Letters to the Editor, July 14, 2011

PUBLISHED: 10:33 15 July 2011

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Archant

Stand by Me

I WOULD like to thank your reporter Pippa Chambers for the excellent article in last week’s Mercury on Mencap’s ‘Stand by Me’ campaign.

This campaign highlights the abuse people with learning disabilities receive and hopes to persuade the police, the courts, local authorities and the Government to take the abuse seriously.

It was humbling to read the quotes from local people with learning disabilities, who just accept the abuse as a fact of life.

At the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the Badger Centre, Wadham Street, we have been displaying information about the ‘Stand by Me’ campaign, and asking visitors to sign the petition.

In view of the publicity afforded by the article, we will be continuing to collect signatures in reception until July 28, before sending them off to Mencap.

The CAB is one of a number of agencies in North Somerset which act as reporting centres for all types of hate incidents, including those against people with learning disabilities. Only by encouraging people to report all such incidents can these agencies establish the full scale of the problem and do something about it.

BRIDIE COLLIER

Equality and diversity coordinator (FAIR), North Somerset CAB, Wadham Street, Weston

Lions Club

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 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

Is a must

I WAS very upset to read Councillor Elfan Ap Rees’ opinion that a pool is unachievable at the Tropicana site.

This is completely a defeatist attitude and the wrong mind set that is probably the root cause of the reason we haven’t got a swimming pool up and running by now.

When will the councillors get it into their heads that a swimming pool for a holiday destination such as Weston is a must and for the situation to remain as it is, is not an option.

It was achievable with the Nightingale plan but for some reason it didn’t happen.

Cllr Ap Rees maintains that in his estimation it would probably require half a million pounds a year to subsidise. Personally, that doesn’t sound to me such an insurmountable problem. Stick a bit on the council tax (which I don’t think the people of Weston would mind if the apparent support for a pool is genuine) a few cuts here and there from the amount of money the council waste and hey presto it becomes achievable.

With a retractable roof to enable it to be used all year round and correct ticket pricing together with sensible investment without the need for grandiose schemes that have failed in the past, it becomes achievable.

Other holiday locations seem to be able to run pools so what is the problem with Weston?

Can we please have some positive thinking amongst our councillors. It must be,’ we need a pool, the people of Weston want a pool, we will have a pool. How can we achieve it?

MIKE KELLY

Brookland Road, Weston

It is a lottery

THE deputy leader of North Somerset Council, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, has been reported as stating that a pool for the Tropicana is ‘unachievable’.

Cllr Ap Rees, who is also chairman of the Tropicana working group, also says that when the pool was in existence it was constantly losing money.

This is correct but what we shall never know is whether it would have been in profit if it had the advantage of a roof. It is a lottery for any open air activity in a typical English summer because during the six months between April and September we only get, on average, six weeks of really hot weather.

With this in mind the Tropicana was only working to full capacity for six weeks out of 52 - in fact the pool was not operational during the winter.

The simple facts remain that most Westonians want a pool with a roof and many councillors would rather demolish the building.

Schemes have come and gone, mainly because they have been too ambitious or have come against a brick wall of council objections.

Walk by the Tropicana today and much of the front contains posters promoting the many attractions on the Grand Pier. The pier only re-opened in October but has been an outstanding success throughout the winter.

This is truly a magnificent success story and if only the same dedication and vision had been available for the Tropicana.

Does it have a future? Heaven only knows - but this saga cannot go on forever.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Furious

I FOUND myself furious after reading your article on the old Tropicana site and the view from Cllr Ap Rees in last week’s Mercury.

Does he even listen to the public or have any idea of what goes on in Weston?

When he states that a pool on the site is ‘unachievable’ in the near future he seems to have lost touch with why people are so passionate about this topic.

Weston is visited by thousands of holiday-makers every year but with the weather not being reliable (just take last week for example) we need facilities for people to go to.

It is lovely to see the pier again but it can be very expensive for a family and not somewhere you might want to go day after day.

Since the council closed Knightstone pool and the Tropicana the only swimming facility is Hutton Moor, which as well as not being easily accessible from the town centre, it is also crowded.

A covered swimming pool would also benefit the locals all year round.

If the pool could be used for lane swimming as well as slides, etc, then it could be used for lessons/general swim during term times or even by the ever-growing school lessons.

I get fed up with council spending thousands on bus stops that light up, welcome signs (though in the wet there is not much of a welcome) and archways that when looked through you can see the pier, Brean Down and Steep Holme (but only if you are stood in the middle of a car park).

Hoping for the sake of locals and holiday-makers alike they sort it out soon.

D REED

Magdalen Way, Worle

Impose

IT SEEMS that councillors Lake, Pasley and Peter Bryant are opposed to the construction of the skateboard park which the people of Portishead are calling for, but are trying to impose a skateboard park in the derelict Tropicana on the people of Weston when what we want is a swimming pool.

ROBERT CRAIG

Preserve Weston’s Legacy Lido

Priory Road, Weston

Biggest insult

IS WESTON the only town in Somerset with a mean-spirited, cut your nose off to spite your face council?

For 10 years they have rejected plan after plan for the Tropicana denying Weston of millions of pounds in revenue.

For the last six years at least all they have done about Dolphin Square is talk, talk, talk. Recently they removed the deck chairs from Grove Park, (if more are needed for the seafront buy them) so now very few people go to hear the bands that play there on Sunday afternoons. One of the lovely very old customs left. How demoralising for these people who obviously believe in giving to the community not take, take and take again.

Now for the biggest insult of all. While announcing in the What’s On in North Somerset Pamphlet that: “Armed Forces Day is an annual opportunity for the public to say thank you and recognise the outstanding contribution the armed forces community make to this country”

Words come cheap councillors don’t they? Why is it then this year the council appears to be trying to push the event under the carpet. It is certainly making it extremely difficult for a vast number of the public to attend, ie those who travel by public transport with great difficulty (without carrying a chair). Very few tourists or holidaymakers will have a clue as to where Clarence Park is much less which buses will take them there. People come from as far away as Hampshire and Plymouth for this event.

Surely while RBL Bike Nights, Carters Steam Fair, National Water Ski races and T4 to name but a few are allowed to celebrate on the seafront this most certainly should be extended to The Armed Forces also. The council in its short-sightedness, apart from insulting our courageous men and women, will yet again deprive Weston of a wonderful financial opportunity.

What a record to be proud of by councillors who are supposed to serve their community.

G N FLETCHER

Baker Street, Weston

Demolished

I THINK it is such a shame that the lovely old Osborne House on the corner of Ashcombe Road and Locking Road had to be demolished.

It certainly looked much more picturesque than it does now! It looks just like a rubbish tip and has done for some time. Rather like the Waves café on the beach, how long I wonder will that remain as it is, half knocked down and looking dreadful. Why the rush to do these things if nothing is going to be done to replace them? It seems like a relentless urge to rid Weston of all that made it special. What a shame.

B NEAL

Little George Street, Weston

Withdrew

WHAT is happening to this area in Bleadon Village?

Up until now we had the No.83 Bus that runs into Weston five times a day. We have now been told that this service will be withdrawn forthwith. Last year North Somerset Council withdrew the mobile library service that ran to The Veale.

So from the end of July what are the elderly and people without cars in this area supposed to do? Pay for a taxi or pay the gas bill?

We have no school, doctors or dentists in the village and also no supermarket or vet so people need to get to Weston for all the basic services. North Somerset Council have graciously told us that we can make use of a one-service-a-week bus! Miss that one and wait a week.

The less able-bodied of this part of Bleadon will not be able to walk to the nearest bus stop from The Veale as it involves slopes, pavement-free roads and an absence of street lighting.

Do the decision-makers at WebberBus and North Somerset Council have any idea how much more isolated the people in this area will be?

This is a Supported Bus Route so actual numbers of passengers should not be the sole reason for stopping it. The social aspect is one that is implicit in the service being supported in the first place.

It seems a petty decision that may seem minor to the bus company and North Somerset Council but has major implications for a significant number of people in an outlying area of Weston.

I would ask the council and WebberBus to reconsider their decision to cancel this long running route and look at ways to keep this part of Bleadon connected to Weston.

INEKE ROY

The Veale, Bleadon

Good news

WHAT good news to read retail giants Debenhams, Primark and River Island are in final negotiations to move into Weston’s multi-million pound Dolphin Square redevelopment as the Weston Mercury exclusively revealed last week.

I’m sure following years of speculation over whether the three top names could open shops in town this will put a new lease of life back into the tired, bleak Dolphin Square shopping square as many people in our town have to travel to Bristol to use these high street big brand shops.

After having to tighten our belts as we all have to battle recession and inflation I bet when the long-awaited regeneration is completed and the new Dolphin Square is rebuilt with all the big brand shops, restaurants, Pizza Express, Nandos, Prezzo, Harvester and Costa Coffee this will boost the town of Weston’s economy and give Bristol a run for its money.

D F COURTNEY

Victoria Park, Weston

Spirited

I’M GLAD that Richard Birtill appreciated his recent comparison with Victor Meldrew – I enjoyed his spirited reply too, but he missed my point.

I merely referred to the many negative letters that appear in the Mercury, often complaining about council services, because, in my experience, they do a good job.

Mr Birtill had written to them about potholes, but those in my road were repaired within a few weeks of reporting them, on the day that was promised too.

Perhaps it’s something in the tone of his grumbles that impedes progress. As the Chinese proverb says ‘politeness wins the confidence of princes’.

Mr Birtill also describes himself as an old goat, and that I’m opposed to freedom of speech. Far from it.

As an old goat myself – certainly a proud bus pass holder – we should all cherish and celebrate such freedom.

After all, it’s the bedrock of the democracy on which our country rests and thrives, but it seems that some people never know when to keep quiet.

A perfect example of the negative nature of so much of the Mercury’s correspondence can be found on page six of the current edition. In an unpleasantly snide letter, Geoff Malham suggests renaming the High Street as ‘Cheap Street’, with the prospect of Primark moving into the town centre. Clearly Mr Malham has never had to recourse to budget outlets, but many folks do.

We live in straightened times and such remarks are insulting to those Westonians who have to watch their expenditure more carefully now than ever before.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Disbelief

ON READING Frank Booth’s letters in the Mercury I was filled with disbelief and dismay.

Dr Booth’s dedication, talent and, yes, tenacity resulted in an early diagnosis of my condition and the resulting swift treatment I received, I have no doubt saved my life.

Frank Booth did push the boundaries to make a difference and I am convinced that unless he had been instrumental in following through every test and surgical procedure then my diagnosis and procedure would have been delayed.

I am deeply saddened that Dr Booth felt it necessary to take early retirement from his position at Weston General when it is quite obvious that a man of his talent, experience and ability is surely what is needed by the NHS.

I would take this opportunity to thank Dr Booth and Gwenda for their professionalism, care and wish Frank Booth every success for the future.

Also I have nothing but praise for doctors and nursing staff at both Weston and the BRI Bristol as the care I received was second to none.

KEVIN PARTRIDGE

Worlebury Hill Road, Weston

IT REALLY is now time for Cllr Ap Rees to resign, here he is, the self-appointed leader of an allegedly ‘blue sky’ task force to solve the Tropicana, and he states, without the backing of his fellow members, that the public’s preferred option of a pool is not going to happen.

Now I do not know if it will or not but for a person, elected to support the wishes of the people, to make that statement in advance even of seeing several local proposals is arrogance in the extreme, and at the very least, he should be removing himself from the task force and ideally from the council.

He appears to justify these comments because of three failed bids, Mace a company formed to speculate on a development, Boot a much better company but still speculators at the mercy of the markets, and a fantastic publicity project by ‘one of Weston’s best known companies’.

Not sure I place the ‘failure’ at their doors, we picked ’em!

Surely I cannot be the only one wondering if there is any link between the fact that many people believe that Weston has been in decline for 30 years and the reporting last year of Cllr Ap Rees’ 30 years in local government?

I look at the developments in Sedgemoor, Robert Wiseman, etc, and previous talk of science parks, etc, and just wonder why we do not have them here? I understand a hotel and restaurant company wishes to build on the edge of the airfield, but it needs a council-funded roundabout first. A letter in last week’s Mercury talked of the benefits of putting the road across the airfield now to kick-start developments, but apparently we cannot afford it, oh but we can find (borrow) many millions to move to Clevedon on the debatable promise of ‘future savings’.

I just wonder why our leaders seem to be so negative except when it comes to their own favourites?

Still the next 10 years will be massively improved with a new confidence coming to Weston. Wonder who will take the credit for that, don’t suppose it will be the Heritage Lottery bid or the flood defence budget.

STEVE BERRY

Bedford Road, Weston

I WRITE in reply to Mr Jack’s letter about the old Cairo/Bayside Hotel in last week’s Mercury.

Once the site of Devonshire Cottage and then Italian Villa it became the retirement home of Dr Thomas Robblyn MD (1780-1855) who was one of those gentlemen with a past who walked the Weston streets without telling people about it.

He had been a ship’s surgeon who served under Lord St Vincent, Lord Keith, Sir Sydney Smith, and Lord Nelson (Battle of the Nile 1798).

He was the surgeon to the Brigade of Sailors at the fall of Grand Cairo after which he was awarded the Silver Sphynxe and the Turkish Gold Medal and he was awarded the Queen’s Medal in 1850.

Robblyn created the Cairo building to remind him of buildings he had seen there.

Fifty years later it was the residence of the highly respected Dr George Rossiter an honorary surgeon at Weston hospital.

When he died in 1921 the place became a hotel and the owners used the name to add extra oriental touches to the building which could accommodate 60 cars in its garage.

The building played host to some US Marines from 1943-44.

I believe it became Cairo Court about 1960 (and Bayside later) but was always the Cairo to genuine locals.

Sad about the fire.

BRIAN AUSTIN

Alma Street, Weston

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