Letters, July 18 2014

Fixed holidays another hurdle

I write as a concerned business owner in Great Yarmouth, who among others this year have noticed a drastic reduction in visitors to our town this season. I cannot help but feel much of this is due to the government’s decision to fine parents who take their children on holiday during school term time.

Despite a reasonable start to the season at Easter our takings are now really suffering during the week, where trade is virtually non existent some days when the kids are at school compared to just a few years ago. Business is tough enough without this latest hurdle being put in our way.

Great Yarmouth needs visiting families to thrive and without them our town will die.

Not all families can afford to holiday during peak season or indeed get the time off work to come in the first place, do they really think that the whole of the country can holiday in just six summer weeks and two Christmas weeks of the year?

It’s the same government that will lose in the end as shops close for good and rates and taxes are not collected, this must amount to millions across the UK.

I know of two businesses that have closed so far this year due to not being able to meet expenses and it’s the first year in a long time that there are so many empty shops on Regent Road… has the rot already set in I wonder?

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I can remember when I was a kid St Peter’s Road being a bustling holiday street with gift shops, cafes and restaurants, now no longer the case.

Towns such as Clacton, Ramsgate and Margate were all popular destinations at one time but these have all but disappeared and I seriously wonder how long it will be before Yarmouth goes the same way.

It is ironic I write this letter on a day when the teachers are on strike and parents of a family in Coventry have just been fined and awarded a criminal record for taking their children out of school to holiday. Amazing times we live in!

Tourism in Great Yarmouth needs help to survive and not hindrance, give us a chance.


Potters Rock Factory,

Regent Road

Great Yarmouth

Put back the old folk’s bench

Once again we saw in last week’s Mercury a deed carried out by our borough council which in their opinion was for an improvement to the upkeep to our surroundings.

I refer to the removal of the benches from Ecclestone Court, which they say were unsafe. They then go on to say that they will look at options for replacements after “consultation” with the residents. Why were the residents not consulted before the removal, of which they were obviously not informed of in the first place?

A similar situation, as we all know, happened a few weeks ago with the removal of the “Lady with the Light” from the Magdalen Bus shelter. It seemed to me the only people complaining were the council themselves after reading all the letters in the Mercury the following week.

If the council want the support of locals, then why don’t they consult and “listen” to what we want.

I have been writing to various council departments for many years, and even the police, trying to get something done about the speeding through Western Road, but it seems they all need hearing aids. Is it that difficult to put the locals first?



It isn’t all that ‘fantastic’!

I agree with Brandon Lewis MP that the £9m of funds from the government is “a fantastic announcement for Yarmouth” (Mercury, 11/7). “Fantastic” with all our problems that we have to wait to 2016. “Fantastic” that some is for road maintenance, which is essential in any case, and road congestion is a problem now.

“Fantastic” that our council finances are “unsustainable” following cut after cut. “Fantastic” when Norfolk County Council cabinet is told if the cuts continue only core services (like refuse, care, education, roads, police and fire) can be funded and capital scheme funds will be minimal.

This is something out of “Yes Minister”. The cabinet is told “everything else is frippery”. Ultimately, it seems there will be no money for leisure, parks, tourism, museums, art, theatres, libraries, old people facilities, adult education. Last week’s reports of concerns over grass verge cutting, school bus passes, bowling green seats and a lack of graveyard maintenance are just the start.

Likewise, we can become a cultural desert. We get what we pay for via our taxes.

If this is what the government wants we may as well sell off our seafront for developers (at a knock down price of course). There will be superb views for luxury homes which should bring in huge sums of new homes money. Likewise, bowling greens (with or without seats), football grounds, tennis courts can all be sold.

Alternatively, one could always put the prices up first so nobody uses them to justify the sell off. That will be even more “fantastic”.

As central government knows best we may as well save money and shut the councils and have things run from the centre. Funding our town has become a “fantastic” disgrace. Still we can all go down the betting shops and seek a “fantastic” win.


Victoria Street,

Caister on Sea

Religion: Put up or shut up!

Week after week Mercury readers are subjected to various religious diatribes from Mr Barkhuizen. Last week he was scathing in his commentary of some local churches, their biblical teaching, worship and leadership styles.

How sad that Mr Barkhuizen cannot find a local church with qualities that mirror those of his 1970’s church on another continent whose practices are so far from what God intended, and as such are an abomination to him.

Well Mr Barkhuizen I think I have a solution. Set up and run your own version of the ‘perfect’ church which emulates your interpretation of biblical truths and practices.Preach to your converts from your own pulpit as your views are wearing this Mercury reader thin. As the old adage says, “Either ‘put up’ or ‘shut up!”



I have mystery badminton cup

Further to Brenda Sadd’s letter concerning the whereabouts of the Great Yarmouth Badminton Association Cups I am pleased to let her know that the Ladies Singles Cup has not been forgotten and left to gather dust somewhere; it remains on display at my home.

It seems the cup was last awarded in 1995 as mine is the last name to be engraved. Whilst I may hold the claim to retaining the cup for the longest period of time my single success is outshone by Brenda, whose name appears for seven consecutive years from 1963 to 1968.

A Mrs Gough was the first holder in 1931. Other than for an interruption caused by the war the cup is engraved with all of the subsequent holders. Some ladies were awarded the cup on more than one occasion but none can match Brenda’s total of seven wins and no other lady dominated the sport in the same way she achieved in the 1960’s.

The competition may no longer be held but the cup has not been forgotten.


Barnard Close,


Yes, re-open the harbour road

I totally agree with your correspondents Jennifer Elliot and Pete Biss regarding the closure of the harbour road. It beggars belief that those who represent us should have allowed this to happen.

A few years back a colleague was trying to fight the closure of public access along the length of the quayside. I wish I had been more vocal in helping him as many parts are now closed to the public. There are too many decisions made in this town that have an adverse affect on local people, it is time we spoke out.

If Mr Biss and Ms Elliot, along with anyone else who feels strongly enough about this would get in touch then together we can at least try.


Roslyn Road,


Was bike left by rail passenger

The mystery of the bike abandoned on North Drive, Great Yarmouth. Could it be one of the British Rail bikes lent to a passenger so they could enjoy the attractions of Yarmouth while cycling? If so, the rider probably turned left instead of right over Barnard Bridge and thought the windfarm was it!



Why this endless noise at night?

I am wondering why nothing has been done about the noise from cars and motorbikes late at night. It starts from around 9pm and goes on until well after midnight if not later some nights. I live on Wellington Road in Great Yarmouth and can hear them clearly, roaring around and revving up.

They go from the South Quay area onto the seafront, and any roads in between. Why do we have to put up with this every night?

Name and Address withheld

No transport to Gapton estate

M&S leaving the town centre has been rumoured for a while now, but only for moving the food area to Gapton Hall. I notice though, that M&S don’t mention their clothing, do we assume they will take the clothing departments with them but if that’s the case why call the new outlet M&S Simply Food or are they doing away with their clothing range altogether.

Losing any shop affects the town and although I didn’t shop there very often because I have always thought their stuff is expensive, I can honestly say they have lost one customer - me, as I don’t go to Gapton Hall any more because I can no longer walk that far without difficulty and there is no bus service there either.

Others who used to shop at M&S who had no transport will also no longer be able to shop with them either, so we shall see how their trading goes. Perhaps M&S will get all the other outlets at Gapton Hall together and start their own hourly bus service.



To move out of town is disgrace

I would like to express my concern and dismay at M&S closing their town centre store. It really is the death knell for Great Yarmouth.

For me, M&S is the last decent shopping premises situated in and around King Street and the market area, in a town centre littered with bookies, tattoo parlours, mobile phone shops, an endless number of banks and countless Pubs.

M&S is a much-needed shop for many people, including a large number of elderly people unable to get to Gapton Hall. Not everyone drives and Gapton Hall is a terrible shopping experience.

Moving out of the town is a disgrace to all the loyal customers and the people of Yarmouth.



A very sad day for Yarmouth

For many years I have asked different staff at the M&S store in Great Yarmouth, why no escalators had been put in the store, allowing the elderly, or hard of breathing to shop in comfort.

Not one member could give me a direct answer. I remember meeting some of their management from Norwich, and I brought it to their attention, all I got back was a smile.

If escalators had been put in years ago, it does not need a mathematician to tell the shareholders and management their profits would have increased.After I heard the store was to close, I asked to see the manager. I walked up the stairs, even though I am recovering from lung cancer and also have COPD. I spend nearly £100 per week just on food for myself there. What a way to treat a good customer.

I asked if a survey had been done to customers to get their input. No reply. Later I was told the site will be taken over by a pound shop. A very sad day for Great Yarmouth, and for people like myself, who care about the town.


Yare Close,

Caister on sea

Bus passenger tired of soaking

There have been many times myself and many others have been waiting for a bus at the shelter on Crab Lane and got soaked when cars have driven passed. Rainwater holds really badly on the edge of the road.

There are no drains anywhere on that part of the road and it’s as if people in the cars get great delight in soaking everyone.

The bus shelter is of no use when it rains as it is open on the roadside and would be better the other way around.


Jasmine Green,


Go and debate in the churchyard

Last year I requested a separate Letters page solely for the use of those who wish to air their views regarding religious correspondence. This way, the rest of us could have simply turned the page and ignored it.

Sadly, this has not been forthcoming and we have had to suffer yet another week of complete drivel.

May I therefore suggested that those writers meet in the local churchyard on a weekly basis to discuss their temples, apostles and other nonsense which holds no interest for the majority of long-suffering Mercury readers.

Let’s keep the Letters pages for local people to discuss local issues such as why are there so many people with well paid jobs living in non-owned council houses? And why are so many grown adults incapable of picking up dogs mess or putting litter in a bin?


Paget Road,

Great Yarmouth

Bench out and bottle bank in!

I commiserate with the residents of Eccleston Court. We, in Grenville Road, had our bench removed outside our community hall two years ago and the council promised it would be replaced.

Guess what? We got a bottle bank instead. Thank you Great Yarmouth Borough Council.


Grenville Place,

Great Yarmouth

No harm in lightening up

On one hand I believe Mr Gervais is nit-picking in his efforts to pour scorn upon the Bible and the Christian faith. The quotation: “The fool hath said etc,” is merely a generic statement whereas in Matthew 5 v21 Jesus is pointing out that whilst calling someone Raca (a scoundrel) may have been against the law, it is far more hurtful and damaging to call someone a fool, and thus should be treated more severely. Sounds reasonable to me.

On the other hand, Mr Barkhuizen, I believe there should be room in one’s life for both religious and secular activities. Jesus practiced this at the risk of being thought a winebibber, desecrating the Sabbath and consorting with undesirables.

There are many examples in the parables of feasting, did he not provide extra wine for the wedding guests at Cana? To lead a Godly life is fine, but I do not think there is any harm to lighten up at times.


Springfield Road,


Mr Barkhuizen, Mr Gervais right

E Barkhuizen should listen to R Gervais. I applaud R Gervais for his knowledge of the book of myths that is the Bible and ask E Barkhuizen to heed the truth of what R Gervais is telling him, because if only E Barkhuizen could open his mind and think about what is really written in his Bible, (not just in the good verses that they all quote) and not rely on what he was told, he would discover the truth for himself. And the truth is: It’s all a lie.

And let us all remember that the God of the Old Testament who slaughtered thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children so that the Israelites could pinch their land and possessions, is the same God that the Sunnis prey to as they slaughter Shiites by the thousand.


Havelock Road,

Great Yarmouth

What is problem re road access?

I am at a loss to understand why the harbour at Great Yarmouth is no long open to us regulars, who used to happily look forward to visiting this spot and look at the sea and have our lovely ice creams from Richard’s van. At first I was informed that it was because there was to be a bonded warehouse, but that did not happen, so what is the problem re access?

If they want ID, we all have driver’s licences!

PS For lovers of Richard’s ice creams he is about half a mile from the harbour now and if you stand up you can see the sea!


Ludkin Square,

Great Yarmouth

MP mentions inconvenience

Following the news that Marks & Spencer are to close their town centre store and relocating to Gapton Hall Estate, East Norfolk Transport Users Association, again raises the question that those without their own transport could well be denied yet another opportunity to shop at a well known and well loved store.

The lure of a free car park is all well and good and I notice in your online report that local MP Brandon Lewis has at least mentioned the fact that many customers will be inconvenienced by this move due to the lack of a bus service to and from this retail park.

We have for many a year tried to persuade both the major local bus operators, First and Anglian Bus, to divert one of the numerous services that run along Southtown Road to operate via Pasteur Road and onto the Gapton Hall retail Park, but to no avail. There is no logical reason that one of these numerous bus movements could not be re routed via Gapton Hall then via Pasteur Road and on into town, but on this matter we will not hold our breath!

It seems the logical thing for a consortium, made up of the retailers based at Gapton Hall, the Borough Council and the Town Centre Partnership, should get together and see if money can be raised to at least provide a bus service to operate during the major shopping hours of say, 0900 to 1700, to enable those without their own transport to be able to access these shops.

Such a scheme was forthcoming in Ely where Sainsbury’s provide revenue to help fund a bus to serve their new supermarket opened a couple of years ago so I could see no reason it could not be achieved in this town.

If something like my proposal is not tried soon the centre of Great Yarmouth will be less attractive to shoppers and mean that the stores that are basing themselves out of town will become only for the privileged ie car owners.


East Norfolk Transport Users Association

Don’t M&S care about the elderly?

So another large shop going in the town centre. Don’t they care a lot of older people do not have cars. It’s a long way to walk. The Co-op has been looking so miserable after five years and now this shop that Marks is in will be another eye opener.



We need times of free parking

Reading all the comments on the Mercury website I have been voicing, since 2011, the need for one full day free parking in the two large car parks in Great Yarmouth. Charles Reynolds and Paul Garrod gave a little taster of a two-hour free period on a small area in Market Place some time ago.

We need free parking for a full day, but saying that now M&S is moving out of the town centre it will be a too late! Friday would have been a good day as it would have helped the market stallholders.

It’s okay other councillors saying we will lose the parking revenue but the council will soon lose business rates. Which store will be the next to go? Please, I urge you all at the top, do something dynamic before things get worse.



Will First now put on bus service?

Sad to read that another store, M&S, feels it necessary to move to the Gapton Hall Retail Park. More floor space or less? With banks re-locating to this area in town one would have thought their store would have benefited.

I had always hoped when the Co-op site in the Market Place became vacant M&S could have expanded there - plenty of room to have their café etc.

If free parking is the main issue this surely could have been put to the borough council before a decision was made - but of course it is not the prime reason.

Yes, it will be difficult for elderly shoppers (and others who do not have a car including those who work there) to get to Gapton Park as the nearest stops are Matalan-Southtown, with a long trek up the Pasteur Road.

Surely First Bus should have noted the lack of transport and considered a service to both Gapton and Harfreys.

Hopefully pressure and concessions can be offered to a company such as Primark to take over the town centre site and give support to the smaller traders.



So who is really in charge?

Let’s get this straight. The borough council turned down a planning application from William Hill for yet another betting shop in the town centre. All well and good. Now, however, this decision has been overruled by the Bristol-based planning inspectorate. (Mercury, July 11).

And there’s me thinking that powers were being devolved to the towns, cities and regions and not the other way round. Instead we have another instance to add to the list of the Outer Harbour, removing aggregates from the seabed and so on - where outside bodies seem to be in control of what happens here.

Once again we seem to just lie down and roll over.

Meanwhile Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth, having spoken to ‘thousands of people’?, is asking residents ‘what they want to see in the road where they live’. Is this some sort of policy? If so, it is sort of missing the point as there are so many more immediate and urgent issues to focus attention on, not least this proliferation of betting shops.


Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Thank you for help during loss

We are writing with reference to the In Brief story on Page 17 of the July 4 issue of the Great Yarmouth Mercury. The person referred to in this story was our son Iain who sadly died at home.

We would very much like to thank, through your letters page. the wonderful Ambulance Service, the Fire Brigade , the East Anglian Air Ambulance all of whom did their utmost to save him.

We would also like to thank PC Dan Lemman who stayed with us for the whole day. Special thanks to the Fire Brigade Rescue Squad from Dereham who ensured his dignity was maintained.

Everyone who came was polite, friendly and compassionate and made this terrible day more bearable for us.



M&S move could ruin our future

I don’t know of a town that has easier and more reasonably priced parking than Yarmouth has. If the only reason M&S can give for leaving Yarmouth town centre is free parking at Gapton Hall then they deserve to fail! I for one will be boycotting all M&S stores from now on, the only other one close enough to me now is that rabbit warren of a place in Norwich, so no loss there!

M&S bosses had a perfect solution to relocation staring them in the face; that was the long empty old Co-op store in the Market Place.

In the short term, I think the closure will put Yarmouth under increased pressure and scrutiny from big businesses who will not want to open up there, it will make it more difficult to attract large retail companies to the town, which is such a shame as Yarmouth council, short of money, has made such a sterling effort to encourage regeneration of the town in recent years against the backdrop of the recession.

A prime example is the exemplary restoration of St George’s chapel, theatre and bar/coffee shop and the immediate surroundings in King Street.

Businesses like M&S should be helping to fund these wonderful historical and cultural elements of Yarmouth town.

It will all back-fire of course. When the oil and gas in the North Sea finally runs out, as it will inevitably do, and the last platform support ship chugs out of Yarmouth quay for the last time, huge chunks of derelict land will be up for grabs.

From Southtown Road across to South Denes the luxury penthouse apartments will be popping up like nine pins to lovely views of historic South Quay and its frontage. The existing industrial berths will be transformed into private marinas and moorings.

It happened in London Docklands, it happened in Liverpool and it will happen in Great Yarmouth.

Anyone with a bit of sense and £100k in their wallet now who snaps up any one of a number of delightful little cottages still available in the town will find themselves sitting on a cool million in 20 years time and hopefully, by that time John Lewis/Waitrose will have consigned M&S to history.


Brandon Court


M&S, tell us why plug being pulled

Could the management team of Marks & Spencer please come up with a valid reason for pulling out of our town centre?

Have they actually stood in the store and watched local people being served by the friendly staff?

Have they seen the plethora of banks, betting shops and charity shops that now occupy our Market Place?

M&S has had a store here for more years than I care to remember, a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Have they given a thought to their loyal customers, particularly the elderly, who no longer drive and prefer to shop daily for food items.

What is the alternative - there is no bus route to that soul-less retail park, so there will be more cars clogging up the infamous Gapton Hall roundabout with poor entry and exit slip roads.

Surely the Town Centre Partnership and the borough council could bring pressure to bear and persuade M&S to have a rethink? We need our store to remain in our town centre, accessible to all.



Council parking policy to blame

The council has itself mostly to blame for the closing of M&S. I order online and collect from the store and that is the only time I venture into the town. At the moment I’m not very mobile due to a recent op.

I usually park in Palmers car park, I’m 70 and so don’t have far to walk but it puts extra on the price of my shopping.

Yes, I have a bus pass but cannot use that until 9.39am and I’m an early bird and I then go onto a supermarket - free parking - and do the rest of my shopping. Sadly the town will die, the closure of shops continues, the town has certainly no “Great” left.

Until the parking charges are reduced and the empty shops reopened I fear there is little hope for the town.



Mr Gervais, Mr Barkuizen is right

Re Mr Gervais, Letters, July 11.

Mr Barkhuizen is actually correct. Jesus once warned: “Whosoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be in danger of the hell of fire” (Mt. 5:22). And yet elsewhere, the Lord, in addressing the scribes and Pharisees, declared: “You fools …” (23:17).

While Mr Gervais might see a conflict here, actually, there is none; the respective passages are addressing different matters.

The error is not in the text but the fact that English language often has a single word to denote several different meanings so for example Eskimos have 20 different words for our one ‘snow’, the same with love and in this context ‘fool’.

One context would have said ‘a seriously misguided person – fool’ while an other would have said ‘totally irrational’.

The Hebrew term for ‘fool’ nabal, signifies a ‘senseless’ person. 1000-years before the birth of Jesus, the psalmist King said of the atheists of his day: “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” [psalm 14:1]. It is not the fault of Scripture or Mr Barkhuizen that Mr Gervais misunderstands idiosyncrasies of the English language.

If Mr Gervais wishes to expound what he perceives as contradictions in Sacred Scripture, I suggest he first familiarises himself with exegesis of Scripture.


Beccles Road,


The Bible is not a factual account

Dear Christians, please open your bible and read the first page from “In the beginning…

“And then God made man…” He must have made him four and a half billion years ago for that is the age of our Earth. Come to think of it, surely God made dinosaurs first, or did he forget to inform the writer of the Bible of this fact?

Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. Now both made an offering to God and Abel’s was better so Cain killed Abel. Cain was exiled where he took himself a wife? Where did she come from?

The Bible is the highway code of living a good life thought up by well-meaning men of learning.

Christian beliefs are founded on three murders ie Moses, David and Paul, who held the coats for the Romans to stone Christians to death so is as guilty as the stone throwers.

I am 75 years old and an ex-Catholic.