Letters to the Editor, October 13, 2011

PUBLISHED: 15:23 17 October 2011

An inspection report has revealed urgent improvements are needed at Laurel Court

An inspection report has revealed urgent improvements are needed at Laurel Court

supplied

Fit for purpose

THE headline of Thursday’s Mercury – ‘Pay to be rescued from Weston-super-Mud!’ - made reference to the warning notices present on the beach and whether there is a need to review them, and also whether people rescued from the mudflats should be charged for their rescue.

The opinion of the Coastguard and the local RNLI is that the signage at Weston is fit for purpose, with comprehensive signposts warning of the dangers at every beach entrance and at regular intervals along the beach close to where the sand becomes mud.

In fact most of the seafront and promenade signage was installed after comprehensive discussions between North Somerset Council and the RNLI Sea Safety Department at Poole which resulted in a national corporate design that can be easily recognised by all sectors of the public.

It is our experience that no matter how much signage there is and how prominent the signs are, there will always be someone who misses them or ignores them and strays into potential danger.

When they do, the Coastguard will take what steps are necessary to prevent harm coming to those persons through intervention by members of the Coastguard Rescue Team, RNLI lifeboat, Fire and Rescue, SAR Helicopter or other appropriate emergency service or charity dedicated to search and rescue, such as BARB.

Of course this does incur a cost, either from the public where Government or local authority resources are used, and of course the charities also have to cover their costs.

However, there is no likelihood that people would be charged for rescue, as the cost of administering such a system would be more expensive than any reasonable charge that could be levied on the few occasions it would be used.

This is assuming, of course, that there would be any appetite within the UK-SAR community that charges should be made, and it is extremely unlikely that there ever will be.

That being said, there have been occasions where persons who wilfully and deliberately place themselves in danger for no good reason have been fined by the courts, but this is an exceptional outcome for a very stupid or dangerous act.

Whenever there is good weather at Weston, or indeed any beach around the UK, there will always be a few from among the crowds of people present who place themselves in danger through ignorance or irresponsibility.

On those occasions, the Coastguard, RNLI and other emergency services will always respond to preserve life, and do so without complaint or judgement.

Finally if you do see anyone in difficulty in the sea, shoreline or cliffs, remember to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

TRIS NEWEY

HMCG Severn Sector Manager, Weston Business Park, Locking

PETE HOLDER

RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager

Assurance

WHEN the four tennis courts were lost to the Winter Gardens and Sovereign Centre developments, an assurance was made by the district council that the remaining courts in Grove and Ashcombe Parks would be up-graded, resurfaced and maintained.

Despite repeated entreaties over the years, nothing ever happened and the deterioration has been relentless. So far as tennis is concerned, the courts have been unplayable for many years. Not having nets hasn’t helped!

Now, through that policy of neglect, with the courts unusable (and therefore unused), North Somerset is angling for them to be subsumed by parked cars.

Westonians will recall players competing on the Grove Park, Ashcombe Park and Winter Gardens courts for the Weston Mercury tennis trophy. It was one of the treats of high summer - utterly impossible now.

There was a time too when the space was used by students from Weston College and youngsters from the YMCA - which failure of care has also undermined.

Central Weston is seriously lacking in community, sports, playing areas, and although our personal preference would be for tennis courts, the Grove Park space could easily be adapted for multi-sport use.

This area was originally secured by the Church for pastoral community use, something its collective conscience should make efforts to maintain.

An additional and important aesthetic point is that the setting of St John’s Church will be seriously undermined by overlooking serried ranks of parked cars. This is a Conservation Area after all!

HOWARD AND ROSIE SMITH

Stafford Place, Weston

Arctic regions

FORTY-NINE years ago Churchill School (then County Secondary) was in a state of great preparation.

In August 1962 it was to mount an expedition to the arctic regions of Norway and Finland.

This school was to be the first “secondary modern” school to receive a grant from The Royal Geographical Society for this venture.

I was one of the four teachers who led the group of 12 senior boys.

In the hope of news of them and possible sharing of memories of that expedition now viewed over a period of 50 years, I list the boys who took part.

Alan Hack, Terry Bowler, Michael Sims, Hugh Brown, Michael Bridges, Michael Jeanmaire, Brian Lilwall, Martin Ryley, Keith Gilpin, Ian Alexander, Ted Irvine and Roger Ellis.

It would be good to hear of and possibly from them, as the case might be.

The Weston Mercury published a report soon after the completion of the venture at the end of August 1962.

GEOFFREY BLACKMORE

Teacher at Churchill 1961-1973

2 Springvale Cottages, Worcester Road, Hanley Swan, WR8 OEA email geoff.blackmore2@btinternet.com

Tropicana

WELCOME Suzanne Hydes. How refreshing to have a new enthusiast in support of the Tropicana that people want and not some grand council idea of shops and hotels.

I think your ideas are fantastic but don’t hold your breath in the hope that someone from the council will listen.

I supported Dick Whittington all through his campaign for the restoration of the Tropicana during which he obtained 25,000 signatures but all his efforts were in vain.

I was with him when he handed over the petition to the council and then I went to the council meeting where he was allowed to speak for three minutes and then all he had worked so hard for was completely ignored by our illustrious council. They just carried on with their meeting.

I think your ideas Suzanne are well worth support and I for one will do that and I wish you all the luck in the world trying to get through to our council - I don’t think any of them read the Mercury though.

PAT WILSON

Underhill Drive, Uphill

Get it sorted

IS THERE anyone else who is sick and tired of the hole at the top of Baytree Road just outside the Windsor Castle?

It has a fence around it and has been there for at least four months. It is causing havoc for traffic going up and down the road.

There is also an accident waiting to happen here.

I suppose that the water company intends to put a Christmas tree in the hole as I cannot see any other reason why it is still there after so long.

If not, would the water company please pull its finger out and get it sorted?

SUE SMITH

Exford Close, Weston

Wildlife habitat

I WISH to state to you why I am opposing the proposed second reservoir from the perspective of local, and also endangered, wildlife whose habitat would be completely lost were the development to go ahead.

The list of species found on the proposed site is diverse and impressive and must be conserved by maintaining the habitat as it currently is by the sympathetic land owners that live, farm and keep livestock there.

You will see many species of bird: sparrow, green finch and other finches, long tailed, blue and great tit. Swifts, martin and swallows are seen in great numbers in the summer months feeding on the bounty of insect life that is found over the wet meadows.

Plus there are snipe, peregrine falcons, herons, buzzards and many others regularly seen here. Many species of bat are found hunting in the area and greater and lesser horseshoe bats are known to be up on the hill, with greater having been seen using the proposed area for feeding.

There are slow worms, adders and grass snakes all going about their natural, undisturbed life; water voles and other small mammals have been observed and, of course badgers and foxes inhabit the wet grassland habitats that are currently under threat of being destroyed.

This is an area that provides a wonderful home for a diverse array of native species and should be saved from being covered by an expanse of water, that would - by comparison - hold little wildlife value.

Having the existing reservoir is fine, as it provides a habitat for some migrant wildfowl.

Adding another reservoir would not draw in additional species or significantly greater numbers to justify building the proposed reservoir. It would simply take away a beautiful habitat that supports a diverse flora and fauna that needs to be conserved.

NICK BARWICK

Starrs Close, Axbridge

Creativity

HOORAY for Suzanne Hydes and her superb letter. This is exactly the kind of thinking and creativity that will eventually lead to the revival of the Tropicana.

The idea is of using an SBC (Society for the Benefit of the Community). One only has to go to Glastonbury ‘Red Brick Building’ (near the Moorlands Park - between Street and Glastonbury), to see what is being achieved with bringing together the wishes of the locals with the skills, knowledge and goodwill that exists there.

Although the Red Brick Building will be used for different purposes, the Tropicana lends itself to such a venture by virtue of it being a structure with historical interest and even more potential as a public swimming pool and tourist attraction. With the vision and contributions from the community we can turn the Tropicana into a vital, attractive and profitable business with the appropriate trusteeship and management.

As Suzanne says, it will require input from trustees with relevant skills together with investment opportunities from the wider public. Despite these times of austerity, we can feasibly organise a scheme where local people (of which there are about 150,000 over the age of 16 in North Somerset) would contribute say £1 initially to become a ‘stakeholder’ of the business, which could be then transferred to a ‘name’ on a paving slab, tile, brick or plank in the new Tropicana. On Clevedon pier an equivalent scheme has been running for many years to maintain it successfully.

Added to this, the involvement of local businesses to claim their stake in the project and why not invite Tropicana fruit juices (one of the healthier options from Pepsi Cola) to sponsor the project too with an injection of cash to start the first phase of the building project? This could take the form of a health related rainforest cafe or even more.

Also, we only have to use the massive energy potential of the site in not just solar power, but also the huge tidal power in the estuary as well as wind power (Skegness has a massive project), which could heat it, make waves and light up the place.

This, as well as a whole variety of cost savings over the years as the price of gas/coal rises year on year.

In Weston we are lucky to have this fantastic free resource called ‘the sea’ right on our doorstep, so why not use it?

‘Bring back the Tropicana’ – that’s what I hear from local people and anybody who really wants to demolish it is burying their head in the sand.

So keep your eyes pealed on the press campaign planned for this coming December and please support ‘Save Weston Tropicana’ as this is an important, ambitious and excellent scheme.

BRIAN OUTTEN

The Green Party,

Landemann Circus, Weston

Half the number

I NOTED in Heather Pitch’s letter September 29 that she states Wrington Vale Practice cover 29 villages, unfortunately this is an incorrect statement, the practice in fact has approximately half that number of villages within its practice boundaries.

The remaining villages fall outside the practice boundary (such as Winscombe) and people who live in these villages choose for whatever reason to travel to see a doctor and not attend the excellent practices that cover the area they live in.

If you then re-examined the demographics of the population living within the practice area, Wrington and the nearby villages make up the largest percentage of the practice population. I can therefore quite understand why the people of Wrington would feel that it is important to retain a surgery in their village, especially if you also take into consideration the fact that Wrington is a designated service village and the real centre of the practice area is approximately between Wrington and Lye Cross.

Interestingly opinion outside Wrington is certainly divided as there are many people who are questioning why the planning authority is being asked to approve the building of a single oversized surgery on a Greenfield site in Churchill when there are more appropriate better alternative sites that are available.

MR T GRIMES

Langford Road, Langford

Unusual reason

I WRITE to correct some of the inaccuracies that have been aired in favour of the new surgery at Pudding Pie Lane.

Additional land adjacent to the existing Churchill surgery was offered, together with a longer lease on the existing land, by Churchill council. At Wrington, there is limited space to expand on the existing plot.

The cost of updating the existing surgeries has also been calculated by the professional advisors to the practice, and these costs supplied to them.

Using these and the building cost figures put forward by the ‘preferred developer’, and increasing them by 50 per cent for extension work, a comparison of the rental costs to NHS between the updated/extended surgeries and the new surgery showed that the NHS would spend just under £1,500,000 more in rent over the next 25 years.

In the present state of NHS, could not better use be found for this money?

The accuracy of the above figures cannot be guaranteed, and for an unusual reason. As part of the consultancy exercise undertaken by the Primary Care Trust, a project board was formed, which included four members of the public.

The board appointed two lay persons to examine the business case, with particular attention to the financial case put forward by the practice.

However, the consultant to the Primary Care Trust reported to the project board that the nominated persons were not competent to understand the relevant figures.

The PCT chair of the project board then stated there was no time to appoint alternatives. Accordingly, no independent appraisal of any of the figures occurred. This means the consultation process was not correctly carried out, which would appear to invalidate the PCT Board’s recommendation.

One of the doctors has stated that the practice “will not be financially viable within five years unless the new surgery is approved”. In view of above, it is difficult to believe this assertion, and no evidence of this has been provided by the practice.

It was also stated that “without the new surgery, the additional service being devolved from hospitals will not be available to patients of the practice”. Again, totally inaccurate. Both surrounding surgeries have expanded on existing sites to provide extra accommodation.

This practice can do likewise.

There are a myriad of other reasons why this proposed new surgery should be refused planning permission, not lease of which is the serious risk of the death or injury to a child, by locating it opposite the entrance to a primary school.

I suggest that planning officers, councillors and the doctors really think this through, most carefully.

I cannot believe they honestly think that in the event of an accident involving a child saying sorry will be enough. It is not something I would want on my conscience.

P J ROBINSON

Ladywell, Wrington

Lack of respect

I FULLY endorse the comments from the retired police officer (details withheld) in last week’s Mercury.

Having served within the Somerset and Bath Constabulary and Avon and Somerset, and now also retired, the lack of respect that is apparently shown to the PCSOs is lamentable, being in my opinion far less than that of the special constabulary or traffic wardens they replaced to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the public, in that giving the illusion of more uniforms on the beat.

The traffic wardens they replaced at very least, knew their duties, in keeping the traffic flowing, and preventing the obstructions of the pavement that was written about.

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the disabled and mother and baby, having to walk into the road from the pavement because of these inconsiderate drivers parking/obstructing the pavements, possibly in the misguided view that they were keeping the road clear.

Bring back the traffic wardens, they are far more cost efficient.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

Thank you

MANY thanks to Weston General Hospital and The Nook and Harbour restaurant for their great support, co-operation and use of their venues for the recent charity walk in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Thanks to the sponsors, Hutton Moor Leisure Centre, Guide2westonsupermare.com and Cheddar Water Ltd and all the many companies who kindly donated 40 auction and raffle prizes.

Thanks to Jayne Elizabeth Dance School cheerleaders, Weston Town Football Club,

Rebeeca Morjaria (Miss Weston) The mayor (Councillor Cyril King), John Hughes Auctioneer and North Somerset (deputy chairman) Councillor Terry Porter.

Above all a very special thanks to all the walkers for their support and help to make this first ever event a great success.

PAUL HOBBS

Event Organiser

Canberra Road, Weston

I AM writing to report on a very enjoyable evening spent at the Blakehay Theatre. The RAFA band (pictured) were playing at a show called A Night at the Oscars for the benefit of the Blakehay.

They gave a lively performance of music for all tastes.

This was my first attendance at this venue and there were few empty seats.

My only query was why had I not visited before?

PETE FOX

Sandford Road, Weston

I AM confused. After a weekend when more than 100 visitors ventured into the mud at low tide in Weston a North Somerset spokesperson is quoted as saying: “We have a sign on every entrance to the beach and in the mud every 200 yards saying do not pass this point. Our signage is already well above the specification required and we will not be putting any more in”.

I cannot believe such complacency - the signs at the beach entrances are extremely small and incorporated with other beach signs.

As for the signs on the beach they are not clear and far too wide apart.

The council, and locals alike, know the dangers of low tides but visitors have no idea of the risks they take in what is the second largest tidal flow in the world.

Signs must be much more prominent on both the promenade and beach and the wording more severe. My wife and I often walk the promenade and see visitors walking way past the beach warning signs.

On one occasion we warned an official who was scanning the beach with binoculars and he just poopooed our comments even though visitors had blatantly wandered too far out.

The council cannot play God with nature - King Canute comes to mind – it is responsible for keeping our beaches safe and should realise that prevention is better than cure.

It would be impossible to fine everybody and there has to be common sense from both the public and the council to ensure that there is no future tragedy.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

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