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Letters, November 5

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 November 2010

Why can’t they leave well alone?

I SHALL believe that Norfolk County Council is serious in attempting to minimise expense if they do not go ahead with their avowed intention of re-surfacing the southern section of Warren Lane, which runs from Gorleston to Hopton.

At the moment, it has a natural hard soil surface, compacted over decades and requiring no maintenance. No maintenance means no expense. Simple as that. And now they want to change it to something which will require maintaining. So, why, in these hard-up times, don’t they leave well alone?

For decades, that little piece of rural England has been used by countless walkers, cyclists and horse riders, all enjoying a piece of rural England and, in their usage, being very mindful and respectful of each other.

BJ RUDD

Warren Road

Gorleston

Law can only be viewed one way

FOR the sake of accuracy, I would like to correct a statement made in The Mercury two weeks ago (Footpath Fight Claim). You said that the council had not adhered to its own private street works code in its highways legislation.

Councils have no powers to legislate. The private street works code is part of the Highways Act 1980 which is the law of the land and councils have a duty to act within the law just like the rest of us have to.

I believe your report confused this code with the declared practice of all councils not to use the private street works code. Norfolk County Council decided to get round this awkward situation by adopting the street first thus making it no longer private and not subject to private streets’ legislation and it did this in a way I considered was contrary to the law.

Council tells me it has now removed this legally dubious adoption from its records. Council spokesman Mr Birchall tells us that legal approaches can be viewed in different ways and that council have now chosen to adopt a different legal approach. I can reliably inform him, and Norfolk County Council, that the law should be viewed in one way only, the right way, and there is only one legal approach; the correct one as legislated.

You referred to me as a campaigner; I am not, I simply don’t like bullies. And by the way; that £80,000 cycle path is now estimated to cost £100,000. That’s a mighty expensive duplication.

Thank you for this opportunity to clarify this matter and my position for your readers.

ALEX SIMPSON

Warren Road

Gorleston

Mystery figure walked into road

I WAS driving along the Caister bypass towards Hemsby, at about 7am on Thursday, October 28, when I had to stop very suddenly as someone suddenly stepped into the road in front of me.

They appeared to be wearing some sort of shiny uniform and swinging their arms as if they were marching.

At the same time, there was a car approaching on the opposite carriageway; they also stopped, and, after a couple of minutes, I pulled myself together and got out of my vehicle and walked over to the other car and spoke to the driver, a young lady.

I asked her if she had seen what I had, and she described what I had also seen. But, after she stopped the car, expecting the person to walk in front of her to get to the grass verge, there was nothing there.

I had seen a person step off the grass verge and walk into the road. Can any reader explain what we had seen, or has anyone else experienced it?

BILL RICHARDSON

email

Many cracks in attack on Bible

DEREK Brown not only defends witchcraft and paganism (Letters, October 29), but also attacks the holy Bible, the Creator’s revelation of Himself to humanity.

By trying to undo the authority of the Bible, and thus of God Himself, Mr Brown stands on a thin crust of lava above a river of fire. He says the Council of Nicea “devised” the Bible in AD325. Nonsense! The council convened mainly to discuss and condemn the Arian heresy – that Jesus was a created being and not an eternal Member of the Trinity (the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are modern-day Arians). The council had nothing to do with “devising” the books of the Old and New Testaments, which had already existed for hundreds of years!

Eminent Bible scholar Professor DA Carson said: “Some have given the entirely false impression that the early church took an inordinately long time to recognize the authority of the NT [New Testament] documents. In fact it is vital to distinguish the recognition of the authority of these documents from a universal recognition as to the content of a closed list of NT documents. The NT books were circulating a long time before the latter happened, most of them accepted everywhere as divinely authoritative, and all of them accepted in at least large parts of the church. Most of the NT documents are cited as authorities very early indeed…”

And Mr Brown’s statement that the Dead Sea Scrolls somehow give us “a different interpretation of the events in the Bible”, is another shot in the dark. Until the scrolls were discovered in 1947, the oldest existing manuscript of the Old Testament dated to AD 916. The scrolls date to around 200 BC, which means they were penned at least 1,000 years before the AD 916 text.

Respected Israeli archaeologist Professor Yigael Yadin says of the scrolls, “What is astonishing is that, despite their antiquity... they are on the whole almost identical with the [AD 916] Masoretic text known to us.” So, despite 1,000 years of scribes copying one manuscript after another, the AD 916 manuscript and DSS are “almost identical”.

Many, like Mr Brown, have tried to do away with God’s Word over the centuries, but all have failed. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands for ever” (Isaiah 40:8).

E BARKHUIZEN

Albemarle Road

Gorleston

Halloween not to be dabbled with

RE the letter regarding witchcraft (October 29). Thank you for your reply to my letter, Mr Brown, regarding the subject of witchcraft.

Whether it is practised for good or evil purposes, it is an abomination in the eyes of God, and Halloween is just one of their festivals throughout the year.

We are told in different parts of the Bible that we should have nothing to do with witchcraft. Regarding Satan being a mythical creature, well that’s up to you whether you believe in him or not, but please take note that one of the devil’s ploys is to convince us of his non-existence.

As a Christian, I believe in Satan as well. He is for real. Ask people who have dabbled in Satanism, oiuja boards, and other forms of the occult, and they will tell you of being constantly scared, depressed, and even trying to take their own life. And only Jesus Christ can set us free. Thank God for Jesus!

JOHN HUGGINS,

Turin Way,

Hopton on Sea

When can we expect answers?

LABOUR deputy leader Harriet Harman was forced by Ed Miliband to apologise at the weekend after she branded Treasury Minister Danny Alexander a “ginger rodent”. The above is what happens when a MP insults another MP.

When can I expect my MP, Brandon Lewis and other Norfolk MPs to come to the defence of people in Norfolk who have lodged complaints about the way our rates have been used over the Outer Harbour deal?

Councillor Plant calling the outer harbour criticism “poisonous and disgusting” in The Mercury, October 22, is not just insulting but profoundly rude.

I am 74 and have all my faculties. I have only written and asked these questions for two and a half years, because I and others know that NCC, GYBC and GYPA are trying to hide the costs to the ratepayers of Norfolk. These have been allowed to happen by those we elected to look after our interests.

JOHN COOPER

Honorary Freeman of the Borough

Retired Port Welfare Officer

Gorleston

Like Harriet, you should apologise

WELL, the week that saw the “professional” MP Harriet Harman having to apologise for the comments “ginger rodent” aimed at Danny Alexander, would seem that a few of our local mandarins being quoted as labelling the criticism of the outer harbour as “poisonous and disgusting” and “misguided”, owe us an apology also.

Understandably all politicians have had a hard time as they campaign on the doorsteps at the moment. Like everyone else, I am angry and disgusted at the behaviour of some Members of Parliament at Westminster.

It will take a new generation of MPs to bring an end to the cosy arrangements that allowed individuals to apparently profit from the taxpayer – said Brandon Lewis, Great Yarmouth’s MP.

Where do you stand Brandon on the Eastport project non-delivery and the 30-year embargo of fact? Councillor Stone said critics don’t know the full facts. Well, please feel free to educate me as to those facts. Clearly you all owe an apology or explanation. Your choice.

Anyone wanting to exchange open and honest opinion on both sides of the debate, have a look on Facebook Gorleston X Files

STEVE TAYLOR

Email

Superb scheme for young people

I RECENTLY accompanied a group of young people from Great Yarmouth Neighbourhood and Communities programme on a visit to London.

They visited the Houses of Parliament and had a workshop promoting Active Citizenship from the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. Some of the group pitched their ideas of ways to improve youth involvement in the town to MP Brandon Lewis.

They were a superb group of young people with dedicated team leaders. What a wonderful scheme this is, focusing youngsters on becoming involved in their community and having a positive impact on what happens.

I just hope that with the current financial climate it will be deemed of utmost importance to continue programmes like this.

SUE CRUICKSHANK

Gournay Avenue

Gorleston

Council dipping into our wallets

I RECENTLY appealed to the Valuation Office (VOA) against the council-tax banding of my home. This appeal is based upon the value of property in 1991, and charged from April 1, 1993.

The only basis of the appeal is what the property price is; not how big it is or any other subjective criteria; only on one objective fact. The property that I currently live at was only built in 2004, so it was my belief that the VOA must have some internal yardstick to calculate the appropriate Council Tax banding going backwards. They do, but refuse to allow me to know the calculation on which they base a charge of £1,800 a year.

My first appeal was based on house prices of lower bands in the area that had actually been achieved. The VOA refused that appeal, as my neighbour’s house was banded the same as mine, and therefore proved they were right, and that some other neighbours’ houses were slightly smaller and banded the same. They didn’t even refer to any point I raised.

When I complained, they sent me information for appeals in the area that had been rejected by the tribunal.

Upon investigation, these appeals were based upon spurious grounds, and therefore destined to fail.

One appeal was based on the fact a larger property in another area was a lower banding which actually missed the objective test. If the houses on the JPH estate were in Kensington, they would be worth 10 times what they are worth in Great Yarmouth.

I have now discovered there are some 85 properties on the JPH estate that are, in my opinion, wrongly banded. I have looked at every property sale in the area, and cross-referenced it against the banding it is in and plotted it on a scatter graph. This work shows the property prices achieved on these properties are 20 per cent lower than the equivalent properties.

In my opinion the 85 properties have been charged in excess of £170,000 more over the period than they should have. If you factor into the calculation the council tax rise for Yarmouth above inflation since these houses were built in 2003/2004, these 85 houses have paid nearly £500,000 more than they should have. On current figures each house is paying in excess of £700 per year more than it should be, if council tax charges had been in line with inflation.

Since 1997, council tax charges were raised up to 15pc per year. No year since 1997 has the increase been in line with inflation or below. The above figures are for only one band, E to D.

What do the VOA intend to do about the mis-banding? Well, they have had the information for months and currently are looking at it. In the meantime, everyone is forced to pay the inflated tax, and people who are moving lose the opportunity to reclaim these charges; others are time-barred as the local government finance arrangements are geared towards hitting the only people they can hit. In any other walk of life this would be an offence, as the VOA breaches its own framework documents, to act reasonably and fairly.

I imagine if these errors and actions were extrapolated borough-wide, county-wide and then UK-wide, then factor in the other bands’ mistakes as well, local government has been dipping their hand in your wallets and actually thinks they still have the right to continue.

If you live in a band E property on the JPH estate, or have done, and you would like to try and reclaim your overcharge, contact me by email address. My calculations are that since 2003/2004 there has been an overcharge of £2000 per property since 2004.

TONY LEWIS

Tonylewis1407@yahoo.com

More time spent on nit-picking

IF the council wants to cut back, then perhaps it should stop wasting time on ridiculous “nanny society” projects. The latest one forbidding disabled scooter owners from parking their vehicles outside their doors is a case in point.

In the past I’ve had cause to visit flats in Great Northern Close and remember how residents improved the public areas with plants, and so on. Now even that is being denied them.

This is nit-picking at its worst. People’s lives should not be made a misery because of what might or might not happen.

In this present economic climate resources should no longer be wasted on whatever health and safety fad seems to be in vogue at the moment. One is reminded of the fiasco a couple of years ago involving “unsafe” gravestones: fortunately that one seems to have died a death!

PAULINE LYNCH

Mill Lane,

Bradwell

This is vandalism on an epic scale

I UNDERSTAND that the borough council immediately submitted a planning application to demolish the jetty after it recently failed to obtain listed status.

I am told the failure was due to the application not having sufficient “national” importance.

This may be true. However, the local importance of the site is immense.

Nelson was one of the greatest men in our history and his intimate links to the town through the jetty at Great Yarmouth are without price for our local history.

A councillor describes the jetty as an eyesore. This, too, may be true. It is an eyesore because the council has failed to maintain it in good condition. The answer to their negligence appears to be to knock it down altogether.

This is vandalism on an epic scale, compounded by the fact that it is initiated by the very people who have been elected to safeguard our heritage and history.

DEREK LEAK

Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

Sam was a truly heroic youngster

HAVING read of the antics of a so-called hero of the football world – one, Wayne Rooney – it was nice to read of a true hero, namely Sam Austin, who recently tragically died, aged 17, of a rare genetic disease.

Despite his ill-health, here was a young man who loved life, had many interests and was never sorry for himself.

His parents and sister can be truly proud of him; an inspiration to them and his friends.

I hope, as a tribute to Sam, a few people in our area will sign up on the donor register.

MALCOLM METCALF

Magdalen Way

Gorleston

Editor’s Note: We are reprinting this as last week Sam was printed as Sean. We apologise for the error and for any distress caused to the family.

No evidence of cliff erosion here

AT last a letter showing some commonsense. I refer to Roy Woods’ letter of last week asking if the rock berm extension at Scratby was really necessary.

The answer to this is categorically no. There is no evidence of cliff erosion to this section of the coast and has been none for the last 90 years.

I can vouch for the last 70 and there are others still living in the village that can go back much further.

It beggars belief the council is even considering spending £3.9m on defences that are totally unnecessary, based on the flimsiest of evidence contained in the shoreline management plan.

Its prediction of erosion over the next 100 years is flawed and based on no concrete evidence at all. The body that drew it up should be brought to task to explain how they arrived at their predictions.

So please, sensible Scratby-ites write to the council to get them to delay their decision until they have fully researched the position.

BILL COOKE

Beach Road,

Scratby

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