Letters, February 11
Keep drunken yobs out of A&E
ON Friday and Saturday nights it is party time for the adults. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just a minority who are incapable of drinking sensibly both male and female; the police see the same faces week in, week out.
The police have a challenging situation to deal with, calling the ambulance services for the drunken yobs who are so inebriated they have been injured in some kind of mele.
Why should these people be taken to the A &E department, taking up precious facilities for something of their own doing? Wouldn’t it be better if these people were directed to the Greyfriars walk-in clinic where they can be seen by a trained health official there instead.
It would take pressure off the hospital and release valuable resources that can be redirected to deal with urgent cases.
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Guided walks are simply priceless
IN response to The Mercury article “Walk Funds Call”, January 28. I would like to point out to the Great Yarmouth scrutiny committee that guided walks have been a regular and popular event two to three times a week during the summer season for the past 12 years.
These have always been backed and supported by the council and manned by a group of dedicated volunteer guides. Every year, apart from our Signature Medieval Wall Walk, which guides visitors along the 800 years of history that made Yarmouth great, we vary the routes and the content to keep the interest alive.
In the past, we have successfully guided people through Glorious Gorleston, the Notorious Body Snatchers, the Historic Market Place, the Rows and the fascinating history of the seafront (which sadly will no longer include the jetty), and, of course, the ever-popular Eerie Tales and Yarmouth Yarns.
All these walks offer visitors and locals an amazing insight into the unique history of Yarmouth. The idea of a signposted self-guided walk would leave the visitor with little information regarding the history of the buildings, some of which have over eight centuries worth of stories to be told.
The Great Yarmouth Heritage Walks for 2011 include The Medieval Wall Walk, The Fishwives, Rows & Bodysnatchers and the Seafront experience.
This year, we have also included into our programme some special weekends which include an informative guided walk around the graveyard and cemetery; there will be a walk dedicated to Nelson and his links with Yarmouth. An historic Quay Walk includes a hidden 12th century cloisters and a guided tour of the Lydia Eva. There is a Glorious Gorleston Walk, Eerie Tales and Yarmouth Yarns Walk plus a Halloween Special, not to mention the free taster walks offered at the Maritime Festival each year.
“Unsuccessful effort” is not a phrase that comes to mind when looking at the history and future of the Heritage Guides.
Maybe the Great Yarmouth scrutiny committee would like to get in contact with the Heritage Guide group and find out a bit more about what we do before making such unfounded statements
Heritage Guided Walks
Instill road sense into youngsters
I’VE just driven through Hopton (below the speed limit because of heavy traffic) and somehow managed to avoid hitting three young teenagers.
The first was a boy on a bike, no lights no reflectors, and almost totally invisible cycling through the unlit country lanes. I was dazzled by oncoming car headlights and only saw him at the last moment.
Around the next corner were two young teenage girls, walking in the road with their backs to the traffic, both wearing black clothing. They were also virtually invisible.
For goodness sake, parents and schools, please impress some road sense into children. Reflective clothing isn’t fashionable: tell them to walk facing the traffic and if they have no lights on their bike to ride on the pavement. I am still shaking to think what might have happened.
Cubs had a very interesting day
AS part of the Cub Scouts Communicator Badge work, it was deemed a good idea to take them to a public telephone kiosk. Children don’t often have the need to use a public phone nowadays. Our cubs carry a pocket kit as part of their uniform. It contains a small piece of paper and pencil, a safety pin, piece of string, a plaster and 60p for the telephone.
We thought we ought to show them how to use that 60p in making a call. We did tell them that in a real 999 emergency they needn’t use the money as it is free, although we did simulate that call, we also needed to show them how to call home.
Leaving the Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre on Magdalen Way, we split in two groups and headed for the kiosks to the right and left of the centre.
The one on Shrublands Way didn’t accept the coins at all, they just dropped through. Not to be perturbed we still showed the youngsters what to do and they used the leader’s mobile to make the simulated call, all 14 of them.
The kiosk on Magdalen Way did work but for some reason the sound kept fading while the cub was conversing with the leader, who had dashed home to take the 14 calls, pretending to be the emergency services.
In true Scouting fashion we still managed to get our message across to the children, hoping that if ever faced with this situation they will know what to do. May I say, although apprehensive at first, they did really well.
In this day and age of technology, the basic things often become overlooked. In fact in my 13 years of being a leader this is the first time I have thought it useful to do it for real, what a shame the kiosks didn’t work properly!
Akela, 1st Gorleston Cubs
ACLE Community Archive Group are seeking descendants of William Henry Finch who was a photographer in Acle in the 19th century, or his sons, Walter Juan Finch and Arthur Eugene Finch. Please call me on 01493 750039.
We don’t want berm extended
MANY thanks for the information in Mike King’s letter last week. The Scratby Coastal Erosion Group (SCEG) has said in their newsletter that the majority of Scratby residents want a rock berm extension.
This is incorrect. The report of their AGM last week says that John Hemsworth, project leader of the Scratby Coastal Pathfinder Project says the people of Scratby don’t want change. To support this, the final report for the Scratby Coastal Pathfinder Management Group, section 9.11, states: “Most support by Scratby residents was for an option that would purchase the at-risk properties. Many in the community were willing to pay for such an option at up to �9 per household per year.”
If a rock berm extension was carried out, the rock berm would have to be removed from the beach at cost to the public after 20-plus years due to present legislation to return the beach back to its natural condition. At present the rock berm application by Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) has been objected to and will have to be decided by a government inspector if it can go ahead.
Already residents in at-risk properties in North Norfolk and Happisburgh have been given funds by the government for a compensation scheme. Surely it would be better for GYBC and SCEG to work together with government agencies to set up a compensation scheme which Scratby residents like me want, like our neighbours in North Norfolk and Happisburgh and not waste funds on a rock berm extension!
Name and address withheld
Tenants’ chance to have their say
COUNCIL tenants will have the chance to view their opinions on Local Standards, or “Offers” on housing service delivery provided by Great Yarmouth Community Housing (GYCH) by attending a drop-in session on February 15, at Christchurch, King Street, Yarmouth, 10am to 4pm.
This event has been organised by tenants from the six service delivery working groups, in partnership with GYCH, responding to the government’s localism agenda, which makes it clear tenants should agree local offers (standards) with their housing provider.
Now is your chance, as a council tenant, to have your say on matters that affect you. Local can mean your street, estate or village, or something in the borough as a whole. These might include tenant involvement and empowerment, home (including repairs and decent homes), tenancy (including allocation and tenure), neighbourhood and community (including estate management and anti-social behaviour) and value for money.
All responses will be recorded, with the main ideas being adopted by the steering group. But it doesn’t stop there. All offers adopted will be monitored over the forthcoming year, with further consultations taking place at various locations. This event is the first of its kind, and we are keen to hear views. It’s all informal, no speeches and with GYCH officers offering technical advice and support.
For more information, call the tenant participation team on 01493 846115 /846521 or call me direct on 01493 733578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Yarmouth Community Housing Tenants Forum
Rural North Tenants and Residents Association
Let our sacrifice not be in vain
THANK you to N Tovell, letters page February 4, re Holocaust service. As one of the men mentioned, we did that which we had to do at the time, against evil tyranny that was not wanted in England. Where poor or Jewish families were killed in evil, wicked ways, with towns destroyed almost for no reason.
We should always remember the fact that young men are still giving their lives for others to enjoy a good life with freedom of speech. This, I feel, is not fully understood or appreciated. Otherwise, why are we losing respect for ourselves and others?
There are English people out there creating a barrier between people from other parts of the world and ourselves. Proving we have not understood about the young lives given up and still doing, for a greater understanding of freedom. From all sides, English people are being pushed to give up freedom of late, which has been so hard fought for.
We must join hands to stop terrorism from any source, or as people are saying the MP Mr Enoch Powell will be proved right.
Any MP or councillors who are one-sided should realise they are not part of a future we want and show a sincerity towards this great country of ours. There should also be an avoidance of violence on TV and games which do nothing to help society. This is how Nazis taught children in nurseries to be cruel!
Integration must come from all angles, not just by people to make gains out of it all.
Why is anti-freeze still on shelves?
I THINK most gardeners will agree that almost all the good old remedies we have used for generations to combat leaf, root and soil pests have now been removed from the shelves in shops, because they are now regarded as dangerous substances.
Almost every week now we read how anti-freeze is used to poison children’s pets, if that isn’t a dangerous, deadly poison, what is? If something that only kills clubroot disease on a cabbage is dangerous and banned from the shelves, what is a proven killer like anti-freeze still doing sitting on the shelf for anyone to buy.
I expect the government will have quite a problem finding an honest explanation for this question.
Maybe we can reclaim treasures
THANK you for publishing my observations in last week’s Mercury as to how the writings of DW Nash, “The Fox’s Prophecy” could, to some extent, relate to the state our poor old country is in today. It’s gratifying to see that whilst it was awaiting print with you last week, some of the Fox’s prophecy was being echoed by the prime minister in his European speech.
The quote from the Fox’s Prophecy “Yielding the treasures that she lacked the wisdom to defend”, brings to mind what we have already surrendered of our heritage.
Two of the greatest treasures we had in this country was the freedom to enjoy a wide spectrum of “Christian” faith with a fair tolerance for others. The other was to enjoy freedom of speech with the ability to laugh and joke at our fellow Britons’ little idiosyncrasies without the fear of offending.
Could we hope that the worms of Parliament have finally turned from their continued path of appeasement on “bended knee” to the “foreigner”?
Hopefully, a revolt against the latest dictate on human rights, from the European Court, will be the start of our claiming back our country.
Yesterday’s vote in Parliament will indicate the way forward for this country. Chamberlain’s appeasement policy of peace in our time (peace at any price) contrasts drastically with the blood, sweat and tears promised by Churchill in the face of adversity.
Jetty costs are a drop in the ocean
WITh reference to the borough’s planning committee voting to demolish the jetty due to a lack of funds ie �300,000. It’s funny how they can always find the money to keep wasting on St George’s Chapel. How many times has that eyesore had scaffolding erected around it? The last lot of the scaffolding must have been around it at least five years. How much did all that cost?
Perhaps this time the work on it will get finished, saving taxpayers enormous sums of money, instead of wasting it. Great Yarmouth used to be the envy of Britain with three piers on its beaches. Now we haven’t got one pier: the Britannia has been out of bounds for fishing on the end for 25 years; All that is left of Wellington Pier is tree stumps sticking up out of the sands; and now they are talking about demolishing the jetty.
We must be the only seaside town in Britain that soon won’t have a pier. Brighton and Bournemouth have piers which stretch hundreds of yards into the sea so people can have a stroll or do a spot of fishing.
At least give us a decent pier and restore Yarmouth’s heritage and the jetty, as the amount needed is just a drop in the ocean.
Let’s call a halt to forest debacle
IN response to the leader of the county council’s request for views on the proposed sale of forests to private ownership. I can only say look at what has happened to the Waveney Forest at Fritton.
The old Forestry Commission signs are still there under the Royal insignia where the monarch states “That a new forest is being created here for our own enjoyment and that of future generations.” Nothing could be further from the truth under the now private ownership. They submitted plans for the whole 320 acres to be utilised to extract minerals by one of the country’s biggest mineral companies.
Naturally enough they might have expected the objections from the local small villages but apart from the parish and the borough councils the populations of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth began to realise they might lose their only woodland amenity. A petition of over 20,000 soon grew. For three years now we have supplied the county council with volumes of moral and technical reasons why this application should be refused.
Due to existing planning rules it does not appear this battle is ever going to end. The county council agreed with us and last year declared the proposal unacceptable. The developers at the last minute resubmitted revised plans and the whole circus started again. They appear to operate on the premise that if you have enough clout and numerous experts that the local residents cannot afford to match then eventually the council will succumb to their alterations.
The county council invites such activities by the sheer complications of their procedures. They spawn expensive volumes of policies for consultation that the man in the street has no chance of understanding and just encourage professional experts who need have no local empathy at all.
I will not burden the county council again with all our objections but would just point out that latest policy rules state that existing pits should be preferred to opening new ones and that Great Yarmouth has its own adequate arrangements and also contracts for sea aggregates. Surely it is time to call a halt to such an expensive waste of money, back the people and immediately declare the site unacceptable again.
If the national forests are sold off, even with constraints this could happen again all over the country.
Fritton and St Olaves Parish Council
It’s here to stay
WHILE respecting any genuine concern, after years of criticism both in the local press and television with an intensity one would expect from adversaries, can we now accept our outer harbour is here? With an economic potential that would otherwise be denied to us?
No refund despited lack of ice
AFTER reading the report in the Mercury about the new “ice”rink, our daughter s went to try it out. After having paid �4.50 each they discovered it was a tiled floor with a grease-like substance coating the tiles, and not ice. The operators refused a refund on the grounds the girls had stepped onto the “ice”. Outside it states “Eco friendly ICE Skating Experience”. No-one mentioned to the girls it was not ice. Please report the error of description in the Mercury as soon as possible so others are not caught out.
Mrs J SOUTHEY
Mrs C VINCENT
Many questions left unanswered
FOR the many Great Yarmouth harbour watchers who made the trip to the Scrutiny Committee at County Hall, myself included, they were treated to an interesting two and a half hours of democracy in action, albeit in slow motion.
It was not the complete whitewash predicted by some; many searching questions were put to, and made by the witnesses, but too many remained unanswered, but what was significant was not those who were there, but those who were not there. An appearance by the chairman and two local councillors on Great Yarmouth Port Authority, would doubtlessly have added greatly to the debate, GYPA having played a major part in the 2007 negotiations.
The non-appearance of the mastermind of the whole Outer Harbour project in 2007, the chairman of IPH, Alistair Baillie, was also regrettable. Another non-appearance, that of the Eastport CEO Eddie Freeman, was also regretted. The only venom introduced into an otherwise genteel meeting was Councillor Cliff Jordan, who chose to unnecessarily, I think, put down John Cooper.
John Cooper presented his facts succinctly, and managed to get an apology from Ms O’Toole about the PR shortcomings of IPH - the surprise announcement of her new Community and Port Liason Committee (first meeting February 8) should help her to right the PR wrongs but no-one was able to get her to commit to what planned levels of employment may eventually come - there will be jam will be tomorrow. Our council officers seemed quite comfortable with this lack of any business plan. They also sidestepped the problems of the West Quay and Gorleston Pier as was the concept of GYPA being an equal partner and the lack of transparency over the whole deal. No change here.
The Deputy Chairman asked specifically about the dangers of IPH possibly selling out in the future the entire inner and outer port (asset stripping) but the fact that another review of the whole Outer Harbour project will be made in 18 months time was welcomed, by which time we will know if the Outer Harbour has moved forward or such a sale has already been effected by then.
Ormesby St Margaret
I failed to factor in party politics
MERCURY readers achieved after a three-year letter-writing contest won the right for representation on a NCC scrutiny committee meeting. The committee room was packed and standing room only, I was so nervous that I skipped dinner, and when Cllr Paul Morse asked me to open with a resume of our fears and grumbles I felt it was just possible that history was in the making.
But I failed to consider party politics. They gained one-upmanship before commencement, the three people from the Board of GYPA failed to appear so this automatically dispensed with the major questions on why I was there.
No-one would answer why we “gifted” a profitable port to IPH.
No-one would answer why GYPA was given just one �1.75 share in the new ownership.
No-one would answer why the mandate was not adhered to by the Authority having no say in running the Port.
When Peter Hardy, the CEO of EastPort GY tried explaining why the state aid was not breached, in a hard-to-hear long speech he too did not mentioning the single share.
I raised the swell problem, and Eliza O’Toole explained the �1.5m that Wallingford charged did not mean that survey companies always got it right.
I raised a question on the suitability of the quay strength of the Outer Harbour, only three tons per sq/mt where other wind farm ports are 35 to 45 tons per sq/mt. Ms O’Toole replied they would build the quays to suit the shipping demands. But the harbour is built.
As for the leases that need renewing for companies on the peninsular, Mr Richard Packham said companies who work within the port will get leases extended; since when is the council authorised to interfere in private business?
JOHN L COOPER
Very disappointing day for democracy
JOHN Cooper spent hours and hours researching information in the public domain and posing Freedom of Information questions before putting together a case which challenges the negotiations which took place between GYBC, NCC and the Port Authority and IPH. Unfortunately, although NCC claimed they hoped to learn from discussion they did nothing to facilitate this.
The sound system at the scrutiny meeting was totally inefficient so as to make it impossible to hear some of the proceedings unless speech was clear and reasonably loud. Most of the questions posed by councillors related to John Cooper’s evidence were addressed to Peter Hardy, the most important officer concerned who piloted the negotiations with IPH. Unfortunately this gentleman’s replies were difficult for the many residents present to hear or make sense of what he was saying despite asking several times for the volume to be improved. We were told there was a fault!
The questions asked by a few participating councillors weren’t of a very informed quality even though they had informative briefing sheets. The result was a foregone conclusion when, without discussion on points raised, the proposition was put that the outer harbour had not been in existence long enough to form an opinion of its performance and they should return to the subject in 18 months.
I thought the idea of the scrutiny committee was to decide if negotiations had given value for money and why they had deviated from the original plan to be in partnership with the developer rather than gifting the whole port to them. John Cooper provided ample examples regarding the public appraisal of the negotiations while asking for clarity from those responsible - not a chance!
Missing from the proceedings were Stephen Eldred, chairman of the Port Authority and three borough councillors who were part of that board. Their contribution to the negotiations should have been key. Originally GYPA were to work in partnership with IPH but it ended up with the whole port being gifted to IPH. Their contribution to the proceedings should have been key.
The only glimmer of satisfaction for John and residents were statements by Tony Wright and Coleen Walker both saying that information given to the public concerning the negotiations had been negligible and uninformative. I believe worse than that we had been fed so much spin of what we were to receive it was inevitable that when we saw what we had got we were bound to want answers - which we still haven’t got.
A very disappointing day when we all saw what democracy is like in local politics and how little consideration is given to residents when they feel misinformed and want clarification. A public inquiry is the only way to satisfy residents whether there were flaws in the negotiations and have we got value for money?
Not allowed to state case fully
YESTERDAY morning I attended the meeting where Norfolk County Council investment in Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour was discussed. First let me say that as a resident and ratepayer of Great Yarmouth I am not anti harbour, either now or in the past. It had previously been stated in the press that this meeting, would not be a whitewash, but this is what it turned out to be.
The scrutiny committee’s invited speakers were 5-1 stacked against Mr Cooper, with Tony Wright independent. The treatment of Mr Cooper was diabolical; he was the only speaker interrupted while he was speaking, bringing his statements and questions to an end twice. Mr Cooper was not allowed to put his case fully and for this the committee and its chairman should feel ashamed. I felt that most of the council members had already formed an opinion and were not going to listen to criticisms.
Chairman Cllr Paul Morse said in the paper: “I hope that bringing various parties together, we can have a constructive discussion...” What happened? We expected a whitewash and that’s what we got. Never heard the words “public inquiry” mentioned.
Once again let me repeat I am not against the Outer Harbour.