Letters to the Editor, October 1, 2015

PUBLISHED: 11:14 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:14 02 October 2015

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Writing

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THERE was a telling range of letters in last week’s Mercury that perfectly encompassed the wide and contradictory divergence of local attitudes.

Of course, there were the usual ones moaning that ‘Weston is no longer super’ and that Nigel Ashton and North Somerset Council ‘have succeeded in globally rubbishing Weston’. And yet, reassuringly, there were as many highlighting some of the good things that surround us.

We already know how Dismaland has added an enormous boost to Weston’s economy, with hotels and businesses reporting record profits. But there’s more.

Cllr Mike Bell reminded us of all the exciting new business developments in the Junction 21 Enterprise Area that will bring more much-needed employment to the town. And Julian Norris praised his devoted staff for all their help and support after the recent shocking break-in at his store. Also, Cllr Richard Nightingale reiterated the excellent service our local police officers provide, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Few towns are perfect and Weston is no exception. But it’s always heartening to hear some good news once in a while.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

WELL ‘Dismaland’ has finished and, whether you have seen it or not, I think we can all agree it boosted Weston financially and placed us on the international map (for a short time anyway). Once the exhibits are gone what will happen to the site? Now that North Somerset Council (NSC) has seen the financial effect this exhibition has had on Weston, perhaps they will seriously consider any plans submitted to completely renovate the site, whether as pool based, venue based or both, with more alacrity than before.

I do hope someone will at least clean off the ‘muck’ sprayed on the facade by Banksy to make it look distressed and dismal... which is ironic really, considering the facade looked distressed and dismal before Banksy came along! Which begs the question why did NSC spend thousands of pounds to clean it in the first place? If reports are to be believed, Banksy approached NSC some time before the cleaning and renovation was carried out. I presume someone in NSC must have known something of what Banksy was planning and that is why the renovation was started in the first place. Would it be naïve to expect Banksy to fund the cost of cleaning the facade again or will we, as ratepayers, have to pay a second time?

ALAN KING

Beaumont Close, Weston

I WRITE to ask the readers of the Weston Mercury to come together to encourage North Somerset Council (NSC) to do something with the Tropicana, now that Banksy’s Bemusement Park has closed. In my view Weston is going to be truly dismal without Dismaland.

I have been lucky enough to visit Dismaland on a few occasions and have also been to some of the music nights. The Tropicana is a very atmospheric place to see and hear live music, and I hope that the council will seriously consider continuing this aspect of Dismaland. The beach side wing of the Tropicana has also proven to be an excellent location for an art gallery, and Banksy has shown how easy it is to show films on a screen mounted on a truck, which also doubles as a stage for bands. All in all it has been clear that the people who have visited Dismaland either to see the art or to attend the music events are different from the type of visitor that Weston usually attracts, and this can only be good for Weston. In addition the BBC has reported that over the five weeks Dismaland has been open it has brought £20million into Weston’s economy.

In the interview with Banksy which was published on the Dismaland website he said ‘that he couldn’t extend the run of Dismaland because it had only been insured for certain weather conditions’. And of course Dismaland had to close for part of one day because of high winds. Sadly Dismaland has now closed completely. But I urge NSC to continue to use the Tropicana as an art, cinema and music space. In order to do this (and to make it pay) they really need to look at ways of making it accessible all year round, and the obvious way to do that would be to put a roof on it. The cheapest option for this could be a circus style big top, just like the Spiegeltent that comes to Bristol Harbourside every year, or a Millennium Dome style construction. A more expensive option could be a strengthened glass dome like Norman Foster’s redesign of the British Museum. Either way local authorities, including NSC, have the ability to borrow money at cheap interest rates for capital projects. If the council chose to borrow money to invest in the Tropicana and develop it into an art and music space, not only would they continue to bring more visitors to Weston, but they could also create new jobs for local people.

There must be many art and music professionals either living in North Somerset or nearby Bristol, who have ideas and contacts and could help the council establish the Tropicana as a cutting edge art and music venue. The council could also save some of Dismaland for posterity by buying and displaying the giant billboard of David Cameron created by the artists Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps especially for Dismaland - I’m sure the artists would be keen for it to remain in Weston, close to Dismaland.

Let’s not allow Dismaland to completely disappear. Let’s learn from what Banksy has done. Let’s use the Tropicana for cultural events to attract a different kind of visitor to Weston, and let’s forget about the pool!

ELIJAH ROUND

Nithsdale Road, Weston

FUNNY how things change so quickly. If North Somerset Council had been allowed to demolish the Tropicana a few years ago it would have been a disaster for visitors and residents. No hope of a swimming pool to ever take its place.

Fortunately one man, Derek Mead, put forward plans to stop the demolition and succeeded despite all the opposition from the council. With hindsight what do those same councillors think now? Funny how minds can change so quickly.

With the revenue from Dismaland the council should put aside enough to build an all weather pool which is what was required in the first place.

Set a date for the opening and as a gesture of thanks to the man who stopped its demolition, let Derek Mead have the honour of officially opening the new pool.

JOE LUNDY

Castle Cottages, Wick St Lawrence

DISMALAND has certainly not been dismal for Weston. Bringing an injection of an estimated £20million into the local economy, on some days it seemed there wasn’t a free hotel room to be had for love nor money. Worldwide publicity, with visitors travelling from as far as Tokyo to visit us and Weston being advertised on more than 40 TV stations all over the globe.

As Dismaland shuts its doors, love it or hate it, no one can deny the present and hopefully long lasting effect of the Banksy’s phenomenon on our town. The foresight and willingness of North Somerset Council and its seafront events team to encourage and win the cooperation of such a controversial artist can not be under estimated, since there were so many other destinations that could have been chosen other than Weston.

In many ways the benefit to our town is simply beyond financial calculations and personally I also owe Banksy another debt, for proving a long held belief, that the Tropicana can be a viable, money making site for the town. One that needs to be developed, grown and supported.

As the second development stage begins later this year, we hope it will once again capture the wishes of tourists and the hopes and dreams of residents. This has not been a dismal start in the Tropicana’s rebirth. Now we should grow its future.

COUNCILLOR RICHARD NIGHTINGALE

Aisecombe Way, Weston

DISMALAND, great for business and parking fees for North Somerset Council (NSC), diabolical for local residents and local artists.

A few years ago Weston’s local artists were a tourist attraction at the Winter Gardens. Visitors looked forward to coming back to Weston each year, meeting up with the local artists, viewing their paintings and sometimes purchasing (part of the unique attraction in our town), also a benefit for the artists who are mostly retired. It gave them something to look forward to each season.

There were never any complaints, then the council in their pathetic wisdom decided to hound the artists out without proper explanation.

The Tropicana like Birnbeck Pier and Dolphin Square is an absolute disgrace, the residents, the ratepayers, have for many years have been treated with total arrogant disregard and yet publicly NSC on the media claim Dismaland a complete success. For whom?

S ROBINSON

The Fields, St George’s

I’VE just seen on television how much money/business has been brought into the town from Dismaland Bemusement Park. I must admit that as almost a lifetime resident in Weston, I was not really wanting to go to the park, but as an artist myself, I became curious about what it was all about. Unfortunately for me, by the time I decided to go, tickets were going like hot cakes and it proved a very difficult process trying to purchase any. My friend and I queued several times for walk-ins, but no luck. However, I was very fortunate in obtaining several lots of tickets during the last ticket round so went with one friend Sunday evening and then another friend on the Tuesday night. I did not know what to expect, but the whole experience was wonderful and amazing. I particularly loved the short films especially the film with the giraffes in the swimming pool complex jumping off the diving board in Tom Daley fashion. I loved the carousel which we did early on to get an overview of the park and there was a fabulous drumming group playing at the time which just added to the atmosphere. The exhibitions were amazing, some of it a bit risqué (on quite a few fronts) but very thought-provoking. I loved the model town and the photos I took were amazing, the detail unbelievable. I thought I’d visited everything on the Sunday night, but going on the Tuesday I discovered all the places I’d not been to and this included the tent with lots of signs in it. Again wonderful photographic opportunities and a lot of the signage, as well as bringing one down to earth with a bump, was also very well thought out and significant. I can honestly say I enjoyed both visits so much and I think would have gone again given the chance. There is a fascination with the park which Banksy has very cleverly encapsulated. Well done him. On top of that it has placed Weston on the map and I have seen it on television several times eg interviewing people about what makes them happy. With the likes of Brad Pitt, Jack Black and Ant and Dec visiting, what’s not to like and don’t forget this is all happening in the Tropicana, a building which was lying vacant and derelict without much hope on the horizon. It remains to be seen what will be the next use for this area and makes one think about the usage say of Birnbeck Pier (obviously bearing safety considerations in mind) which is a unique location being the only pier adjoined to an island in the whole of the UK. Banksy’s exhibition will be closing shortly and quiet will return, but I think all round it has been a fantastic experience for the town with local hotels seeing bookings soar - whether you like the event or not, actions speak louder than words and the effect on the town has been amazing at what would generally be a quiet time of year. I was marshalling the Weston AC prom run Thursday night, and there were a lot of people, much more than you would normally expect for this time of year. I was also told of a woman who flew from the Japan, paid hundreds of pounds for a taxi to Weston, queued up in the rain for a ticket for six hours, visited the exhibition then flew straight back to Japan. When asked about her experience, she said it was fabulous and well worth the money. I congratulate and thank Banksy and the other organisers involved for choosing Weston to hold this experience and for having the foresight to see behind the dilapidated ruins of the Tropicana and the potential that the building holds for this type of event. Just wondering what’s next.

MARY NUTLEY

Kewfields, Kewstoke

I READ in the national press that Weston will get a windfall in excess of £20million from the Dismaland exhibition. It seems that Councillor Ashton and North Somerset Council have hit upon a winning formula for generating money. Take a prime seafront location, keep it derelict for 15 years, ignore public opinion, threaten to demolish it, then organise an art exhibition and invite the world – brilliant! What can we expect next year? Performing sea lions in Dolphin Square? Ice skating in T J Hughes? Spider-Man on the old pier? The possibilities are endless.

It would take £6million to re-instate the Tropicana with a retractable roof for all year round us, so job done Mr Ashton. I’m off to buy my new swimming costume.

MIKE HILL

Milton Road, Weston

JOHN Ley-Morgan’s letter says what many of us have been thinking for years.

In the 1930s my mother, father, sister and I came many times from Bristol to have a lovely day in Weston swimming pool. It was cold water, but we loved it. Little did I know then that in 1950 I would get married and come to live in Weston. What a joy swimming in the pool most days.

Please, please to those in charge visit the Blue Lagoon and build us our pool.

JACKIE ATWELL

Penrice Close, Weston

MY wife and I would like to express our very grateful thanks and say a very big thank you to everyone who stopped and helped to rescue our bearded collie that had fallen some 10ft down an open manhole at Locking Parklands on September 13.

We would like to give our very special thanks to the crew from Weston fire station that came to help and particularly the fireman who went down into the manhole and helped to lift our dog out.

Apart from a small cut on his nose and one on the top of his head, our dog is fine and fully recovered from his adventure.

DIANA AND TONY CORNFORD

South Road, Weston

I WOULD like to thank through the Mercury the lady who found my wedding ring in Morrisons store recently. She kindly handed the ring to a member of staff at the customer service counter.

I am deeply grateful, more than words can say to this wonderful lady. She did not leave her name so I do hope she reads this letter and knows how deeply I appreciate her kindness and honesty. The ring is of great sentimental value to me and is irreplaceable. My deepest thanks.

MRS J GARRETT

Falcon Crescent, Weston

ANY pedestrian using Weston High Street could not fail to be aware of the total contempt that cyclists show for the law and their fellow citizens. I have waited with ever decreasing expectation for Weston police to resolve this abuse and give the public a lift, and show that the law must be respected. On Wednesday morning my joy was unconfined when I witnessed two street wardens making people dismount from their cycles. I have never been an advocate of private law enforcement, but in light of the absence of visible policing in Weston, well done and thank you street wardens.

A JOHNSTONE

Shrubbery Road, Weston

I WOULD like to thank Dr Mohamed Seklani, and his wonderful team for such a thorough and quick response after diagnosing my lung cancer.

The treatment I’ve had has been first class at Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) and Weston General Hospital.

My consultant, Mr Rakesh Krishnadas and his team at the BRI were absolutely dedicated and wonderful. Thank you all.

RITA COOKSLEY

Severn Avenue, Weston

THE news that Morrisons plan to close two stores has come as a shock to the residents of Burnham and Clevedon, especially as the stores are in the heart of the communities. It is also a surprise because Burnham has the catchment area of the vast Brean holiday sites and Clevedon is next to Portishead, one of the fastest growing towns in the country.

It would appear that the supermarket wars are taking their toll, yet Weston is bucking the trend. Although a much larger town Weston boasts 10 supermarkets as well as numerous express and similar mini markets. In addition two new supermarkets are planned – Tesco near Locking and Lidl in Winterstoke Road, Bournville. It could be argued that Weston benefits from tourism yet only two supermarkets are in the town centre. The remainder are in the suburbs or retail parks between the town and the M5 motorway.

Both Burnham and Clevedon stores have been in existence for many years with Morrisons having purchased the original Somerfield store in Burnham and Safeway in Clevedon.

Taking Weston as an example let us hope that other food retailers will realise the potential. A town centre needs a large store to act as a hub in the wheel of business for the residents and smaller retailers alike.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

CAN anyone explain this to me as I am at a loss to fathom this one out? Every week for at least the last year, someone has been dumping carrier bags of what looks like general household rubbish under the dog bin at the entrance to Uphill Wharf. At first it only used to be one or two bags a week, but now each week more and more bags are appearing, this week there are about 10. I’m not sure if it’s one person doing this or several different people but as the bags are usually from the same shop I would guess it’s the same person. Now considering that every household has their recycling rubbish cleared every week, why would someone go to all the trouble of taking their rubbish and dumping it on a pavement rather than put it in a green box and have the council come and get it for them?

Is this laziness, ignorance or is the person just down right stupid?

RICHARD ALLAM

Links Road, Uphill

ONCE again Weston super Food Festival triumphs!

The Winter Gardens and Town Square just buzzed the whole weekend.

A real community event, free to all with something for everyone, this amazing gathering is masterminded by just one person, assisted by a small team of local volunteers.

Thank you Sally et al. You are all amazing.

LESLEY ASMAN

Hawthorn Hill, Weston

I HAVE heard that North Somerset Council is thinking of putting the main tourist office in the Town Hall - in fact, not really a tourist office at all, just an additional service from the existing Town Hall staff - and maybe a sub-office in the Tropicana. To be honest, both of these are the wrong locations. The Tourist Information Centre (TIC) needs to be where the tourists are - and the main throng of tourists is always in the central prom area. The TIC needs to be in the area between the Winter Gardens and Princess Royal Square - somewhere that is visible to the bulk of visitors. It’s not a bad idea to have some tourist information in the Tropicana, but not the main office - it is simply too far out of the main area where visitors always are. To have the main TIC in the Town Hall is a terrible idea. Determined people will find it no doubt, but most people won’t bother. What a TIC needs, first and foremost, is visibility. It is Weston’s shop window - it must be drawing people in, not hoping they will find it. It should be one of the first things people see when they arrive.

P BAKER

Ellenborough Park South, Weston

IN THE Mercury last week there was a photo of the bomb site that used to be a lovely Dolphin Square saying it was demolished two years ago. It was not, it was demolished five years ago and I have photos of it with the date on, 2010. Also all the relevant managers/authorities are making Weston Town Centre very different for the residents. No tourist information for visitors and if people want a National Express coach ticket they have to go to Milton, Bournville or Bristol thanks to First closing their travel shop and having the cheek to put on top of the said bus shop, ‘its is easy to travel round Weston by First Bus’. Rubbish they have taken a lot of services off. Thanks to Crosville people can get to places abandoned by First.

The main post office on Alexandra Parade used to sell National Express coach tickets but have stopped.

North Somerset Council only want Weston for money from the car parks, their councillors could not careless because most of them live outside Weston. What with charging for toilets. Why did they not leave the ladies in who used to look after the toilets? This is why the toilets are vandalised. It’s all about making money for the council who are giving places away. Terrible North Somerset Council.

F SMITH

Beach Road, Weston

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