Letters to the Editor, July 2, 2015
PUBLISHED: 11:05 03 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:05 03 July 2015
GOOD news the volley ball nets are back up on Weston seafront, thanks to the swift work of our council seafront events team.
Even more good news was the amazing success of the event the nets were taken down for, Weston Air Festival, organised by the very same team.
The event itself took over a year to plan and implement, and was a triumph of organisation. All credit must go to Darren Fairchild and his small local team who without their hard work and dedication, much of this complicated event would not have been the success it was.
Over 170,000 people visited Weston over the weekend, to see over 100 aircraft, displays and stalls. It has been estimated to bring in more than £1million to the local economy, assisting many local businesses, putting extra money in their pockets, which must surely also help local employment. I hear it was difficult to find a free bed amongst our hotels and B&Bs.
May there be many more air festivals and other events in Weston so we are able to show off our fantastic, friendly and welcoming seaside town, because it’s clear we are able to organise these events in a safe, professional and successful manner.
I was proud and privileged to play a small part in the Armed Forces Service on the Sunday of the Air Festival, arranged by Weston Town Council. The two elements of the weekend complemented each other massively, and I was moved to meet those who had fought and sacrificed so much for their country, all in the background of our seafront and the Vulcan carrying out one of its final displays. It’s a weekend I will not easily forget and one that again puts Weston-super-Mare firmly on the map.
CLL RICHARD NIGHTINGALE
Aisecombe Way, Weston
THE combination of the Air Days and Armed Forces Day was a tremendous success and North Somerset Council and Weston Town Council should be congratulated on providing the town and many visitors with a wonderful weekend.
I have never seen so many events on Beach Lawns with so much interest all the way from Royal Sands to Pier Square. The organisation was superb and the Mercury coverage was excellent.
In last week’s edition Laurence Orme wrote about the wee problem of a lack of toilet facilities and I would agree with him that there should have been portaloos provided. There were indeed long queues and although it was a free show it must be remembered that many want to spend a penny.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
I AM very grateful for John Liles for his interesting information about the Sally BB-17 in Weston’s air display, as I had assumed that a reference to an American plane being used on a Special Operations Executive mission (SOE) in a book I read was an error.
I’m sure I am not the only person who did not realise that these planes were used and Mr Liles memories of his father’s career were fascinating. We owe a great debt to brave men like him who worked for the SOE during the war.
MRS J EDWARDS
Constable Drive, Worle
NO DOUBT about it – the Weston Air was a spectacular demonstration of military air power.
My fellow spectator was obviously greatly entertained – as I was – and words like celebration, pride, enjoyment, thrilling were to be frequently heard.
Someone asked me if I am old enough to remember the gnawing fear there was for many years during the Cold War when Stalin and his successors threatened the West with an all-out thermo-nuclear exchange.
My word would have been relief – relief that these terrifying weapons of mass destruction were, in the event, never used and that after 60 years the V-bombers are now retired. The threat of mutually assured destruction seems to have retreated but if the sombre and dark realities which prompt the production of such killing machines are not recognised and intelligently controlled, rather than seen as gung-ho entertainment – the possibility of war returning to destroy civilisation gets that bit closer.
How many of those present on the seafront were keenly aware that the Vulcan bomber was designed to wipe out Moscow with one bomb and that it was estimated that the Bomber Force would be capable of killing at least five million people with as many again being injured, most of whom would be innocent victims of the murderous minds who initiate war and commission the machines to wage it.
Worse still the vast expense of the escalating complexity of military technology is a form of economic cancer eating away at our way of life and everyone present on the day would, in their lifetime, have paid a small fortune for the ‘defence’ these machines seemed to offer. Just the same ‘disease’ has afflicted the populations of those countries which we considered hostile to us.
Sensible, awesome, necessary may well be proper descriptions of what we saw but to my mind a more apt description would be “organised, unavoidable, suicidal madness”.
Fountain Lane, Sidcot, Winscombe
NOW the dust has settled on the 2015 election it is time to reflect on the results.
Yes, the Conservatives with 100 per cent coverage of all seats, won 72 per cent (36) of the district council seats, but this was with only 42 per cent of all the votes cast; whereas Labour with 82 per cent coverage only won six per cent (three) of the seats, with 17 per cent of the votes, Liberal with 69 per cent coverage only won eight per cent (four) of the seats with 15 per cent of the votes and the newcomer to the elections the North Somerset First with 34 per cent coverage only managed to win two per cent (one) of the seats, in spite of having 11 per cent of all votes cast. The independents (five) and Green (one) elected councillors show in those constituencies personality won the day, much to the good of debates in council meetings.
The results show a degree of strategic voting where there are more than six candidates, hence it would seem that the 14 wards concerned should be split so that each has an electorate of 3,200 (Clevedon manages to only have one seat for each area.) It is understood that in certain cases those elected do not live in the wards, if this is correct, then it should, in my mind, be stopped.
The big problem of party politics in district elections is the power and funds they have means they can have candidates for all or many of seats. This deprives those with less funds to compete on an equal footing. One further idea is that district and parish elections would be more informative of public thought, if they were held halfway between national elections, rather than at the same time.
C J PEVERELLE
Edinburgh Place, Weston
JULIAN Norris should be congratulated for his Mercury letter ‘Seaside town’ last week, in which he expressed a naïve optimism that Pollyanna would have admired. Even though he lost at the recent election, Mr Norris joined the ranks of Messrs Farage, Miliband and Clegg by insisting how successful he and his party had been and how many votes they’d achieved. But what cannot be denied is that North Somerset First only had one candidate elected out of 17, which can hardly be described as a victory. Mr Norris reminded us that ‘NSF put their heads above the barricades (sic), stood for what we believed in and made ourselves known to the electorate’. All credit to him and his colleagues for doing so but, however he dresses it up, the hard reality is that the electorate weighed his party in the balance and found it wanting.
He accused me of being against free expression, which could not be further from the truth. I totally support his right to free speech as much as I hope he supports mine. But legitimate, informed criticism is an essential part of the democratic process, so he can’t have it both ways.
While on the subject of facts in last week’s letters, ‘Rich policies’ from James A Dobson also warrants a response. He described me as ‘NSC’s unpaid spokesperson’ which is as inaccurate as it is absurd. For his clarification, I have never voted for the council’s majority party although I do acknowledge its efforts to balance the books at this time of growing financial stringency. Mr Dobson told us that independent councillor candidates ‘put themselves forward because they wished to make a difference’.
But what difference could they make to the £100million of cuts the Government is imposing on our local budget by 2018? How could they mitigate the consequential disastrous impact on essential social services? What difference could they make to reduce the burden on the 5,500-plus North Somerset children that are currently living in poverty? And how could they reverse the growth of foodbanks that more than 3,500 Weston folk were forced to use last year?
Mr Dobson ended his letter by saying ‘I would have liked a better showing for the independents’ but the voters clearly disagreed. I submit the notion of independent local power and influence is a myth and any party advocating it is offering a false prospectus to the public. The fact is that voters will invariably opt for the status quo, however flawed it may be. And the presence of a few independents, however respectable and hard-working will change nothing.
Church Road, Winscombe
IN 2000 Tony Blair’s Labour Government changed the way local government had operated for almost 200 years.
These changes removed most councillors from involvement in the decision-making process, increased the administrative costs of local government at the same time reducing democratic accountability.
An article in the Daily Telegraph on February 5, 2015 stated that the cabinet system was anti-democratic and created one party fiefdoms we see in North Somerset.
The article also stated that the Rotherham abuse scandal would have been brought out earlier if the cabinet system had not operated in such a secretive way protecting council reputations at the expense of those who needed protection.
In North Somerset the cabinet system has allowed a few councillors to undertake agreements that would have been thrown out prior to 2000. The disposal of Knightstone Island to Redrow, the sale of the Winter Gardens for £1, purchase of Castlewood, and many other agreements that have been underwritten.
The amount of debt the council is incurring is mounting, with interest rates low it is manageable but interest rates will increase. Like Greece it will not be those individuals that created the problem who will suffer it will be us the ratepayer.
Many councils are now returning to new improved committee systems, one where all elected representatives are involved in the decision-making process and able to express the will of the electorate.
North Somerset is one of the most secretive councils in the country, a position that could not exist if it were changed back to a committee system. For Weston in particular the cabinet system has been detrimental to its growth and prosperity.
The electorate has spoken, no matter which party or individual we voted for we have to accept the results of the electorate. However we do not have to accept the way the system operates and can put pressure on our representatives to change to a more democratic accountable system of governance.
JAMES A DOBSON
Swan Close, Weston
ABOUT three years ago all our eleven benches were removed from our park on the Bournville called Coniston Green.
I’ve made numerous telephone calls, so many I’m thinking of asking for a discount on my council tax to Garth Withers.
We have nowhere to sit and the ones that are there are two steps form the dog mess bins. By the way the bins are so overflowing, that there are piles around the base. So where is the health and safety for this? Youngsters are throwing it around at night, so there’s mess all over.
Getting back to the seating problem. I was told by Mr Withers that it is taking so long because the people who had mostly destroyed the seats were made to repair/repaint, but three years? The last I spoke to him, he admitted he had forgotten, he’s joking I hope, otherwise I can see why it takes so long to do anything.
MRS C M SEARLE
Waverley Road, Bournville
ON BEHALF of Weston In Bloom, I would like to thank all the volunteers for working so hard getting the town ready for the South West in Bloom judging that takes place on July 7 and the national competition on August 3.
This is the first that Weston has been nominated for the national competition and is a great honour for Weston and has meant a lot more work for the volunteers, so thank you to you all.
Vice chairman, Weston in Bloom, Cormorant Close, Weston
YES, I’m having a whinge. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s noticed driving standards have plummeted in recent years?
Yes, I’m an oldish guy who’s been driving the roads of this planet daily since 1964, and I’m still at it, driving hundreds of miles each week with some daily journeys in excess of 250 miles.
To get to the point, I was taught by both my father and BSM. My father was an ex-RAF bomber pilot and later BA airliner pilot who taught me to always have eyes in the back of my head and ‘watch for the Hun in the sun’, while my BSM instructor taught me to always give a signal when making a turn or a change of direction, whether other vehicles were about or not and that way I’d never forget, particularly at that one moment when another driver nearby was not paying attention.
In 51 years of driving I’ve so far never had an accident on the roads, although I’ve witnessed thousands. I’m a stickler for observing speed limits, because I know they’re there for a good reason, and have witnessed quite a few accidents (a lot involving children) where speeding drivers caused deaths.
So what do we so today, in 2015? Ninety per cent of car drivers travelling along motorways at 80-90mph, with barely a car’s space between them - which is why when there’s an accident on a motorway it’s usually a multiple one. Similarly, in towns very few people pay attention to speed limits. I can almost guarantee that if you stick to the limit, within a few seconds you’ll have a queue of cars right up your tail, all
trying to make you go faster.
But my biggest gripe of all, and one I mentioned earlier here, is signalling. I’ve noticed more and more these days that drivers are signalling less and less, or not bothering to signal at all. You can wait for ages to come out at a roundabout eg the Queensway and yet most of the traffic coming from your right will not signal their
intentions (probably because most of them haven’t the foggiest idea how to signal at a roundabout).
Or there’s the other bad driver, the one who hasn’t noticed that their indicator is still flashing. Every week I come down Spring Hill in Worle, waiting to turn left at the bottom into the main street. Four times in the last week I’ve waited to pull out, while traffic coming from my right and indicating to go left into Spring Hill has driven
straight across my path, still indicating.
So there it is - speeding, driving too close, and signalling (or not signalling). And it’s getting worse, seriously. Sadly, the only time most drivers do something about it is when they run over and kill somebody - or kill themselves.
Savernake Road, Worle
I RECENTLY attended the audiology department at Weston General Hospital and was extremely disturbed by a notice stating that failed appointments for April and May were 921 and 796 respectively.
This is a disgrace. I understand that a number of these appointments may have had a legitimate reason for the patient not attending, but surely the majority of these missed appointments could have been avoided if the patient or someone on their behalf telephone the hospital to cancel, this is only courteous.
The number of patients not attending is quoted only for April and May and I know this is still happening, not only in our hospital but in surgeries in the town.
Please help our National Health Service by being a little more thoughtful in our dealing with this problem. We are always quick enough to complain about the delay in receiving appointments so let’s help.
Cecil Road, Weston