Letters to the Editor, September 5, 2013

PUBLISHED: 09:26 06 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:26 06 September 2013

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Set free

THE front page of the Mercury published on August 22 carried the heading ‘RNLI base - time is running out’.

The main story about the impending disaster facing the old pier was headed ‘an old girl falling into the sea; she is about to drown’.

On the same page there was an item about a ‘New e-petition to save the Trop’. How many more petitions do there need to be? Westonians have made it absolutely clear what they want done about both the old pier and the open air pool. Several years ago, the late Richard Whittington almost single handedly gathered some 27,000 signatures in favour of restoring the pool which he presented to the Secretary of State in London.

A masterplan has been drawn up detailing long-term plans to restore Clevedon’s historic marine lake, improve the promenade, strengthening the sea wall, install diving boards, bathing huts and a paddling pool. The scheme should be completed by August 2014 in time for the proposed Tides Festival in September of that year.

North Somerset Council executive for open spaces, Councillor Peter Bryant said that there is a fantastic opportunity to secure funding to restore this important community facility, and that it is necessary to get as much community support as possible.

He added that the lake was once a focal point in the town and that it is aimed to recreate the facility for the leisure needs of the 21st century. He might almost have been talking about Weston’s open air pool.

The fact is that Weston and the surrounding villages need to be set free from North Somerset, whose concerns are centred on the northern half of the district which lies within Greater Bristol, places such as Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea and Backwell.

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

Last event

IN 1973 I attended a Victorian Evening on Birnbeck pier. There were a large number of people who enjoyed an enjoyable meal and suitable entertainment.

To the best of my knowledge, that was the last event to take place on the pier.

It is very sad to see what could surely be a great venue for all sorts of events and even boat trips across to Wales and Devon coast as there were then.

COLIN HUNT

Ringwood Grove, Weston

Pitiful

GROVE Park bandstand is in a pitiful condition, and will soon reach its tipping point (similar to poor old Birnbeck Pier which is now rusting into the sea).

Then I learn from the report in the Mercury that the original estimate for repair was a mere £12,000 although this is expected to rise.

But even if the cost doubles, it would still be a fleabite as far as North Somerset Council’s coffers are concerned! I feel we should organise a charity - Save Our Bandstand Soon - or SOBS. Any takers?

Yes, we must save our bandstand before it’s too late!

JUNE M BASTABLE

Stanley Road, Weston

Bandstand

I DON’T think the bandstand in Grove Park would have been left to rot had it been situated in Clevedon or Portishead (eg Clevedon Pier £600,000: Grove Park bandstand £0). I rest my case!

PAULINE PLATTEN

St Davids Close, Worlebury

Reassuring

IT WAS reassuring to see objections to the recent almost full page spread allowed by your paper for Councillor Elfan Ap Rees to yet again extol his many virtues.

I personally would query the benefits to Weston of this very unwise move. It was not that long ago I was refused publication of criticism of the councillor’s negativity and pessimism with respect to Birnbeck Pier as it was deemed unsuitable. And why are the ‘Opinion’ pages in this paper used by councillors for backbiting and bitching like kindergarten kids?

After several years living here I remain dumbfounded as to why such a person is still a councillor, and more important, why no one is allowed to query that.

JUDI MASSA (MS)

Bristol Road Lower, Weston

Better position

WITHOUT wishing to get involved in a drawn out war of words with Ian Pitch of Winscombe (and there’s a clue), what would he know about the grind that the residents of Weston have to put up with regarding the problems beset us?

I’ve lived in Weston since the mid 80s and so I think I’m in a better position to make comment rather than someone living in a sleepy hamlet 10 miles away from the town and makes me more than an ‘Armchair Expert’, as he states.

I return to my point that the Dolphin Square project has failed to attract any retail companies to the town. Original comments stated that River Island was planning to open up shop in the town, Primark has been mentioned – where are they? Restaurants and a cinema are the only proposed companies so far to plan to come to Dolphin Square, which could signal the closure of existing restaurants in the town and the Odeon may be under threat.

The Weston Gateway site so far has attracted Knightstone Housing and Hungry Horse. Knightstone Housing is merely centralising all its offices to come under one roof and the Hungry Horse opening will surely impact on the turnover of the Bucket and Spade, threatening jobs?

Locking Parklands has failed to attract the proposed Ski Slope that was planned, along with the other companies that were going to open up around it. To my knowledge there’s a massive housing programme going on which will compound the traffic problem and ultimately make the current Weston Package solution insufficient very quickly. As for allowing our elected representatives to govern things, now that Derek Mead is involved, we may see a true voice of the people being present. Hopefully, he’ll rattle a few gilded cages – who knows?

KEVIN EVANS

Dunedin Way, St Georges

Public toilets

SEVERAL weeks ago I sent a letter to Eric Pickles, who as you know is Secretary of State for Local Government, regarding the closing down of our local public toilets.

I tried explaining to Mr Pickles my deep concerns especially for us older persons regarding North Somerset Council’s false economy in shutting these public toilets. Reasons given for it by the council are because of the Coalition Government’s ruthless cuts that have been imposed on councils since coming to power.

It seems as per normal no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. I say again to North Somerset Council you are not helping anyone by shutting these toilets. I attach a Mike Shaughnessy`s response for Mr Pickles, whom I spoke with yesterday.

He blamed the council and I know the council blames the Government and as per usual we get absolutely nowhere.

Shutting down our public toilets is wrong and I believe the council knows this? One hopes they have a change of heart on this issue soon?

AUSTIN SAYER

Milverton, Weston

Call in experts

READING K Perrett’s letter ‘Sun shining’ last week it seems that he wants it all.

He criticises North Somerset Council (NSC) for employing top professional advisors to examine and analyse Trop (WSM) Ltd’s plans for the Tropicana re-development. But isn’t that what any responsible public organisation should do when dealing with a specialised case – call in experts? We can be sure that, had NSC not sought such outside advice, Mr Perrett would have been heading the queue of complainers.

Furthermore, he conveniently forgets to mention that English Heritage - a most respected and conservative body - also condemned Derek Mead’s Tropicana plan as being unviable.

Most significantly, while repeatedly attacking NSC over its position on the crumbling pool, Mr Perrett still sidesteps the critical question - where’s the money coming from to rebuild it?

He urges NSC to ‘come off the fence and beat the drum for a Tropicana that will be viable under the guidance of the Trop group and a successful entrepreneur’. But we know that Derek Mead doesn’t have the funds, so who does? Since you clearly think you have all the answers Mr Perrett, please enlighten the rest of us.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

Destruction

I FELT the need to respond to Ian Pitch’s letter, ‘Two Westons’.

Forgive me if you imagine that I personally blame Councillor Elfan Ap Rees for all that is wrong in our area. I suppose it is very much a British thing of taking a pop at someone who likes to stand on a platform, beating his chest and spouting out a lot of hot air.

I do realise that it takes more than one hand at a vote to carry such issues as the attempted destruction of the Tropicana.

I don’t recall at any time in any of my recent letters that I considered local government as being easy because I don’t. It is a sad world we live in if someone can’t express his views without being thrown the gauntlet with that tired, well used statement of ‘try doing it yourself’.

You seem to be an easily excitable gentleman Mr Pitch if you can get excited about Dolphin Square. Have you been monitoring that site over the last few months? You must enjoy watching paint dry. Yes we were all warmed to the thought of top brand shopping coming to Weston. Is this to be another Snow Dome failure? I certainly hope not and would be delighted to soon discover that the promised shopping materialises but I have been here long enough not to get too excited until the last brick is laid and somebody switches the light on.

When are the powers to be going to realise that we have the stigma of probably being the only major seaside resort in the UK where you can’t swim.

An outdoor pool is not a nicety but a necessity if this resort is to take advantage and complement the great work that has been done on the pier and esplanade and move forward.

KEN HUNTER

Greenland Road, Weston

Has not changed

SOME years ago I stood in front of North Somerset Council and accused it of not being fit for purpose.

From a Weston point of view my opinion has not changed. Being a Westonian I firmly believe nothing positive has happened in the town since the town and its assets were handed over to a unitary authority.

Voters who voice their concerns about the council to the main party leadership get a standard reply stating they do not interfere in local politics (I have three such letters one from each party) even your own Parliamentary member has no influence in the town he represents, hence the decline in the public trust and interest in local politics.

North Somerset has 61 councillors, of those 21 represent Weston. Although Weston has 39.7 per cent of the total population it has rarely been able to wield much influence over the remaining 40 councillors, who represent their constituents extremely well and are far more in tune with each others’ needs than our own councillors. Hence Clevedon has a swimming pool, high tech high, value jobs, and council headquarters. Portishead has high value jobs and an open air swimming pool, well cared for public areas and roads.

Weston gets its assets wasted. An ill thought through new development of Dolphin square which will never show any return for taxpayers, parking charges that frighten away shoppers and tourists and third world roads.

This need not have been the case. Weston councillors are well educated and able debaters and experienced politicians but none seem to show they care very much for the real needs of the town and its people. Yet these same councillors with their North Somerset hats on are ready to agree to massive borrowing for frivolous purchases that will ensure huge increases in local taxation in the near future.

Weston’s demographics make its needs totally different from the rest of North Somerset but this is not reflected in the priorities of the unitary authority hence the continued decline in the town, the lack of a mixed economic base, well paid high tech job opportunities, and the development of tourism. Yet it was a Weston businessman whose company and idea rejected by North Somerset and Weston council that created thousands of jobs in Burnham and Bridgwater.

The responsibility of Weston Town Council is to ensure the needs of the town are not ignored by the unity authority. This statement is included in the localism act and Weston Town Council’s own literature.

Unfortunately this has not nor will happen, 13 of the 28 town councillors are also North Somerset councillors.

The present political system leaves the future of Weston looking bleak.

Much of the issues we are facing are the fault of the voters. We have allowed local politicians to do as they will, unchecked and unquestioned.

We have only paid lip service to those who took on North Somerset Council, people like Richard Nightingale who spent tens of thousands pounds fighting the council, attempting to save the Tropicana and the other businessmen who have had to work quietly behind the scenes to support different individuals and a project because they feared what would happen to their business interests if the council understood they were involved.

Weston has the thinkers and the doers to become vibrant, all it requires is leadership, direction, organisation. But first we need a town council that will fight for Weston and not kowtow to the unitary authority.

I would also like to thank the gentleman who runs the café in Grove Park who took over the sponsorship of Sunday bands when Weston council decided it would withdraw its support. It is individuals like this that are entitled to our support and should be praised.

JAMES A DOBSON

Swan Close, Weston

Register a vote

I HAVE been a keen supporter for keeping the Tropicana swimming pool and its refurbishment so that once again Weston could have its own pool open.

I am amazed and also disappointed, that so few of the people of Weston have found the time to sign Karen Purnell’s online petition she has organised to save the Tropicana to send to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

I find that less than one thousand people have shown their support. We all know that North Somerset Council just doesn’t want us to have a pool as you can clearly see by the way in which it has put every excuse it can think up to stop anybody at all trying. Even one who has already said he will tear it down if he cannot make it work at no cost to them.

So why can’t it issue a short lease renewable every 25 years or so, as long as it is remaining a leisure facility?

The council can ensure that a lease with these conditions will ensure the land and site can never be built on.

This council can support everywhere else other than Weston. Is it maybe so many councillors have no interest in what’s good for Weston, because they do not come from here?

I ask you, no beg you, to ask anybody you know who has a computer to register a vote on line to www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/53672

If everyone could get only 10 friends to do this we could even win the day.

Please show this council that you care and to let it also know you can have long memories.

LAURENCE F ORME

Shrubbery Avenue, Weston

Keep us fit

I WISH to use your pages to thank Councillor Elfan Ap Rees for reducing the charge for parking in Locking Road to ‘only’ £80 per year and for allowing us to continue to pay £9.60 per day to park near home in residential streets.

We are so grateful that we can help fund the budget for all North Somerset.

We also appreciate that we can still walk up to half a mile to and from Locking Road car park. It will really keep us fit and healthy in all weathers. We are so happy we have to move our cars each two hours as it means even more healthy exercise. We are pleased it is making the old, the sick and young families more self reliant as visitors will not come and trouble them because of the £2.40 per two hour charge for them to park near our homes. We are happy that the help extended to motorcyclists and the disabled and shoppers will now be extended to visitors to the Playhouse.

We are pleased that most of the other 60 odd councillors are supporting him. Surely he cannot be pushing this through himself (or is he?)

BRIAN SHELDRAKE

Palmer Row, Weston

Two spaces

THE other day, while retrieving my car from Victoria Quadrant, a lady in a new Honda pulled up opposite in a bay and took the two remaining spaces.

I politely asked her if she was local, the reply was “no, I live in Locking”. I then asked her why she did not park on the Boulevard where there were loads of spaces, the reply was “I’ve never paid for parking in town”.

I then suggested could she not park taking only one space as parking was at a premium, the reply was “I don’t want to get my car damaged, it’s fine there”.

I explained I was local and since the meters, I could not park outside my own home and this is the closest street for parking for local residents near here. The reply was “well move then”.

No wonder the streets remain empty, as this is not the only person I know who lives just outside Weston who refuses to pay to park. And certainly not the only person who prefers two spaces instead of one.

Finally, have there been any answers from the council to the questions I raised in my last letter regarding the numbers of car owning residents?

In your paper of August 29, I learnt a ‘review’ had taken place. Was this open to the public? Were any locals consulted?

One of the recommendations was to reduce the price of a permit to £80. Can someone tell me to what type of permit this refers to? I presume it does not mean a ‘true’ residential parking permit which would enhance the value of our properties with the obvious consequences as have happened in other run-down areas.

S CLARKE

Hopkins Street, Weston

Deep potholes

LAST week, seemingly unnecessary re-surfacing of Oldmixon Road was carried out.

When will it be the turn of Uphill Road South to get the treatment? Between houses number 52 to 40 and beyond a row of deep potholes down the centre of the road has been left untouched for at least 12 months.

They are dangerous as motorists attempt to drive in the middle of the road over them in both directions all looking at the potholes and not looking where they are going. Last week I narrowly avoided at accident whilst cycling and was lucky the wheel of my bicycle wasn’t buckled by hitting a deep pothole.

Who in the local authority offices decides which road has priority for repairs?

H HARVEY (MRS)

Ashford Drive, Weston

London Flyer

HOW sad that after 30 years Bakers Dolphin has decided to take the London Flyer off the road.

We remember our first trip when the Flyer came from Bridgwater and picked up at 8.30am on the seafront.

En route to London we were treated to a televised welcome from Richard Wyatt and on the return journey there was always a film.

The hostess service was excellent with plenty of food and drinks available and the girls were so pleasant.

There were four stops in London so everyone was well provided for and the original services were well supported.

At one stage there were up to six services daily in each direction but gradually the service has seen its support dwindle.

The 8.30am start became difficult because of problems in getting out of Weston and was moved back to the earlier 7.45am.

There was also a service from Bristol to London which was cut and the Weston coach then took in Bristol which added considerable time to the journey.

Sometimes there were only a handful of passengers and it really has become very uneconomical so it is not a surprise that Bakers has called it a day.

The Flyer will be sorely missed by many but unfortunately it is the old story, if you do not use it, you will lose it.

GEOFF MALHAM

Clarence Grove Road, Weston

Dog mess

WILL the person who allows their dog to foul the path in Upper Church Road please stop.

Will the person who throws the plastic bag of dog mess over onto our garden, please stop.

Will the person who drops the dog mess into our waste bin and that of our neighbour, please stop.

Will the person who allows their dog to urinate against the lamppost, please stop.

We are watching out for you.

JILL TULLY

Upper Church Road, Weston

Small panda

THE gentleman who had a baby with him on Monday, left a small panda on the seat in Costa in the High Street, Weston.

I placed it behind the counter, as I’m sure baby Sylvia is missing it.

GERRY GILLAM

Royal Sands, Weston

Thank you

SO MUCH appears in the media about the bad and unkind deeds people do.

So it’s my pleasure to say love and kindness still rules and has not gone away.

On Thursday, August 1, my lovely husband collapsed outside the Cliff Steps Café and was very poorly indeed.

Two angels appeared out of the blue to take control – so thank you Nicky and Kitty for being there for us.

Thank you too for the owners and staff at Cliff Steps Café, the three very hard-working paramedics, and the staff at the Ambulatory centre, Weston General Hospital, where my husband received the most professional care and kindness.

JOAN MOORE

Heriotts Court, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire

ON BEHALF of our president Les Simpson and members of Worle Lions Club I would like to thank our programme sponsors for their support this year.

Also to thank all the shops and businesses who gave prizes for our giant tombola stall.

A wonderful day was had by all. As the sun shone down on us, the crowds appeared.

There were a lot of rides and games for the children, and lots of stalls for the adults to spend their money. The fancy dress was won by Lauren and Abigail Baird, who were dressed as the Flintstones.

The races were lots of fun, especially the dads’ skipping race, I think it helped them to get rid of the calories they had eaten at the barbecue.

After generous donations from the children’s rides, candy floss stall and the archery, plus money made on the day, we have raised just over £3,000. Thank you to Priory Leos and the Friends of Lions, without your help we could not run the fun day.

LION MARGARET SIMPSON

Lions’ Fun Day Co-ordinator

Teesdale Close, Milton

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