Letters to the Editor, September 27, 2012

PUBLISHED: 09:54 28 September 2012

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Archant

Demolished

I HAVE every sympathy with DF Courtney and Andrew Bond and their concerns over the state of the old pier but I cannot share their hopes for its restoration.

As a Westonian-born-and-bred and as a recent mayor of the town I have a great interest in seeing the town prosper and although I would speak up for it in the face of criticism from outsiders I agree with long time residents who know that Weston is not a patch on the place it was in my younger days.

The decade-long debacle over and apparent imminent demise of The Pool/Tropicana vividly demonstrates how poorly Weston has been served by North Somerset councillors - especially many of those who represent the town and should be respecting the wishes of the overwhelming number of local residents.

Birnbeck Pier has always been in private ownership.

A few years ago, it was reported that it would need at least £12million spent on it to save it from collapsing into the sea.

How could such a sum be justified - especially in the current economic climate?

And what would a restored pier be used for - another amusement arcade?

This structure was built to accommodate the thousands of South Walians who flooded into Weston via P&A Campbell Ltd’s White Funnel Fleet for their annual holidays or to enjoy Weston’s pubs when Sunday was ‘dry’ in Wales.

However, the increased availability of the motor car and the opening of the first Severn Bridge saw the demise of that service and a receiver was appointed following the 1959 summer season.

From that moment onwards, the old pier had little purpose and gradually fell into disrepair.

Yes, various apparent ‘white knights’ have ridden into town with offers to refurbish the structure but they have all wanted to build on the shoreline (with the pier as the carrot) and the local planning authorities have declined to give consent - rightly in my view.

The old pier is now a ‘dangerous structure’.

The fact that it is the only pier in the country to be built out to an island should not save it for posterity. Let it be demolished then let us see Birnbeck Island as it originally was.

And, before letters of protest come flooding in, I repeat that I am a great supporter of everything Weston - but a realist. In this case, the massive costs don’t justify a rescue bid.

JOHN LEY-MORGAN

Elmsleigh Road, Weston

Planking

I HAVE just read DF Courtney’s letter regarding the old pier. It really is in a disgusting state, just being left to rot.

Back in 1999 they brought out a scheme for people to buy a length of planking to rebuild the walkway along it.

It was our ruby wedding anniversary that year and to mark it our children did just that and there was to be a plaque to commemorate it.

That never came to anything and I often wonder where all that money went.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago walking along Clevedon Pier and seeing all the little plaques with people’s names on.

Where has all this money gone? Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

J P VINNICOMBE

Lark Road, Worle

Check the facts

I DO not know why your reporter Mr Alex Fear described me as chairman of Uphill Village Society in his article of September 6.

I am not a member of the society and have never claimed to be its chairman.

Understandably (and seeing the society’s letter of the September 13 issue) this item has caused deep offence in that by implication the article originated from the society, when it patently had nothing to do with it.

It has also caused me embarrassment that mine was the only name mentioned together with the inaccuracies and generalisations. The article was, in addition, incomplete as it only told part of the picture, its timing was unfortunate and obviously it was not one that I approved of.

I will not be trusting Mercury reporters for a long time.

I am not saying that it is easy for the press to always get their facts right, I am sure it is not. However they have a duty to take as much time to properly check the facts as otherwise they defeat their primary purpose and instead they spread confusion and dismay.

CLLR ROGER BAILEY

Broadoak and Uphill ward, Weston Town Council

Southville Road, Weston

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mercury reporters take every care to get facts right in stories, and we apologise that on this occasion Mr Bailey was wrongly linked to Uphill Village Society. He is obviously correct, however, to acknowledge that mistakes can be made – indeed, our reporter’s name is Alex Evans.

Tall order

JOHN PENROSE’S pledge to fight even harder for our area, after losing his job as Minister for Tourism, is welcome. It is unfortunate that his party colleague Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was not persuaded over the future of Weston’s open air pool.

John told the Mercury that one of the issues to be dealt with is finding an alternative site for a replacement (covered) pool.

That sounds like a tall order, since the current site would appear to be the optimum, which is why the borough council had it built there in the first place.

A short item about the Co-operative Party councillor Alderman Ella Nicholls, who has died, appeared in the same addition of the Mercury.

Among the many causes she espoused was preservation of the pool.

She argued for the transfer of the pool’s ownership to Weston, so that the town council could decide its fate, rather than North Somerset councillors who only come to Weston when they have to.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Foundation

SPENDING more than a million pounds to pull down a building which has stood up to years of neglect and has solid foundations is beyond belief.

Some people are even proposing to build a swimming pool somewhere else when we already have the foundation, why pay more money?

It is not good management of our resources.

Furthermore any swimming pool should be on the seafront for good reasons – first the quality of the water.

The Tropicana is an Art Deco building which is part of the history of this town. Why are our councillors so determined to obliterate all vestiges of the past as they have already done with the Knightstone Theatre, the Rozel Bandstand, etc?

We are North Somerset milch cow and it is time for Weston to take control of its own affairs.

DANIELLE HELLIKER

Addicott Road, Weston

Protest

WE WOULD like to take the opportunity to congratulate Rita Granner and Sam Leadbetter on the organisation of Saturday outside the Tropicana, to protest re the demolition of our one and only in-town swimming pool.

I am sure it took a tremendous amount of work and passion to bring the protest together, the turnout was heartfelt, although more support would have been much appreciated, but the media attention was excellent. We still don’t understand the need for this demolition, the Tropicana façade is not any great eyesore, there are far worse in the town.

Where there is life there is hope. Once it has been demolished we know that site will never be resurrected again.

I hope that North Somerset Council enjoy their shallow victory.

DENISE AND PETER JACOBS

Whitecross Road, Weston

Large

LARGE in number are the people who are protesting about the Tesco plans to take over the Bristol House pub in Milton Road, but larger still will be the number of people, protesters included, that will use it once it opens.

COLIN HUNT

Ringwood Grove, Weston

Beds have gone

WHAT have they done to Prince Consort Gardens? As residents of many years we take regular walks there.

The flower beds have gone and now they appear to be cutting all the small trees and bushes especially at the far end overlooking the old pier.

One beautiful flowering bush has been cut down to stumps.

Altogether there are 42 green bags there of bush and shrub cuttings.

It was once such a lovely spot.

MR AND MRS R ANGLES

Forest Drive, Weston

Divert traffic

I WAS absolutely appalled at the council’s decision to divert traffic from Knightstone Road down Lower Church Road all for a jet ski race.

I understand that events such as these take place here but we must consider road users and the consequences of using narrow roads obviously not designed for two-way traffic.

My partner and I were almost casualties ourselves due to the diversion with the impatience of drivers taking their frustrations out on us.

Furthermore, my partner’s car was hit by one of the drivers with his wing mirror almost taken fully off which I do believe was down to the diversion.

There has never been an incident like this on this road, yet as we tried to fix the mirror to my shock I saw yet another car further up the road being hit by an impatient driver. Can the council honestly believe that this diversion was the best possible route for heavy two-way traffic without proper wardens monitoring the flow of traffic?

Cars have been forced to park down this road with the council’s decision to restrict parking elsewhere, and as a resident of Knightstone Causeway I know all too well the difficulties in parking where I live with the only alternative to park in what I have always assumed to be a safe place until now.

It saddens me that my partner has had to pay out over £150 for a wing mirror to make his car road legal when in fact it wasn’t his fault. It angers me more that the council will take an ‘it’s not our fault’ attitude to the car being hit and the others that have been hit on this road.

I hope the council compensates my partner for the damaged wing mirror and any other car that was damaged this weekend.

I also hope lessons can be learned about the importance of monitoring traffic down narrow roads to stop vans driving up the pavement, to stop buses and cars trying to overtake each other and to stop innocent people from paying the costs.

LAUREN BRIGGS

Knightstone Causeway, Weston

Wonderful stories

IN THESE days of doom and gloom hasn’t it been delightful to read some wonderful stories in our Mercury newspaper lately relating to local people?

The 16 and 17-year-old lads Jack Insall and Sam Baker who, rising danger to themselves, rescued an injured dog from the middle of a busy Weston road. Having been hit by passing traffic twice within three hours the poor animal was near to death. This was witnessed by a gentleman and his wife from their car who then proceeded to take the dog and the two lads to a vet. The dog has now been adopted by the gentleman’s wife and two young daughters and three other dogs. Well done to all concerned, especially to the vet.

Also the story of nine-year-old Jack Millier who has raised £500 by organising a cake sale all by himself in memory of his grandmother. Not content with that apparently he also delivered more than 80 leaflets, arranged a tombola and tabletop sale, and wrote letters to local companies asking for donations as prizes. What a son to be proud of indeed.

We many not have a great deal to be proud of in Weston at this present time but we have some wonderful people living in it.

G N FLETCHER

Baker Street, Weston

Saddened

FURTHER to the article published in the September 13 Mercury from the visually-impaired lady with her dog, Bruno, I am saddened to hear the way she has been treated by some of the public in this locality.

I too am visually impaired but, unlike the above lady, I do have some peripheral vision and like to walk daily as much as I can. I do have problems in town with a number of people not recognising my white stick and its meaning.

When I’m walking on the Strawberry Line I have many problems with cyclists who do not give warnings that they are approaching and often go racing past causing me to wobble. I need my white stick for support when walking as well as indicating my visual impairment.

It does surprise me to find that when I draw attention to my stick that people do not seem to understand what it represents.

Through your column I urge readers to show a little more consideration for the blind and visually impaired.

DI SEAMAN

Hapil Close, Sandford

Frustrating

AS SOMEONE who has a disabled relative I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see people drive straight into clearly marked disabled bays with no thought for the people they are reserved for.

These spaces are close to shops for obvious reasons, they are not for people who are lazy and can’t be bothered to walk that little bit extra.

Granted, it’s not illegal to park in disabled bays on off-street parking e.g. – in a supermarket car park – but out of respect they should be left for disabled people only. However, misusing an on-street disabled parking bay is an offence which carries the maximum penalty of £1,000 – is that a risk you really want to take just because you don’t want to walk very far?

Next time you enter a shopping centre or supermarket, have a little respect and leave the disabled bays for those who really need them.

SAMANTHA BALL

Wansborough Road, Worle

Political

SINCE the introduction of the recycling system they had been making residents put out their food waste in brown bins, but when it was taken to our local recycling centre it was just thrown in the non-recycling waste and sent to landfill.

The waste was counted as recycled. It just so happened it was prior to the local elections and my letter was deemed political and not published (April 21 edition).

When the Mercury rang me with its decision I said my letter was not political but a complaint about the council’s behaviour and it was the Mercury that was being political by not publishing. During this period it did not stop the council boasting about its wonderful recycling rates in the Mercury. A later letter to the Mercury was also quietly shelved.

In suppressing the information of the council’s dishonesty, the residents of Weston were denied the right to know about the activities of the council. Would it have affected how people voted? Is the council in power by default? Over the issue of the Tropicana it should resign and put the issue to a public vote.

I have always voted Conservative but am convinced that Weston is better off with the Liberal Democrats and others. The Government is likely to lose an MP over this issue, I only hope the council changes hands also.

It is an absolute nonsense to say Weston’s tourism would be better without the Tropicana. Both of my daughters have acted as Weston Welcomers and people would always ask where they could go to swim, not surprisingly tourists did not want to travel inland to Hutton Moor.

My daughters gave up going to Hutton Moor, for as often as not there would be a gala on so was closed to them. A visit to out-of-town to the Sedgemoor Splash was the only option.

Our town suffers from the second highest tidal range in the world meaning the tide is in for a very short time, has Eric Pickles taken this into account and why when local business people are ready to put their reputation on the line is the council being destructive, not constructive?

Let’s hope Derek Mead stands for election, perhaps then we will get some integrity.

RON FIELDHOUSE

Boundary Close, Weston

Fringe festival

I WOULD like to congratulate all who were involved in the Weston Fringe Festival this month.

They managed to arrange more than 60 events over less then two weeks, with something for everyone. I myself thoroughly enjoyed the comedy nights held at the Winter Gardens, as well as a couple of splendid one act plays by local authors, and also some wonderful musical performances.

I hear that they have now been accepted into the World Fringe Organisation, so not only does Weston have a Fringe, but it’s official.

I hope that next year the Mercury can get more behind it, as there was precious little information that I could find. The Fringe is something we Westonians can be proud of, so hats off to the organisers and here’s to next year getting the support it deserves.

MELANIE BAGNALL

Alma Street, Weston

Thank you

MAY I thank the chairman and members of the Weston Hospital Trust for recently hosting such a spectacular evening in celebration of hospital staff successes.

The citations were wonderful and at times very moving.

I was fortunate to receive a voluntary supporters award, which I had the honour and pleasure of accepting on behalf of all members of the League of Friends of the hospital, and especially for those members who work to tirelessly in the shop. We are indeed very fortunate to have so many caring people in our hospital.

JUNE STEPHEN

Chairman, League of Friends of the Weston Hospitals

Uphill Road North, Weston

Just like magic

MY TWO-YEAR-OLD grandson hurt his arm at his little ‘gym club’ on Wednesday morning.

He was in some discomfort so I took him to A&E at Weston Hospital.

He was seen by a very friendly nurse within about five minutes and we were shown where the toys and books were and settled down for a wait.

We’d been there less than about 10 minutes when he was seen and assessed again, given some pain relief and off we went to X-ray.

When we came back again we were seen very speedily and the doctor gently and carefully manipulated my grandson’s dislocated elbow back into place - just like magic.

After another short period with the toys, to check he had full movement back in his arm - we left the department with a present of a blue teddy and some I was good in X-ray stickers.

This whole experience could have been painful and bewildering for a little two year-old chap but actually it wasn’t, due mainly to the gentle care and engagement of all the staff who dealt with him. So, thank you. We were very glad you were there for us last Wednesday.

MERYL SHEPHARD

Moorham Road, Winscombe

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