LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, JUNE 13, 2013

PUBLISHED: 11:20 14 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:20 14 June 2013

Badger cull

IN REPLY to Dean Harris’ letter regarding the badger cull, I think he should know that a large majority of farmers do not farm intensively.

Cattle are housed during the winter months for their own welfare and to save the fields for spring. However when they are turned out to graze in springtime there is no way to avoid them eating grass contaminated with badger urine and faeces.

Farmers, contrary to popular belief like to see badgers, however, when half your herd is wiped out by TB and your bull, cows and young calves are taken for slaughter, believe me, it is truly heartbreaking, so something has to be done to control this epidemic. In the absence of any other solution at the moment it has to go ahead. In Ireland culling has worked and there is still a very healthy badger population.

Mr Harris states that the cull is costing in excess of £4million.

That figure is dwarfed by the cost to the country in compensation.

Some people will say why are farmers complaining when they get compensated? Yes, the money helps but in no way does it come close to losing years of building up a herd, especially a pedigree herd with blood lines going back generations and the loss of income as movement restrictions are imposed by DEFRA.

LIZ EDWARDS

Address Supplied

Cattle farmer

As A cattle farmer I feel I must respond to the letter from Dean Harris in the Mercury on June 6.

Having read the letter I wonder if Dean Harris really understands the problem. Perhaps his perception of the situation is based on reading Wind In The Willows as a child.

The real position is that since the Protection of Animals Act the badger population has expanded and there are now far too many of them. Badgers infected with TB are a major factor in the current TB epidemic in cattle.

Let me stress I am firmly against any kind of cruelty to animals and that the act rightly protects against badger baiting.

It is a fact, however, that the badger is at the top of the food chain and has no natural predators except of course the motor car.

Mr Harris mentions Secret World in his letter, sometime ago I received a visit from Secret World who were looking to rehome a family of baby hedgehogs. I was delighted to help and identified the perfect spot for them. The lady agreed to bring the hedgehogs to my farm, but when I mentioned a nearby badger sett that was the end of the conversation and I was never able to give the hedgehogs a home.

Suffice it to say that badgers are ruthless killers of baby hedgehogs, and no doubt the hedgehog will be extinct long before the badger.

Badgers are out hunting every night snuffling in the ground, does anyone seriously believe they are not taking ground nesting birds, their eggs and baby mammals? I make this point simply to counteract any suggestion that farmers alone are responsible for the demise of sections of our wildlife population.

Mr Harris seems totally oblivious to the real TB situation. I have no wish to needlessly destroy wildlife, but the evidence is clear, no country in the world has been able to eradicate TB in cattle, without also dealing with TB in wildlife.

Mr Harris cannot be aware of the efforts currently in hand by the authorities, vets, and farmers to ensure animal health and eradication of TB.

For the future, we need a healthy cattle population and a sustainable but smaller healthy badger population.

DAVID EDWARDS

Pool Farm, Banwell

Tropicana

I READ that a decision on the future of the Tropicana has once again been delayed.

I understood that North Somerset Council’s planning committee unanimously granted the Mead Group planning permission, so what is the problem?

With the report in the North Somerset Life magazine about how the council is encouraging local businesses and tourism including the redevelopment of Dolphin Square, I hoped by now the council would be doing all it could to get the Tropicana up and running.

The people of Weston, local taxpayers, day visitors and the holiday industry, especially the younger age groups, all need the Tropicana. Please look at the bigger picture and help to get it built, so it is up and running by next summer season.

DAVID CAPEL

Old Quarry Farm, Winscombe

Lack of tourists

I DO not normally respond to letters following miscomprehension of my emails, but having Brian Jenkins letter and headline incorrectly challenge me I thought I’d best reply.

I did see the merry throng, the entertainment and attractions laid on by bars, and I mentioned the overflowing Beach Lawns car park on Weston seafront. This busy and buzzing environment prompted me to go down to the seafront on the Sunday to have a drink with a couple of mates, hopeful of a genuine holiday atmosphere.

The actual time I am referring to is 7.30pm onwards. I shall now repeat myself.

The lack of tourists of any type along the bars and restaurants of an evening suggests to me something is missing, our seafront cannot survive on three super days every now and again and a diet of Saturday revellers.

I’m sorry if this offends the people tucked up in their retirement homes of an evening who see only the packed seafront during the day. Local business people trying to run businesses need as many functioning hours as possible and I think the huge business rates they pay demand huge efforts to bring in as much and as varied a clientele as is possible to the area, and get them to stay all weekend not just for a few hours.

PAUL BURNS

Sunnyside Road, Weston

Inconvenienced

SO, ACCORDING to the Mercury, more local residents are to be inconvenienced with the ‘oh so successful’ Weston town centre parking meter scheme.

Well I am just so pleased that I help the local economy – in particular yesterday when I paid to park outside my own home so that I could go shopping in the high street. Just four other cars in the street, the first in the disabled bay, the second a disabled shop-keeper, the third just about to tow the broken-down fourth away.

As I write this letter on Tuesday morning, there are four cars in the road again. Cars one and two as above, but the third and fourth now belong to disabled drivers – oh and a skip.

So please Cllr Ap Rees, all the more reason for the planned review to take place and for locals to be heard in a democratic way regarding realistic residential permits to allow us to park in our empty streets.

SUE CLARKE

Hopkins Street, Weston

Bank holidays

REGARDING your article about on-street pay to park in last Thursday’s Mercury, I found the quote from Cllr Elfan Ap Rees: “Of course the on-street spaces are time limited so not surprising that they wouldn’t be used on a bank holiday” interesting to say the least.

I agree with him totally, which begs the question - so why does the council need to enforce parking charges on bank holidays?

Cllr Ap Rees – I await your reply.

SHEILA PARSONS

Locking Road, Weston

Buses

FIRST the good news - Crosville Motor Services has introduced a new 105 service from Worle to Uphill Hospital, the same route as the First Bus number 5.

This means there are now four buses an hour to the hospital instead of two.

The bad news is that Crosville is running its buses three minutes before each of the number 5 buses, which means that if you miss the first two you have to wait for nearly half an hour for the next two to come along.

Speaking to a First Bus driver, who had just finished his shift, he said that he had taken only £13 all morning and that he was worried that the No 5 would be taken out of service.

Already First Bus has announced that the No 1 service to Sand Bay will be withdrawn, again in competition with Crosville, and also the No 14 service.

First Bus is no angel but it has had to fight off the orange ACL buses which were once rampant in town, and then went bust.

The smart Webber buses came along and lost their license because of poor time keeping and now Crosville is taking on a number of routes.

Don’t get me wrong, Crosville is very professional; and has produced an excellent timetable which is available free on all their buses.

Healthy competition is good but unhealthy competition is of no benefit to the travelling public.

North Somerset Licensing Authority should really get its act together because going back to the 105/5 scenario surely it would be more convenient to the public for First and Crosville to run their buses so that there is a 15-minute interval between each bus.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Value

CAN anyone estimate the cost, including the helicopter, and value of the Princess Royal opening an estate agent in Weston?

PETER BARRINGTON

Hutton Hill, Weston

RNLI

FURTHER to your article last week regarding the possibility of the RNLI leaving Birnbeck Pier, due to the deterioration of the structure.

The RNLI has been stationed on Birnbeck Island since 1882.

It has always been a great asset contributing towards the functioning of the pier in general.

So why do we not see some positive action from our council to safeguard this historic structure for the next generation and therefore the general public would be certain that a lifeboatman would be available in times of distress on the Bristol Channel?

SUSAN DAVIES

Baytree Road, Weston

Candidate

I HOPE readers won’t mind if I take the opportunity to reply to a couple of letters aimed at me from the last few weeks.

You printed a letter last week from Glyn Williams congratulating me on my selection as the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Weston.

Mr Williams was keen to enquire whether I would be both seeking re-election to North Somerset Council and election to Parliament on the same day in May 2015.

I can advise Mr Williams that I will be standing down as a councillor at the next election in order to focus upon, local residents willing, my Parliamentary duties. In the meantime, I continue to be totally committed to serving the residents of Weston Central ward and beyond.

An earlier letter, from Mr Cole of Weston Conservative Association, expressed dismay at my opposition to the privatisation of Weston Hospital.

He accused me of not sticking to Government policy.

I am, of course, mortified to disappoint Weston Conservative Association, but my commitment is to standing up for what I believe to be right for our community – no matter who may be proposing it.

Privatisation of Weston Hospital, I believe, represents the worst of all possible options for protecting and improving our local NHS services. It should be resisted with all our might.

I know the concept of making up your own mind might be a novelty to the many puppets who occupy the Conservative Party benches in Westminster and the Town Hall, but some of us know no other way.

CLLR MIKE BELL

Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Weston, George Street, Weston

Sit on both

GLYN Williams wrote of being worried and concerned that Councillor Mike Bell has been selected as the Liberal Democrats’ prospective parliamentary candidate.

Mr Bell was both councillor and candidate last time there was a general election. More worrying and concerning is the conflict of interest where councillors are elected to sit on both North Somerset Council and Weston Town Council.

Probably the majority of councillors who sit on Weston Town Council also sit on North Somerset Council.

On one day, wearing their town councillors’ hats, they may be taking a decision to benefit Weston, and the next day, as members of North Somerset Council, voting with their party colleagues to overrule that decision.

Proposals made by West Somerset District Council point to a way out of Weston’s dilemma. Cash-strapped West Somerset would continue with its own elected district councillors in full control, as now, but share Taunton Deane District Council’s administrative staff. We could do something similar here, Weston Town Council could merge with North Somerset Council’s southern area to create Winterstoke District Council, which would continue to use North Somerset’s administrators, but they would work for us; rather than the part of North Somerset which falls within Greater Bristol.

Why should councillors living in Winterstoke be making decisions which only affect Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea and Long Ashton, and why should councillors representing Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea and Long Ashton be voting on matters to do with Weston and its neighbouring villages?

With the current debate about reducing the number of councillors, we should look at whether Weston needs to send councillors to North Somerset Council at all, and whether we wouldn’t be better off with Winterstoke as a real unitary authority with just one set of councillors. It is difficult to justify our local Weston councillors voting on traffic lights in Portishead or a new housing estate at Long Ashton.

Weston needs to be freed to make its own decisions such as forging business links with the rest of the Weston town region including Burnham, Highbridge and Axbridge, with which, as a holiday and tourist destination, it has a shared interest.

The idea that Weston cannot be trusted, collectively, to make its own decisions and to own its assets (which North Somerset Council is selling off, or giving away, as quickly as it dare) is insulting and runs counter to David Cameron’s localism agenda.

ROBERT CRAIG

Weston and Hinterland Independent Governance (WHIG), Priory Road, Weston

Employment

IT IS good to finally see the council is doing something about the problems commuters face every day in getting to their jobs via the grind of traffic at junction 21.

I have been campaigning since 2006 for the council to look at this issue and I am pleased to see action at long last.

Another area I have been keen for the council to take action on is encouraging employment into Weston.

While there have been some good steps in this direction, notably the new business park being built between Worle Parkway and junction 21, there is more that can be done. The council seems to have earmarked lots of places to be used for employment, but as far as I can tell few of them seem to be anything more than fields at the moment.

Weston has the potential to be a thriving 21st century town, but our economy needs a kick start to make it grow.

North Somerset Council seems to only be concerned about what happens inside itself – its focus over the last few years seems to have been on plush new offices in Clevedon and doing up the Town Hall in Weston.

Well, there is much more to Weston and North Somerset district than the council offices and if it is up to anyone to ensure our economy gets a kick start it must be up to our council to find a way to make it happen.

EDWARD KEATING

Clifton Road, Weston

Great team

I WOULD like to say I do not agree with Jane Gill’s remarks in the Mercury of June 6.

It’s very unfair to hear from one side of things and not from the other. My husband Charles Blunsdon was admitted to Weston General Hospital on March 3. He was a very sick man indeed. It was discovered he had yellow jaundice, abscess on the liver, septicaemia, pneumonia and also he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

My husband had polio as an infant and now has post polio syndrome. What a task the hospital had on its hands.

What a great team Dr H Bell consultant gastroenterologist and his staff are.

When I went to visit, there was not a time I was not informed of how things were and what was happening. Yes I sometimes had to wait, but people on the ward were very ill.

My husband was on Kewstoke ward. I was a care assistant for 28 years and I have seen some really dirty wards in my time and Kewstoke is not one of them.

Norovirus was on the next ward, every part of the ward was cleaned down and visitation stopped for a day.

I am pleased to say my husband had six weeks’ first class care from the hospital nurses and staff. Then had six weeks care from the Home Start team.

They can be proud of themselves, for my husband is now well, and out and about on his invalid scooter, once again taking part in local council meetings.

JUNE BLUNSDON

Stowey Road, Yatton

Few tables

PERHAPS the Mercury can shine some light on what’s happening to the attitude towards one of our old and well-established businesses in Weston by North Somerset Council?

I have just read Margaret Riordan’s letter printed last week. I too am in complete agreement with her observations re The Flute de Paris. What can the council be thinking about?

Here it is right in the heart of Weston, with possibly the widest pavement in the town, and the council is refusing to let it have a few tables outside of its restaurant.

I too am a frequent visitor who eats in this very fine restaurant which has been here for many years, and is well supported.

The use of these small tables cannot possibly cause any obstruction to anyone so why has the council picked on this particular restaurant? We already have tables and chairs near restaurants in other parts of the town.

I thought the council should be encouraging more things which can be done to make visiting Weston a pleasure.

I sincerely hope it has a change of heart. Weston needs to be more pro-active if it wants to be and remain one of England’s main seaside resorts.

Or will the council just support towns like Clevedon where it seems to be quite happy to invest as it shows because it is where you can park anywhere without having to pay for it.

Need I say more.

LAURENCE F ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Travellers

Further to the article in the Mercury dated June 6, regarding travellers in Scot Elm Drive, a solution to this problem would be to install concrete bollards, or large quarry boulders to physically stop them.

This would obviously incur a one off cost, which could be offset by not having to pay for court costs, and the cost of clearing up the mess they leave, and perhaps some of the cost could come from the £145,000 which could be saved by delaying the appointment of a new chief executive the council ?

DENNIS WARD

De Salis Park, West Wick

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