Readers’ letters - March 20


Living Wage

I WAS pleased to read in March 6 edition of the ‘Times’ that North Somerset Council leader, Nigel Ashton is considering the implementation of a Living Wage policy for council employees following pressure from Unison.

On January 14 I wrote to Graham Turner, the chief executive of North Somerset Council, the letter was also signed by councillors Richard Tucker, Bob Bateman, Ian Parker, Debbie Stone and Catherine Gibbons.

The letter said: “Given the current squeeze on living standards particularly affecting workers on low wages, many organisations have taken up this policy. Employees are given a wage that is above the minimum and has been estimated as enough to allow a reasonable standard of living.

“We would be most grateful if you could let us know whether you have considered this issue and whether you intend to institute this policy for council workers. If you do not intend to do so we would be most interested in your reasons”

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I received a reply from Paul Morris, head of performance, Improvement and HR on January 25 which stated, in summary, that the council complies with minimal wage and equal pay requirements and also that very few employees were paid under the living wage. He also stated that the council had a duty to demonstrate value for money. No commitment to the living wage was made. I responded on February 13 arguing that very low pay rates were not good for any organisation particularly at a time when living standards were being squeezed by other Government policies. The response to this was to reiterate his original position.

As you say in your report, Unison’s Helen Thornton does not accept that low pay is an issue affecting “very few” North Somerset Council employees. There would seem to be considerable confusion in North Somerset Council both as to whether or not there is a low wage problem and what it is going to do about it.

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On behalf of North Somerset Constituency Labour Party, I call for North Somerset Council to develop a consistent view on low wages that respects the living standards of those that work for it and institute a living wage policy.


Secretary, North Somerset Constituency Labour Party

Castle Road, Clevedon

Sea wall

HOW much more money is going to be spent trying to repair the sea wall at Clevedon’s Marine Lake?

And to what ends? What will happen at the lake when/if it ever becomes watertight? I find it difficult to imagine swimmers or paddlers in abundance. Couldn’t the area be made better use of, perhaps a marina? Expensive I guess but would bring people spending money and employment. It worked well for Portishead!


Elton Road, Clevedon

Price of fuel

WITH regard to your article concerning the price of fuel in Portishead and Nailsea.

I have been a regular customer at the Waitrose supermarket and its petrol station, but have noted that particularly since the fuel operation was handed over to Shell, the prices have gone up weekly (sometimes daily) and it is even dearer than the Shell garage along the road in Clevedon, so I have stopped buying my fuel there.

I would encourage residents of Portishead to be aware of prices in other locations and fill up when they see fuel at a lower price, I filled up my diesel vehicle at Cribbs Causeway on March 14 and it was 7.2p per litre (32.7 per gallon) cheaper than at Waitrose.

While we were at Cribbs we also decided to do our shopping, so Waitrose lost out on our custom twice. I look forward to the competition that will be provided when Sainsbury’s opens its fuel station in Portishead (competition not before time in our town).


Northfield Road, Portishead


TRAVELLING by vehicle through Portishead High Street is becoming a nightmare.

Council, could we please have the crossing outside Costa controlled? Pedestrians need to adhere to road use discipline as well as motorists. Portishead is the only busy place I travel through where pedestrians just use a crossing without even looking at the oncoming traffic. In fact, it’s a hazard! The crossing outside Iceland was a controlled one and worked quite well - why was it de-controlled?


Fircliff Park, Portishead


NO DOUBT other Nailsea residents will be as disgusted as I am about the increase to the Nailsea Town Council Precept for 2013/2014.

An increase of 10.8 per cent - roughly four times the rate of inflation. Recreation an increase of £29,420. Highways an increase of £9,875. For what? Can anyone please explain why these extortionate increases are necessary.

All of you will be aware that councils who intend to raise council tax by more that two per cent are required to hold a referendum. Clearly this may not be applicable to town/parish councils - but a 10.8 per cent increase? All Nailsea residents should file this for the future and when it comes to elections give them the old heave ho. I am at a loss to know what good these people do for Nailsea as a town.


The Maples, Nailsea

Put in place

I WOULD seriously contest your article in this week’s North Somerset Times stating that the conditions at Clevedon leisure centre were disgusting as described by some of the mums who use the centre.

Measures have been put in place to assist in keeping the changing rooms clean by providing plastic slip on covers for outdoor shoes. A young mum said that she was worried about the environment and therefore hadn’t put the shoes on, but there is no reason why they cannot be reused. One of the biggest contributors to dirt in the changing rooms is pushchairs being wheeled right to the end of the changing room leaving mud and dirt on the floor.

We cannot expect a local, public leisure centre to be as pristine as a private, members only health and leisure club. Not for the prices charged even if the swimming lesson charges have gone up. After all, a pound a month increase is not too much to pay for the benefit of your child learning to swim which is skill for life.


Long Acre, Clevedon


HOW sad that parents are objecting to the new bridle path in Clevedon, linking the top part of the town with Highdale Road.

I am not a horse owner or rider, but understand that there is a need for everyone in the community to live side by side.

Whether we own dogs, cats, motorbikes or cars, they all impact on our neighbours - and as with everything in life, responsibility and consideration is required to manage these on a daily basis. It is important that children are brought up to understand and respect their surroundings. We teach them how to cross a road from an early age, and how to behave with family pets, but I am mystified as to why walking alongside a horse is proving such a trauma.

Indeed, in the worse case scenario a horse ‘may become startled and trample a child’, but if your mindset is thinking the worse, then don’t set foot outside the house - goodness knows what could happen.

It was also disappointing to see the photograph of ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ looking children featured in the ‘Times’ alongside the article. It seems they have sadly adopted their parents’ viewpoint that horses are ‘bad’. Not a good start for this new venture. A shame that the positive aspect of living alongside other animals and people has been missed by many in this instance. The ultimate benefits... children who grow to love and respect all animals, and of course, fantastic looking roses!


Seavale Road, Clevedon


I AM sure that the many thousands of customers who have used West Hill Autospares in Portishead over the last 35 years would like to join me in thanking Adrian Toms for the excellent service and dedication he has shown to us all.

Certainly, Adrian and his business will be sadly missed by anyone who has ever needed car spares and advice. Nothing has ever been too much trouble for him.

We should also thank his wife Joy for the support she too has given in the business all these years. May they both enjoy a long and happy retirement together.


Hillgay Close, Redcliffe Bay


I FULLY support the view of Mrs Power regarding money ill spent on the party of the outgoing chief constable.

It is a tradition that the retiring person pays for their party, whatever rank!

If it is public money then that was very wrong. I trust advice will be given. No doubt the CID overtime budget will be reduced, or HQ empty office lights turned off at night for a change.

On the matter of private money I do take issue with any criticism of religious or other organisations being frowned upon for raising funds for their community needs instead of donating abroad. Whilst I fully support raising money, awareness and promoting the need to spread support to all and any genuine need, I believe that it should also be a matter of personal choice. Our Government chooses a lot for us without ground level consultation, we are then able to donate our time, money and voices to supporting causes we find important.

Our choices could be for improving resources to promoting sexual health or helping orphans, or environmental, political, air rescue, animal rescue, health research, archaeological or social and religious buildings, really at the end of the day it is a personal choice.

Some of us choose high living standards, personal items, to educate our children privately, to holiday frequently, large houses, good pensions, designer clothes, the latest cars or just gym membership... the list is endless.

The article made me think about perhaps what I could afford for Africa and, of course, other areas in need.

We are indeed a fortunate nation, though recessions are extremely painful, many people are in hardship but at least we don’t suffer the threat of daily bombing and invasion. Some of us are still quite fortunate indeed and can use our ability to choose to help directly or indirectly.

Whatever people have raised or saved money for is in the main to be applauded, including, surely, the building of anything that brings people together, especially if it improves the welfare of others. In the short term this may be just local, however I have no doubt that in the long term gatherings in such places will filter money abroad charitably.

Whatever the seed planted, if done well and nurtured positively, good things will grow... Karma?

I applaud all that seek to build and grow any positive community.


Kenn Street, Kenn

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