Readers’ letters - December 5

Environmental

I AM afraid your correspondent Linda Richards is missing an important point when she complains at North Somerset Council’s decision to reduce street lighting. It is not only about money.

Electricity generation accounts for a large proportion of our carbon emissions, and until electricity can be produced from sustainable sources, our consumption will have to be reduced drastically if we are to have any chance of preserving the planet for future generations.

North Somerset street lighting is, of course, a drop in the ocean, but if we all make sacrifices at the local level there is still a chance that catastrophe can be avoided.

In view of the evident seriousness of the environmental situation, is it really justifiable to have the streets lit throughout the night?


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WILLIAM KING

Glebe Road, Clevedon

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Dark form

IT IS well into the time of year when it is vitally important that pedestrians and cyclists wear something easily visible in the dark evenings.

I have narrowly missed a dark form several times, to realise later that it is a person, dressed overall in dark clothing. Cycles too carry very poor lighting, if any.

Perhaps your well read and widely distributed journal could (again?) carry an article to draw attention to this life-saving matter.

RODERIC MCNEILL

Kingshill Gardens, Nailsea

If you let it

TO ALL the people so strongly opposing the Tesco being built at West Hill. You are saying it will damage the Costcutter’s business, well it will if you let it.

If you want to shop at Costcutter go ahead, no-one is stopping you. You also fail to realise that Costcutter is not the small local shop it seems to pretend to be, as a matter of fact there are more than 1,700 stores across the UK.

Also another important factor in Tesco’s favour is the fact that it will create multiple new jobs for local unemployed people such as me, a factor that is vital in these tough economic times where retail businesses are more likely to close than hire new staff.

STEFANIE STOKES

Cadbury Road, Portishead

All shared

I AM astounded by the letters that have been sent in requesting that the marina is designated a pedestrian only area.

The pathways in and around The Vale are all shared between cyclists and pedestrians and none of them are any wider than the paths around the marina, yet, whether I am walking or cycling I have never witnessed any incidents.

People are courteous and give way to others, or if necessary, politely request that somebody steps to the side to allow you to pass.

Are we so incapable of sharing space that we need the council to paint white lines all over the Marina dictating where we can and cannot go?

The marina is not only one of Portishead’s beauty spots, it is also a link from the Village Quarter which is woefully short of shops and I, for one, am very grateful that when I take my seven-year-old daughter into the High Street on our bikes we have an alternative route to the busy main road.

There is plenty of space for us all to enjoy this beautiful area, as long as we are all prepared to slow down and keep to the side when passing one another. This goes for speeding cyclists and toddlers on scooters alike.

ROSALYN OKATAN

The Russets, Portishead

Defeat the object

I AM writing in response to the Mailbox letters over the past few weeks which have referred to a child scooter rider and a cyclist David Hill.

I think I witnessed this incident, or certainly something similar. If this was the same one, I would like to acknowledge that David Hill’s account of the incident was accurate. I have a few possible solutions for preventing this from happening again.

We should prevent children from scooting, bike riding and running around the marina and drive them to school!

Keep our children at our side whilst scooting, bike riding; an almost impossible task and one that would defeat the object of scooting or bike riding for fun and exercise.

Adult cyclists may wish to use the roads instead of the pedestrian paths around the marina.

We do as responsible parents try and keep our children safe but, with all due respect, we cannot keep them at our sides at all times.

SUE MITCHELL

Pennant Place, Portishead

On a hill

RE: PROPOSED Tesco store, West Hill, Portishead. Tesco appears to be ‘shoe-horning’ its store into an unsuitable site, which is situated on a hill.

My wife is disabled and seemingly there appears to be no provision for improving the local infrastructure, particularly for the disabled shopper, and no practical separation of pedestrians and mobility shoppers, from off/on-site parking cars and HGV delivery lorries.

Can we therefore expect the local/highway authorities to provide, at public expense, such necessary improvements which may not be done by Tesco?

For example provide a pedestrian zebra crossing on West Hill; properly designed disabled ramps, from existing car parks to the higher levels of West Hill; proper on-site disabled parking with adequate separation from other vehicles and HGV lorries; control of street parking for the benefit of emergency vehicles, public transport, public service vehicles, etc.

If this new store does go ahead and becomes popular within the whole of Portishead and other adjacent villages, as well as serving the immediate West Hill/Avon Way local community, without these essential infrastructure improvements, shopping could become a nightmare on West Hill.

G R COOK

Nore Road, Portishead

Not welcome

PORTISHEAD, which has grown from about 10,000 to 20,000 plus people in the last 20 years, has a pub which has been empty for about a year.

It is not derelict or vandalised. Tesco has announced that it is opening an Express store there and has started work on it before the council planning committee has given the complete go-ahead.

Tesco organised a public meeting on November 7 and a huge majority of people said that Tesco is not welcome. We already have a convenience store which is very popular and about 2,700 people have signed a petition opposing a new store. Michael Kissman, Tesco spokesperson, is on the record (BBC ‘You and Yours’ November 22) as saying that Tesco will not open a store where they are not wanted, but that’s precisely it is proposing in Portishead.

Despite our plethora of supermarkets, we are to get a large Sainsbury’s store in the future. On top of the West Hill store, Tesco has shown an interest in opening an additional Express store in the marina area of our town. The Portishead Tesco Action Group (PTAG) will lobby the North Somerset Planning Committee meeting on December 13, to see if we can stop this unwanted development.

Tesco’s plans are all about market share and profits and nothing at all to do with the wishes of the local community.

Clearly, the Government needs to look quickly at this problem. It could also tell us how localism fits into all of this?

PAUL DUNN

Chair PTAG

The Deans, Portishead

Extra shoppers

RE: NAILSEA Town Centre facelift just an initial opinion. I welcome the idea to attract new small businesses with low rent cost retail units which is in keeping with the varied and traditional nature of the town centre, but would ask two questions.

What does Nailsea need more of? Answer car parking.

What does it not need? Another supermarket.

If this is indeed the way forward then surely common sense says more parking will be needed to accommodate the extra shoppers?

MR K GARDNER

Watercress Close, Nailsea

Car parking

WHAT planet does Mark Robinson live on? He wants to encourage more people to shop in Nailsea by reducing the number of car parking spaces.

He also wants to encourage more small shops by increasing the competition from large supermarkets. We just have to hope the planners have more sense.

DAVID T ROBERTS

Old Church Road, Nailsea

Defies logic

HAVING read the development proposals by the Nailsea Shopping Precinct Management Company, including the planned new Lidl supermarket, I cannot believe that they are attempting to impose this visual disaster on the town.

I fully agree that the old petrol station site and Sycamore House flats are long overdue for a facelift, but to dump another supermarket ‘shed’ in such a prominent location defies logic.

I can well understand that Ellandi would like to asset-strip as much from the precinct site as is possible, no doubt with a view to selling on again in a few years’ time and reaping a financial reward. This, after all, is its business.

As for the comments by Ellandi’s spokesman, Mark Robinson, I seriously wonder what planet he is from. He has already decided that ‘this is great news for Nailsea’ and would like to attract some trendy niche businesses into the vacant units nearby in the Precinct, including a butcher, delicatessen and bakery.

Anyone with experience in the retail and commercial markets should be only too aware that the supermarkets have helped kill off this type of High Street business, and the addition of another supershed a few steps from Colliers Walk is hardly going to attract smaller new food businesses to compete.

We are also in the midst of the most serious Financial Depression since the 1930s. In addition, the proposed scheme will sacrifice 67 parking spaces, surely not good news for the existing precinct traders.

Has Mr Robinson actually walked around Nailsea to appreciate the count of empty units? I am also extremely puzzled why the former Health Centre/Weston College building is not included in the proposed scheme, as this has become a real eyesore and hardly the most attractive welcome to Somerset Square and the town centre.

Nailsea and the immediate area has more than ample food and grocery outlets for its size, so do we want to go for overkill as is happening in Portishead?

This town has already had to suffer a badly (and incorrectly) sited Tesco supermarket imposed on it in recent years. Must we roll over and accept another planning disaster? I sincerely hope not and will adding my voice to the lobby against this ill conceived scheme.

RICHARD JAMES

Larch Close, Nailsea

Does not wash

THERE are several points that are always raised when proposals are made to alter any part of the fabric of a church.

Not least of these points is the question of who is actually protesting.

If the protesters belong to a body who never see the inside of a church except for the ‘hatched, matched and despatched’ periods of their lives (births weddings and funerals), there is little they can say about the decision of a parochial church council made up of members of an active, regular congregation.

Frankly for non members, it is really none of their business.

I know that the great Archbishop, William Temple said: “The Church exists for those outside”, I am sure he didn’t mean “The Church exists to be run by those outside”.

The heritage argument does not wash; the introduction of pews in any church is of comparatively recent origin - around the time of the reformation.

Before that time, congregations stayed on their feet throughout the services and, as the ministry of the word was considered by many of more importance than the Mass, sermons were long and difficult to understand in those tumultuous times.

Older people, or the sick, tended to move towards the edge of the congregation where, when fatigue overtook them, they could lean a grateful shoulder against the building, hence the expression “The weak go to the wall”, so, to defend the heritage of such an old building, all the pews should be removed.

Christianity is facing its toughest time since St Augustine discovered that there was already a flourishing Episcopal Church in England when Clement sent him here to establish one. But this time it is more serious, political correctness is killing Christianity. A sad number of children do not know what Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide (Pentecost) are all about and they are being robbed of the greatest freedom of all - choice.

So, to all the protesters, don’t fight the church, if you believe, rejoin it and, from the inside, make your justifiable voice heard.

LIONEL ANTHONY

Old Church Road, Clevedon

Sense of history

MAY I add my voice to those expressing concern about proposed changes to St Andrew’s Church in Clevedon.

Like many mediaeval churches it is an object of beauty from the outside, but it is when you go inside that you get a real sense of history and a feeling of awe.

Reading your report one would never guess that St Andrew’s already has a large, modern church hall which is very suitable for all sorts of events and external groups who need such a facility. Thank goodness ITV has been doing some filming in the church recently. Its pictures will be useful when a future generation attempts to restore the church to its former glory.

R MULLINEAUX

Pill Way, Clevedon

Town band

I CAN assure Mr John that if Portishead town had a town band, we would have been at the Remembrance Day Parade, proudly leading the parade as we have done in previous years.

The truth of the matter is that at present Portishead Town Band has just nine subscription paying members. Given that a brass band would normally consist of 25 players (a fact Mr John would be more than aware of), the figures speak for themselves.

To march with one bass, one trombone, two cornets and a baritone, would not have been feasible. The other four players were unavailable due to holidays and shift work.

I joined the band back in 1999, when it was a fourth section band and over the last 13 years it has represented the town of Portishead at many prestigious events and contests, both in the UK as far south as Slapton and as far north as Scotland, and overseas to Portishead’s twin town of Den Dungen.

Between 1999 and 2010 constant improvement in the standard of the band meant it was promoted through four leagues to the Championship section. Today, I am the only member left in the band from its days in the fourth section.

After what has been a turbulent year for the band, the remaining members had to make a fight or fold decision at the annual meeting just a few weeks ago.

The decision was made to fight, we are now in the process of recruiting new players and a resident MD.

The new committee is aware of the lack of presence from the band in the town in recent years and that is on an on-going agenda to be rectified.

I would also like to point out that this year, as well as performing as part of the Charity Fundraising Concert for Children’s Hospice South West, our quartet group represented the town band at the flower show, the mural unveiling for the Railway Group, and (for the second time) at the open day at the nature reserve.

I would like to make it clear that the British Legion was informed at the start of October of the current situation and we thank them for the good wishes they sent our way. We sincerely hope we will be there next year.

We therefore ask the town of Portishead to bear with us as we rebuild, to support us at concerts, and to be proud to have a town band.

If any readers are brass players, we currently meet once a week on a Monday evening at Gordano School 7.45-9.45pm, please come along and help us rebuild the town band.

RACHAEL DICKINSON

Contest secretary, Portishead Town Band

Baytree Road, Clevedon

Thank you

I WOULD like to express my thanks to the people who helped me in Stowey Way, Yatton, last Thursday evening, after a driver threw open their car door, smashing me off my bike in the process.

The help and assistance was much appreciated and I offer a special thank you to the young lady who offered to give me a lift home, which I wished I had taken, because as the shock wore off, I found I was more damaged than I originally thought.

I would also like to thank the personnel at the minor injuries unit at Clevedon Hospital for checking me over.

As for the driver who apparently couldn’t see a fat bloke wearing a red jacket topped with a hi-vis jacket riding a bike equipped with a high intensity white light (the kind that annoys the hell out of on-coming drivers) as well as an accompanying bright flashing LED light and then decided to drive off without exchanging details.

Whilst I did not catch your full licence details, if I see your car again, I shall report its location and details to the police, and you owe me a new Kindle.

M HILDICH

Claverham Park, Claverham

Christmas lights

MANY thanks to all the people who gave their time and effort to put on such an excellent display on Saturday evening in Queens Square, when the Christmas Lights were switch on by Daphne Fowler from the TV programme Eggheads assisted by Father Christmas.

During the course of the evening, many local people and visitors to Clevedon were heard to make very positive remarks about the efforts that had been made to produce such a very pleasant and enjoyable evening.

Clevedon Pride, and the team who organised this event must be given a very well done and a big thank. Please can we look forward to next year!

CLLR PATRICK MCNEILL

Vice Chairman, Clevedon Town Council

Elton Road, Clevedon

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