AS an organisation devoted to encouraging individuals and other groups to support and maintain a community spirit which helps those less fortunate than ourselves - indeed our motto is Service before Self - we cannot fail but to agree with E Cooke's sentiments re vandalism and the effects it has on the surrounding area when damage to buildings or artefacts occurs.

AS an organisation devoted to encouraging individuals and other groups to support and maintain a community spirit which helps those less fortunate than ourselves - indeed our motto is Service before Self - we cannot fail but to agree with E Cooke's sentiments re vandalism and the effects it has on the surrounding area when damage to buildings or artefacts occurs.

The young people using the new bandstand in Gorleston as a skateboarding rink, however, cannot be classified as vandals, as they are not intent on causing or intending malicious damage, although it is true to say that the softer material we were advised to use for the flagstones could become worn and chipped if skateboards are constantly running over the edges of the steps leading to the performance area. Obviously the Rotary Club, which was instrumental in providing the funds for the bandstand's construction, would prefer the youngsters not to use it in this way; indeed some have responded willingly to our appeals by moving to another location when the implications of their actions have been explained to them.

In planning this project, vandalism was constantly on the agenda, but with such an open site, security becomes almost impossible and we came to the conclusion that nothing would ever get done if we were constantly looking for difficulties which might never occur.

Incidently Mr Cooke's assertion that the swimming pool was demolished to make way for the bandstand is totally erroneous. The pool was closed and eventually knocked down in the mid 1980s, more than 20 years ago.


PR Officer

Most Read

Rotary Club of Gorleston

WHILE agreeing with E Cooke that respect is as important today as it was in our childhoods, we faced the reality of vandalism when designing the Gorleston bandstand. However, we do not consider young people who ride skateboards and mountain bikes as vandals and it was to be expected that the open design would attract them.

We would, of course, prefer that young people do not skateboard or ride their bikes on it. We have spoken to many and pointed out they might damage the edges, and they have (respectfully) acknowledged the fact and some have gone away. But not all of them understand the potential damage, and have continued to enjoy their hobby on and around the bandstand. I am glad to say there is no evidence of damage so far. I suppose we would sooner they enjoyed skateboarding than other more destructive pastimes.

It is our sincere wish that the young people of the area should use the bandstand for performances. One of the first groups was the excellent Great Yarmouth Junior Brass. Any groups who would like to do so should contact Donna Bidwell at the Great Yarmouth Tourist Office, dbi@great-yarmouth.gov.uk

With regard to the plaques, our contractors have used an adhesive best available for the job. We really can do no more than that. We are hopeful that anyone trying to destroy these commemorative plaques will realise that and give up trying. We have space for some more if anyone wishes to purchase one.

Just one small correction to E Cooke's letter, if I may: The swimming pool was not removed to make way for the bandstand. The pool was closed many years ago and the bandstand project was undertaken to use that wonderful space. I think we would all like a good public swimming pool in Gorleston, but it is unlikely we will ever get one.


Bandstand Project Leader

Editor's note: Anyone wishing to buy a commemorative plaque on the bandstand can contact the Rotary Club through this office.

WITH regard to your reader's letter in relation to an elephant dying and being buried in Great Yarmouth. It was buried in the centre of the course on Great Yarmouth racecourse. Which I believe, as you can imagine, was a bit of a job. The widow of the late Ted Pilling, who was the head groundsman at the racecourse (as was his father before him), related the story. Evidently it was not known what else to do with it. It caused quite a headache. I hope the information is sufficient for your reader to win his wager!



THE letter about the dead elephant last week reminded me how the elephants were regularly taken at the crack of dawn, from their pens at the back of the Hippodrome Circus, across the road onto the beach for exercise. They loved it, as it was probably the only taste of freedom the poor creatures had. Unfortunately, in the 1980s an over-zealous environmental health officer decided to stop the practice as it was feared a child might be trampled underfoot. Of course there were hundreds of small children on the beach at 6am. So the nanny state was alive and kicking even then.


Mill Lane


IN the second world war, flying heavy remote pilotless bombers to Germany, we had to parachute out over Great Yarmouth. The remote pilotless heavy bomber had been automatically directed from an accompanying aircraft. The local farmer put a number of white sheets in his field for us to parachute onto. However one night the wind blew me onto Yarmouth beach. Thinking I was a German parachutist half of the residents of Yarmouth ambushed me.

I think they were very upset when they found I was one of their RAF who had missed his landing spot. I never did thank the police sergeant who rescued me. But it was top secret work we carried out night after night. These heavy bombers were filled with high explosive Topex. They damaged a five mile area in Germany. Last used to blow up V1 launching rams. Later it became the 100 Squadron. We never got a medal for the extremely dangerous work we did. However, Austin Mitchell MP is going to try to get us one. There's not many of us left as a lot of us got shot down over Europe, my cousin being one of them. Quite a number of the Yorkshire bomber pilots came from Yarmouth. The oldest pilot in our group was 19, the youngest was 16.


24 Ing Lane, Newsome,

Huddersfield. HD4 6LT

I AM writing to say I am not happy with the customer service provided in the post office in W H Smith, Great Yarmouth. On Saturday, June 14, I went in the post office to cash a cheque. When I got there, 17 people were in front of me and there was only one member of staff on. It took me 45 minutes to be served. I asked the cashier where all the staff were and she said they were off, including the manager. I think this is absolutely terrible service. I am also writing to the MD of the Post Office. I feel this is a disgrace of post office service provider.

Miss H Conlon

Eastern Avenue


I AM writing in response to the recent correspondent who expressed concern about the safety of evening travel by buses in the Great Yarmouth area. At First Eastern Counties we are committed to providing safe transport for all our passengers.

Happily, safety on the buses in the area is very good and we encounter very few incidents of anti-social behaviour. We work very closely with the local police in order to maintain a safe travelling environment for our customers and indeed, last year, introduced an initiative that allows police officers and community support officers free travel on all of our services, whether in uniform or not, as a way of discouraging the tiny minority of the public who might be tempted to misbehave.

We are also actively involved with the education of schoolchildren on how to properly behave whilst travelling by bus. We have instigated a unique educational project called “Do You Know How To Use The Bus?” which involves two of our drivers visiting schools to improve awareness of bus safety and to promote responsible behaviour amongst our younger passengers.

Your correspondent should be assured that Norfolk is one of the safest areas to travel by bus and we are committed to providing a secure and safe travel experience.

Gussy Alamein

Marketing and Communications Manager

I WAS sorry to hear about last week's letter writer who had a bad experience whilst travelling on First Bus.

She questions why the driver did not eject these mindless idiots from the bus. Perhaps the driver was concerned about his own safety and that of his passengers. If your reader is familiar with recent news reports she will know any stand taken against yobs often escalates into much worse violence. This violence could have been directed against any person travelling on that bus.

How many of your readers would enjoy going to work knowing they will face attacks and can do nothing about it? Bus drivers face nightly abuse, are threatened with knives, hypodermic needles and God knows what else; buses are constantly pelted with stones, bottles etc whilst in motion. It is not unknown for thugs, if challenged, to hang about and wait for the driver on his return journey.

Your reader estimates these idiots to have been around 15 to 16. If the driver had thrown these 'children' off the bus, their parents would have been whinging about how their 'poor vulnerable darlings' were ejected into the night without a thought for their safety. Would First have supported the driver?

Name and address withheld

THE village of Filby each year takes part in the Village in Bloom competition. This year in their presentation they are laying out a flower bed to the memory of Far East Prisoners of War and showing the Fepow crest.

On Sunday, July 6 at 2pm there will be a short service of dedication to which all Fepows and friends are welcome to attend. Location is the vicinity of the Filby village sign.


Treasurer, Fepow

IN response to last week's letter by Mr Eggleton regarding the giant TV screens I must agree with him about his point regarding the poor content. Much has already been said in the past about money being wasted on their high running costs and little return for it. With respect to the borough council they have got it right this time in my opinion by spending money for adverts on regional TV in an effort to attract more trippers. Money much more wisely spent at last.


Great Yarmouth

I READ with interest Tony Wright's letter explaining what a wonderful job his government has done over the past 11 years and in particular for the town. Whilst not disputing the facts; there has been some long-needed expenditure in the seafront, quayside and Regent Road areas of the town; I would say that this spend has far more to do with Yarmouth being a marginal Labour seat than anything else. This, Mr Wright, is simply attempting to bribe us with our own money.

I have also read pro-Labour letters regarding the current economic situation, in which everything negative is conveniently blamed on “global” issues and out of the government's control, comparing today with the situation in the early years of the 1980s. The hard decisions that had to be made back then were as a result of years of industrial decline, largely precipitated by Labour governments of the late sixties and seventies allowing communist-inspired trade union leaders too much influence over industrial relations within our manufacturing industries, such that we were rapidly becoming totally uncompetitive in world trade terms.

The Thatcher reforms, painful though they were, gave rise to two subsequent decades of economic prosperity; the second ten years providing the wave which the Blair government brilliantly rode, even managing along the way to take most of the credit for it themselves. Over the past decade we have seen some of the most insidious tax changes introduced in my lifetime. So-called “green” taxes, taxes on pension fund earnings, retrospective road tax changes and proposals to tax householders on rubbish collected are just a few examples.

People are beginning to realise they have been conned and that it will now take a Conservative government to sort out the financial mess and tackle the high taxation climate we now find ourselves in.


Burgh St Peter


I AGREE with Naomi Palmer, deputy headteacher of Oriel Specialist Mathematics and Computing College, (Letters, June 20). Your front page headline and article was not simply “reporting bad news”, it was jumping on the bandwagon in slating a school, its staff and students, which by your own admission in your Mercury Opinion the following week, “has been working hard and making significant progress.”

Why not make your original front page article fair and unbiased by stating that in the first place? Nobody wants sanitised news, but true facts and an unbiased viewpoint would be appreciated.

As well as your story appearing biased, I also feel it was poorly researched. The article referred to Ofsted inspections at Oriel in 2004 and 2006 and yet never mentioned that the school was, in fact, inspected by Ofsted the two days previous to your article being printed. How do I know this? By logging onto Oriel's very impressive website. It was stated on their front page in plenty of time for publishing deadlines.

Your article quoted GCSE results from 2006. Why not publish up-to-date results from 2007, or would that have been too much like hard work to find out? The school is excellent at improving students' abilities and educational standards, tailoring their needs to their learning packages. How can students be optimistic and self-confident when, despite their best efforts, they receive negative press such as your article? People, children especially, live up or live down to our expectations. If you constantly tell a child they are no good or stupid, they will certainly prove you right.

I have been a close resident of Oriel since 1993, practically living in the grounds of the school, as I am situated at The Willows, and I have never had cause to complain about the behaviour of any of its students in all the years I have lived here.

I visited the school's open evening last year whilst deciding which high school to send my 11-year-old son to this September. I was very impressed with the obvious care and dedication the staff showed and also how happy and proud the students were to be part of the community that is Oriel. The headteacher, Paul Butler, had only arrived at the school five weeks previously, but he gave a welcome speech that left me in no doubt that he and the staff intended to turn the school around, as well as making my son feel welcome and wanting to be part of that turnaround.

I really hope the recent Ofsted inspection result is as good as Oriel deserves it to be and wish the school, its staff and students every success in all their futures.


The Willows

Off Oriel Avenue


CAN it get any sillier? I have just managed to gain entry to the Caister Recycling Plant after three abortive attempts due to truck movements on site resulting in long queues of 30 minutes or more. Okay if you have the time or live in Caister, but not if you have travelled some distance to do “your bit” for recycling. I have begun to understand why fly-tipping is such a problem. When you don't have the time of day and don't fancy making another trip using more costly fuel and increasing your carbon footprint because you want to help, dumping starts to look attractive. There must be a modern paradox at work here.

Once inside the site I enquired why the hold-up? I was informed by a worker it was a requirement of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), or as I like to call them from experience “Hinder and Spoil Everything,” that no private vehicles are allowed on site during skip movements. This makes sense, but you would have thought that someone would have come up with a plan to interface between skip movements and opening times.

I then became aware that the HSE had instructed plates to be welded to the skip access platform handrails to stop the lower rail being used as a step to gain height to access the skip. Now it is almost impossible to lift heavy items over the edge of the skip as the skips are higher than the handrails and most people now have to lift at least to chest height. When the skip is almost full, it is impossible for short or elderly persons to gain the necessary 1-2ft extra height required to empty bags of any sort. I personally had to assist three elderly people with their garden waste in bags (supplied free by GYBC) whilst men in orange suits are monitoring what is being brought in.

So there we have it! HSE are quite happy to allow members of the public to carry heavy loads up metal stairs with obscured footfall, than struggle to get the rubbish into skips that are too high, regardless of any physical injury that may ensue, but at least they have stopped the trucks bumping into the cars,


Northern Close,

Caister on Sea

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to get something off my chest that has been annoying me for sometime. On my way to work in the mornings I walk through St Nicholas' graveyard and along the path to Sainsbury's taking with me bread for the birds and on each occasion after emptying the bread bag I then have to look around for a bin to put the empty bag in. I cannot understand why there are no bins along that pathway, there is obviously a need for a bin. You only have to look at the amount of litter that is left at the entrance to Sainsbury's. It really is a mess. I would like to see a bin at each end of the path that would hopefully encourage people to dispose of their litter properly with no excuses.


Great Yarmouth

I AM writing in defence of the girls in Pound Lane One Stop. J F Lambert wrote to you about politics and decided to include them. The girls work very hard loading shelves, dragging cages full of stuff about and keeping things clean. They have to take abuse with a smile and believe me, they get some. I have shopped there for nearly four years and have nothing but praise for them. In the winter especially they look after the local oldies who only have to ring and one of them will call round with whatever we need.

Indeed, since there are no supermarkets in Gorleston, one of these so-called “lazy” girls has been bringing goat's milk from Great Yarmouth for me. These girls are the salt of the earth. If more people helped others and grafted as hard as they do we would all be so much better off. The girls are great. The shop is hard work. No more insults J F Lambert. Stick to the politicians.


Crow Hill Green


I HAVE read with interest some of the comments made about St Nicholas cemetery, unfortunately there are not enough words to state how I feel about some of the comments. However, this is my take.

The couple who couldn't find the headstone they were looking for because it was so overgrown, I feel were privileged to have someone buried in such a beautiful spot. My favourite spot is the most overgrown area. It's full of wild flowers, insects and mystery, also it does clearly state on the info boards that there are areas that aren't tended to as often as the rest.

Isn't it enough to know that your relations buried somewhere in a beautiful place and not being able to find it rather than being in a perfectly trimmed but very plain, dull and uninteresting plot? Only my opinion.

I visit the cemetery almost daily, It is disgusting how people vandalise the amazing monuments and headstones, but it's too easy to blame the '”alco's.” I don't disagree they can be challenging or a bit scary but so are people who have had a few on a Saturday night, but that's ok because they aren't inflicted with this terrible disease called alcoholism.

And as for the homeless people who may sleep there at night, they are probably too cold and scared to be prowling around vandalising everything. Should we not then provide more hostels or night shelters then they wouldn't have to sleep rough?

I would be extremely unhappy if my relatives' place of rest had been vandalised, this is a justified anger, but should be aimed at the right people, not the easy targets.

In general I find the people who travel through the cemetery pleasant, happy people, who will say hello. I have never had a problem with anyone (sober or not). I am always aware of my personal safety. People all have their little bugs to bear but maybe they should spend a little longer taking in the beauty of the cemetery rather than moaning about whether the gates are locked or not?

Rachael Hardie

Garrison Road

Great Yarmouth

THERE can be no doubt that most GP surgeries provide excellent care for the patients on their lists. There can also be no doubt that the best surgeries' lists are full so there is no possibility of extending the care they give to more people. On the other hand; some surgeries could do better.

Many correspondents reference BMA surveys and quotes from GPs without acknowledging that the BMA is the “trade union” for GPs. Should anyone be surprised that it is trying to protect the interests of its members as any other union would? GPs are self-employed contractors commissioned by the PCTs. They are obviously not keen to have new competition. The service has improved after a new contract was recently agreed. Emphasis shifted from running the “business” for the convenience of the doctors and other staff, to running it for the convenience of patients. Now most patients can get the same level of healthcare, but at times that are more convenient to them and they can access a wider range of services at their surgeries than before.

The proposed new walk in clinic is another step in this direction. It seems to me that the central question is: “Will it be additional to existing surgeries or instead of some of them?” If it is the former, then it will make it easier for people who have difficulties being seen by their own GPs to access services. There are many people who cannot get appointments at the times they need them. Others may work in Great Yarmouth, but are registered with GPs elsewhere and would have to take time off work to visit their own surgeries. Others may not be registered at all. There will also be pressure on the not so well managed surgeries to improve. If the new clinic is additional, no one would be forced to use it. They would only do so if they found it better for them. If, on the other hand, the new clinic will mean the loss of existing surgeries, that is a matter for real concern. People will need persuading that they will be better served than they now are before supporting such a move.

If we sort out this question, then we can start a sensible debate about whether it is a good thing for patients or not. Unlike the prospective Tory candidate, I live in the borough and have a personal interest in the improved wellbeing of local people. I am surprised he is worried about increasing choice. Still, I don't need to look for a bandwagon to jump on. I know too many people who are let down by poor management in some of the local surgeries. Let us argue about improved services and not about the effect changes have on self-employed contractors.

Jim West

Albany Road

Great Yarmouth

I FELT strongly to write regarding Mr Brandon Lewis' letter “widespread concern” regarding polyclinics (Mercury, June 20). The claim that surgeries will be closed as a result of polyclinics (or GP-led clinics) is misleading and scaremongering. Nothing is further from the truth.

Far from reducing the provision of GP services, the Labour government is increasing and enhancing them, investing £250m in 100 new surgeries and 150 new GP-led clinics. Whilst progress has been made previously to allow more people access to medical care, their are still too many people who cannot make appointment times or have access to their chosen GP

However, GP-run clinics will be open 12 hours, seven days a week. These are not to replace but to run in addition to existing surgeries. Also, these GP-run clinics will offer a drop-in service whilst you are away from home, which would be especially helpful in tourist areas such as Great Yarmouth, dividing the extra strain of holidaymakers needing medical care and preventing major interruption to locals.

All the other comments Mr Lewis makes are non-issues, as people will still have access to their normal GP surgeries. Services are being added to with nothing removed. I would be happy to supply Mr Lewis with website information about the true details of polyclinics to add to his letter to Mr Stonard.

I, too, await Mr Stonard's reply, who I believe will help to clarify many of the misconceptions Mr Lewis has raised.


St Georges Road

Great Yarmouth

EXTRA Government investment in the National Health Service opposed by the Tories - that is the reality of the Tories opposition to the new medical centres proposed for every part of the county including Great Yarmouth.

Whilst I can understand the Tory leader of Brentwood Council's opposition to this as an attempt to scaremonger, what I can't understand is why anyone would object to having access to a GP seven days a week from 8am to 8pm?

These new medical centres will mean that rather than waiting until a Monday to see your doctor, or having to take time off during the day because that's the only time you can get an appointment, you won't have to - you can see a GP at these centres without being registered. I see this as an improvement.

When, however, this extra investment is dressed up as a threat to local doctor's surgeries, as it is by the BMA's poster campaign, people will of course sign a petition against this. This is the disingenuous campaign being waged by the BMA and the Tories.

The fact is that the new centres will be additional to existing GPs practices and not in place of them - funding for both from the PCT will be ongoing. If any GP knows differently get in touch - none has as yet.

As for B Tilsley's suggestion that no one should believe the PCT or the Labour politician's word against the BMAs, well this year the NHS celebrates its 60th anniversary - brought in by a Labour Government but opposed by whom? None other than the BMA.

As for the question about where the doctors and nurses will come from, we already have over 100,000 extra NHS staff since 1997: 66,000 extra nurses and 36,000 more doctors. More are being trained.

To reiterate, this new investment will not replace existing GP practices and will not force practices to move location. If, however, you still have concerns, please get in touch and I will certainly be happy to address them.


WE are having our annual reunion at Berney Arms Inn at Berney Arms on Sunday, September 7 from noon onwards. This will be our eighth reunion. A carvery will be available in the Inn and there is now also a teashop at the side of the Inn. The train services from Norwich and Great Yarmouth are a lot better this year. Everyone is welcome to join us for a yarn at one of the most remote Inns on the Broads. For more information please contact Sheila Hutchinson on 01508 492239.


Colman Avenue

Stoke Holy Cross

I AM writing in response to the letters regarding polyclinics (Friday, June 13).

Should we or should we not give the go-ahead to 'polyclinics' within the NHS? This is the biggest question facing health service policy. It not only affects the London area, but it faces us here in Norfolk, because there is a proposal to replace the walk-in health centre in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich with a city centre polyclinic. That would apparently be a health centre grouping several GP practices with new facilities.

In a book by Alysson Pollock entitled NHS plc, the opening lines of the closing chapter, 'The emerging health care market', make the stakes starkly evident: “The NHS is being dismantled and privatised. Very soon every part of it will have been 'unbundled' and commodified... a new business dynamic is taking charge of the ways in which services are provided and patients are responded to. The dramatic costs involved - in terms of loss of equal access and universal standards, as well as of money - are concealed by claims of 'commercial confidentiality'.”

It is an act of true political brilliance that the NHS is being dismantled by the party that created it whilst successfully posing as its saviour. But, as Pollock predicted, this PR success too is unravelling. The NHS is in serious financial trouble, and for the first time ever, more citizens now trust the Tories (heaven help us!) with the NHS than New Labour. This is the backdrop to the government's announcement of the polyclinic initiative.

Polyclinics could be a very fine thing. Why shouldn't people have easy access to a set of facilities where they can be treated for a wide variety of ills? Polyclinics could be a new form of community hospitals, in effect, but with simple walk-in access.

Just two things:

(1) This had better not be at the expense of existing well-functioning facilities in Thorpe, Norwich and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust. There is a very real worry that polyclinics would in effect compete with existing doctors, and drive them into the ground.

(2) It had better not be a Trojan horse for privatisation. Pollock points out how the government is trying to engineer more and more private involvement in the NHS. And the big worry about polyclinics is that they will, on the government's current plans, be open to private companies to run. That is very bad news indeed.

If we are to have polyclinics, then let them be run by the NHS. Not, as could happen under the current proposals, by the likes of Tesco.


Lead, Green Party candidate for Eastern Region

IN reply to the letter from Ken Read (Mercury, June 13) about Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, and it seeming as though there was a real holiday atmosphere there when he visited on May 31. Well, I know the reason why: from May 30 to June 2 Yarmouth, Isle of Wight hosts the Old Gaffers Festival. Normally it is a quiet place to visit.

I have been visiting the Isle of Wight for more than 30 years, so know more about the events which take place annually.

I also visit Great Yarmouth twice a year. No comparison can be made with the new harbour in Great Yarmouth as it will be for business and industrial purposes, whereas Yarmouth Isle of Wight, being a small place, has only the Wightlink Ferry.


Headingly Road,


This can be ditched

I RECENTLY met with fishing industry leaders seeking help paying rising fuel bills. They understand that I am not sitting on a pot of money that is rightfully theirs. However, other fishermen believe I am.

There is no such pot of money. European rules allow governments to spend their own taxpayers' money to help businesses in times of difficulty, with a limit on the amount that individual enterprises can receive.

That means I would have to find the money the fishermen want from the public purse -- competing with other priorities such as farming, environmental protection, or even projects to benefit fisheries.

Even if I had found the maximum amount allowed, it would have given a typical trawler one month's worth of fuel - and then there would be no money available for another three years.

One month of fuel is not going to overcome the serious problems facing fishermen that we need to tackle together. I want to see long-term solutions that help the industry adapt to a world of rising fuel prices and achieve what we all want to see - a viable, prosperous and sustainable fishing industry that provides jobs and quality produce.

There is already government cash for the fishing industry on the table - including almost £30m worth of grants for England to help the industry modernise and become more competitive. Government and fishermen are discussing how best that and other millions of pounds can be spent to best effect.

I am committed to doing all that I can to help in these tough times.


Minister for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs and Minister for the South East