Letters to the Editor, May 10, 2012

PUBLISHED: 10:27 11 May 2012 | UPDATED: 10:40 11 May 2012

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Future

I FULLY agree with all the points made by John Ward in last week’s Mercury, but my main concern is that the future of Cheddar is not in the hands of its residents - of the people who live here, work here and love the area - but in the control of companies whose sole function is to make a profit.

I can’t quite believe that the traders are unanimous in their support of the cable car development.

The high cost to use the cable car and the possibility of an education centre/shop at the top of the gorge, will surely combine to impact on a family’s ability to spend money in other shops and on other activities outside of Longleat Enterprises.

Furthermore I see nothing in the plans to support those traders in the centre of the village. Cheddar already has a number of empty shops and the introduction of a cable car with no plans to direct visitors to the heart of the village will sound the death knell for Cheddar.

I would like to call on the council to actively engage with the community to come up with solutions by and for the people of Cheddar

VANESSA WINCHESTER

Lynch Lane, Cheddar

Proposals

I LIVE in Cheddar, which has a population of about 6,000. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Scientific Interest.

In the past few months, there have been an overwhelming number of proposals for the village:

Longleat Estate, which owns one side of the gorge and the caves, has announced its intention to try and build a cable car to span the gorge.

Tesco has purchased the local football club ground (providing the club with the funds to relocate) and will shortly be applying for planning permission to build a large store just on the edge of the village.

Sainsbury’s has also purchased a plot of land, currently a farm, at the other side of the village and is holding consultation meetings for its proposed supermarket development tomorrow (Fri). Stone to build Hinkley C nuclear power station is to be extracted from quarries in Cheddar and transported to Bridgwater, resulting in a huge increase in road traffic.

Another reservoir is to be constructed next to the existing reservoir, which will again impact on lorry traffic through the village.

And to top it all, on March 31, a cab driver sneezed whilst driving through the village and crashed into the market cross, a 15th century monument in the centre of the village.

Whilst accepting the need for change, many of us feel that the ones being proposed would not enhance the village and would, in fact, change its character and the way of life forever.

The sheer number of proposals, all coming at the same time, has made it really difficult to know where to focus attention and what should be the priority.

The supermarket proposals are, I suppose, a problem facing many other areas, but Cheddar Gorge is a feature that is known nationally and many residents feel that to deface it by putting a cable car across it will spoil it now and for generations to come.

The reason Longleat wants to do this, it says, is to increase visitor numbers which, it says, has been in decline. Longleat also says it wants to give disabled people access to the upper gorge, so they would then need to construct an education centre, a viewing area, cafe, toilets and a recent addition, a glass platform.

This area is currently beautiful, wild and unspoiled and putting these facilities there would almost certainly require an access road, level footpaths for wheelchair access and probably fencing for health and safety reasons.

Many people here believe the reason visitor numbers have fallen is largely due to Longleat’s management so far.

They have removed vast amounts of foliage, leaving the gorge looking like another quarry and let the shops and a beautiful mill at the foot of the gorge fall into decline.

LESLEY WILSON

Cliff Street, Cheddar

Despite setbacks

I DO not know Derek Mead but I think we, in Weston, should be grateful to him.

He has carried on trying to sort out a viable option for the Tropicana, despite setbacks and council negativity.

I also think we should be grateful to John Penrose (whatever one’s political affiliations) for backing Derek Mead’s plans wholeheartedly despite opposition from North Somerset Council.

I would like to see a development succeed because it would benefit Weston in so many ways. It would bring jobs, a much-needed swimming pool facility along the front when the tide is out, and an added attraction for tourists.

Weston businesses and hotels need all the help they can get to attract visitors.

If the Tropicana is demolished the cost of clearing the site and demolition has been quoted as £1million which would be paid for by you and me - the long suffering taxpayers.

Saving taxpayers’ money, providing a much-needed amenity and jobs, attracting visitors – let’s hope common sense prevails and Derek Mead is given a chance.

PAULINE PLATTEN

St Davids Close, Worlebury

Marooned

WE PREFER to shop locally and to use The Playhouse and to dine locally especially without using the car - so why do First/North Somerset Council take off all of the buses going into town on Sundays/bank holidays/evenings and leave us marooned at Weston Village/Locking Castle?

They want people to live here - then take away the transport. We have got a car but a lot of people haven’t.

LINDA SAULT

Walkers Drive, Weston

Tranquillity

IT’S official there is no tranquillity in North Somerset and nobody is responsible.

On March 19 I asked North Somerset Council the following questions: Has the council made any list of areas to be made areas of tranquillity? Discussed this matter at any meeting? Made any approach to parish council to submit areas for consideration? Made any person or department responsible for the implementation in deciding where areas of tranquillity could be located?

On April 4 I received the following reply from one of its officers, Victoria Watkins: “I can confirm that the council does not hold any records in response to your request regarding areas of tranquillity.”

Like many of your readers I do not like the EU making legislation concerning our country but, in this case, it issued a directive regarding areas of tranquillity that was both sensible and considerate to the wellbeing of persons in the EU.

The Government was forced to respond and in September 2006 Defra produced ‘Research into quiet areas with recommendations for identification’.

This identified two procedures – short term and long term. It is the long term procedure that must be addressed as is specified procedures, for identifying quiet areas …(due by July 2013). This procedure … can also be applied to any future identification of quiet areas in open country.

The term open country extends to National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, moorland and country parks. It is also possible that playing fields, cemeteries, etc, could be included.

Without boring your readers with full procedures it is sufficient to say that many areas of North Somerset are applicable and that these areas should be acted upon by parish councils and that North Somerset should be taking the lead: that is if anybody is interested in the preservation of our area for future generations.

STEPHEN F HALE

Harbrow Nursery, Lower Langford

Temporary

PLEASE tell me that the facade of the new Premier Inn on the seafront is just a temporary fix.

I cannot believe that after all the Victorian and artistic refurbishment that has taken place in the town centre to improve the vista of the seafront and upgrade its image it has been allowed.

Were the planners asleep for that agenda item? It is a monstrosity to match the college, which to be fair has tried to improve its image. Hey ho Weston failed again.

JANE BUTLER

Totterdown Road, Weston

Thank you

JUST a note to say thank you for putting the article in the Mercury regarding my fundraising for Help for Heroes.

We are holding a Jubilee Charity Ball at The Webbington Hotel on June 8, tickets are still available.

I would like to thank all your readers for their generosity

JOHN SHAW

Nye Close, Cheddar

My driveway

ONCE again someone has parked across my driveway causing me to have to call and rearrange my evening plans.

The other evening I was prevented from going to collect my son from the station because someone was obstructing my drive. The owner of the car came out of a house across the road and when I pointed out to her what she had done she replied that she wouldn’t have parked there unless she had to but she needed to take some paperwork to a house. Hardly an emergency and why did it take 15 minutes?

Why she couldn’t use common sense and manners by knocking on my door and explaining that she couldn’t find anywhere to park and would I mind if she parked across my driveway I do not know? I despair. What is wrong with people?

Two days later and I’m on my way out of my house when a man parks blocking my drive. When I protest he tells me that he is going to Proper Job and there is nowhere else to park and he won’t be long. Does that make it my problem then?

If you block someone’s driveway then that is an obstruction. The police will come out and put a ticket on the vehicle but really they have more pressing things to attend to so please think before you park inconsiderately.

JENNY ROTH

Southend Road, Weston

Recycling

ON SUNDAY May 6 at about 10.30am I attempted to use the recycling facility off Aisecombe Way mainly to dispose of some old paint.

On seeing the queue waiting to get in and waiting long enough to gauge the progress I gave up and came home again having wasted less petrol on a fruitless journey than I would have done had I waited in the queue.

What is the point in trying to save the planet by recycling when to do so you create far more greenhouse gases and waste precious fossil fuel?

If the services we have at present cannot cope with demand why are we allowing even more homes to be built with an even greater demand on local services?

It is time to either provide a higher service level across many services or put a complete ban on further domestic development in the area.

ALAN FLOWER

Ladye Wake, Worle

Dramatic

RECENTLY I visited The Blakehay Theatre, in Weston to see ‘Spend Spend Spend’ performed by The Worle Operatic and Dramatic Society.

The musical is about the dramatic story of football pools winner Viv Nicholson who in 1961 more than £152,000 (equivalent to about £5million today).

It was satisfying to see the society tackling another musical that obviously did not get the recognition it deserved. When it premiered in 1998 at The West Yorkshire Playhouse it won the Barclays Theatre Award for the Best Musical Of The Year and has since had a West End run and recently also toured to theatres all over the country.

The cast was led by the excellent Ann Bond who played Viv and was on stage virtually throughout the whole show. Kirsty Davis as young Viv also gave a stunning performance. There were great supporting roles played by Andy Williams as George and Ollie Martin who played the husband of the young Viv.

Obviously when a society tackles a musical that the majority of the theatregoing public had not heard much about then it is difficult to get the audience involved though there were some lovely and poignant songs that had the audience applauding. Well done once again to the society for pulling off a great performance and I look forward to seeing them later this year for their next show, the ever-popular Oklahoma which plays at The Playhouse November 15-17.

DAVID KINGSBURY

Mendip Avenue, Worle

Praise

I FEEL I must write to praise your local pub, Scallys.

We live in Bath, and come to Weston every couple of weeks. I go round the shops, and Keith walks our two dogs along the seafront.

We then meet in Dolphin Square and go to Scallys, for something to eat.

We have been going there for several years. I will never forget my first impression of Scallys, I saw all the bikers, and immediately walked out, Keith came after me and said: “Did you see the food? It looked good.”

It took Keith 10 minutes to persuade me to go back. I am glad I did, the food is very good, and reasonable, also the landlady and her folk behind the bar always make us very welcome, and our dogs. The locals are very nice. I wouldn’t go anywhere else to eat.

KEITH AND ANN SEYMOUR

Oldfield Park, Bath

Parking

REGARDING the proposals for the new parking charges. I used to live in Swindon many years ago.

The council there introduced residents’ parking in many streets and that regulation prevented any people parking on those streets unless they were residents. The only way that visitors could park there was if they displayed a visitor’s permit from the householder who had to purchase a book of 20 tickets which I think at the time was £5.

The resident paid a fee in those days of £12 per annum which covered only one car subsequent and then had to fight to get it for another car in the household. (I believe it is now around £50.)

The proposed car parking charges in Weston, especially for residents who are restricted to one hour in the morning and one hour in early evening are absurd and I do feel sorry for those residents if these charges are introduced. Surely the priority is for residents and not those people who want to park in the streets. Yes charge those motorists who want to park in those roads but introduce a residents’ parking scheme which benefits the local council taxpayer as well so they are not restricted to such a short time.

The final issue is whether the proposed scheme will be policed enough as at the moment there seems to be a lack of enforcement of parking rules in the town and if so is the monitoring going to be cost effective?

DAVID KINGSBURY

Mendip Avenue, Worle

So-called

I READ with disgust the advertising feature ‘use it or lose it’ in this week’s Midweek about the so-called wonderful shopping in Weston High Street.

Most of the shops here cater for the cheap end of the market which most other towns have, however, Weston does not have any department stores such as Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Fraser, etc, to give people a balanced choice.

Personally since moving here in 1976 and being used to excellent shopping facilities I have always spent at least 95 per cent of my clothing requirements in Bristol shops because they offer choice in all price ranges and include designer labels.

When Laura Ashley expressed an interest in the old Comet building the council refused on the grounds that they were not suitable for out of town even though they were once based on the Homebase site at Worle.

Apparently yet another cheap chain is going to be located there so no wonder Weston has been labelled ‘cheap street’, again downgrading this town to a third rate depressing place.

The other relevant issues which do have an impact are lack of car parks, extortionate charges and a very poor public transport service. I travel regularly to Northampton where I can park cheaply, Sundays and Bank Holidays are free, bus services are excellent and go into a bus station adjacent to a shopping mall. Attempting to justify loyalty to shopping here is futile, many people like myself travel to Bristol, Bath or even Taunton. Yes they too are suffering the effects of the recession but survive better by encouraging decent shops which we desperately need.

Weston needs to stop being so complacent and come out of its time warp, and the journalist responsible for this article needs to think outside the box because Weston is insular and convinced everything is wonderful when in truth it has many problems that need urgent attention in order to survive.

The BID scheme means nothing, cleaning up the streets is just a smokescreen to paper over the cracks and expecting businesses to pay for it is typical of this council.

You the local press obviously share the same views as the local council so who I wonder generated this article?

MARGARET LOCKWOOD

Farm Road, Hutton

Collection

HELLO Weston and a big thank you for helping us raise £198 in our street collection on Saturday.

What struck me was how so many more people are now aware of the abysmal lives these poor ears are forced to live inside to be milked for their bile.

This causes excruciating pain and has been proven to be now unnecessary as there are safer, synthetic alternatives to be had.

But the bears that we do save live out their lives in luxury and freedom in one of our two sanctuaries, either in China or Vietnam.

We are working collectively to eradicate this evil practice once and for all, and with your help we will succeed.

Anyone who wasn’t able to donate on Saturday can do so at our new charity shop in West Street, or at www.animalsasia.org

Once again thank you all, including my helpers on the day and congratulations to Carole for winning the Bear in a Bag. Well done everyone, see you on September 8.

VIVIENNE SHAKESPEARE-JONES

Kidderminster Moon Bear Rescue Support Group, Longfellow Green, Kidderminster

Dedication

ONCE again I have to praise the wonderful care I got two weeks ago when I found myself in A&E with a very fast heartbeat.

I was seen straight away as a paramedic saw I was struggling and got me in A&E quickly.

I was seen by a doctor and was treated promptly.

I had many hours to witness the dedication of the nurses as I was waiting for a bed and how exceptionally hard they all work.

I also saw the patience they have to show when someone is brought in worse the wear for alcohol and drugs.

Although I know there are some horror stories some people have experienced but I can only speak for myself, I also think nursing staff don’t get enough credit for what they do in A&E and what they have to put up with.

DOREEN DAVIDSON

Moorcroft Road, Hutton


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