Letters, February 18

Live here before deciding our fate

THE fact that I have lived opposite Pontins for the last 12 years and witnessed the ups and downs, holidaymakers in their droves to loud private functions, with total disregard to local residents’ peace and tranquillity, I feel I have more than enough justification in adding my two pence worth of common sense.

If Charles Reynolds, chairman of the Great Yarmouth development committee feels that he would love to see more tourists on the site, how about an Olympic-sized swimming pool and bowling alley!

Let’s face it, when it’s raining and windy, where are all the holidaymakers (and locals ) going to entertain themselves? They came to the seaside to be near water! Both venues would create local employment all year round and bring in revenue from the surrounding villages and towns. The closest bowling is Great Yarmouth and the same goes for a decent sized swimming pool. Both venues have international appeal as much as regional if they were built of adequate size.

In a nutshell, Hemsby cannot cope with more housing, from schools to sewage, without draconian changes to the whole of the village. Putting more houses (130+ I’m sure) will be turning our cosy little village into a town and Hemsby will lose its holiday appeal. The quote from last week “viable options which would enable regeneration and provide a boost to the local economy,” means tradesmen for the duration of the building of houses and then what?

Do any of these councillors and businessmen holding meetings with parish council officials, who are so concerned for the welfare of Hemsby and not short-termed profit, actually live near the site? Do they really care?


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Beach Road


Housing needs of locals come first

AS reported in last week’s letters, Cllr Charles Reynolds, chairman of Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s development control committee stated that the empty Pontins site at Hemsby would be a complete no-no to a complete housing development.

The most obvious use for the Pontins site, if holiday use is not an option, (and I suggest that any interested party would have shown an interest, without a for sale sign as suggested by Cllr George Jermany), would be for social housing. Okay, that will set the alarm bells ringing.

A council or housing association estate on my doorstep is even worse than a windfarm, you can hear people whinge.

Well, as a founder member of the National Tenants Voice, representing eight million tenants in council and housing association properties, we look to assist the 1.8million on the housing list.

Look at it this way, with the current employment market, and low, often minimum wage paid, how can any young people get on the property ladder?

This is why social housing is there. Much has been sold through the Right to Buy, taking most of the best two and three-bedroomed homes out of the social sector. Little is left for those in need.

No new build has taken place, apart from housing associations. While that is gratefully received, and allocated through the Homeselect scheme, it is too little, too late.

It is Cllr Reynolds’ party, and its government in the past that allowed the Right to Buy. While the last government allowed the fiasco to continue, we still exist in a position that doesn’t encourage councils to create new-build social housing.

We need cheap social housing now. Not low-price owner-occupier, not part buy/part rent, but proper low-cost rental properties through the council or housing associations.

Sorry if this impacts on the housing prices of those who have moved to the area from outside, but as far as I am concerned, the need and housing requirements of local people and youngsters take precedent.


Ormesby St Margaret

We Catholics are Christians too

WITH reference to the article in the Mercury (February 4), describing the work of environmental health, technical officer Jane Jackson, who undoubtedly deserves respect, admiration and commendation for the unenviable tasks she has to perform.

However, I must draw your attention to what I am sure was a “slip of the pen” at the bottom of paragraph seven, which describes the difficulties of organising a funeral in line with what is known about the deceased’s religious beliefs, “differing views on burial and cremation by … Christians and Roman Catholics”.

Catholics are Christians, whose origins go all the way back to apostolic times. It was Ignatius of Antioch in 107AD first called the Christian Church Catholic. Ignatius wrote: “Where the bishop appears there let the people be; Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

St Ignatius was taught by John the Apostle, and St John was taught by Jesus Christ and knew him personally. I don’t think John would teach Ignatius any erroneous doctrines. It can’t get any more authentic than that! It was also the Roman Catholic Church which gave the world the Bible, which is a catholic book.


Beccles Road,


Egypt is a good model to follow

LAST week we had a good example of democracy in action. No, not the outer harbour whitewash but Egypt.

This year we will be asked to go to the polls again to vote for the next batch of councillors, but before you do, please remember to ask what your candidate has done for the advancement of open government and freedom of information.

Have they supported John Cooper’s struggle to get to the truth? Have they asked questions of their own? Or are they part of the “need to know” brigade that doesn’t trust us, the poor unwashed, to know what’s going on?

If, as I suspect, they have been silent on the subject of the outer harbour and the way it’s been handled, then they don’t deserve your vote. So I ask you all to do an Egypt and stick together and refuse to vote for the same old, same as. We deserve better.


Havelock Road

Great Yarmouth

Meeting was a major let-down

ACCORDING to press reports and readers’ correspondence, it appears the long-awaited meeting to discuss issues concerning the outer harbour was disappointing to say the least.

The inquisitors seem to have been tolerated and told to go away until the next update in 18 months’ time. The fact that the chief executive of Eastport and the chairman of the Port Authority chose not to attend says it all, and where was our MP?

As a local person, I feel very strongly about the way Great Yarmouth is being laid to waste. There are no piers, jetty or harbour accessible to the very people paying for them through council taxes.

Unfortunately the big guns holding all the cards at the moment are not from this area so have no regard or sympathy for the things that made Yarmouth Great!


Mill Lane


Talks have left us in deadlock

TUESDAY, February 8 was a day when our group was not looking at winning or coming out on top, as no one person can achieve success when so many thousands gain or lose by the actions of so few people, so few they could be counted on just two hands.

The readers of the Mercury banding together, not instantaneously, but slowly getting angrier month by month, was the engine that drove us to keep digging into how Norfolk County Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and the Great Yarmouth Port Authority arrived, on May 25, 2007, at the outer harbour plan result for the ratepayers.

After the cabinet scrutiny meeting last week, what is the present state of affairs? We have been told by the Chief Executive of Eastport that it is unlikely cars would ever park again on Gorleston Pier.

From the managing director of the borough council, we are told that ratepayers now pay millions for the Gorleston quays, unwanted by the port company.

From Peter Hardy, the ex-CEO of Eastport Great Yarmouth, we hear the Haven Bridge is now the ratepayers’ concern.

We still have not been told why GYPA no longer has involvement in the running of our port.

It seems we are no further forward, but that is not quite correct. The port owners, International Port Holdings (IPH), have stated that the outer harbour entrance is going to be reduced, for the swell problem, breakwater arms raised by piling on more rocks.

Mr Packham said there was no problem with the leases being extended for companies on the peninsular and Eliza O’Toole of IPH said sorry about not including the stakeholders in port matters, but said that would change.

In a letter to the scrutiny meeting, the chairman of GYPA believes a public inquiry may happen in the near future regarding the Harbour Revision Order, this HRO is needed to give IPH the statutory power to be a law unto themselves, without any of the 90,000 population of this borough having a say.

So, in reality, we have received confirmation that the outer harbour has cost the ratepayers far more than the �18m in grants. Concerned citizens must keep up the pressure, because, as yet, things are still the same as they were two weeks ago.




Reopen this road

AS there seems to be no positive outcome from the recent meeting with Norfolk County Council about the outer harbour, the re-opening of the road around the harbour’s mouth should be dealt with. This is an ancient right and the borough council should insist that the road be reopened immediately.


Lovewell Road


Public inquiry is the only answer

SCRUTINY, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means: “critical gaze and close examination study, probing, investigation and analysis”. To this I would add an “open mind”. None of this was apparent at the Norfolk County Council scrutiny meeting on February 8.

“Study”: There had been a briefing for councillors at a meeting in December. The written briefing information provided pre meeting was informative. John Cooper had given his thoughts by email to them before the meeting was arranged.

“Critical gaze with probing investigation”: I saw no evidence that scrutiny was the correct name for this committee and am pleased so many of the public were there to see a “scrutiny committee” in operation. There needs to much more scrutiny of how our councillors act by the public because, without this, democracy is just a word.

“Analysis”: This took all of two minutes with the more verbose councillors deciding for the others. It was the good old do-nothing solution. They will “revisit the situation in 18 months because the outer harbour has only been operating for a year”. And I thought this was all about scrutinising council decisions regarding �millions of ratepayers money given in partnership to provide, as the spin said, hundreds of jobs and to bring about regeneration.

This whole affair of the outer harbour should be a wake-up call in finding that councils know they aren’t seriously scrutinised by us, so can get away with almost anything by being secretive and using spin. Councillors appear to have been completely taken by surprise when questioned in depth for a long period by our residents’ scrutiny group and via the Mercury letters page. Spin just brought more spin and proof of just how difficult it is to get information from a council, even using the Freedom of Information Act.

County councillor Coleen Walker, and former MP Tony Wright, spoke of bad communication with residents by both Great Yarmouth Borough Council and International Port Holdings. Councillors at the heart of the outer harbour decisions as board members of the Port Authority did not attend. Also absent was the chairman of the Port Authority.

Together with John Cooper and our “scrutiny group” I have studied, probed and investigated and analysed what we have discovered, from documents in the public domain, all with obstruction rather than the benefit of a briefing from GYBC, or the Port Authority. I believe we could be described a true “scrutiny group” and I believe any council scrutiny committee should have two resident members to ensure true scrutiny.

After seeing local government scrutiny I firmly believe there is no alternative to a public inquiry that will leave no stone unturned, interview all concerned and arrive at a considered conclusion.


Brett Avenue


So grateful for his sterling work

WITH reference to Mr John Cooper’s work done on our behalf, at the Norfolk County Council enquiry, May I, on behalf of the ratepayers of Great Yarmouth, thank him for his effort on our behalf.

His journey through this seemed fraught with opposition. It has been anything pertaining to this subject, no matter how vociferous the outcry against it has been. The final outcome of the whole matter seems to be more money needs to be spent on it, in an effort to control the pernicious sea. Also further expense to whom?


Gonville Road


Just listen to us

LISTEN to taxpayers about the outer harbour. The design was flawed from the start for a container port.

Give the ratepayers a pleasure boat, recreation centre, a harbour and resurface both piers for parking and enjoyment. The port of Great Yarmouth is a profitable place to spend on improvements for the immediate future.

The Far East is a huge customer, with ships and profits to match. Norwich needs a real harbour, with a breakwater at least one mile long, with provisions for large ships and landing sea aircraft.


Manor Close


School reunion

WE are currently organising a 40th Birthday Reunion for the class of ’87 Flegg High School. The reunion will be held at the Lacon Arms, Hemsby on Saturday, April 16.

Come and have a drink and a catch up with old school mates! Please email either shellyshearing@btinternet.com or marcbishopbooks@aol.com to confirm your attendance. Be great to see you all!


Avoidable, sorry state of affairs

I WAS extremely distressed to read in Liz Coates’s account “Without a song or ceremony – an anonymous end” in the Mercury, February 4. How many elderly people die alone in the Great Yarmouth Borough during the year?

The unfortunate thing is that this number is likely to increase rather than decrease due to the cuts proposed in local government expeniture.

I also feel sad that we at Age Concern Great Yarmouth had not been able to reach out to these people. Part of the lottery money that we obtained last July is specifically to start a befriending scheme and lunch clubs for the lonely elderly.

Our newly appointed development worker, Jackie Tierney has started on this work by recruiting and training volunteers and she has already started a new lunch club on Tuesday afternoons in Caister.

The other problem, which was apparent in the photograph published, is that many of these people who isolate themselves are suffering from dementia. Many others suffer from depression and can not find a way to help themselves. Refusing help seems to be part and parcel of both conditions; it certainly was in my mother’s case.

We must find a way of helping such people and gaining their confidence rather than passing by and consoling ourselves that it is their human right to refuse help. Certainly, my mother would have been horrified if she had been able to look into the future and see what was before her. I could not convince her social worker that wearing soiled clothes for instance, was not what she really wanted.

If you would like to help us by letting us know if you are worried about a neighbour or would like to become a befriender, please contact Jackie, 01493 743052, e-mail- jackie-tierney@gyctrust.co.uk or by letter Age Concern Great Yarmouth Office, Priory Centre, Priory Plain, Great Yarmouth NR30 1NW.



Age Concern Great Yarmouth

So shocked to hear about Joan

AFTER reading your story on the fraud court case (February 11) I thought I would write in. I am Joan Watson’s previous next door neighbour on The Craft. I only moved to Winterton three years ago and was absolutely thrilled to move into my bungalow.

Joan soon came around to introduce herself and welcome me into the close-knit community. I saw her most days and when I was away she would always keep an eye on my cat.

After Joan moved to a nearby care home I was shocked to read what had happened to her. I would hope the bank in question would have given Joan some compensation, not for financial gain but for her family to treat her to things to try and help her to forget what has happened.

My best wishes go to Joan and her family.


The Craft


Have a party to support legion

THE Royal British Legion is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and I would like to ask everyone who reads this letter to hold a Poppy Party at home for family and friends over the weekend of June 10, 11 and 12 as part of The Great Poppy Party Weekend.

Your party could be as simple as having a lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, or a barbecue in the back garden and, when the opportunity arises, please ask those attending to make a small donation.

Both my parents served during the second world war and were great legion supporters. They were out in all weathers in November selling poppies because they knew money raised would be used to support the men and women of our armed services, along with their families and dependants too. If my parents were alive today, I know my mother would be holding a great “knees-up” for this important anniversary and cause.

There are not many people in this country who do not in some way have links with our servicemen and women, whether they be a mother or father, sister or brother, cousin or nephew, boyfriend or girlfriend, the list goes on. I do hope, therefore, that you and your family will take part in this unique event. Further information on The Great Poppy Party Weekend can be obtained from the website at www.thegreatpoppypartyweekend.org.uk or by telephoning 01722 714937.


National Coordinator