Letters to the Editor, October 20, 2011

PUBLISHED: 09:27 21 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


Brighten up

I WOULD congratulate the parks department within North Somerset Council (NSC) for the outstanding floral displays in and around Weston.

From the floral clock in Alexandra Parade to the many flower beds, large tubs and hanging baskets they are all quite beautiful and brighten up the town.

Good though they are I do sometimes wonder what the total cost of nurturing all these plants, plus the cost of displaying them must be.

Conversely I would chastise the highways department not only for the very poor state of many roads, particularly our main routes, but also for the road signs damaged and with posts missing in last winter’s gales, and still not replaced or repaired, more especially much needed directional signs for visitors who do not know the town.

But surely the zenith of their incompetence must be the road signs still in place with directions to RAF Banwell! It is so long ago that I cannot remember when this RAF camp was closed, but it obviously has not yet registered within NSC.

These days my travel apart from North Somerset are confined to Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire but nowhere on my travels are the roads in such poor condition as they are in Weston. There were large potholes at the southern end of the Drove Road/Devonshire Road bridge over the railway.

These were repaired but unbelievably smaller adjacent potholes all about two inches deep were left unrepaired.

It does make you wonder about the muddled thinking which goes on in the highways department.

Repair crew on site – holes too small to bother?

No doubt they will find some well used fatuous excuse such as budgeting demands of priorities elsewhere like the refurbishment of the seafront promenade. This admittedly looks good, but was it really so necessary?

Not for the first time would I comment on the central reservation in Herluin Way between Searle Crescent and the Asda roundabout. Weeds one yard high with rubbish blown by the wind collected amongst them. Just a very untidy and unappealing approach into Weston from the M5. I wonder what visitors must think?


Bleadon Hill, Weston


THE October 6 Mercury had a comment from a local councillor saying that moving of two doctors’ surgeries from Longton Grove Road and Boulevard was OK except that some current patients would be inconvenienced as the surgeries were moving (a mile away) along Locking Road.

The practice’s areas roughly equate to the Central and West Ward.

Central Ward is one of the most deprived in North Somerset. Both wards have a very high number of flats with older people and young families without their own means of transport.

With both practices leaving the area there will be no full time practice in the area.

The rationale is to give new bigger up-to-date premises and facilities and better car parking in a new “central” location.

However it is only central because the two practices have attracted a large number of people outside the practice areas who are able to use their own transport. The patient consultation exercise was a failure as of some 16,000 patients only a few hundred responded.

The PCT has approved the idea and has failed hundreds, maybe thousands who will now have to walk up to a mile further in all weathers or negotiate two bus routes (if they can afford the extra expense).

We are going to be abandoned.


Palmer Row, Weston

New job already?

ON SATURDAY I was walking along the seafront and saw a nice café on Knightstone Island called ‘Dr Fox’s Tearoom’. Has John Penrose found his neighbouring colleague a new job already?


Heron Close, Worle


IT WAS a most delightful article about East Brent Church but I would like to comment.

If the gentleman, who had written the article, John Crockford-Hawley, had visited the so-called neglected grave a few months ago he would have seen a mountain of brambles and it has taken weeks just to get it as it is.

Is the writer aware that there is a Holy Well in the grounds behind the current village school?

In years past there used to be a pilgrimage there every Rogation Sunday and the villagers would take the healing water.

Rumour has it some enterprising farmers used to bottle and sell it.

I have tried to get help in restoring this historic landmark which is marked on current Ordinance Survey maps.

When he mentions water supplies and all the good work that was done, it was from this well that the water came.

You are welcome to East Brent Church any day. It is open until 4pm and you will find a haven of peace and tranquillity in this troubled world.


Organist at East Brent

Bridge Road, Bleadon

Fighting back

I WAS deeply saddened to read your article on October 11 about two-year-old Lucas Wellstead who died from pneumonia and septicaemia the day after being discharged from Weston General Hospital.

Meningitis and septicaemia are notoriously difficult to diagnose and can kill in hours. It is important for health professionals to make sure they are aware of the signs of the disease and the clinical guidelines. Regular observation of indicators such as temperature is paramount.

I lost my son Spencer to meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia some time ago and can well imagine the pain that all those who knew Lucas are suffering.

On behalf of the charity Meningitis UK, which represents thousands of families who have experienced the devastation, caused by meningitis and associated diseases, I would like to pass on our heartfelt sympathies to Lucas’ family and friends.

Meningitis UK is fighting back against all forms of meningitis-related diseases including pneumococcal infection and septicaemia.

Because the diseases strike so quickly and can be difficult to detect, we fund preventative research to develop vaccines to protect future generations.

If any of your readers would like a symptoms information pack, including wallet-sized symptoms cards, or to find out more about supporting our Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign, call Meningitis UK on 0117 947 6320 or visit www.meningitisUK.org


Chief executive, Meningitis UK

Britton Gardens, Kingswood, Bristol


The other week the Mercury reported that a group of key figures in Weston is aiming to establish a public trust to save the Tropicana from demolition.

Set against the background of a lost decade of negativity, and time wasted this is very good news. The whole of Weston should get behind their initiative. For a town of its size, and growing, Weston is under endowed with swimming facilities, so the amenity must not be lost to the town, destroyed by councillors who don’t live here and who don’t want to be bothered with Weston.


Priory Road, Weston


NORTH Somerset Council needs to make drastic cuts in the next budget.

These cuts will fall disproportionately on services for young people including the youth clubs.

This would be very short-sighted because these clubs provide an outlet and interest for many young people who might otherwise be hanging around the streets, bored and aimless.

I would like to make a suggestion to the council.

A couple of weeks ago a North Somerset councillor expressed concern, in The Mercury, that Weston was the only town in the whole of North Somerset to pay for parking in council car parks, or along the seafront.

The residents of Weston contribute almost all the £1.5million car parking fees collected annually.

This seems very unfair.

Therefore I suggest the council introduce charges to Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea, etc, which would surely raise more than £500,000. This could be used to cover the shortfall in the Young Person’s budget.


St Davids Close, Weston


FROM time to time lorries roar under the pier and deliver a top-up of sand to the beach by Knightstone Island.

Longshore drift slowly washes the sand southwards towards Uphill, and it needs to be replaced again.

Casual passers will be familiar with the immediate results, in the form of a rather unattractive scum of very fine sand caught up in the waves and redeposited on the beach as pale mustard coloured foam.

I’ve heard tourists speculate if it’s some kind of industrial pollution, washed down from Avonmouth.

People attempting to actually walk on the beach after a ‘sand delivery’ may find themselves knee-deep in the temporary quicksands, created by the council’s inexplicable decision to deposit the sand in lines parallel with the sea-wall.

When the tide comes in it washes over the long mounds of sand and gets trapped behind them.

Weston’s beach, particularly at the Knightstone end, is made up of layers of free-draining sand and effectively waterproof clay. The creators of England’s canals lined them with clay for a good reason: it stops the water leaking out.

The layer of clay only a very short distance below the sand ensures that the retreating tide can’t sink through the sand, and we wind up with an area of man-made, unsigned quicksand that’s 50 yards closer to Marine Parade than the Danger, Sinking Mud signs.

They’ve been replacing sand like this for well over a decade.

One would think that somebody would have the imagination to stop creating lagoons by creating piles of sand that are parallel with the sea wall, and instead dump the sand in lines perpendicular to the wall - i.e. at right angles to the way they’ve been doing it.

That way, the tide would still spread the sand around, but because it wouldn’t get trapped behind walls of sand, and would do so without creating DIY quicksand for the week or so after the sand is deposited.

It’s not rocket science. I blame North Somerset’s influential DDT - apparently the only section of the council that’s not subject to cuts. The Department for Discouraging Tourism; you may have noticed other examples of their fine work, at the Tropicana.


Highbury Road, Weston


ON BEHALF of a totally deaf man, and his partially-blind and partially-deaf wife, living for 50 years in Furland Road, may I appeal to the authorities, through your columns, for dangerous traffic in upper Milton to be slowed down by traffic-humps and a speed limit of 20 mph on the Upper Bristol Road.

Although there is a pedestrian crossing near the corner of the road in question and Baytree Road, traffic generally moves at more than the legal 30mph, because, west of Grove Road, there is a straight stretch.

This could be crossed safely, but for a bend in the road, east of Grove Road.

The bend conceals traffic travelling westward at such great speed that crossing is very dangerous. That straight section of the road needs to have traffic-humps and a speed limit of 20mph in order to prevent accidents from occurring.


St Judes Terrace, Weston

Wider picture

I WRITE in support of the town centre PCSOs. Perhaps the former police officer of 30 years would be better spent looking at the wider picture?

What the former police officer fails to mention is that North Somerset Council is the only council in the country that has not decriminalised parking, meaning that it is the responsibility of the police to enforce.

Any sensible person who is aware of what is going on in our town along with many others will realise that the police have greater issues to deal with.

The police receive no money from any of the tickets that they issue as it goes to central Government.

I along with many other shop owners and shop managers from all over the town are faced with the problem of our customers and deliveries being unable to get to our shops because of vehicles continually parking illegally in loading bays, along with parking in bays for longer than the limit. Parking in bays for longer than the limit affects our trade immensely because we get no passing trade. Vehicles are parking all day.

Hence why there are so many empty shops in the town.

It therefore seems ludicrous that the council does not decriminalise parking in line with every other council.

It could either employ wardens itself which would enable the ticket money to go back into the council, which would pay for the wardens and generate much needed funds (perhaps the Tropicana) and not go into central Government. Or contract it out to an outside body at no cost.

Anyone who is aware of all of the facts would soon realise that the town centre’s parking problems will never be resolved by the police.

I would like to conclude by saying that the PCSOs are issuing tickets to vehicles parked on double yellow lines and also on corners.

The comment that the former police office made about cars receiving tickets for staying for 20 minutes too long is slightly misleading. Many of the vehicles that were ticketed during this time spent the whole day in the same position.

Enforcing the parking bay time limit is something that shop owners have asked the police to enforce.

I am sure that the former police officer would be aware that all vehicles that are parked illegally should all be ticketed; the ones that are causing an obstruction should be removed.

He might like to think of the many other invaluable jobs that the PCSOs do that traffic wardens would not.


Weston Furniture Warehouse

Palmer Street, Weston


NORTH Somerset council is paying council tax money to bus operators for subsidised (non-commercial) routes, but Paul Connolly, the unitary authority’s principal transport planning officer was unable to say which services in Clevedon were the most used.

If this is the case in Weston will services 4, 16, 83 and 85 disappear because councillors have ‘no evidence’ of the number of passengers using these services?


Highland Close, Weston


I HAD my green garden waste bag stolen earlier this year and, as suggested on the Waste Collection Calendar, I telephoned the appropriate department and asked for a replacement.

A young lady took the call and assured me that one would be sent to me.

Nothing happened during the next month so I rang again.

My request had not been entered I was told but not to worry, it has now been logged and one will be sent to me but of course you could go and buy one instead.

After four phone calls and eight weeks later, I still have no waste bag so one wonders if the council’s policy is to get people to buy the replacements as part of its cost cutting exercise or is it just incompetent?

Buying a bag is not the problem, it is the fact that the officers at the council are paid to do a job and serve the people of North Somerset.

There is a rumour that we shall be asked to pay if we take rubbish to the dump.

Do I hear the sound of fly-tipping I wonder?


Severn Road, Weston

AS I write the sounds of high and low-pitched referees’ whistles are wafting across the road from Baytree Recreation Ground, reminding me that they herald the start of yet another season of schoolboys’ football in Weston.

Once again several hundreds of young, potential soccer starlets will be pitting their skills against each other, but more importantly they will be enjoying a healthy sport and meeting new faces and making new friends.

For the first time in many years I was recently lured to the ground to watch a match. Other than a collection of new players, new managers, trainers, linesmen, and referees, the rest of the ingredients are much as I remember them 42 years ago, when the very first organised Schoolboys’ Sunday League game was played at Baytree in November 1969.

I strongly recommend schoolboys’ soccer to everyone. Go and watch it. Give yourselves a real treat - particularly those parents, for reasons best known to themselves, who never turn up to watch their (in some cases) talented sons perform.

Come on, get out there and support the club your son or daughter plays for. Help the club in every way you possibly can. Get away from Saturday and Sunday television and bring out your car to help with transport to away matches. Don’t leave it to the usual band of loyal parents who always have to do the job you should be doing. Take an interest.

There is a great deal of hard work in running a junior football club. So much excellent work is done by a group of dedicated managers, secretaries, trainers, treasurers and others who give their time freely and willingly, and whose only demand upon you, the parent, is your wholehearted support. And by the way, have you ever considered what your son or daughter could be doing were it not for the weekly training stints; the game on Saturday or Sunday, and his general interest in the club he plays for? Think about it.

Of course, I am not forgetting all the work done on a similar level in schoolboys’ rugby. My comments apply equally to all those involved in the game and for its continued success in Weston.

So, good luck to all young sportsmen taking part in the 2011-12 soccer and rugby season.


Westbrook Road, Milton

I WISH to take issue with the remarks made in your last edition concerning beach safety signage by regular letter writer Geoff Malham.

He said “I cannot believe such complacency – the signs at the beach entrances are extremely small and incorporated with other beach signs”.

It showed a photo of an out-of-date temporary sign which was removed some time ago.

The sign which accompanied his letter showed a temporary sign which was placed at Birnbeck Steps following the tragic death of two swimmers in 2009.

During the last two years at the entrance to these steps a very large RNLI/North Somerset Council red corporate warning sign had been installed.

As stated in my joint letter with HM Coastguard in last week’s Mercury this is one of many installed along Weston seafront, in fact from the Royal Sands beach car park entrance to the entrance to the old pier a total of some 32 of these corporate signs are installed at every beach access point whether it be pedestrian steps or vehicular access ramps.

Each of these RNLI corporate design signs are personalised with relevant safety information for the particular location, these signs are further backed up by yellow triangular warning signs mounted on posts at approximately 200 yard spacing along the whole length of Weston Bay in the area where the sand meets the mud and includes an extra large sign at Uphill which warns of the specific dangers associated with the mud near the River Axe Estuary.

Finally should Geoff Malham wish to discuss his concerns further then I would be only too pleased to meet him and answer his questions.


Lifeboat operations manager

Weston RNLI Lifeboat Station

Birnbeck Road, Weston

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