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Letters, July 31 2015

PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:00 31 July 2015

Consult us about ideas for town

In response to your Mercury front page revelation that public money is being spent on professionals to rejuvenate/renovate the town centre in GreatYarmouth it begs the question why? Surely the best people to be consultants are those living in Great Yarmouth or visiting the town, just like the couple featured on page 3 of the July 24 Mercury?

Has Joe Public been consulted? Have hotel/guest house operators or shopkeepers been consulted? Have mums with pushchairs, mobility scooter owners, invalid vehicle owners, proud owners of flowering gardens or the emergency services been consulted?

Some time back local people were asked about council services but I have yet to read of any improvements being undertaken due to this survey.

I have only lived in Great Yarmouth this century but having wonderful memories of bygone glory days in and around town, I sadly have watched the decline creep into practically every aspect of life here. Wandering around the streets of Great Yarmouth and seeing some fantastic floral displays I thought there was some competition going on but apparently it was pure pride being displayed by the owners. How things have changed.

Simply by having a survey, possibly organised via the Mercury, the newspaper could produce a much better, more in-line with local views consultation document for Great Yarmouth Council without Joe Public having to fork out more urgently-wanted cash elsewhere on such a topic that demands more respect, better commonsense, and practical results, with consideration suggesting nearer to home treatment.

Yours in amazement.

COLIN BRADISH

Princes Road,

GREAT Yarmouth

Disgusted at the state of neglect

I have just read with interest the article in this week’s Mercury, about two visitors’ heartbreak at the resort’s decline.

I was born in Great Yarmouth and I am disgusted at the state the council has allowed our town to get into. I can understand if holidaymakers don’t come here as I know if I was a holidaymaker I would definitely not come back. I holiday in the UK twice a year and all the places I have been to are far better than Yarmouth.

Other holiday resorts have clean, tidy areas, litter cleared, clean open toilets and cheaper parking. Great Yarmouth has none of these.

The main roads into Great Yarmouth are strewn with litter and have grass that’s been cut and tidy. The town centre and seafront are covered with litter and rubbish. The toilets are shut or dirty and smelly when you walk past, it’s just appalling.

The council needs to pull its finger out and get the great back into Great Yarmouth and make it a welcoming place for visitors to come back to - after all they are our bread and butter.

DONNA WOOLTORTON

email

Town has been literally torn out

The report on Muriel and John Greenock’s opinion of Yarmouth made me smile...a smile of pure irritation that is.

The people in Great Yarmouth have had their town literally torn out from under their feet! Retail parks have killed town centre shopping, ostentatious banks now adorn what was once a thriving social town - as a resident for 63 years, I certainly don’t need Muriel and John to tell me what’s happening!

The people in Great Yarmouth have protested about every change but to no avail.

My parents and grandparents would be ashamed of our once lovely town.

The answer? Provide visitors with cheap parking, stop charging ridiculous rents so that businesses can thrive, get back some retail, stop being manipulated by banks that look like palaces when none of us has any money...I could go on...

MELANIE HAYLETT

email

Ask residents what they think

Yet again, Great Yarmouth Borough Council is going to waste more money. Why can’t they simply ask residents to suggest what they think is needed to improve the town centre?

No doubt Carter Jonas, at the cost of £75,000, will come back with the same result and tell GYBC to put it out to consult with residents for their ideas!

This happened only a short time ago when the council paid out £80,000 to get a consultant company to advise them how they could cut back on services to meet government cutbacks, only to be advised to ask local residents.

It seems council officers were unable to come up with this idea themselves. Even coastal defences costing £80,000 are being put where they are not urgently needed and places like Hemsby are having to raise their own funds to get desperately needed defences to protect their own coastline, having lost several homes to the sea!

I like a good laugh like anyone but all this is ridiculous.

ROY WOODS

Beach Drive,

Scratby

We’re still resort - just different

An interesting article on the couple who regularly visit Great Yarmouth in the summer and its changes.

When I was a teenager in the 1950s Great Yarmouth was thriving in the summer, but the seafront closed down completely in the winter months. I worked at the Windmill during one summer season (school holidays) when Tommy Trinder was at the top of his ad-libbing form and had Anne Hart as his soubrette (she went on to marry Ronnie Corbett).

In the 1960s we had the likes of Morecambe and Wise at the Wellington Pier and in the 1970s again they were here for a one nighter at the Britannia Pier.

There were major entertainment stars at both piers during the season, the Windmill and the late Regal (now demolished). The highlight for locals was the Midnight Matinee which was a one-off each year at one of the piers where all the major stars from the summer shows would perform, sometimes until 4am. We had Ronnie Ronald, Ruby Murray, Peters and Lee, Des O’Connor, Norman Wisdom and even pop groups like the Beatles (just as they were about take off!), Billy Fury, and Tommy Steele came to the town too.

In the early 1980s the Britannia Pier, where I worked for two summer seasons doing publicity and information, we had the Grumbleweeds and David Copperfield, whilst Russ Abbot was at another venue. We also had Frank Carson too.

However, the two shows a night started to disappear to only one show a night around 1984 due to a drop in audiences. People were going abroad on package holidays etc.

Eventually most of the stars were appearing at Butlins and other camps, whereas before, that was where they honed their skills.

Great Yarmouth still gets one nighters and there is the fantastic Circus, also the arcades which closed in the winter months are now open all the year round. Great Yarmouth is still a resort - just different.

VALERIE JORDAN

Email

Apologies for phone line fault

I would like to apologise to any residents who have found it difficult to contact me. A fault on our telephone line means that constituents have been unable to get through to my office in Great Yarmouth. If you do need to contact me and are unable to get through, you can call my Westminster office on 020 7219 7231 or email me at office@brandonlewis.co

Thank you for your patience and please do let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

BRANDON LEWIS MP

email

Death of tenants’ former chairman

It is with regret I have to announce the recent death of Malcolm Bowles, the past chairman of the Shrublands Tenants and Residents Association until his illness forced him to retire.

Malcolm and I often crossed swords over the course of many years, but Malcolm, being the gentleman he was, would agree to disagree and move on, for the sake of the greater good.

He will be sorely missed.

PETER KIRKPATRICK

Great Yarmouth Community Housing Tenants Forum

Free parking is not the answer

I am not against the borough council getting in consultants to advise on ways to make Great Yarmouth town centre more attractive (Mercury, July 24). It would be all too easy to spend the £1m on short-term gimmicks that wouldn’t really make a meaningful difference in the long run.

It is a fact that Yarmouth’s shopping space has doubled in size over the past 25 years with out-of-town and edge-of-town developments like Gapton Hall, Asda etc adding to the historic Market Place and King Street. Shopping centres up and down the country are having to adapt to people’s changing shopping habits and the increase in internet shopping.

In recent years, the closure of the huge Co-op Department Store left one side of the Market Place looking “dead” and helped exaggerate the perceived problems about the town centre and its empty shops. In fact Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks etc are currently mounting a transformation of the old Co-op building and that sorry state of affairs will soon be over when they have their grand opening. Pandora is also opening a jewellery shop in town.

We also have 10 banks within about 200 yards which is testament to the fact Yarmouth is still very important to their business. Anyone who thinks too many banks is a bad idea should try asking people in Norfolk market towns why all their banks are closing down! Now that is a real problem.

Free parking - beyond the current “one hour free” promotion - would cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds but such unrestricted free parking spaces would inevitably be filled by town centre workers all day and you wouldn’t then get a constant throughput of shoppers through the day. In fact the town’s pay and display car parks, on-street pay and display and visitor voucher parking provide more parking for shoppers and visitors than some larger big name holiday resorts.

There are over 3,000 such paid parking spaces many covered by CCTV for added security. Over and above those come the free of charge time-limited on-street places for people popping to a shop or bank and unregulated spaces in residential roads which amount to another 2,000 places. That continuing parking capacity makes Yarmouth popular with visitors and parking charges are lower than in Norwich or close neighbour Lowestoft.

The challenge must be to drive forward the regeneration of brownfield riverside areas in Southtown, Cobholm and North Quay adjacent to the town centre to make the whole area more attractive and to assemble land in The Conge area as a natural gateway into the Market Place - land where businesses like Hughes could actually develop new trading units without having to go outside of the town centre.

The town centre will of course need to change as times change. There is room for some conversion to housing and for introducing more restaurants and service businesses into sites that aren’t sustaining general retailing.

I look forward to seeing the recommendations of the council’s consultants. I hope the council will then adopt a “can do” approach to planning to ensure we get the refreshed, prosperous town centre that people long to see.

MICK CASTLE

Town Wall Road,

Great Yarmouth

County Councillor for Yarmouth North and Central

Caister build is out of place

I would like to respond to Mr Spragg whose letter implied that I am merely a nimby by objecting to the proposed development on the fields bordering Ormesby and Caister.

I am very aware of the poverty and homelessness within the borough as I was a volunteer and chairman of the management committee of the Open Door project that used to be run from St Mary’s Church. I volunteered from the first week, supported the couple who ran it, set up and chaired the management committee, applied and achieved registered charity status and helped source funds when we were serving upwards of 100 meals on one evening a week.

I only gave this up when my work and family commitments had to take priority.

Two of my daughters worked in the homeless sector in London, one of whom managed a rough sleepers hostel for the council and later Thames Reach in Croydon, so I am well aware of the problems and complex needs of this group of people.

Please Mr Spragg, do not be naive about who will benefit from this build if it goes ahead.

The plans show a limited number of affordable homes. This is not the same as social housing and the majority of these are likely to be purchased by buy to let landlords who will not consider the unwaged as tenants. The people you mention in your letter are not likely candidates for a mortgage either, which also excludes them from a new home.

This client group needs supported housing to enable them to build up to sustaining a long term tenancy.

I grew up on a council estate in the 1960s and 1970s where there was scope to provide for the more vulnerable in our society, sadly all this has been lost and councils no longer have the power to do this anymore.

This new build will not be council-run, it is purely for the profit of Persimmon/Pegasus Homes.

The objections of the majority of the folk in north Caister is that developers want to put 194 dwellings on top grade agricultural land because it delivers a quick profit, while more appropriate brownfield sites within the borough are ignored because they need to spend time and money to prepare for building work to go ahead on them.

I won’t waste time going over all the other reasons to object such as the overdevelopment of Caister, the burden on an already overstretched infrastructure, overcrowded primary schools, lack of new surgeries and so on, as I’m sure Mr Spragg will have given careful consideration to all of these before penning his letter.

ROSEMARY WILLIAMS

Reynolds Avenue,

Caister on Sea

Keep the Stracey Arms as eaterie

I am writing about the former Stracey Arms public house on the Acle Straight on the Halvergate bend. It started life as a pub but has been various restaurants over the years.

I now notice they want to turn it into a Hindu temple. The thing is there will be more traffic coming and going to this spot. The road will be more packed with cars etc.

The Acle Straight is notorious as an accident blackspot especially near the Halvergate bend. I would love to see the former public house retained as a pub, restaurant or takeaway.

P TURNER

St Margaret’s Way,

Fleggburgh

Proud of parents for speaking out

I am so proud of my mum and dad, John and Muriel Greenock, to have finally spoken up for all the people in the UK who love Great Yarmouth (Mercury, July 24).

Sadly though, the borough council has tried to allow this beautiful seaside town to become just another horror story and casualty of modern Britain. A damn disgrace!

Even the Channel 5 produced Benefits Britain episode slagging off Great Yarmouth was not dealt with effectively by the council (well, not at all!). What type of an PR/marketing operation is going on? The council seem to be a tad amateur in terms of common sense strategy.

It is time to put the Great back into Great Yarmouth! I’d be more than happy to assist, as would mum and dad. It’s time also for the councillors to get their fingers out and get their hands dirty. And for £200,000 a year I hope interim chief executive Mr Gordon Mitchell is; as he earns more than the Prime Minister, and three times as much as the local MP!

J P GREENOCK

Email

Anyone remember Mary Lewis/Burl?

Can anyone help with a mystery? Does anyone remember Mary Lewis also known as Mary Burl who lived in St Catherine’s Way, Gorleston, in the early 1980s. Electoral records say she was there from 1981 to 1984. She would have been in her late 40s.

She is known to previously be in the Southampton area, 1959-62, but grew up and lived in Hammersmith London before then. Mary was in Northgate Hospital when it was a general hospital and passed away in April 1984 due to natural causes at this comparatively young age. Despite contacting relevant services there seems to be no record of anyone who knew her, who handled the funeral or where she was laid to rest.

If anyone has any information can you please email susan.j.hatch@gmail.com, text or call 07514 785578.

SUE HATCH

email

Nothing was done to stop decline

I read with interest your lead story in last week’s Mercury about experts called in to save the town centre. I then read it again and checked to make sure the date on the Mercury was not April 1.

The firm of Carter Jonas is to be paid £115,000 as a consultancy fee for the “reconfiguration”, whatever that means, of the town centre. It reminds me of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic as it was sinking.

Over the years the market has shrunk to its present size of about 30 two-day market stalls down from over six rows of stalls, nearly 100 in total. The council did nothing to stop the flow of stalls from the market. The council did nothing about all the shops that have gone from the Market Place. Bookmakers shops have appeared and the council did nothing to stop them.

Two big retail units are now banks, which should never have been allowed. The only bank that seems to be the right size is HSBC.

If it was not for the charity shops then more shops would be boarded up. Yarmouth is a dying town and there is no money as there is no industry of any consequence.

People like to drive to the shopping areas outside the town centre where parking is free.

Gapton Hall retail car park is full nearly all day long. It is the same on the Harfrey’s industry estate. The retail units there are doing a good trade is because of the free parking.

I am not clever enough to know the answer to the town centre but I do recognise a dead duck when I see it.

PS I have not charged the council £115,000 for this information, they can have it for free.

M D PAYNE

Sturdee Avenue,

Great Yarmouth

No planning bid for Falklands

This Parish Council would like to publicly correct some facts, which are currently prevalent within the community in connection with the impending closure of Falkland Surgery.

It has come to this council’s attention that patients attending the Falkland Surgery are under the impression that the reason why Falkland Surgery is closing is due to this council having objected to a proposal to rebuild the premises some years ago.

No planning application has ever been submitted to re-build the surgery, and so the Parish Council was never in a position to officially object. Even if a planning application had been received, the Parish Council’s powers are limited only to making recommendations to approve or reject, and suggest amendment. In all cases, the final decision is always made by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Also, it may be recalled that a public consultation evening was held on November 25 2008, attended by a large number of local residents, members of this Parish Council and planning officers.

Views against the proposed new development were strongly expressed for various reasons, including traffic, access, de-valuing of properties and flooding, the latter of which was witnessed on the evening itself.

At a meeting between Mr P Warner, head of planning and development, and this council on January 19 2009, Mr Warner stated that, until such time as a planning application was submitted for the re-build, he could see no further observations to be made on the matter.

This Parish Council could be viewed in a negative light when information such as this is misrepresented amongst the community, especially considering the potentially sensitive issue of the future of Falkland Surgery.

JEREMY CABORN

Parish Clerk,

Bradwell Parish Council

Yet more homes going to be built

I was going to write to the letters pages in the Mercury to suggest it would be a nice idea to turn the large piece of woodland/wasteland that used to be the allotments near the Anglian School into a wildlife park. That is before it was wrecked by rubbish dumpers etc.

But then I was told by a lady in the Gorleston on Sea Heritage tent at the clifftop gala that it was too late and it was going to be built on and the only problem was where the access road should be built.

I heard that the football ground down Woodfarm Lane was going back to the rec, or so I was told, then it did not stretch one’s imagination that here was yet another building site coming into view and I have been told by several sources that it is an overspill for Liverpool.

The last time I was at Yarmouth library a year or two back, there appeared to be a mini riot in progress outside the Sally Army hall complete with several police officers and a large group of men with beer cans in hand.

M S DIMMACK

Burgh Castle

Find time to smile at other people

Why is it easy to sneer at someone who once laid down his life so that you could have a good life, yet wave a flag at an event because everybody is doing it, yet condemn someone who waves a flag at all times?

Why do people hate so much and show a great lack of consideration for each other and feel they have a right to abuse others?

Why are we so greedy and enjoy being nasty, than blame it on religion yet celebrate Christmas and other religious dates; it costs nothing to smile or to forgive a wrongdoing and starting a new day with a smile.

I hope when this is read you don’t scoff or condemn but give a thought and tomorrow find time to smile and wave and give some time to others.

The most beautiful and best things in the whole world cannot be seen or touched, they are only felt within the heart.

R FIRMIN

Great Yarmouth

Thanks for our mystery gift!

On Saturday, July 25, we returned from our grand-daughter’s birthday party to find a light green envelope in our letterbox. It was delivered by hand and addressed to Ben and Stephanie.

On opening, there was a lovely message on a card and a Tesco gift card but no idea as to who had sent it. Please could I say a huge thank you to this person, it was a lovely surprise. Perhaps some time you will make yourself known to us so we can say thank you in person.

STEPHANIE and BEN BURGESS

Gorse Close,

Belton

Council should admit its role

I am saddened (but not surprised!) there has been no public acknowledgement from Norfolk County Council (NCC) about the role they played in the 2011 move from Ferryside Register Office.

Much talk has been made about the environmental issues surrounding the area in which the library is situated, and I have first hand knowledge of some of those experiences. However, I feel I need to make a point that seems to have been lost - whether you are a bride attending a wedding, or a parent taking a small child to the library; no-one should have to suffer the conditions evidenced by your readers.

Jane Kruber asked, July 24, who could ever have thought it was a good cost-cutting idea to move to the library. The answer is the manager for the registration service in the NCC.

Because of the remarkable silence from NCC, I thought it only right some of the questions raised by your readers should be answered.

The fabric of the building at Ferryside was very poor and it is a sad truth that a move was inevitable. The hall and ceremony room were about the only reasonable rooms in the building and the offices we used for registering births and deaths, were no longer fit for purpose.

A Register Office has two separate functions: Registering life events, such as births and deaths, and as a venue where couples can marry.

I held a number of office meetings with staff about our inevitable move and a “wish list” was produced that described in detail the needs of the customer. The first choice of venue (from office staff) was the Town Hall. And this was prior to the refurbishment. It very soon became clear this was not the favoured choice of NCC management and the library was their first choice.

Additional meetings with staff members were held and I prepared a comprehensive document outlining the concerns and misgivings of the staff. All the issues raised by your readers were predicted. Although not the decision maker, the manager made recommendations to management and councillors. I seriously doubt if councillors were ever made aware of the concerns of staff - and if this is the case, they might need to be asking themselves, why? If they were aware, then those concerns were ignored.

The concept of using a community hub, such as the library or Town Hall for registering births and deaths is a sound one, because it is accessible to all members of the public and is multi-functional. But once the decision was made to use the library, then the ceremony side of the Register Office function was always going to be compromised.

An agreement with GYBC to use the Rambouillet Room at the Town Hall as an alternative was made - and despite requests from staff the customer should not be penalised for the failings of the registration service, it was decided they would be charged £50 for the “privilege” of not marrying at the library. At the time of that decision, Yarmouth was in the top 50 in a list of socially deprived areas in the country and it seems clear this had no effect on any of the decisions that were made.

So where can we go from here? As I see it, there are three options:

1 Stay where we are and do nothing. Not seen as a realistic option

2 Move the entire function of the Register Office from the library to the Town Hall. An expensive option for NCC because they would need to pay rent and then suffer the cost of a second move in four years... or

3 Keep the birth and death function in the library, but move the ceremony function to the Town Hall. This would probably be the most cost effective. Much will depend on the ability of GYBC to clean up the area surrounding the library but this should be a priority in any event

I suspect that frantic negotiations will have been taking place over the last four weeks. For the sake of the Great Yarmouth community, I hope that on this occasion the concerns of staff working at the “coal face” of the register office are listened to - it could save future embarrassment.

COLIN THOMAS

email

Shrublands a hum of busy activity

It was a pleasure to read memories of the Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre and the beautiful old farmhouse, but what a shame and disgrace to see how it has been left to deteriorate. Are there any plans for its future before its too late?

I would think about 95pc of the population and surrounding districts, like myself were members in its heyday with Mr Macey at the helm.

Always humming with different and exciting activities it was a place to go for young and old - and we mixed easily and happily.

What is stopping it opening again for the same purpose? I’m sure all the young lads (and ladies) who willingly gave their time to build, paint and repair during their apprenticeship years would eagerly offer their services now professional and retired. There must be many of us still around who were proud to be members and loved the old farmhouse.

Why not let people of all ages today find out the joy it gave us in our time and make it as great as it was then?

JOAN LOBBAN

Gorleston

Snails ‘excuse’ 
is just a joke

This has to be some kind of joke and not a funny one at that. Snails come before peoples’ lives?

How many accident are going to happen on the Acle Straight in the time it takes to move a few snails. What excuses are they going to come up with next? I read in the Mercury that councillors are getting £2,000 to spend in their wards. I wonder what that money will be spent on in Bradwell?

C A BALLS

Bradwell

Animals killing a vile human action

Re the international story about the killing of Cecil the lion. So - it was wrong to kill one lion but not another - come on - it is totally and utterly wrong to kill animals for pleasure. The most base and vile of human actions.

RITA GREHAN

North Road,

Ormesby

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