Letters to the Editor, July 16, 2015
PUBLISHED: 11:23 17 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:23 17 July 2015
IT WAS my fault? Well of course it was, never the dog or owner’s fault that it gets in my way, circles, jumps up, paws, mauls, scratches and previously bitten me; yes, the fact I got bitten by someone’s dog was my fault (according to the owner, obviously).
I have had one and a half apologies since I started counting, 12 years ago, and the one apology was from a neighbour.
So yet again this morning I am set upon by a dog; I wasn’t happy so I loudly told it to ‘go away’ it should be noted that since being bitten I now expect all dogs that run up to me to be a potential threat to my safety. The response from the owner as she walked past - a disgruntled huff. Personally, I think an apology would have been better, I of course never expect to get one and true to form, didn’t.
Now, had I (or someone I was in charge of) gone up to this woman, walked around her, stood in front of her, scratched at her and pushed her a bit, she would probably be a little concerned and maybe a little scared and I’m damned sure would be expecting an apology at the very least.
Well guess what dog owners, that’s how I feel every time your dog starts coming at me.
Not wishing to tar everyone, some owners, if they see me in time, actually get hold of their dog and keep it out of the way; thank you to those people for being proper human beings. There are then those that bother to give their dogs some training which is great because they don’t chase you, only they let themselves down because the dog has complete right of way, a little annoying but I’ll put up with it.
Then the rest that seem to think their dog can do whatever, whenever and wherever it wants with complete disregard to anyone else and it makes no matter if they are in the wrong, their dog is always right and comes before all else. This group is a high percentage and I’d say probably the majority.
So, to all the rest of you dog owners, if you can’t train your dog then put it on a lead because allowing your dog to chase, circle, jump up, scratch, paw, get in the way, trip me up, get under my bike wheels, etc, this is not acceptable. You need to learn that others may not like dogs near them and that they have a right to use paths and open spaces without being harassed by your dogs. Accept responsibility and understand that your dog isn’t actually the centre of the universe. An apology would be a good start because you know what, it wasn’t my fault, it’s entirely yours.
Worlebury Hill Road, Weston
IN THE distant past, at weekends, Saturday was the time for recreation and retail therapy, whilst Sunday was the day for reverence and relaxation. It was said that families that played together stayed together and on Sundays, families that prayed together stayed together. Sunday was also the day when family members visited but now weekends seem to merge with the rest of the week. The Government has now revealed that Sunday trading rules may be relaxed which is bad news for local shops and supermarket staff who will be expected to work longer hours on a Sunday. British traditions are being eroded one by one and it is a great shame. One national newspaper has the heading ‘The Shopping Revolution’ but to many of us it should read The Shopping Revulsion – so sad.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
I WOULD like to show support for Geoff Malham and his article ‘Clogged’ in Opinions, July 9, by adding Milton Road is just one example, but by no means the worst example. With vehicles parked both sides of the road with two way traffic the white lines give no idea of what should be the centre of the road, safety is an issue. Vehicles are forced to drive with two wheels over, what should be the centre white line. It is time for our council to do something positive on this increasing problem. Double yellow lines need to be reinstated where they do good and more added to stop parking on both sides. If one side could be kept clear then traffic could flow and emergency vehicles could do their duty and refuse lorries would not block the road. Traffic Wardens should be reinstated as the police fail to do the job, as they have more important things to attend. Stop allowing homes being converted into HMO’s unless there is enough parking. Either that or make it a condition, no cars allowed if you live in one. Improve the bus service and make it affordable. Maybe the reason this has not been tackled is because one executive has the use of a helicopter and many others live outside of Weston. Offer dropped kerbs to houses to encourage off road parking. Encourage people to leave their cars by creating safe cycle paths. There would be room by stopping parking on both sides of the roads. There would be less pollution. It would encourage more business and more tourists and would help to pay for extra services.
Milton Road, Weston
THE proposals for the expansion of the SeaQuarium on the seafront were reported in last week’s Mercury. In a nutshell, they include the construction of a new two-storey 59m wide building on the beach - for context, that is about half the width of the Tropicana facing the promenade. They also include proposals to construct a 91m high observation tower – that’s something more than four times higher than the Premier Inn hotel.
I believe firmly that Weston should be pro-business and pro-new ideas. The one sure-fire way to fall into decline is to be against everything new. However, not all change is positive and I do think we have to be very careful not to ruin Weston’s greatest natural asset – a relatively unspoilt beach and seafront.
So in that context, I am concerned about the proposals to expand the SeaQuarium and particularly the idea that further building on the beach should be permitted. Many would argue that the SeaQuarium was built in the wrong site in the first place and has never been big enough to do itself justice as a year-round attraction. I have sympathy with that view.
So what is the solution? Do we want new attractions and a pro-investment attitude? I say very firmly, yes. However, that cannot be at any price or in any location. We therefore need to work with the owners to look at other options and try to get the best of both worlds. Could not a new SeaQuarium (or dinosaur attraction, if that is what they want to deliver) be provided at the Tropicana, on Knightstone Island or as part of the long-awaited Dolphin Square site, all established locations right in the seafront/town centre area?
We need to be positive about opportunities for regeneration and redevelopment in Weston, but we also need to make sure that we deliver projects that are sustainable and appropriate.
COUNCILLOR MIKE BELL
Weston Central Ward
The Crescent, Milton
THE news that people are considering a tall “observation tower” on the beach, as noted in last week’s mercury, is a bit worrying.
Anyone who knows Weston should be aware that the beach contains a great depth of permeable sand which would be totally unsuitable to support a high tower of any kind. Remember how the Sillica ‘Carrot’ gradually shrank from “visible from Cardiff” to visible from McDonald’s? Then there was the tower planned for the end of the Grand Pier that vanished in the mist?
I do worry that a 90 metre tower would turn into the leaning tower of Weston and, eventually, an “Adventure tube” (possible pirate themed and with an occasional dinosaur to liven things up). However, if the proposed plan moved a touch to the south and was incorporated inside the Tropicana walls perhaps it might become feasible.
Back in the 1890s a man wanted to build a five-storey circular tower next to Oxford Street that would have contained a steam driven revolving upper floor. It nearly happened but the money ran out. Shame.
Alma Street, Weston
RACE for Life was completed by all Hayers 19 female staff; well done to them all, a big thank you to Pam Hayer for organising it. A massive £2,400 was raised for a great cause and Hayers would like to thank all their customers for their generous donations.
Hayers Convenience Stores, Meadvale, Worle
WE visited Weston on July 7 at approximately 6.30pm to find everything was shut including the pier, fish and chip shops, cafés etc. Our car had two children expecting to go somewhere to get a drink, maybe go on the beach and pier and unfortunately we drove along by the seafront all the way to Worle and couldn’t find a single café open or even the pier. Clearly Weston doesn’t class itself the summer beach resort type of place like Weymouth, which would have various shops open until very late in the evening.
Perhaps Weston is so rich it doesn’t need money from any tourist trade?
I find this a very strange way to run a beach resort where you should be making the most of nice weather and light evenings bringing as many people in as possible.
MR M HALL
Trent Drive, Thornbury
IN AN article about the ban on fox hunting in the Mercury on July 9 Mr Penrose is quoted as saying: “I take the classic liberal position that even though I may disagree with someone else’s opinion or lifestyle, this does not necessarily mean it should be banned, therefore I would vote for the ban to be lifted should it come up in parliament.”
Would Mr Penrose consider voting against the ban on fighting dogs, cock fighting, hare coursing and other barbaric forms of animal cruelty, because they are someone’s opinion or lifestyle, even though he disagrees with them. Indeed if we allow this argument to be valid he might consider voting to bring back flogging, allow wife beating and the corporal punishment of children.
I find Mr Penrose’s reasoning deeply flawed.
Osborne Road, Weston
SO David Cameron has decided to allow MP’s to have a free vote on a repeal of the fox hunting bill next week.
It’s not been a shock to most compassionate people, since the Conservative Party have an abominable track record on wildlife and environmental abuses not to mention welfare cuts, banker’s expenses, fracking and human rights issues too. But what has come as a complete surprise is the sly speed in which he has pushed through a vote. It must be a record.
Sadly our MP, John Penrose, is towing the party line and, it would seem “running with the pack” on a relaxation of the hunting ban. This was not a surprise as his past votes suggested that animal welfare is not on his list of priorities.
However all might not be lost. The Labour and Green Party have a much healthier attitude to the subject of fox hunting and will be voting against this wildlife crime. Let’s just hope that the SNP sees sense and vote against it too and abolish this out-dated practice again. Also there is a growing number of Conservative MP’s who have realised there is not a place for this pack hunting anymore. Please look up Blue Fox (Conservatives Against Fox Hunting).
Lastly, in a time of ongoing austerity measures (at least for the majority of poor and middle waged people) when we are struggling to make ends meet and getting a raw deal out of it all, it is very revealing to see that our Prime Minister is more concerned with pushing through this barbaric practice and using valuable parliamentary time, instead of using the time to improve the lives of the people he’s meant to represent!
I can only assume that since the austerity cuts have not affected the elite amongst us, they have the time to pursue the hunting of animals and therefore satisfy this strange blood lust they seem to desire. When money’s no object, abuse occurs. This is a tragic example.
Manilla Crescent, Weston
YOUR article about fox hunting and the petition being raised by Sylvie Meller together with the response from our MP (Fox hunting petition set up – Mercury July 9) raises some very interesting questions about the nature and effectiveness of representative democracy as we know it and use it.
Our MP John Penrose states, regardless of the petition: I take the classic liberal position that even though I may disagree with someone else’s opinion or lifestyle, this does not necessarily mean it should be banned, therefore I would vote for the ban to be lifted should it come up in parliament”. So there we have it, Mr Penrose wants to repeal the legislation passed by parliament in 2004 that banned hunting with dogs.
His argument is valid, even if it mangles the meaning of John Stuart Mill’s ‘Harm Principle’ somewhat. But it is only valid if Mr Penrose were voting in his own right in a one person, one vote scenario such as a referendum. That is not the case. As a Member of Parliament Mr Penrose is in the very privileged position of being able to vote in the House of Commons on matters affecting the law of the land. With that privilege come certain obligations, not the least of them is that he must consider the wishes of his constituents – of which he has some ninety thousand.
We only have to look at Mr Penrose’s voting record to know that he always votes in support of his party but on this occasion it will be a free vote which means we, his constituents, might get a look in, but that will not be the case because Mr Penrose has declared he will vote in accordance with his own individual opinion and interpretation, which co-incidentally, happens to be the same as his party.
To support his position Mr Penrose might point to the size of the majority of the votes he received at the election in May. This needs to be treated with caution for whilst he managed 48 per cent of the turn-out he only got 32 per cent of the registered vote and that drops further to only 27.5 per cent if we factor in those who were eligible to vote but were not registered. In democratic terms having the backing of less than three people in 10 does not give Mr Penrose any sort of mandate to do anything and certainly not exactly as he pleases. It makes the search for consensus through consultation very important. Let us not forget that this is the man who declared on election night, “…it (his increased majority) makes me even more determined to stick up for the people of Weston and Worle and the villages in the next parliament”
I challenge Mr Penrose to tell us by what mystical means he knows that the majority of his constituents support his view that we should return to allowing a barbaric act involving a sentient and intelligent wild creature being torn to pieces by a pack of dogs in the name of sport and for the enjoyment of a very small number of people to be lawful. He has certainly never asked me. It does not sound like democracy but more like the tyranny of a minority.
Atlantic Road, Weston
YESTERDAY I attended the annual meeting of the Home Start group. This is an organisation that gives support to families with young children in their homes. Some young mums feel isolated and don’t have any family nearby to help them. Because people these days lead such busy lives they don’t always get to know their neighbours. This is a wonderful organisation and it was started 30 years ago and now has 300 groups in the UK, and has also gone global with groups in Cyprus and Africa.
What is really needed is more volunteers. If you are a parent and can spare a few hours a week to help they would be so grateful. I asked a few of the young mums how the group has helped them and they said it has made a real difference to their lives, one lady saying her helper has become like a Gran to her children. I think there can be benefits for all and I was delighted to meet them all and see all the gorgeous babies and toddlers there.
If you would like to help in any way please call (freephone) 08006686368 or visit www.home-start.org.uk
Southmead Road, Weston
WELL, well it didn’t take long did it? I was just reading about the plans for the SeaQuarium and thought what a wonderful opportunity to have something positive to look forward to on the seafront. Then I read Richard Nightingale was all for the project and how great it is that a company was prepared to spend money in Weston and then there it was - but we have to have more details and a planning application before we can proceed. Heard that one before? Richard Nightingale has only just become a councillor and already he has turned into the doom and gloom merchant like the last bunch of councillors.
Why don’t they just let something happen on the seafront? I’m sure that West Midlands Safari Park wouldn’t build something outrageous and anyway whatever is built it can’t be as bad as the rotting Tropicana that the council has allowed to haunt the town for so many years.
Bridge Road, Bleadon
BEING the holder of a Blue Badge, and having to use a wheelchair and walking frame, my husband and I drove into the centre of Weston last weekend. There are three disabled bays in the road to the rear of the Royal Hotel and the Winter Gardens. Of the three bays, two were taken up by cars with no badge. The following day we visited again and once again cars were parked with no badge meaning we had to park a considerable distance from the centre with the inherent problems of trying to push a wheelchair along uneven pavements to get to the centre. Why is nothing done about these inconsiderate people? Why should the rest of us play by the rules when it is apparent that there is a hard core of drivers in Weston who think it is ok to ignore the law and park wherever they want.
Unfortunately it appears that the council and the police do not consider that the people who are breaking the law in this way should be pursued. Having contacted Weston Council offices today I was advised that they could do nothing about it as they do not have parking enforcement officers. Come on Weston - play fair not only to disabled drivers but for all those residents and visitors who actually pay to park on your streets.
Crookes Lane, Kewstoke
DRIVING recently by the Imperial Hotel, I noticed that the double yellow lines, which under no circumstances can be used for parking, had been extended, thus doing away with four to five spaces, originally set aside for disabled drivers. Although I myself have not witnessed any other site where this has been implemented, I am informed that it is happening in many other parts of the town.
When will this anti-disabled drivers and older people in general council put an end to their campaign against these people, of whom I am one.
Meanwhile, members of North Somerset Council, or Weston Town Council, as the case may be, I am in the midst of my own personal campaign and with the help of my trusty blue badge, I will make sure that I will never again be liable for a parking fine, as this would only add insult to injury.
MR M R BARCLAY
Clevedon Road, Weston
I READ with interest the double-page spread about homelessness in last week’s Weston Mercury. I am sure we all feel for those unfortunate people genuinely homeless through no fault of their own – but legally the council have to assist them, so there is really no need for anyone to be ‘on the streets’.
In the article, much was made of the help offered by various organisations, including ‘Somewhere to Go’ which operates a day centre in St John’s Church hall on the Boulevard. As a local resident, I feel this service does more harm than good and is very damaging to the Town Centre.
Whenever the day centre is open, there are people sat out on the street begging, people drinking in the street, fights, arguments and a general air of unpleasantness that should not be encouraged in the centre of town. Why should I have to negotiate vagrants, beggars, drunks and drug users just to get to the shops?
‘Somewhere to Go’ not only encourages antisocial behaviour within the Town Centre, it also encourages its service users to continue their chaotic lifestyles by helping their benefits money go further, thus allowing them more to spend on drink and drugs (lunch for a pound leaves enough for a can of Special Brew).
I firmly believe that a service of this sort has no place in the centre of town; it is damaging to business and wastes the time of the Town Centre Wardens who I regularly see attempting to move people on who, for reasons known best to themselves, believe they have the right to sit on the street asking for money rather than contributing to the community in which they live.
I would be interested to hear the opinions of other local residents and business owners; should ‘Somewhere to Go’ be found somewhere to go?
J D MAPLETREE
Elmhyrst Road, Weston
I WAS saddened to read in last week’s Weston Mercury of the plight of Weston’s homeless and how these vulnerable people are still looked down on, kicked, spat at and set alight.
Homelessness can affect anyone and for many young people who have become homeless through no fault of their own. For many people they see the homeless as ‘hopeless’. That they were the cause, that they were beyond redemption. The problem is successive governments have failed to build anywhere near enough homes in this country, leading to the critical shortage of affordable housing we see today.
This is having a devastating impact on people’s lives. Every year that we fail to build enough homes we fall deeper into a housing crisis. More people will be locked out of home ownership and forced into expensive, unregulated rented accommodation or overcrowded housing that does lasting damage to children’s chances in life.
If we are to prevent this, we need to see bold proposal from politicians to drastically increase the supply of affordable housing. Maybe then we may see the plight of our homeless people on the streets, sleeping rough in shop doorways a thing of the past. So let’s salute all those army of people like out-reach worker Liz Pardoe and Josh Guliford from St Mungo’s Broadway, a homeless charity in Bristol for being on the side of the angels, by giving our young homeless people in Weston a helping hand when they’re down and out sheltering from the cold on street corners or hiding from dangerous criminals in derelict buildings, without families to support them. Let’s also get the message across loud and clear in Weston to get more helping hands such as families and host families to give our young homeless a place to rest their heads and some warm food during the night. Yes, with the wonderful works the team do at the YMCA we may in time see the homeless off our streets for good.
D F COURTNEY
Victoria Park, Weston
WE WOULD like to reassure readers about our Emergency Department “Worries over A&E left in ‘critical state’ Mercury July 9, 2015.
It’s well documented that pressures are steadily mounting on the UK’s hospital Emergency Departments (ED). Numbers of people coming for treatment are rising, while the nature of illness and injury people are presenting with is steadily growing.
At Weston General Hospital our Emergency Department has responded extremely well to these challenges. Normally we sit in line with national figures and on occasion outperform other hospitals in England – as is the case this month where currently we’re achieving 99 per cent in our performance target. We see around 52,000 people a year in our ED – roughly the equivalent of two thirds of the entire population of Weston. Our performance is credit to our staff who work magnificently to keep patients safe and well cared for - regardless of how busy the department is.
The national performance indicator for ED is a target where in four hours 95 per cent of patients have to be admitted, or treated and sent home. Compared to the other 53 non-foundation trusts in England, last week (July 10, 2015) Weston General Hospital was one of the country’s top performers of this target. In 2014/2015 the national average was 92.9 per cent - Weston was a whisker away at 92.3 per cent. Similarly the previous year Weston reached 94.4 per cent- with national performance at 95.7 per cent.
Last winter hospitals, including many in the south west went into periods of ‘Black Escalation’ where hospitals are in crisis - unable to admit or discharge patients. North Somerset suffered unusually high Norovirus outbreaks (the winter vomiting bug) across the community and almost a third of Weston’s General’s beds were continually closed to new admissions. Without beds patients cannot be admitted. Consequently delays occur in ED – potentially a critical situation.
However, even in those tough conditions, almost 90 out of 100 Weston patients were seen in four hours and the hospital never sustained ‘Black Escalation’. This is testament to the hospital’s dedicated staff working so hard and extra hours to keep patients safe.
Across the entire NHS infrastructure, how and where patients are cared for to access healthcare to avoid emergency hospital admissions is under review. Similarly how the public use Emergency Departments will need to change. Whatever changes are ahead, Weston General Hospital will continue to provide the best level of emergency care we are able to, for the people we care for every day.
MR ROB LITTLE
Acting Chief Executive
Weston Area Health NHS Trust
Grange Road, Uphill