Readers’ letters - February 20

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- Credit: Archant

Favourite

I READ with interest an article in the Times recently concerning sabotage on a piece of land adjoining St Andrew’s Church.

These acts of vandalism cannot be condoned and I hope the offenders are caught and punished.

This site was until last year a favourite haunt in Clevedon. On one day alone eight species of butterfly were spotted between the wild grasses and drinking in small puddles created by donkey hooves.

The donkey dung also brought a wide range of beetles, flies and bugs which drew in the smaller birds.


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The rabbits on this site also felt safe, one could almost touch them.

The ecosystem that had been allowed to flourish had grown into one of the rarest spaces in the town, in that this was a space that had been left with minimal interference.

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Unfortunately the stated aims of the group clearing the site seem to have very little to do with the environment.

These ‘tidy-up’ mobs with the best intentions in the world cause untold damage to ecosystems everywhere.

Slate paths, benches, dog walkers and chickens will do more to deter natural species than leaving well alone.

It is sad that their efforts are being sabotaged but even sadder that they chose this spot to tidy up.

M D FOSTER

Ashcombe Road, Weston

Hit again

SO, THE bollards have been hit again. Well, to be precise one bollard has been hit - again!

North Somerset Council will, one day, have a legal battle to face when an accident takes place there and there is a serious injury.

The installation of the bollards and the pavement extension into Combe Road creates a driving hazard of extreme proportions.

Exiting Slade Road one has to drive into the face of the down-coming traffic to turn left which is completely unnecessary and downright dangerous.

Read, mark and learn councillors as, if this junction is not returned to its original condition, there will be serious consequences for you ahead. Mark my words.

JOHN SLEIGHT

Nore Road, Portishead

Number

THE Boundaries Commission is in the process of reviewing the number of wards and consequent numbers of elected councillors.

Currently in our North Somerset Council area there are 61 district councillors who represent the district’s population of roughly 210,000 of which two thirds live in the four towns of Clevedon, Nailsea, Portishead and Weston. The other third (approximately 70,000) live in villages and countryside.

Between 1999 and 2009, the district population grew by 12 per cent and it is likely that by 2019 we can reasonably expect at least a further 10 per cent increase in the numbers of people, meaning a likely total of 231,000. It is worth noting, that will only be just six years from now.

So, on reflection, 61 district councillors during, and since 1999, have been elected by voters by the then population of 186,700.

Projecting my belief that by 2019, the total population will see an increase of 23 per cent (231,000) during that 20-year period.

Of course, there could be unforeseen happenings to spoil my guess.

Are your readers fully aware that councillors currently representing the three main political groups on the council have called for a reduced number of elected members?

In fact they are considering a total of between 46 and 51, so I am reliably informed. Such consideration is based on central Government’s continuing the reduction of spending regardless.

This issue has been considered and discussed by North Somerset Constituency Labour Party and it has realised the danger of such a proposed reduction.

I say danger because quite clearly such a step will mean a reduction of between 25-30 per cent with likely large wards to represent. That, in my view, will lead to an inferior service by councillors who would have an increased workload.

Will they cope with that awesome challenge?

Is it reasonable to expect a fall-off in continuity from the current total of 61 members if they face a 25 per cent reduction? Of course it is.

My suggestion is that the electorate should refuse to accept the fallacious reasoning for that to happen.

Especially when we consider the very probable continuing increase in the district’s population during the next six years.

I believe totally with the expressed views of the local Labour Party which predicts that there will likely be serious adverse effects on future democracy in North Somerset.

Will there be people with ability to stand for election?

Therefore, I suggest we consider contacting our district councillors and offer the facts for their serious thoughts.

DERRICK LOVERING

Broadlands, Clevedon

Green belt car park

I WRITE astonished, that North Somerset Council has approved a car park on the green belt situated on the outskirts of Nailsea.

This is where GE Oil & Gas wants to extend car parking for its employees as it expands, as covered in the February 6 issue of the North Somerset Times. This decision rides roughshod over central Government planning policy and creates a risky precedent for all communities in North Somerset.

As I understand it, our central Government has given extremely clear guidance to local councils that green belt is “to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open” and there must be no “inappropriate development” on green belt land, except in “very special circumstances”.

I struggle to see how building this car park on the green belt that pushes out the boundaries of Nailsea can fit with this policy and be a “very special circumstance” for building on the green belt.

The only reason I can think for this is that our councillors have erroneously defined job creation and protection as “very special circumstances”.

We live in tough times and having experienced redundancy myself, I know jobs are incredibly important.

But I do not believe that our green belt needs to be sacrificed for the sake of job creation and protection.

For example, in this case, there is an adjacent industrial estate, where Coates Cider used to be based.

Our local authority is also charged “to encourage urban regeneration, by the recycling of … urban land”.

Our councillors say the adjacent Coates industrial estate is for ‘employment use’ and not for parking, but surely if they feel empowered to change the usage of green belt to a car park, then surely they can feel equally empowered to change the designated use of part of the Coates estate to car parking?

I believe our councillors have failed us in not examining this opportunity to use this existing neighbouring industrial land properly.

Central Government also charges our councils to “reduce growth in the length and number of motorised journeys, encourage alternative means of travel that have less environmental impact and hence reduce reliance on the private car”.

So under this transport policy, building this car park is clearly an “inappropriate development” that contravenes what our central Government expects of our council regarding transport.

Not only that, there is existing public transport in place that I believe is more than adequate.

Nailsea has a train station and has many bus services running through and around it.

There are bus stops close to GE Oil & Gas and there is even a local bus service that operates out of the above Coates industrial estate!

The other problem with this decision is that it creates precedent.

For example, supposing a community wanted to build some local wind turbines close to it, providing local employment and generating cheap energy or revenue for its people.

If our council is defining job creation as “very special circumstances”, then as long as my hypothetical community can prove its wind turbines will create jobs (and of course meet other planning guidelines), then it shouldn’t now have too much of a problem building them on Green Belt land adjacent to it?

Now this example may be quite laudable, but I feel sure many people can see how this precedent could be used to support some very “inappropriate developments” indeed on Green Belt land.

I did originally object to this planning application and I remain astonished that our councillors have seen fit to approve it.

It clearly does not comply with central Government planning and transport policy and it creates a risky precedent.

PHIL CARTER

North Somerset Friends of the Earth activist,

Beckets Lane, Nailsea

Mobility

Having read your article ‘Mum wants to end motorbike danger’, I would like to draw attention to the fact that according to the Highway Earthlight map, the access in question from Lodway Close to the M5 bridge cycle track is designated as a cycle track and footpath, and therefore any alterations must comply with the equality of access afforded to the users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

As a reluctant user of a mobility scooter, I have been denied entry to this cyclepath due to the installation of an additional barrier.

I would point out I am legally entitled to use this access and, for that reason, I have been in discussions with Councillor Donald Davies who has been most helpful and has assured me that he will do everything possible to enable immobility scooter access to this right of way.

As the main concern of the complainant is the use of motorcycles over the limit of 50cc, surely the best course of action will be through the police and to ensure the existing legislation is adhered to and enforced.

LEN CLUTTERBUCK

Stoneyfields, Easton-in-Gordano

Commission

THE Boundary Commission is in the process of reviewing the number of councillors in the North Somerset District and the consultation period ends on February 18.

There are currently 61 councillors and there have been calls from all the three main political groups on the council to reduce the number from between 46 and 51 largely, it would seem because of the cost.

North Somerset Constituency Labour Party discussed this issue at its February meeting and decided that it considers that there should be no reduction.

The population of North Somerset is due to rise dramatically over the next 10 years, estimated to be as much as 40 per cent.

It is crucial that this population has effective, enthusiastic democratically accountable councillors.

Having a reduced number of councillors representing very large wards will have a major adverse effect on local democracy.

We see the decision to reduce councillor numbers as another short term decision that has been forced on us by central Government cuts that will have serious adverse affects on the future of democracy in North Somerset.

MARTIN HIME

Secretary, North Somerset Constituency Labour Party, Castle Road, Clevedon

Battery Point

WITH reference to the letter from Mr P Miller in the North Somerset Times on February 13, I can assure him that more people would have been present if (a) more people had been invited, and (b) more people had known about it.

As the author of two books about the ships which pass Battery Point, I certainly would have been there.

The whole event seems to have been shambolic.

BERNARD MCCALL

Coastal Shipping, Nore Road, Portishead

Offenders

Parking in Portishead is a total mess, a joke even; certainly, the right hand is not talking to the left.

Councillor Pasley’s plan for members of the public to be given cameras to photograph and report alleged parking offenders is fraught with many dangers. I feel that this is an idea, which is to be commended, but sadly doomed; this is not an ideal world.

What happens when one of the volunteers is assaulted by an irate driver, incensed at being caught?

It seems strange that only a couple of years ago I had a meeting with a chief inspector from Weston about the self same issues now being discussed again. He told me that parking on the pavement was not an offence and his officers would not be dealing with them unless there was no room for pedestrians to pass safely, applying the so called ‘pram test’.

Then we have Superintend Moss the district police commander, last year, stating that his officers would not be dealing with ‘minor’ traffic violations.

The main cause of the parking problems in the town is the failure of Avon and Somerset police to do the job that they are paid to do, as a matter of public safety by keeping pavements clear of obstructions for pedestrians, young and old?

So now, with the police having given the green light to break the law and with little realisation of being caught the problem grows. Although, strangely police did managed to make parking on the pavement in Bristol Road a PACT priority but seemed unable to widen this to the whole of the town.

North Somerset Council must bear some of the responsibility; the pavements in parts of the High Street are breaking up because of pavement parking. What are they doing to get the police to do their job and to save us council tax payers the cost of pavement repairs?

In addition, the idea of introducing parking charges to park in the High Street and other locations is total madness and will drive motorists to the free supermarket car parks and a further death knell to local shops.

Nothing happens quickly with this council, we are still waiting for the double yellow lines on the length of Harbour Road and a roundabout at Cabstand.

But then the police and the local authority will always have the backstop of ‘The Cuts’ to blame. The remedy open to all Government agencies to make themselves victims?

JOHN PAULL

Brampton Way, Portishead

Beware

Cat owners beware! On Saturday February 16 at 1.50pm I was walking through the lane that runs between Kenn Road and Parnell Road, Clevedon, with my cat walking along side me.

At the Parnell Road end we encountered a seemingly middle-aged man with a medium sized dog on a lead. When the man saw the cat he unleashed the dog which immediately attacked my cat pinning it against a wall. One can only conjecture as to what might have happened had I not been there.

When I remonstrated with the man he laughed, thinking, I’m sure, that it was funny and saying “it was only a joke” and that the cat “would give as good as it got”. He then accused the cat of attacking his dog on numerous occasions every time he and it walked in the lane. I suppose he thought that by saying this that attack was the best defence he had for his earlier actions.

This man knows who he is. One day his dog might meet up with a bigger, although not necessarily so, meaner dog that may dish out to it some of what his dog dishes out to cats.

Will it be so funny and a big joke then?

JENNIFER PARSONS

Parnell Road, Clevedon

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