Wednesday, 8 October 2014

So, let’s hear what people have to say

PEOPLE are being encouraged to have their say about the Weymouth town centre Master Plan so the finished product can reflect residents’ views as much as possible.

Getting people’s opinions is clearly a good idea in view of the collapse of the £135 million Howard Holdings scheme for the Pavilion peninsula which the council liked but which more than 7,500 people signed a petition against.

The council scarcely batted an eyelid over people’s views then so, if it does now take on board public opinion for the Master Plan, people will be looking for a bit more authority attention to their views than they got with the abortive HH scheme.

Those of us with even longer memories can recall the delights – if that is the right word – of the ten-year bombsite which blighted the heart of Weymouth while the Debenhams-anchored new town centre was ground out.

The vandals playground of boarded up shops and businesses, including the hugely popular Golden Eagle pub, went on for nearly a decade and came close to destroying Weymouth as a shopping town so, whatever modern Master Plan schemes are chosen, we don’t want a repeat of that thank-you very much.

What residents will be keenly interested to know is, what’s to stop the council taking the temperature of public opinion and then just going ahead with its own template for the future?

Well the council has gone out of its way to stress the importance of people’s views so I’d suggest it has to reveal what those views are, saying which schemes, ideas, projects, plans and developments attracted the most public support.

There would then be a publicly available – and publicly accountable -- shortlist which should be debated to produce a guide for the Master Plan.

But at the end of the day the final word will still come from councillors because they will have to make the decision to approve or reject what is being suggested. That, after all, is what residents elected them for, isn’t it?

ENJOY the coastal path walk beyond Bowleaze while you can.

Winter is coming and everyone is hoping that the devastation caused by weeks of rain last year isn’t repeated.

That deluge caused numerous landslips with path sections sagging or being swept away altogether.

The result is that above Bowleaze the path still marches purposefully towards Osmington, but take a few strides off to one side on the down slops and there are giant cracks or earth slumps indicating that the next landslip might take a huge bite out of the route.

If that happens then the damage will be even worse because dangerous edges will have to be fenced off and that will force walkers even further away from the sea views they seek.

There is no suggestion yet from weathermen that we face a repeat of last winter’s storms and rain, but the alarming change in walking conditions is something to keep an eye on.

A new hazard

A DIFFERENT season and a different problem for drivers as they switch from keeping a wary eye out for wayward tourist pedestrians to keeping a wary eye out for mobility scooters.

It is the nature of Weymouth’s beast that its tourism goes in cycles and shoulder season has always seen coach loads of elderly people flock to the resort.

Sadly not all of them are as adept at getting about as they used to be so some bring a mobility scooter with them or hire one when they get to the resort.

This has seen a sharp increase in such machines around town and on the road with the inevitable increase in incidents.

Among those to surface so far was one user unable to make their mind up about when it was OK to cross a junction... so they just didn’t move at all, backing up traffic behind them.

Conversely, one user knew just when to cross a junction and crawled across it right in front of traffic accelerating towards him from a different junction.

On the pavements it is even worse. Some users just turn their mobility scooter without a thought as to what’s behind them, forcing pedestrians to leap smartly out of their way.

Everyone understands that mobility scooter users deserve every consideration. Perhaps they should help the situation by trying to show a little more awareness themselves.

IN all the years I have enjoyed the countryside I have never found myself really close to a weasel... and then one appears almost under my feet near my front gate in Weymouth!

It was quite simply astonishing because the little creature soon attracted an audience of other pedestrians as we watched it dart about along the pavement or under cars.

It seemed a bit disorientated, going first to one side of the road and then the other, and we slowly realised that it might be a baby.

It could still show an incredible turn of speed as it bustled about and, just as cars turned into the road and things could have got difficult, it chose a front garden dominated by a dense bush and slowly eased itself away out of sight.

To see such a creature in broad daylight in a residential area is a really good indication of just how much wildlife we have around us because our garden also regularly gets squirrels for visitors as well as the occasional fox, slow worms, smooth snakes, frogs and numerous birds.

I’ve never been able to afford to live in the country but I’ll take where I do live as a good second best.

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