secretary of State as an urgent matter?
Greenwood Road, Knowle Park, Bristol
HAVING read your leading article ‘Potholes ruined my wife’s funeral’ on July 5, we noticed the quote “it has got to be the worst road in Weston”.
We beg to differ. We think Lapwing Gardens in Worle is in strong contention for that title. We and our neighbours have complained on many occasions to the council about the state of our road and have been told as in previous years that there is no money left for repairs.
Lapwing Gardens is a cul-de-sac, so we suppose it is considered as a low priority even though we pay the same rates as everyone else. It is like living in a third world country and is very dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians and cars (wear and tear on tyres and suspensions).
We suggest a competition for the worst road in Weston - winning road gets repaired!
VALERIE BARRIE WEBBER
Lapwing Gardens, Weston
FOR the last few years the business people have been complaining about the free-for-all parking on the streets around the town.
This has happened due to the withdrawal of traffic wardens, also the car parks are too expensive and nobody has accepted responsibility for the control of this situation, so now North Somerset Council is in the process of bringing in on-street residential parking combined with pay-and-display parking meters during the day, where everyone will be punished, the house owners/tenants and motorists by an unfair and over-priced system.
Over the last 40 years my job has taken me all over the UK to most of the cities and towns, this has enabled me to compare Weston with everywhere else.
Where I have seen residential parking, the cost has been around £60 for a permit which gives you the privilege of parking in your street at any given time within the 24-hour day, not just two hours a day. I have seen many empty parking places that cannot be used, with not a single pay-and-display parking meter in sight.
In the city of Cambridge there are many side streets just off a busy main road through a shopping area. Outside of these houses there is free parking either side of the road. The parking bays are marked half on the road and half on the pavement with white lines, allowing space for wheelchairs to pass and enabling one way traffic through the centre of the road. These streets are similar to Palmer Street and Hopkins Street.
These cities and towns have what I would call considerate councils for their community, but not here in Weston. This council wants to charge house owners/tenants £62 for only two hours parking or about £2,000 for a 24-hour yearly permit.
What does a person do who works nights returning home about 6am to move the car somewhere else, but where? How ridiculous.
What I say now will surprise a lot of people. If by chance 44 house owners/tenants in either Palmer/Hopkins Street could afford the £2,000 for the privilege to park 24 hours a day that would be a revenue of £88,000 per street, which is four times more than a local coach company pays North Somerset Council to park its fleet of coaches, plus mini buses in Locking Road car park 24 hours a day for a year (one night I counted 44 coaches). I got these figures on February 2 from the Freedom of Information Act, last invoice July 2011, £20,250. They are asked to vacate to some degree for events such as T4 and the carnival. At this year’s T4 event the coaches were parked close up to the bridge where normally they take up to a third of the car park. This works out at less than £1.30 per coach for 24 hours, visiting coaches and HGV have to pay £7 per night from 6pm-8am.
Over the years I have parked many an HGV vehicle in council owned/controlled throughout the UK and have never seen a local firm’s fleet of coaches of this size parked continuously anywhere. Other local coach companies in this area have their own depots.
What a sorry state poor Weston has become. In recent years many have thought that councillors have got a lot to answer for, with their bad decisions and the wasting of taxpayers’ money.
So now councillors be considerate and come up with a fair costing plan and do something sensible for the people of Weston, and remember what is decided in Weston must also be done in Clevedon, Portishead and Nailsea because these towns have had the benefit largely of free parking for years.
MR P JONES
Blenheim Close, Worle
Proud to pay taxes
I WRITE with reference to North Somerset Council leader Nigel’s Ashton’s regular column in the July issue of North Somerset Life.
In this column Cllr Ashton quotes from a sermon from the American Southern Baptist preacher Dr Adrian Rogers, wrongly attributing the date as 1931, when it was actually 1984.
I hope, given the council’s equalities duties, that Cllr Ashton has no idea that Dr Rogers’ views also include those which are supportive of slavery, and those which are homophobic.
But even without knowing about Dr Rogers’ other views, the quote itself is incredibly offensive to all those people made redundant as a result of the financial crisis caused by the bankers, which include many North Somerset Council workers and Unison members, who are now claiming benefits, those people whose health has failed them who are claiming benefits, and all our senior citizens who are claiming state pensions.
In fact the quote: “When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to benefit from it, that is the end of any nation” is one of the most offensive comments on what I take to be the most important human quality, that is our capacity to love and care for other human beings, particularly those who are less fortunate than us.
It also contradicts the idea of the safety net provided to all of us by the welfare state when we fall into hardship.
I am fortunate enough to have a job currently and I am proud to pay taxes to make my contribution to society and support those less fortunate than myself.
I also believe that the vast majority of ordinary working people like me feel the same.
North Somerset Unison, Town Hall, Weston
JACK Randall Weight was a soldier from Weston, who was killed during World War Two whilst serving with the 4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. The Weston Mercury on August 26 1944 contained Jack’s obituary.
From this and Jack’s service records which I obtained from the MoD I have been able to write a short biography of Jack’s life.
I would be most appreciative if at some time you could print a request for further information from anyone who remembers Jack from schooldays, boy scouts or his army days.
The only photo I have of Jack is the cutting from his obituary which is not very good quality, it would be wonderful to have other photographs of him.
I have attended several pilgrimages to Normandy with those surviving members of the 4th Battalion who visit the battlefields and cemeteries where Jack and his pals lie and Jack is still remembered by them.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01202 422090.
Rolls Drive, Bournemouth
THERE are people who want the Trop and there are people who don’t, but to say that it spoils the “sweeping vista of the seafront” (Councillor Elfan Ap Rees’ words) I totally disagree.
That started with the Technical College, and the blocks of flats that have been built over the years.
The final touch is that prison-like structure that has now been built – our latest hotel, but of course it goes well with the bars on the beach wall!
I think we should be twinned with Alcatraz, because once you come into this town you can’t get out because of the awkward traffic system and chaotic parking.
No Cllr Ap Rees what we really needed was a bus station here like we had before, where all the out-of-town buses could pull into instead of having to park two and three abreast in our busiest street, Regent Street and also so people would not have to stand on our wet and windy beach in the winter months.
The Tropicana does not spoil any vista, it’s something worth preserving a bit like the Waves Café, that didn’t have to be pulled down, and it looks really good now.
What is happening here is the slow disintegration of what was once a very popular and unique town, and it seems very sad that no-one can do anything about it.
Little George Street, Weston
IT IS nice to see Clarence Park café open again. However, I am disappointed to see that the prices have risen. I understand that prices have had to rise, but maybe not quite so much.
With the school holidays approaching, people with several children may not be able to afford to come on a regular basis.
We and several others, would have previously visited the park very often, as in other years and found it very affordable, as Tony had many special offers, ie any hot drink and cake £1 or two medium breakfasts with drinks for only £5.
Drove Road, Weston
We are operating
IT’S nice to see the café is open. The legal problem which was mentioned in last week’s Mercury is because I was and still am the legal leaseholder, only a judge can release me of the lease.
I challenge the council to a court case, and let a judge decide who is right.
From feedback, the council has decided to install a person in the café.
In the meantime we are operating from the Spirit of Clarence in Severn Road next to the Co-op during the summer months.
Why not buy your reasonably priced and great tasting food, and take to our wonderful park that somebody has decided should have vegetables instead of flowers?
Drove Road, Weston
IN RESPONSE to your article last week, Community café back in action, where do I start?
She stated: “I want to claim back the café’s identity”, so concerned about the café’s identity the first thing she does is rename it, after her son who has no relevance to Clarence Park whatsoever and gives it “a fresh new look”.
To say it’s affordable to all, at the prices being charged is a joke, it maybe in her circle but not for everyday people that have always used this café as their lifeline for a hot meal and a drink.
Let’s hope her care home residents can afford it as they may be the only part of the community that use it.
She states, she applied for the café because she felt the community needed to be given back its meeting place – yes it did, but back to the person who made the café and park what it was.
Will she have to reapply for legal reasons because is there still a lease which hasn’t been legally terminated with someone else’s name on?
Drove Road, Weston
HOW I agree with Mrs M Griffiths (Opinion – June 28) re: Grove Park flower beds.
I spent a very pleasant afternoon with a friend last summer in Grove Park and we were so impressed with the riot of colour in the beautiful flower beds and hanging baskets.
I wrote to you to express my pleasure and you kindly printed my letter together with a large and beautiful photograph. Imagine my dismay however to read the following week that the beautiful flower beds were to be grassed over, all to save a few thousand pounds, thus depriving pleasure to thousands of people, residents and visitors alike. What is a park without flowers?
North Somerset Council – you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
Barton Road, Winscombe
Adopt a flower bed
GROVE Park and other public parks in Weston cannot be immune to the economic stringency.
They compete in the council’s budget with facilities for the young, help for the elderly etc.
The clever answer the council has come up with has been to recruit volunteers to grow plants and maintain the flower beds.
The hanging baskets are restricted to the streets.
Jill’s Garden has been a priority. All the beds are now filled.
Perhaps Mrs Griffiths, who wrote last week, would like to volunteer.
The council will be delighted to receive more offers of gardeners.
Why not adopt a flower bed?
Martindale Road, Weston
What is the charge?
WITH all the gloomy weather I thought you might like cheering up with a few Weston sillies.
I was walking along the promenade and was asked by a visitor if there were dolphins in the bay? I said no - but you can see W[h]ales on a clear day.
Somebody else asked what were the names of the islands out to sea and, of course, I answered Steep Holm and Flat Holm to which they asked which was which?
There is a sign on a seafront toilet that says ‘guide dogs only’ – does this mean the owners have to use the prom?
Finally a couple of signs on the buses. One sign says ‘get around in Weston’ - is this a round of golf or a round of drinks? The other sign is ‘try the bus’ - when does the case come up and what is the charge?
All this is daft, I know, but I am sure other readers will come up with some silly signs.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
IN REFERENCE to last week’s front page article, I am writing to say that as my father was the person who was paying for mum’s funeral, he had every right to take the decision he made regarding not taking mum from home to the crematorium because of the state of the roads in Locking.
I for one would not have been happy to see the coffin being bounced all over the place because of the potholes in the road.
My mother had as much right to a dignified cortege as anyone else should have. I do get angered when we see council money that seems to be wasted on a new road junction near Locking garage, there did not appear to be anything wrong with the old one, and a path going through the park, I do understand that it is a safer way for the school, but it took over two months to complete.
We tried to get a 20mph speed limit in Banwell near the school in 2010, it would have cost around £2,000 so it did not happen.
I know that there is a limited county budget, but it does seem to me that sometimes the priorities are a bit backwards.
MR C R DOCKRELL
Knightcott Park, Banwell
I WAS delighted to read in the Weston Mercury how Ralf Little and the cast of The Café returned to Weston to film a new series of the Sky comedy on the seafront by Marine Lake.
The programme drew in an estimated 653,000 people during its debut run.
I’m sure the reason why this sitcom is such a success with Sky 1 viewers is the resort of Weston has spectacular views across the bay.
I’m sure when the show goes out on air, well-written by Weston born actor Michelle Terry, it will keep its many thousands of viewers laughing.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston