Letters, February 3, 2012

Women-only list: is it democracy?

SO, at the next General Election, the electorate of Great Yarmouth will have a Labour candidate selected via a process where half the population have been arbitrarily excluded from the selection process because they were unlucky enough to have been born male. (Mercury Page 2, January 27, All woman MP shortlist).

So much for democracy! Were the voters of Yarmouth consulted or asked whether they approved of this PC gerrymandering? I also note the position is to be “advertised nationally and locally”. I seem to recall Brandon Lewis coming in for a bit of flak from Mr Wainwright and his friends at the last election because he [Mr Lewis] was not a local man. Hope the voters have longer memories than some of their representatives?

Before anyone labels me as some dotty old chauvinist, if I thought the process would ensure that ultimately the best candidate would emerge, then I have absolutely no care as to whether that person were old or young, female or male, straight or gay, or of whatever ethnic origin.

One of the most outstanding bosses I have worked with over the past few years was a woman and Welsh. She got to her very senior position in a male-dominated culture because of her ability, strength of character and qualifications that made her right for the job, not because all the potential male candidates for her role were excluded.

That, in my view, is the point; positive discrimination and imposing quotas, whether relating to gender, racial origin, sexual orientation, age or whatever, cannot ever guarantee that the best and most able candidate for a role is found. It insults those high-ability candidates that have been excluded and demeans those selected.


Most Read

Burgh St Peter

Loose dog has

changed my life

ON January 14, I was walking my dog on Beaconsfield Park when I was suddenly knocked to the ground by a dog. It crashed into the back of my legs. I lay on the ground with excruciating pain in my left leg. Two men who train youngsters’ football came running to my aid. They stayed with me until I was taken away in an ambulance. I was kept in hospital with broken knee and broken fibula .I have been in hospital for two weeks after been operated on. I have to go back next week for an xray to see if the wound is healing and then be replastered for another four weeks.

I then have to have a leg brace as I will loose 20pc movement in my knee and have been told by the consultant that osteo-arthritis will set in due to trauma of the knee. The recovery period is going to be six months. The man and girl with the dog did nothing and walked away. The dog wasn’t on a lead and due to the man’s irresponsibilty I now have an uncertain future.

I would like to give a big thank you to the two men who assisted me.



Clean up dead

beats in town

IT was with interest again the issue of Acle Straight dualling and economic growth restrictions come again hand in hand with the ministers and business execs in Great Yarmouth. I agree with both to a degree that we should not ruin our countryside and its rare inhabitants, and also agree as long as there is only a single road in and out there will be economic growth restrictions.

But let us look at the bigger picture for Yarmouth’s commerce, trade, employment, tourism, house prices, new investment etc. This is not really restricted by the Acle Straight,

What our biggest problem is the way the borough council has allowed Yarmouth to become a ghetto for all the undesirables nobody else wants. Other areas in Norfolk have good house prices, amazing independent business ventures and good names.

But we have a bad name due to crime and unsocial people living here, dragging the tourist trade away and taking over the once elegant guest house areas with a ghetto of substance abuse, and ever growing homeless placements.

I can think of at least three buildings in Wellesley Road that have gone from tourism to doss house or run by charities.

I know of one house in the prime seafront area which had 150 police emergency callouts in one year due to unsocial behaviour, fighting, swearing, damage to property and cars etc

One elderly couple had been coming here for 30 years but after being verbally threatened by this family for parking outside their house, they said they were to scared to return. Who would want to come back? Paget Road Nelson Road, St Peters Road, Camperdown to name a few are sucking the lifeblood out of Yarmouth.

Dualling the Straight may offer industry the opportunity to move here but one quick jaunt around the decaying town and properties and its peppering among the decent honest residents with the unruly elements, any investor will think twice about moving here.

Clean up the dead beats, bring law and order back to Yarmouth and industry and faith in the council will follow



Give me some

community work

I WAS interested in the questions asked by Brandon Lewis, concerning the mandatory workscheme and have written to him. Most of the feedback in the papers has been critical, but as a seasonal worker at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach I am looking for some form of work that will be of use to the community before I start work again in March.

The point I raised is that many jobs in this area are seasonal, yet employers are unable to pay wages or retainers to staff, yet they would be willing for staff to return next season.

As a result, the workers have to sign on and are obliged to take work offered. So I would hope that if employers were able to say to staff they would like them to return next year, then there could be some scheme to keep people in the workplace so they don’t get rusty.

I would be happy if we could think locally of scheme that could improve our town and put the ‘Great’ back into Great Yarmouth.

The other point I raised with Mr Lewis is the amount of empty property in this area which, in the two years I have lived here, have not been touched.

I am particularly concerned with two properties which are derelict: one on the corner of Beaconsfield and Garfield roads and the other next to the Premier Shop in St Peters Road. These are the type of place that mandatory workschemes could transform.

I would like to see these addresses given to charities that may have the funds and foresight to do something with them. We must remember that if holiday beds are not being filled then it is important to make our guesthouses into long term accommodation and we can offer these to areas of the country where local authorities are running out of their own accommodation. Croydon for example. I would be interested in others’ views on how we can make the town move forward.


Nelson Road Central

Great Yarmouth

Gender should

not be an issue

SO the Great Yarmouth Labour Party has been told it must select it’s next parliamentary candidate from a women-only list.

How sexist is that? And how undemocratic? Whilst accepting that one of the greatest prime ministers of the 20th century was a woman, most of the electorate want someone, preferably from the area, who will look after the needs of their constituents regardless of gender.

Whether they wear high heeled shoes, use makeup and carry a handbag is irrelevant.



Remember the

Coliseum days?

I WONDER if any of your readers can remember the Sunday evening picture shows at the Coliseum Cinema in Gorleston High Street. In those days, two feature films were shown, all for the princely sum of 1/9 or 2/6!

The ritual carried out every Sunday just prior to the films starting, was for Mr Attree (nickname Earl) to proceed up and down the theatre brandishing a large stainless steel hand-pumped air freshener which he flourished with zeal over most of the audience.

I often wonder if it contained some sort of sedative to quieten the boisterous and noisy cinemagoers of those days. Fond memories.


Alderson Road

Great Yarmouth

Penton cheated


IT was with interest I read the article on the stranding of the steamship Penton and enclose details which hopefully would be of interest to your readers. The Penton was built as the steamer Sodium by Wood, Skinner and Company, Bill Quay on Tyne, Newcastle. The vessel was launched on 27/4/1887 for Newcastle owners Wilton Allhusen, having measurements of 100 x 20.1x8.1ft and powered by a compound steam engine built by Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company.

After several ownership changes she was renamed Penton on 6/3/1923 and had further ownership changes before coming into the ownership of Sandwich Hoy Company of Sandwich when she ran aground on Gorleston beach on 18/1/1937 whilst in ballast on a voyage from Yarmouth to London. All her crew were rescued as stated in your article.

The Penton was refloated during October 1937 and was sold for breaking up. Whilst in tow of the Queens Cross which was bound for Whitby, the tow parted in heavy weather on 13/11/1937 and the Penton went aground four miles north of Whitby at Kettleness and became a total loss, thus cheating the shipbreakers torch yet again. The ship’s register was closed on 22/1/1941.

Also mentioned in your article was the stranding of the Banff steam drifter Pitgaveney BF 151. She was built at North Shields in 1909 and at the time of stranding was owned by J and M Mair of Portknockie. She stranded on Gorleston beach on 26/11/1936 in a severe gale which saw the loss of the Peterhead motor drifter Olive Branch with all hands.

Thankfully all the Pitgaveney crew were saved. She was also refloated and towed home but was too badly damaged to repair, being sold for scrap by her owners for �240 to Metal Industries of Charlestown, Fife where she arrived for breaking up on 27/4/1937, demolition with the breakers torch starting on 29/9/1937.


Lowestoft Road,


Sewers in place

when Pontins full

I FELT I must reply to the letter printed in the Mercury (January 27) regarding the old Pontins site in Hemsby, from P Sutton. I’m sure we all appreciate that having the old Pontins site remain would be good for tourism but in some cases times do need to move forward. You only have to see how run down parts of other seaside towns have failed in previous years.

How P Sutton can label people as riff raff is beyond me. How do they know that these people who move into any new homes would not bring a positive effect to Hemsby and help the local economy? And on the subject of the inadequate sewage systems in place, surely these were in place when Pontins was open and to full capacity?

P Sutton, I think you need to open your eyes and not see the negatives in a situation that maybe, just maybe, might turn Hemsby around.



Vauxhall bridge

should disappear

A FEW letters in the Mercury, January 27, mention the effort and funding for the restoration of the Vauxhall Bridge.

Owing to the shape of bridge it has sometimes been referred to as the Rainbow Bridge. Like a rainbow disappears in bright sunshine so the Vauxhall Bridge should disappear although many people are hellbent on saving it.

However, is it possible that restoration of the bridge is part of a hidden agenda? In 1998, plans were drawn up for a rail link from Vauxhall Rail Station to the Outer Harbour.

The link would have gone over the Vauxhall Bridge, along the riverside and then cut across the South Denes to the Outer Harbour. The last part would be inside the area now fenced off as part of the East Port enclosure. It would also be close to the exit for the third river crossing on the Great Yarmouth side of the river.

Therefore, is it feasible the restoration of the Vauxhall Bridge is phase one of the rail link to the Outer Harbour? Maybe the people involved in the restoration project could enlighten us.


Suffield Road


Sinking gardens:

We told you so

WITH regards to the report: Sinking Gardens of Caister, Mercury, January 27. I take no delight in saying “we told you so”.

With the controversy surrounding this site the Caister Parish Council of the day feared there would be trouble if this land was developed.

The majority of the parish council, on which I served at the time, were against permission to build on what is now called Mallard Way but it was given despite the objection and various appeals submitted on behalf of the parish council.

Not readily known is the fact that only the borough council can grant planning permission.

The parish council’s role is to “surmise and advise” the borough on all the applications for planning in their parish, which in this case, not for the first time, was totally ignored.

Caister Parish Council’s objections were based on local knowledge and an official “Government Land Utilisiation Survey” carried out in the late 1980’s.

This survey identified the designated this land in Caister as being “unfit for development. Despite this damming report the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, in their wisdom, saw fit to grant planning permission. One of the reasons given to me for the change of mind was that with “modern building techniques” most land problems ie “flood plane”, “marshy”, “butter clay”, “water logged”, “below sea level” can be overcome. Oh really!

Drawing on local knowledge we were able to bring to the attention of the powers that be that in living memory there also used to be a small lake (where exactly I do not know) in this area, why?

More importantly there was (and still is?) a fresh water spring that fed the cattle on this land.



West Caister

Officers merger

plans ill-fated

IT’S not April Fools Day yet but our political masters at Great Yarmouth Town Hall are still beavering away with their plan to share a Chief Executive and all senior officers with South Holland in Lincolnshire and Breckland in South West Norfolk.

Haven’t they learned a thing since the failure of their ill-fated wholesale merger plans initially with North Norfolk and then seriously embarrassingly with South Norfolk?

This is not smart politics - although the Tory councillors may fancy the prospect of cosying up permanently with two solidly Conservative councils.

It’s the dream for Eric Pickles vision of stitching up mergers amongst councils that will make it impossible for Labour to unravel when they win back a majority on councils like Great Yarmouth.

The reason that it will cause immeasurable damage to the prospects of our town is that it will leave Yarmouth marginalised with officers miles away in a different county and with little hands-on knowledge of the different dynamics of our local community.

We will lose our officer competences to deal with the key strands of developing Great Yarmouth for the coming decades.

We are at the beginnings of a new golden period in Yarmouth’s history in terms of port and energy jobs, a new regional casino and ongoing riverside regeneration and brownfield housing development. The very last thing we need is a shared chief executive in Lincolnshire, and senior officers wedded to a “small town” conservative philosophy holding us back.

Nothing against sharing services, but why aren’t we collaborating with neighbouring Lowestoft or Norwich with whom we have much more in common? All three of us still have large council housing stocks which we need to protect to satisfy future housing need.


Borough Councillor for Central and Northgate ward

Dog mess bags

left on the paths

WE all read about the dog mess on the pavements, and owners not cleaning up after them. Now the latest thing is the owners clean the mess up, bag it, and then throw the bags on the paths. You see them everywhere.

There is such a thing as a bin. It’s a big black thing.

I walked through the graveyard the other day and saw at least four or five bags on the ground. For one thing, owners should not have their dogs off the lead and they should clean up after their animals.

My grand-daughter was attacked by a bull terrier not on a lead. The owner had two other big dogs that were on the leads. We had to take her up the hospital as he bit in to her leg for no reason. If people want these sort of dogs then look after them.

Otherwise, keep a cat; you don’t have to clear after them.



Parking profits

put to better use

IN last week’s article, Cllr Charles Reynolds talks of the issue of costs relating to the resident parking scheme.

But at last he is forced to acknowledge the figures on the scheme that his council has signed up to in the agreement for Civil Parking Enforcement (�29k deficit).

However, he still omits the information from the same source that with a resident permit price rise to �40, this projects the deficit being reduced to �1,472 - quite a reduction from the deficit of �96,000 he presided over.

It is not inconceivable that with modifications to the scheme this figure could be totally wiped out.

As for the waste of taxpayers money, the deficit of �96k Mr Reynolds, was taken by your officers and departments to run this scheme before the intro- duction of Civil Parking Enforcement, which has been subsidised by people paying to park on the pay and display car parks. Yes, these profits from pay and display could have been put to better use instead of punishing us residents.


Napoleon Place

Great Yarmouth