Readers’ letters - February 6

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- Credit: Archant

Signal restored

I WISH to convey my thanks to the North Somerset Times and its reporter Vicky Angear for helping to get the Orange mobile signal restored to normal working order in this area.

In early January, I began to experience very patchy reception and loss of connection many times each day.

For three weeks I was trying to get the problem resolved, but Orange Customer Services would not even acknowledge that there was a problem.

Also its website was showing full coverage for BS48, which was plainly not so.


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I then contacted North Somerset Times and Vicky quickly took up the case. Would you believe it, with the possibility of negative publicity in the press, the problem was corrected in two days.

This looks like another example of why Orange usually come around the bottom of tables of customer services surveys.

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N MARSHALL

Kingston Way, Nailsea

Secures 700 jobs

PLANNING approval has finally been granted for a new car park at the GE Oil & Gas premises at Nailsea.

Members of the planning and regulatory committee overwhelmingly supported the planning application which was moved and seconded by Cllr Elfan Ap Rees and myself.

The planning decision now secures 700 high tech jobs in the Nailsea and surrounding area; the planning decision will also eliminate dozens of cars clogging up roads around The Elms estate, Lodge Lane and The Hamlets.

There was some concern prior to the planning meeting regarding the new car park being in the green belt, but members’ concerns were completely alleviated because of the adjacent location to the company premises.

Furthermore there will be additional landscaping and bunding around the new car park completely screening it from view.

In addition, when approaching Nailsea from Wraxall in due course, the backdrop to the car park will be an industrial estate with the car park not being visible.

Also prior to the planning meeting there was a suggestion that an alternative site was available on the Coates’ estate. This was not a possibility and was purely hypothetical.

The land concerned is designated only for employment use and not solely for additional parking. The site was also impractical because of differing ground levels and the use of ramps. Various asbestos buildings would have to be demolished and GE buildings moved around.

Access would be via a road that serves residential properties or through the company’s premises - this would have caused security and health and safety issues as vehicles would have to navigate personnel, other vehicles and buildings.

Historically securing and generating employment has been a special circumstance for approving planning applications and there have been several other occasions where North Somerset Council (NSC) has approved development in the green belt for employment reasons. For example, Cadbury Garden Centre, Cadbury Hotel, Plush Hotel, Garden Park Garden Centre, Bristol Airport, David Lloyd Centre and Tyntesfield (large tarmacked car park in open green belt).

NSC planning policies are very clear; they support job security and new employment in North Somerset especially when linked to major and international companies which operate within the high tech industry.

In the case of GE Oil & Gas we are talking about job security and creation for 700 employees by the end of 2013 and no impact on the green belt. Indeed, this was a very special circumstance for approving the GE Oil & Gas planning application.

ANDY COLE

North Somerset Councillor Nailsea East

Station Road, Nailsea

It does save lives

I AM writing to express my family’s and my praise and gratitude to the staff at the Bristol Royal Infirmary following my stay in hospital recently.

I required emergency surgery on two occasions in three days, some nine hours in total in theatre.

It is without doubt due to staff professionalism that I am able to send this e-mail to you.

I would also like to thank the anonymous blood donors out there who provided more than 20 units of blood through the transfusion service. Without that blood being available I would not be here. I would urge anyone who can give up an hour of their time and donate. It really does save lives.

Given my experience we should not dismantle our NHS (because it is ours) for political or profit making reasons. May the NHS continue to provide, free at the point of use, care for the people that need it when they need it.

ANDY HAMBLIN

Court Close, Portishead

Missing the point

I AM writing regarding the Street Parking charges. I am very frustrated to learn from your article in the January 23 issue, that proposals are being delayed again.

This matter is of considerable concern to me because I, like many others, live on a road where parking charges are being proposed and I have no off-street parking.

I also appreciate all that our town and High Street have to offer and would hate to see it adversely affected.

I have written twice to Councillor Webb and the SPED group with my concerns and have not received any response and I know I am not alone in this.

I note in your article that there is an attempt to put a positive spin on charges being introduced by stating that as people have found it easier to park near shops and services some businesses in Weston have increased footfall or turnover of 25 per cent, but this surely is missing the vital point.

You cannot compare the shopping facilities or the parking issues in Weston to those in Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead.

It should also be mentioned that the shopping centre in Weston is much further away from competition at Cribbs Causeway and central Bristol. Likewise you cannot compare the seafronts. Weston is set up as a tourist attraction with a pier, aquarium and award winning promenade, not to mention sandy beaches. The council only needs to look at its own In North Somerset website to see the obvious differences in population, retail facilities and tourist attractions.

I cannot understand, when there has been so much opposition to these proposals and there is such a clear disparity in the services, attractions, and size of these towns, why the council cannot give in gracefully and admit that street parking charges are not appropriate in Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead? If it wishes to plug gaps in its multi-million pound funding gap, maybe it could start by putting an end to the valuable working hours being wasted in pursuing such an unpopular and inappropriate scheme.

JULIA DAVIS

Slade Road, Portishead

Deserted

I READ with interest your article regarding the delayed proposal for on-and-off street parking for Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead.

The bit that I found especially interesting was the comments regarding the success in Weston scheme as follows: As a result some business owners have said footfall or turnover has increased by 25 per cent since the introduction.

North Somerset Council deputy leader, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, said: “While there was some initial opposition to the idea - some of it ill-informed - the report shows the scheme has been well-received by the majority and we have had a number of letters from local traders and residents congratulating us for what we’ve done.”

I would be very interested in knowing which businesses were praising the increased footfall?

You only have to walk along Meadow Street or Orchard Street on any day between Monday and Saturday and the streets, as well as the shops, are practically deserted, and there is certainly not the same ‘buzz’ felt in the region as there was before the restrictions were introduced.

The tell-tale sign of ‘success’ of the scheme was clearly visible in the run up to Christmas where most of the streets’ parking spaces were available all day.

I have personally spoken to a number of business owners who have thought that the parking scheme rather than making Weston more appealing to shoppers, is actually diverting them to the big retail parks like Cribbs Causeway, and some say that footfall going past their shop windows has significantly declined, having an obvious effect on the trade.

In fact one person said that the mix between ‘existing ‘ customers and ‘new ‘ customers has changed from about 50/50 for most of last year to now 85/15.

I’ve noticed other councils encourage visitors by offering a limited amount of free parking (usually three hours), allowing people time to browse without rushing, but then charging or penalising for being there longer, which would keep the traffic flowing and stop people who work in the town parking there all day.

I would like to see what criteria and benchmarks are used to validate whether the scheme is a success or failure, because from the number of empty spaces at most times of the day, the cost must be outweighing the revenue to the council, without even taking any consideration to the effect of the independent shops in the locality.

STEVE MATTHEWS

Palmer Row, Weston

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