Letters to the Editor, September 29, 2011

PUBLISHED: 16:52 05 October 2011

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Astonishment

IN YOUR recent columns I read with astonishment that North Somerset Council (NSC) has now dreamt up the quite unbelievable idea of demolishing the Tropicana at a cost of £800,000. How much?

Since it was closed in 2000 NSC has only had 11 years to find a solution and provide a decent swimming pool with a retractable roof as has, so many times, been the expressed wish of not only residents but no doubt visitors, thereby to provide an all-year-round facility. How much more negative thinking are we to endure from NSC?

Many times this preferred option has been expressed in readers’ letters, and over many years by voters and council taxpayers to make it abundantly clear this is the desired and even required option for this semi-derelict site.

But no, those on NSC who are responsible have prevaricated every time the subject of the Tropicana has been raised.

I think it was a deplorable act and totally ironical that building materials were dumped in the Tropicana to facilitate the refurbishment of the seafront promenade. Trust NSC to get its priorities wrong.

These materials should have been there for refurbishment of the Tropicana itself and not the seafront.

Recalling my very modest knowledge of Latin, the words ‘super mare’ translate as on sea, but in reality this must be considered as a misnomer. Yes, Weston is on the coast of the Bristol Channel, but it has only shallow muddy water for only a brief spell twice a day ironically called high tide, but quite unsuitable for sea bathing.

Years ago Weston boasted a good open air pool, later to become the Tropicana, and an indoor pool at Knightstone.

As a family we regularly used both when the children were young. Today there is nothing for families or visitors. It is quite disgraceful that such a popular seaside resort cannot provide a much-needed swimming pool. For how much longer? Has it not dawned on the town hall that as a seaside resort Weston has no sea for swimming. Shame on the council, perhaps we should demand the town be renamed Weston sans Mare. More appropriate?

RICHARD BIRTILL

Bleadon Hill, Weston

At a huge cost to us

I AM so tired of writing letters about the Tropicana that I will be brief and avoid going over old ground but I was so incensed by the Nigel Ashton quote in ‘Pool Demand’ from last week’s Mercury that I feel bound to comment.

If I didn’t know it’s not the case I would suggest he had been living on another planet for the past years, how can he be unaware of the petitions taken to London by Richard Whittington, of the interest and support demonstrated at Richard Nightingale’s exhibit at the Sovereign Shopping Centre and the countless letters submitted to your paper in favour of a new pool on the Tropicana site?

Has Mr Ashton actually read any of the letters and were the forms filled in by the public at the Sovereign Shopping Centre ever read and counted? Somehow I doubt it.

As for Mr Ashton, Mr Ap Rees or any other councillor saying no one has approached them with viable plans, or worse that no-one is interested in developing the site, I’m almost at a loss for words. Everyone who reads the Mercury knows that’s not true as there was a report a while ago naming interested parties and those of us who became acquainted with Richard Nightingale during the time he was sharing his ideas with the public hoped and believed that he would still come to our rescue.

It seems very clear that the council as a whole doesn’t want us to have a pool and despite protestations to the contrary are working towards brainwashing the public into believing that demolition is the only way forward, at huge cost to us I might add.

Some of us refuse to be brainwashed and have better memories than Mr Ashton has apparently.

Weston needs a pool where the old one still is and Councillor Richard Tucker is right when he says “there remains overwhelming public demand for the building to be (re)turned into a pool”.

Is he really the only one to be singing from the right hymn sheet?

Everyone who agrees with Mr Tucker needs to make their feelings known now before it’s too late and the council gets its way.

SUSAN GIBSON

Brimridge Road, Winscombe

Not doing enough

I AM disgusted to see the way Weston is being treated by North Somerset Council. Even Kerry Michael, of the Grand Pier, has slammed it for downing tourism and not doing enough.

I gave the council and our Tourism Minister MP an idea for a huge arena which could be built on the old airport along with a London Dungeon-style attraction and an Olympic size swimming pool - three venues which would give the town the boost it needs and, coupled with the new snowdome, Weston will be a top attraction all year round.

But has anyone done anything about it? No.

So I put it to you people of Weston, do you want more and more houses and warehouses with little, if anywhere, for leisure, or do you want an arena which could host top shows, gigs and, biggest of all, wrestling, plus a ‘dungeon’ like London and a pool all of which could replace the derelict Tropicana.

Well readers, if you want houses and warehouses and nothing else then forget it, but if you want something different then lobby everybody to get it.

Mr R G EYERS

Byron Road, Bournville

Sustainable

LIKE Mrs Emily Harris (It all helps, September 15), I too am dismayed when I see items which could be given an extended life being thrown into the skips at the recycling centre.

The Aisecombe Way site does have a section where people can put things for a local charity.

There are also numerous items that charity shops wouldn’t want but which would be useful to somebody somewhere. For these there is North Somerset Freecycle or, if you live in Weston, Weston Freegle. Both are Yahoo groups and it’s easy to advertise something you no longer want.

Someone will probably contact you to say that they can make good use of it and will come and collect it from you.

It’s also possible to advertise for something you want in the hope that someone has one they no longer need and will give it to you.

No money changes hands and the main object is to keep things out of landfill and give them an extended life. I got rid of several heavy (and broken) paving slabs this way a few weeks ago and the guy who collected them was delighted.

If you have not got internet access ask a friend who does to advertise your items for you.

It all helps to keep down landfill charges and thus avoid even higher council tax.

LESLEY ASMAN

Sustainable Weston

Hawthorn Hill, Weston

Meeting place

I AM writing in response to Ben Dimond’s letter published in last week’s Mercury. Enjoying a challenge and as a neighbour of the Tropicana, we would like to become part of the community project for the refurbishment of the pool as a SPWRR (Swimming Pool with a Retractable Roof) that Ben suggests.

We think that the suggestion of a charitable trust should be explored, and to that end, we are prepared to start the ball rolling by offering a meeting place.

Cowan House is situated in Ellenborough Park North, we can offer a meeting room free of charge as a starting point for this initiative.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

JAYNE SYMONS

Cowan House, Ellenborough Park North, Weston

Juggle

ALTHOUGH North Somerset Council is maligned for a lot that should, but does not happen in Weston, I don’t believe they are to blame for a downfall in numbers visiting the Grand Pier, due to lack of advertising.

Since the fire much publicity has been given to the rebuilt pier on a national basis and it has become a well known attraction across the country and beyond.

The fact of the matter is that we are in the middle of a recession.

People are struggling financially, with many jobs being lost, resulting in high unemployment across the board.

Many are having to juggle resources and prioritise finances.

The cost of a visit to the pier is not cheap, especially for a family with children, having to pay individually for every ride/attraction, with the added cost of the large amount of slot machines around, which are hard to resist for many.

There are then the kiosks/cafés and bars dotted around.

Just one visit can add up to a considerable sum of money being spent, for a couple of hours entertainment.

It’s good that the rides have currently been reduced, but this presumably cannot be sustainable.

So yet again we’re back to the fact that Weston is desperately in need of leisure facilities on the Tropicana site and is why the subject provokes almost weekly letters from readers of your paper.

A swimming pool or ice skating rink would incur just one entrance charge for each, so the public would know up front what it would cost them for the time they spent there (with the addition of any food/drinks purchased).

Surely there must be someone, somewhere who can make this a reality.

It would be inexcusable for the council to raze the Tropicana to the ground at a reported cost of £800,000 when they have to save £47million over the next few years.

The town has lost more than 10 years of revenue from this derelict site, some of which I’m sure could have gone towards the council deficit.

However that’s not water under the bridge – when it could have been used for filling up our non-existent pool!

JULIE POWER

Exeter Road, Weston

Only a fraction

I WRITE in response to Deborah Yamanaka’s letter ‘Surgery’ in last week’s Mercury.

While it is understandable that Cllr Yamanaka wishes to represent the views of her Wrington constituents, I find her comments misleading.

She concedes that Wrington Vale Medical Practice will retain “a small branch facility in Wrington” but continues to maintain the impression that her villagers are being forced by the doctors to make a great sacrifice.

Readers should remember that Wrington contains only a fraction of the patients and is just one of 29 villages served by the practice.

What business is it of Wrington to dictate planning decisions in Churchill especially when Churchill Parish Council supports the application to build a new medical centre?

Ms Yamanaka’s village has gained a unique concession and it is regrettable that its inhabitants continue to present themselves as victims.

HEATHER PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Not supplied by us

THANKS for publishing my letter about the idea of a major new reservoir for Somerset in last week’s Mercury. However, this was rather spoiled by you, yet again, publishing an ‘artist’s impression’ of how it would look at Axbridge.

As we keep telling you and others this impression of the Axbridge site (just one of five Somerset sites whose geological suitability we are now examining) was not supplied by us.

The only illustration we have ever provided was to Axbridge Town Council in April 2009. It indicated in the broadest of outlines the type of proposal we were considering at the time.

The outline of the reservoir was schematic, not to scale, and we stressed it should not be taken to be a representation of any design that might be subsequently submitted for planning approval.

It is misleading to keep on trotting out this picture every time the reservoir idea is mentioned.

We also note Ms Glass’ reference to not knowing that a second reservoir has been planned for decades.

We have never said that ‘everybody in Axbridge has always known this’.

However, the idea was certainly being referred to back in the early 1930s when the existing reservoir was built.

In those days it was simply assumed that the reservoir would be next to the current one, but that may well not be the case today.

Bristol Water’s interest in Cheddar water went back well before the reservoir was built. In the 1920s, an intake and pumping station were built to pump this water to Barrow; and the reservoir simply followed as the second phase.

JEREMY WILLIAMS

Bristol Water plc, Bridgwater Road, Bristol

Naming rights

THIS chap Wahid Samady and his partner not only want to rebuild the Royal Pier, they promise to sort out Birnbeck.

Can you believe this? If they can pull this off maybe the town should throw in naming rights: Wahid-super-Mare.

R J DOE

St Davids Close, Worlebury

Thank you John

AS THE summer season draws to a close we send a big thank you to John, who runs the café in Grove Park, for the Sunday concerts which bring pleasure so many people during the summer months and, of course, to the council for the magnificent display of flower this year.

MARION WATKINS AND BOB ALDOUS

Locking Road, Weston

Valuable service

FOLLOWING on from the Opinion in the Mercury, I was also in the meeting on September 14 discussing the future and closure of the café on the Bournville estate and I was shocked that the decision had been made without any potential future plans or forethought as to what they will do once closure happens.

As a trader on the estate it provides a valuable service to our shop, we trade long hours as a betting shop and the staff use the facility to purchase their meals hot and cold throughout the week using the takeout service.

Our customers are also welcome to use the takeout service and eat while they use our business.

We are also fully aware from our customers and the area itself just how valuable the whole café and lunch club has been and should be in the future.

To shut the facility down before any real plans have been set into place or a timescale of re-opening seems ridiculous.

If the kitchen has not been condemned, why the rush to close it when it could continue to function for the six months quoted for a hopeful plan to re-open (yet there are still no plans as to how or what they are going to do)?

It would have made more sense to use what they have and bring into fruition a plan that would give the community an idea of when the café will return and the reasoning behind a closure which currently seems to be just to close a much needed feature of the community with no actual plans of re-opening.

I truly hope the lunch club continues and I really hope that the café will return to the Healthy Living Centre.

I fear that this is just a first step in discontinuing the service, and quite simply the whole process seems rather farcical.

MISS J MITCHELL

Albert Quadrant, Weston

Heavy heart

WHEN I return to Weston, it’s with a heavy heart;

But I must confess, my spirits lift when I visit Clarence Park.

I look around and see, it hasn’t changed that much;

Luckily for now, it lacks the “modern touch”.

The foliage and the pathways, inspire memories from the past;

A pleasure in the mind, which these days, is failing fast.

And if I’m feeling peckish the tuck shop’s there to please;

With a choice of ice cream, these also breakfast, lunch and teas.

God bless you dear old Clarence, it’s great to know your there;

You are such a ‘bloomin’ credit to our Weston-super-Mare.

MARY PARSONS

Stoddens Road, Burnham

Very quiet

THINGS have gone very quiet in Clarence Park, still no sign of the café being refurbished, in fact there is no sign of anything happening at all.

We do hope that the council take the decision to re-open it, as I know the local community are really missing it.

J DUNSTONE

Locking Moor Road, Weston

Sunday walk

Many thanks to The Royal Hotel for providing the venue and kind hospitality for the recent pre-promotion for the forthcoming British Heart Foundation ‘Sunday Walk Along The Prom’ charity walk on October 9 from Weston General Hospital to the Grand Pier at 11am.

Thanks also to Councillor Colin Hall (chairman of North Somerset Council), sponsors Hutton Moor Leisure Centre and Guide2westonsupermare.com representatives for attending. Anyone wishing to register please call 01892 893918.

PAUL HOBBS

Event organiser

Canberra Road, Weston

WE WENT to the Sunday afternoon concert in Grove Park, the very last one of the season. It was immediately obvious that the beautiful hanging baskets had been removed from the park and from the bandstand.

Could not the powers-that-be have left them there until the concerts had finished for the year? I suppose it was too much to expect of this bunch of meanies who reign at the Town Hall. What next? Concreting over of the flower beds? I despair.

JUNE BASTABLE

Stanley Road, Weston

LAST Saturday my wife and I decided to join the crowds on the promenade to witness the Weston Hospicecare Midnight Beach Walk from Uphill to the Grand Pier, and back.

It was magical to see more than 800 women, of all ages with their little lights along the beach like a string of pearls in the dark.

The Weston Wheel was floodlit pink, the street lights were also pink and the pier was open so that the procession could walk to the end.

Did I write earlier that there were crowds? Well I was wrong. We counted only 20 supporters along the stretch from the Royal Sands to the pier.

I know it was midnight but with so many women walking for such a worthy cause it was pathetic that so many preferred being tucked up in bed or partying rather than support them.

The organisers should be congratulated on such a good turnout and spectacle and remember that at some time each family has been touched by those the hospice tries to help - in fact we lost a very good friend to cancer in February.

Why cannot the annual walk be held earlier, say 9pm, it is dark then and surely more would throng to the seafront. Then collecting tins could be available for those who want to donate to the hospice - just a thought.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

A MASSIVE thank you goes out to all the walkers and volunteers who took part in the Weston Hospicecare Midnight Beach Walk last Saturday.

It was an amazing event and more than £50,000 was pledged on the night alone. We would also like to thank all the local businesses that helped us to put together the goody bags for the walkers and also our sponsors Howards.

SARAH LIVERMORE

Weston Hospicecare, Thornbury Road, Uphill

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