Letters, February 7, 2014

Village school needs WWI help

Our school is 100 years old and the children’s curriculum is all about the last 100 years. Year 5 and 6 are researching the villages of Freethorpe, Halvergate, Limpenhoe, Wickhampton and Southwood and the families there that fought in the First World War.

As part of their learning they visited Norwich Castle Museum and were finding out about Edith Cavell and whilst there they took part in various workshops linked to this time period, the First World War.

Freethorpe School needs your help though! Did you go to school here? When? What was it like? Do you have any photos you could share with us or stories from your time at the school and what it was like then? Help us make this topic come to life. We need you!

If so please can you contact: Rachel Quick, Robbie Houghton or Dawn George via the school office or email office@freethorpe.norfolk.sch.uk


Too far to walk to new stores site

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It is interesting to read the Mercury front page report that consideration is being afforded to the establishment of a shopping centre on Pasteur Road claiming it could provide 150 new jobs. This follows Hughes intention to relocate to the Two Bears site and a proposal for a new pub.

Is our council planning department hell bent on destroying our once thriving town which has now so many boarded up premises at its heart? Mr Jonathan Newman, the Town Centre Manager, does a difficult job well and the local business owners must wonder why they are struggling to pay business rates and contribute to the community only to see trade being directed over the Haven Bridge.

This is rather too far for customers to walk, so there will inevitably be congestion on an already busy road with its troublesome traffic problems at the western end. This cannot be in the public interest.

Has anyone considered the effect these developments will have on the market or the job losses which will probably ensue as more shops succumb to edge of town competition? Does anyone care?

Remember this will also harm King Street, Regent Street, Regent Road and the Arcade and other areas.

We are regularly informed that pubs are closing all over the country so why build a new one? I do hope that someone in authority will respond to my observations but I am not holding my breath. After all I am merely a concerned Yarmouthian.



‘Scallop’ paths to widen roads

It is obvious by the amount of cars parked each side of the road on Harfreys and Gapton estates that industry in Great Yarmouth is very busy. The pavements in these areas are very wide and under-used by pedestrians. It would be a simple task to scallop these pavements to accommodate cars.

I hope this suggestion may be discussed by the relevant authorities.



Unite fights zero hour contracts

The rise of zero hour contracts in the workplace is the latest attack on workers’ rights and dignity.

Zero hour contracts cover a range of arrangements that mean workers have no guaranteed weekly hours or income. Employers often use this arrangement to cut wages, avoid holiday pay and pensions contributions. Furthermore, many employees are prevented from taking alternative work to supplement their income and are at the whim of the employer.

In addition to the strain of financial instability, zero hour workers are at a higher risk of bullying and harassment in the workplace. Should they seek to enforce their rights, these workers have the additional barrier of a much lower rate of success in pursuing ‘unfair dismissal’ cases against their employers.

I am led to believe our local MP Brandon Lewis is in favour of the “flexibility” that zero hour contracts give the employer.

For those people struggling on these contracts in Great Yarmouth who take a different view, please contact me in strict confidence at citizenreynolds1975@yahoo.co.uk and support the Unite campaign stall against zero hour contracts in Yarmouth Market Place on Saturday, February 15, 10am to noon.


Unite the Union,

Great Yarmouth

Retail park or mall-like centre?

In response to your article about a new shopping centre next to Pasta Foods. I’m a bit unsure from the article what type of “centre’”you’re talking about.

Is this another “retail-park” similar to the two nearby and home to B&Q/Argos and the other with Currys/Halfords etc? Or is this actually a more mall-like centre with smaller shops similar to Market Gates?

In either scenario both will be an improvement to the area, those two areas of wasteland next to Jones Way are in dire need of development, although I’d be concerned about the affects of a more retail-park type development on the roads around them, which often get congested just with traffic from Tesco.

Some kind of new entrance/exit would be needed on Pasteur Road so Jones Way isn’t congested more than it already is if a new car park is included in the plans.



One day’s notice of consultation!

I am writing in response to the plans for a proposed development at the Pasta Foods factory on the front page of last week’s edition. The article gave only one day’s notice of a consultation which I was unable to attend due to other commitments and which a number of other people in the area were unable to attend.

The reasons are numerous: we either did not have enough notice, could not find the location due to poor signposting or found the walking access gate was closed meaning only people with cars could attend. I call on the interested parties to have a further consultation on a weekend, and give the opportunity for written responses.

Whilst the idea of 150 new jobs and new shops sounds good, I have heard a number of concerns which need to be addressed:

(1) I am led to believe a Pasta Food employee of some 20 years, who did not want to be named, believes this would be the start of the end of Pasta Foods production in Great Yarmouth.

(2) The plans will result in shoppers using the same entrance off Pasteur Road as the many trucks that go in and out of Pasta Foods. The numbers of trucks will increase because the plans mean moving Good Inwards offsite to make space for the retail park. The junction will result in bottlenecks at rush hour and has been the site of a couple of accidents in recent months.

(3) The plan does not include any access on the Tesco side. This makes it clear these new shops are not aimed at local Cobholm residents.

(4) The plan will result in the concreting over of a large water meadow. This will not only result in a loss of wildlife, but will mean that Cobholm, which is already a high flood risk area, will become likely to flood in times of heavy rainfall.

(5) No thought has been given to the town centre. There are already many empty retail units and local people only have so much money to spend. The case needs to be made robustly for more retail units when many are already empty in the town which does not have the aforementioned issues.

(6) If a case is made we do need more out-of-town shopping - why not simply extend Gapton Hall? This would reduce the number of car journeys across the busy roundabout and turn the meadow beside Pasta Foods into a wildlife area for local residents and children. We should not be rushing to make decisions that will have a massive impact on our local area and the above points must be considered carefully.



Editor’s Note: Anyone else like to comment on the plans for the site? Email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk or write to Letters, The Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PA.

Beaconsfield is a ‘Field in Trust’

Coverage in last week’s Mercury raised the possibility of a new secondary school being built to avoid any “land swap” with the Beaconsfield to enable Yarmouth High School to grow large enough to meet the increased demand for student places over the next five years.

This isn’t a realistic option however and I have already advised Cllr Lee Sutton that the only other potential site in the town at North Denes is required for creating more primary school places - and even if it wasn’t already earmarked for that purpose the land there would only sustain a 450-place school well below the 900 needed for any new NCC-commissioned school.

That is precisely why the cabinets of both Norfolk County and Great Yarmouth Borough councils are working closely to broker a way forward to make absolutely sure Yarmouth parents will have secondary school places for their children in time for 2018-19.

The alternative would be 400-500 youngsters having to be bussed elsewhere for their schooling.

This potential crisis regarding school places has been a long while coming and dates back to the ill-conceived closure of all Yarmouth’s other high schools in the 1980s. What local families have a right to expect is their local councils will now act swiftly to sort out the places that will be required.

The Beaconsfield is protected by “Fields in Trust” designation to ensure public use will always be protected and, contrary to rumour and conjecture, the school’s current Barnard Bridge playing field would transfer to the borough so people in Yarmouth North would gain a new park - something they don’t currently enjoy.

I hope once the facts are more widely known those currently opposing change at the Beaconsfield will be suitably reassured. Yarmouth desperately needs a bigger and better high school with the best of campuses and facilities worthy of a 21st century school. Local children deserve the best - their needs have been ignored for far too long.


Cabinet Member for Schools

Idiots drive with no lights in fog

I was not surprised to see in the Mercury of the crash on the A47 Acle Straight on the morning of Tuesday, January 21, I was travelling along the Acle Straight with my husband around 8am and there were a number of motorists driving in the thick fog with sidelights or no lights at all. You could not see the oncoming traffic until they were almost on top of you.

We flashed our lights at them but they took no notice. It was the same on the A12 at Hopton. These idiots are the same motorists who drive with no lights on when it’s dull and pouring with rain and when it’s a fine sunny day they drive with their fog and head lights on.

Don’t they realise they can cause these accidents where some poor innocent person/persons could get injured or killed through their stupidity? Do they not realise it is against the law to drive with insufficient lighting when the weather dictates that lights are needed and to drive with fog lights on in daylight when it is not foggy?

These people should read the Highway Code more often.



Units plan would not revitalise

I couldn’t believe the proposal to build more commercial outlets on the land beside Pasta Foods. How is that going to revitalise the town? More effort should be made to make use of town centre shops which are boarded up, not build more.

The land in question could be landscaped and turned into a pleasant green area - that would be a first! Perhaps a park and ride would be a good idea, and someone could dig out the signs which were used a few years ago to advertise the virtual one.



Thank you all for Marina meal aid

A fantastic day was had by the 300 people who attended last year’s Christmas Day meal at the Marina Centre – Retroskate, Great Yarmouth.

This event is organised by a small steering group of five dedicated people, and we would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to come and help us – we could not it without you!

It started Christmas Eve with all the veg preparation, jumble sorting and goodie bag filling, and on Christmas Day laying the tables, cooking and serving the dinner, doing the entertaining and clearing away at the end of a very enjoyable and successful day!

We would particularly like to thank Wayne, Mark and staff at GYSLT Marina Centre for all their support and kind donations; Phil at Retroskate for allowing us use of his premises; Bernard Mathews for all the turkeys and Tyrone at Whelan Bespoke Catering for cooking them; Great Yarmouth Borough Council for their continued support; our four fantastic chefs; St John’s ambulance for keeping us all safe; the fabulous Who’s That duo, JP Goddard and Angie and Friends for the great entertainment; the Mayor, and Mayoress and family for their help and encouragement; Asda; Morrisons; Flegg High; Wilkinsons; Pasta Foods; TLC Beauty and Lovewell Blake for their fantastic donations, and all the other businesses, companies and individuals who kindly donated goods, money and gave their precious time to this very worthy cause.

So many of you, it is impossible to name you all, but thank you so much for your generosity and we hope you will continue to support us for this coming year.



Parking too high to help heritage

Following the article in the Mercury regarding heritage attractions, I feel the main problem that Great Yarmouth has is parking – it’s too expensive.

Go anywhere else in the country and it is cheaper. Tourists will not pay extortionate fees for parking, just to see places of history. To my knowledge, and I have lived in this area since the 1960s, Yarmouth has always catered for amusements and not its incredible history.

It will take a great deal of work to promote its history when it is more known for bingo, kiss me quick hats and tat. It needs to have proper leaflets and maps showing places of interest etc to do with Nelson, Dickens etc. My own brother in law is related to the first keeper of the Trafalgar Column and James Sharman is also the inspiration for Peggotty in David Copperfield.

We have heritage walks around the town, but who knows about them? In San Francisco for instance, they have meeting points where tourists can join a walk, something that with the help of the guest houses and hotels could be done here.

Another thought: At Ironbridge, you are issued with a passport (nominal fee) more aimed at children really, and you get it stamped by the place you have visited. An idea which could be taken up by Great Yarmouth. When we had a Jarrolds in Yarmouth, every summer they did a fab display of local history books, if only someone could take that up and give pointers as to where you can see what has been covered.

I love living here, but have always considered Yarmouth hides its light under a bushel! Places like Caister Castle and its connection to Fastolf and Shakespeare; Mautby and its connections to the famous Paston Letters - covered admirably by a BBC4 programme last autumn.

Currently Yarmouth has little to be proud of. I wish that Yarmouth comes out as itself, instead of trying to be like Blackpool.



Tories sold off housing stock

It is really good news to see our local council building new council houses which are the first for many years. What I cannot understand is why Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Brandon Lewis MP are so keen to celebrate the event.

The Tories sold off much of the council house stock at discounted prices. This stock had been built up over the years and now we find a shortage of social housing! The receipts were not even used to build new council homes.

Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the Labour government failed to address the issue so the housing shortage remains. Many people cannot afford to buy and with our local low wages and job insecurity, are unable to take on such a commitment.

The government is committed to selling off even more council houses so presumably the new ones will soon be up for grabs too.

The government complains the housing benefit bill is too high. This is hardly surprising as private landlords provide much of our social housing with some of it sub-standard. Taxpayers are now funding many private landlords, instead of the housing benefit being paid to councils and thereby retained in the public sector.

I hope Mr Pickles had a good trip to our town and experienced the problems on our rail line or was delayed on the Acle New Road which continues to deteriorate due to under-funding. Likewise, I hope he saw how the continuing government grant cuts to councils are hindering our regeneration.


Victoria Street,

Caister on Sea

Care at hospital was ‘supreme’

May I, through your columns, express my gratitude to the members of staff at the James Paget Hospital.

My recent stay on ward 7 was made very comfortable by the supreme care and attention that I was given by all of the ward team following my surgery. Many thanks to you all.



Port objections well founded

In last week’s Mercury it was announced Great Yarmouth Port Company has applied for, and been granted, permission to a judicial review of the decision made last year on the Harbour Revision Order.

As one of the main objectors I have closely followed the fortunes of the GYPC and have decided our objections last March were well founded.

In these past 10 months there has been noted a marked improvement on the points we objected to, and any port watcher must have seen the improvements.

Jamie Frater, the CEO of the port, is leaving, which is a loss for us as these past six months he and his senior executives have been in friendly dialogue with companies which use our port and with me, which I hope will continue with the new CEO.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council and Norfolk County Council invested about £8m in the outer harbour and the port reports an increase in productivity. In 2011 Enterprise Zones formed under the Local Enterprise Partnership engines to assist business to come to our borough to try to reduce unemployment, and in doing so will have a knock-on effect in regeneration for other businesses in the area.

Good, one may say and I would agree if there was one agenda, but it seems those concerned have their own agendas. Council taxpayers of Yarmouth invested well over £2m, and it saddens the heart to see such emptiness in this designated enterprise zone, especially as the council is creating an energy park on the peninsular which, it is my belief, has already blighted existing businesses.

The council with Wellington Construction are promoting Beacon Park energy zone. It seems the council is looking after its own agenda rather than supporting the port as they were deemed to do when spending our £2m, and other agencies are interested in promoting Harwich.

Not one of these quangos or councils have pushed the merits of the port.


Burnt Lane,


More than 100 came to reunion

Well, what a wonderful night, and what a turn out considering the weather. Over 100 ex-pupils attended the Greenacre reunion, and I am really pleased you all enjoyed it.

Thanks to all who gave for the raffle, a sum of £207 was raised and donated to Caister Lifeboat. Thanks to all who helped along the way and a special thanks must go to Paul and staff at the Furzedown Hotel for an excellent buffet.

You all expressed a wish that another reunion be held in two years time, so I will set that in motion when the time comes. Hope to see you all then.


Olive Road,


Hospice calls for volunteers

St Elizabeth Hospice would like to appeal for volunteers to support our work throughout 2014, our 25th anniversary year.

The Hospice has a proud history of improving life for people living with a progressive illness and helping their families. We provide day services and inpatient beds free of charge in Waveney and Great Yarmouth, which are supported by the local community.

Recently we held a collection at our New Year’s Day Dip in Gorleston which raised £119.39 and the sponsored event itself was a great success.

If you would like to volunteer at our hospices in Beccles, Gorleston or Ditchingham, at our shops across Waveney and Great Yarmouth or in the community please visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/volunteer.

Our current volunteer vacancies include complementary therapists, drivers, counsellors and donation pot collectors.

Alternatively if you would like us to come and talk to your school, business or community group about St Elizabeth Hospice do get in touch by emailing enquiries@stelizabethhospice.org.uk


Supporter Services Administrator

St Elizabeth Hospice