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Letters 2, June 11

PUBLISHED: 19:01 10 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:00 30 June 2010

REGARDING the Warren Road cycleway plan: Yet again Norfolk County Council is blaming a “residents' blockade” as to why the workforce were sent home. The truth was, as they well know, was that they had not contacted the residents whose land they were trespassing on.

REGARDING the Warren Road cycleway plan: Yet again Norfolk County Council is blaming a “residents' blockade” as to why the workforce were sent home. The truth was, as they well know, was that they had not contacted the residents whose land they were trespassing on. The person they refer to as blockading the footpath, had the full consent of the owners of that land to park her vehicle there. It in fact was the workforce, sent by the county council, who were trespassing on their land!

The whole issue of escalating costs are ridiculous. If the council had checked the legal issues in the first place there would not be any. Surely it makes more sense to update the existing cycle path along the A12, which would be at much less cost than a new one.

You state that residents are being invited to give their views on the plans. This was in fact done months ago, as reported previously, with a 98pc vote against the cycle path. This vote was completely ignored.

The residents had stated previously of their concerns regarding safety with pedestrians etc. An incident actually happened to myself on Saturday at approximately 5.30pm on the footpath. A Transit van containing a young male driver with a young female roared down Warren Road, straight at myself and two dogs who were enjoying a stroll along the footpath. The driver narrowly missed hitting me and the dogs.

He then turned around and came straight back at me, and yes, I do have the registration number.

If this had been a child on a cycle or walking, they would have been run over. This proves the residents' point of how dangerous this would be as a cycle path and further on as it continues into a road.

Yet again it is denied the council was breaking laws which protects trees and birds. However in the next sentence they state the trees would be cut back in the latter stages of the development!

The residents of Warren Road are still awaiting the proof of the supposedly 3,000 Hopton residents who are in favour of the cycle path!

S GRAY

Kennel Loke,

Gorleston

NIGEL Crowther completely fails to address the point that Jerry Stone made on June 4, that pedestrians are not respecting the cycle lanes. I could have written Jerry's letter myself: I use the cycle lanes every day and it is frankly a total nightmare. There are dog walkers with those awful elastic leads stretched right across your path, and dogs and children running loose.

Despite being polite, slowing down, ringing my bell etc I rarely receive a “sorry”, just abuse and filthy looks from pedestrians who know you are trying to get past (on the bike lane!) but will not move aside. The attitude seems to be either “I will walk where I want”, or just simple oblivion to what's going on around them.

There is a general hatred and intolerance towards cyclists from drivers and pedestrians in this country, and especially in this area. The roads are not safe to cycle on because drivers “don't see” bikes, or pass them too close and too fast. Something in the region of 16,000 cyclists are injured or killed in the UK every year. How many pedestrians are killed by cyclists? On average, less than one a year.

Cycling on pavements is not dangerous. Pedestrians who don't look where they're going are dangerous, to themselves and to others.

JIM JAMES

Humber Keel,

Gorleston

NO! To “Presidential System” for Great Yarmouth. I received a leaflet/petition form through my door the other day, asking me to sign in favour of an elected Mayor. This request came from two Labour councillors; if my memory serves me correctly (and it does) this is the side of our council who did away with the office of Mayor because it was too expensive.

I found out that you could sign on-line and make comments on-line, however in order to comment it was necessary to sign first; how can an objector make their objection when they have to sign first? This to me doesn't seem very democratic. Is this an example of what one would get with an elected mayor?

But of course their proposal isn't for Mayor as we know it; this is for an elected Mayor, an election that would have to be paid for by the people of Great Yarmouth borough, an unnecessary expense particularly in the current economic climate. It would be for a term of 4-5 years, with the mayor appointing a cabinet to run the town's affairs as well as the civic duties of our current Mayoral system.

In fact what they are suggesting is a President of Great Yarmouth, not a mayor at all, other than in name. I feel the current system of an appointed mayor alternating between parties, as has been the system to date, is quite satisfactory, and provides a head person to represent Yarmouth at civic occasions.

A T DENTON

Nuffield Crescent,

Gorleston-on-Sea

LOCAL Conservatives opposing the idea of an Elected Mayor - what is their problem? I bet they will eventually put up a candidate for the job if local people vote "Yes" in the Referendum. You would think that with the new Coalition Government coming out with all sorts of new ideas for improving democracy the idea of Yarmouth people voting for the leader of the Council shouldn't be all that scary. Don't they trust local people to make decisions for themselves!

JO VRIESEMA

Marine Parade,

Great Yarmouth

OUR new coalition has promised to make government more open and transparent. Hopefully Great Yarmouth residents will now be able to challenge the borough council for answers when it appears bad decisions have been made and get such answers as required. Perhaps with the new coalition's promise we will now be able to find answers about the outer harbour from our council, what their plans are now to obtain the 1,000 jobs and thousands of tourists as promised for our money? We also have a new MP who I am sure will want his government's policy to be adhered to.

Apart from the unwanted and unneeded giant TV screens and overspend on the project, there is the farce of the residents forums. I believe they wanted the twice a year forum where residents would come face to face with the decision makers to fail. It cut into their position of being unquestioned decision makers. A 6.30pm start wasn't helpful to residents who had been at work all day and needed to change and have something to eat, nor were the venues helpful for those without cars. When I questioned these points I was told "that is what the councillors want."

Now out of the blue we suddenly learn the Yarmouth and Gorleston area scrutiny committees have been abolished and they attempt to justify it as part of a £1m planned cut in spending. Never have I heard such rubbish. Cllr Barry Stone said: “The cost was too great to warrant the benefits." Cllr Barry Coleman said: “The meetings were only attended by people obsessed by single issues."

Surely with any issue important to a group of people it is important councillors understand their concerns. By putting the problem to a group you will be able to debate and hear the opinions of a number of councillors who will all be voting. Councillors don't like groups getting together over issues because they feel vulnerable - just as they feel with the 3,500 signatures for an elected mayor.

What is the cost of hiring the hall for the area scrutiny committee meeting? £40? Don't the officers get time off in lieu? The councillors are paid a stipend anyway. What price do you put on democracy? I understand the cost of the ceremonial mayor is projected to be just under £40,000 this coming year, £5,500 of this being the personal allowance.

I would make a plea to all who think we need a more open and transparent democracy in government, as David Cameron and the coalition have promised, that whatever their politics they will make every effort to be at the meeting on Monday at the Cherry Road Community Centre at 6.30pm. I hope both Labour and Conservative councillors can unite as the coalition has done and make this a new meaningful forum for the benefit of our community and its residents and show that a sense of community can come before party politics.

DENNIS DURRANT

Brett Avenue,

Gorleston

WHAT Mr Perry wrote in last week's Mercury, has pleased me very much, because at last people in the borough are noticing what is written in the Letters section and realising that what was built up as the Great Yarmouth “saviour” is three years later a very expensive anchorage that is not as yet bringing the employment or the trade to the town promised by the same councillors now fighting against an Elected Mayor.

Although Mr Perry is correct re bunker barges to some extent, we do not have near and handy a refinery to enable bunker barges to be used economically, though we already do have considerable bulk storage tanks already within the inner harbour, this being the existing “Bunker Berth” on the east side of the river. In fact observers of river traffic would see the frequent visits of one of the Everard tankers discharging every few weeks, and have done so for years. From the Bunker Berth the oil could be pipe fed to the outer harbour.

Heavy oil is being phased out due to its high sulphur (polluting) content. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulation requires that, from 2015, ships entering Emission Control Areas (ECAs) will have to use more expensive fuel with a sulphur content of 0.1pc.

The only areas designated as ECAs are the North Sea and Baltic Sea - although Canadian and US waters will become ECAs in 2012.

Heavy oil has had its day and is not allowed in the North Sea, therefore our modern port funded by grants to provide jobs and support for energy industry and Ro-Ro should be able to bunker these vessels. Even the grain and aggregate vessels do not, or will not, require the "heating" (for ease of transfer) of the outdated heavy fuel.

I have not answered Mr Perry's excellent letter with a view of upsetting him - his observations on the downside of the outer harbour hits the nail on its head..

If I may just touch on the Mercury's front page item concerning an elected mayor. I am, like The Mercury, neither for nor against. But I am for “democracy” which I feel at this present time is sadly lacking.

When members of the public attended the open Cabinet meeting to learn about, “should we agree to the new owners of our Port receiving the HRO” (Harbour Revision Order), we found in a previous private meeting the six Cabinet members, all of the same political party, discussed the ins and outs, so at the public meeting just voted for it. Six party members decided for the 80,000 ratepayers.

If the present Cabinet was made up of a mixture of all the parties voted onto the council, so every voter in the Borough was represented then our town hall would be acting in a democratic way. If they cannot do that, then yes let's have an elected Mayor, and do away with the present one-party Cabinet.

JOHN L COOPER

Burnt Lane

Gorleston

WE are continually being told in the media that this is the era of the “staycation” and time for a revival of the British seaside holiday and resort. What a shame then that on Friday evening, after a glorious sunny day, when I went for an evening walk along my favourite local beach at Gorleston, that the crowds which had obviously been enjoying the beach that day had not bothered to take their litter home. The bins provided on the beach itself were 1/3rd full at most and the beach covered with chip trays, plastic bottles and even carrier bags carefully filled and tied - but left on the beach for the Saturday visitors to sit amongst the next day.

What effort does it take for people to take their litter home - or at least use the bins provided?

JENNY LEWIS

Bosquet Close

Lowestoft

I READ last week's letters page with interest; I noted several letters firmly against an elected Mayor and none in support of the idea. I have in fact noticed that almost the only letters supporting this campaign over the last weeks and months have been from the two Labour Party councillors who have organised this campaign themselves. I would imagine that the few signatures they have cobbled together for this petition were collected in the Labour strongholds of this borough! It would be a travesty if the taxpayer would have to foot the £40,000 cost of a referendum for this mindless, politically motivated campaign that will have no benefit to the residents of Great Yarmouth.

Mr TOVELL

email

PAULA Winsor, Matthew Smith and Daniel Minister (Letters, June 4) seem to want yet again to misrepresent the motives of myself and others involved in the campaign for an elected mayor for Great Yarmouth.

I have probably had to reply in a similar vein several times over the past seven months and I apologise for having to repeat myself but:

1 Although the campaign includes two or three prominent local Labour people it has been run on a totally non-party political basis and the Petition itself has been signed by people of all - and no particular - political persuasion.

2 The procedure for petitioning and the setting up of a referendum for local people to decide the issue are provided for by national legislation and the council's rate support grant is adjusted to cover referendum costs. The new Conservative/Lib Dem coalition are making no change to arrangements put in place by the last Labour Government.

3 If Yarmouth people vote "Yes" to an elected mayor, the first election for a mayor will take place on the same day as the May 2011 local elections and will thus not incur further unnecessary expense.

4 An elected mayor would, of course, both lead the council and represent it as a figurehead and this is likely to lead to a reduction of one in the number of senior council officers and some other economies from payments to cabinet support members.

5 Everyone to do with the campaign has treated the whole thing with seriousness and enthusiasm - and good humour - and any attempt to portray us as doing it for a “bit of fun” or out of some “selfish politically motives” doesn't know us too well. Some opponents of the proposed elected mayor for Great Yarmouth seem to be much the same people who in their time have also opposed the outer harbour, Beacon business park and wheelie bins. Time is a great healer!

MICK CASTLE

IN reference to the purge on dog fouling (Mercury, May 21). It is good to read something is being done about the problem of irresponsible dog owners. But I hope this purge is not just confined to Yarmouth as Gorleston has its fair share too - especially Gorleston's Lower and Upper Promenades.

It also seems some dog owners find it hard to understand the signs pointing out the no dogs area on the beach, and keeping dogs on a lead on the promenade. So good luck to environmental ranger Mr Shucksmith and his team.

G DALLIMORE

Claydon Grove

Gorleston

A SENIOR member of staff of the Children's Services Department of Norfolk County Council has written the following to a Councillor: “At the Conservative Group meeting on May 15 it was agreed that, due to the re-organisation of Children's services... the Area Working Groups should be cancelled with immediate effect”.

Is this what things have now come to when even senior staff regard the private vote of a party caucus, made behind closed doors, as being the official decisions and will of the County Council - and moreover no longer see anything wrong in saying so in a formal letter?

We are realistic enough to know that what the ruling group wants it usually gets but up till now they have at least gone through the motions of obeying the formal rules. Indeed one prominent Tory is never without a copy of the constitution which he carries from meeting to meeting. If however senior staff are now expected to regard the decisions of the Tory Group as the lawful will of the Council then we, and the people of Norfolk, are entitled to not only to see the minutes of Conservative group meetings but attend them as well.

GEORGE NOBBS

COLLEEN WALKER

BERT BREMNER

Labour County Councillors

THE article in last week's Mercury promises a fantastic production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, the details given of one of the performances is incorrect. Both the Tuesday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 7 performances will be held in our garden at Hobland House, Hobland Road, NR31 9AR which is near Browston. Money raised on the first evening will go to the RNLI and on the second to the Palliative Care East appeal. Tickets at £10 each may be obtained from the above address and cheques should be made out to the respective charities.

HUGH STURZAKER

IT'S a shame the minority of people want to fight against democracy. The elected mayor will be a people's choice, just like the London mayor, just like the government on May 6. This year was decided, just like our own borough council elections were decided on May 6 - a people's choice.

Democracy is the only word needed in the elected mayor situation. Just give Great Yarmouth residents the choice to say yes or no. Whether we get a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, it should be the people of Yarmouth to say yes or no.

MARIE FIELD

Borough Councillor South Ward

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