November letters

October 30 2018

Letters submitted for the November issue of Portisheadvoice

Using criminals to clean lake is a good idea

By Helen Jayne 

The first issue of Portisheadvoice arrived in my letter box with a bang. Not because it was so informative and well designed, but due to the punchy headline of “use criminals to clean out our lake” on the front cover.

First I want to thank all the people in the community who are putting their time and effort into approaching the council on everyone’s behalf to have the lake dredged. It is one of my favourite places to walk in Portishead and I’m proud to be part of a town which holds such community spirit.

I was not disappointed with the suggestion of using low level offender to do the work. In fact if run well I think it’s a good idea. I have had young people tell me that community service was their first positive interaction with society thanks to dedicated professional staff. It was the negative way in which it was presented by people in leadership roles that saddened me.

In past years I have worked alongside youth offender teams and in challenging behaviour units with criminal histories and I am yet to come across an individual who set out purposely to lose their true identity and dreams. Most have faced much adversity in their lives and/or struggle with mental health issues. Many symptoms of which sadly can lead to anti-social behaviour.

I think it fundamental for us all to face consequences and seek to make amends when we make bad life decisions that hurt ourselves and others. But I’ve seen the empathy of our town in action with mental health awareness fundraisers and unemployment/housing concerns and I believe with faith we can expand this even further. After all they are all linked.

I would like to join this article with Rev Nick Moxon’s (pg. 18 in issue 1 of Portisheadvoice) who talks on why encouragement is so important. I would like to see nothing more than what could be a great opportunity for a group of people to pull on their wellie boots and go and join the offenders with the clean-up and listen to what went wrong in their lives.

To take into account the genuine financial concern of facilitating low-level offenders to clean out the lake, if we joined together we would be tackling two problems in one go.  Even if our effort helps inspire one person back on the right path this holds potential of reducing costs long term in crime prevention and rehabilitation. We also all get to feel pride in saving our lake. I see a win-win.

Through personal experience transformation requires the support, understanding and compassion of society. Words are so powerful. They either build you up or tear you down and shame just makes it harder to get back on track. It literally then leaves everyone stuck in the mud!

With flasks of tea and doughnuts for all count me in.                                                  

Why not use a voluntary group to manage lake?

By David E Hockin

Clevedon's Lake is maintained by a voluntary society "Marlens". Why cannot Portishead do the same, as clearly our District Council at Weston has neither interest nor money to deal with it.

The mud in Clevedon's Lake comes in with the seawater from the Bristol Channel that fills the lake on each High tide. It is flushed out regularly by the Marlens team, back into the sea, water and mud together.

Portishead Lake is fed with fresh water from a small stream, that also brings in mud, which latter has now accumulated to the extent that the lake has a minimal amount of water on top of some 16" of mud, and as the lake doesn't have the several large penstocks for emptying that Clevedon Lake has, flushing the mud to sea by gravity is not possible. As the Portishead mud should be of higher  quality and "purity"  than that in the Clevedon lake, there should be no environmental reason to prevent the mud, having been excavated, being spread on the tidal Marsh that is the foreshore of Portishead Bay, to be dispersed by following tides, as happens to the Clevedon Lake mud.

The only expense involved, would be that of the hire of a JCB and driver, for the duration of the (perhaps annual) cleaning  exercise.

The tidying up, and further maintenance of the lake could then be in the hands of a Portishead Voluntary Lake Society, the local equivalent of Clevedon's "Marlens". Thus, Portishead could have a real stake in the area which IS the pride of,  and a main attraction to the town, at minimal cost to the District Council.