Letters, July 8 2016

Verges and grass areas a mess

I read your article in the Mercury (June 12) about the weedkiller mistake and I was amazed at the statements made. Would someone, anyone, like to tell me why the council is going to work tirelessly to put right the mistake made by the contractors in spraying in areas deemed to have been privileged enough they should not have been attacked in this way?

Why aren’t the huge areas of ruined verges in all our areas having the same treatment. Of course these are areas were the tourists flock and you can’t allow them to see that the council is too money conscious (tight) to do the job properly. Take a look around you, I live in North Caister and like me you probably see the two foot circles of dead grass around your street lights and telegraph poles, along your paths etc etc. But strangely enough the gutter weeds are still growing, so, no, they didn’t get it right. That is left for this OAP to get rid of, I can’t remember the last time I saw a road sweeper, can you? I suppose that’s another job I pick up.

What do we pay our rates for? More consideration is given to areas used by the tourists, so the council can get more money out of them.

The spraying was an unmitigated disaster, the weeds are still growing. The only way to do the job is cut it properly and regularly. Verges need rolling before cutting so the mower is not cutting the top out of the hump and and not cutting the rest properly. The edges need trimming so do the posts and light standards, then the clippings need collecting not left to blow in the wind or be blown by the man with the blower back on the grass, it just goes back on the path when the wind blows.

We Brits have been cutting and managing grass for an eternity we should know how to get it right by now but it won’t be the council accountants that get it right.

One final question, was the weedkiller pet and wildlife friendly? The man in his little machine appeared to be well masked up for the occasion.

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Greenhill Avenue,

Caister on Sea

Any local info on William Fleming?

Thanks to Terry Sorrell’s letter to the Mercury (June 24), the possibility of a blue plaque relating to Coxswain William Fleming of Gorleston will be considered, with others, at the next meeting of the Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage group at Shrublands Centre, 10am on July 12. The group would be very interested in information about William Fleming beyond the basics in books and on the internet.



Devolution would bring new bridge

It won’t come as any surprise to Mercury readers to know I voted in support of the devolution process for Norfolk and Suffolk. I have over the years consistently supported the need for regional devolved decision-making and have supported the introduction of elected mayors – chosen by the public.

English local government has been dysfunctional for a long time. Too many tiers of government, too many quangos, and too many decisions on infrastructure taken at national level. No government since the 1970s – Labour or Tory – has been able to reform local government in East Anglia.

In Norfolk it is a “dog’s dinner” of a county council, seven districts, a Broads Authority and quangos like the environment agency and Natural England. No wonder everything takes so long. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by contrast - and in London too - there is unitary local government and strong devolved parliaments and assemblies elected largely on the basis of proportional representation to give legitimacy.

The proposals for Norfolk and Suffolk are of course imperfect. No directly elected element except for the new elected mayor. I believe however the next Labour Government will address that.

In the meantime – given the abolition in 2010 of both the Regional Development Agency and the East Anglian Regional Assembly – the new combined authority for Norfolk and Suffolk – alongside the Local Enterprise Partnership – provides the best prospect for strategic decision-making in the short to medium term. When it goes to public consultation I hope the question of getting rid of the Police and Crime Commissioners for the two counties from 2020 is properly addressed – as legislation allows for their duties to be transferred to the elected mayor – essentially making the new post cost neutral. From the perspective of my county council ward, Yarmouth North and Central division, the inclusion in para 35 of the devolution document text of the dualling of the Acle Straight and the Third River Crossing was important to my decision – and means I would have been foolish indeed to vote down devolution proposals that would benefit my town and the people I represent.


Town Wall Road

Great Yarmouth

We have chance to make it ‘great’

I’m joining the debate on the topic of the moment. A few days ago, I signed for a parcel delivery from our postman. I commented on the shiny new - well, let’s call it a “thingummyjig” - which was handed to me. “Yes, it’s new,” he said. “We were issued with 110 of these, at £2,000 each”. We had a short discussion as to why all this had to be spent; was there something wrong with the old ones? And why isn’t pencil and paper good enough?

Another similar example is with a store grocery delivery service. All delivery men are pleasant and polite; I gathered from one of them they are tracked every minute of their working day, about where they are and how their time is spent. One man was called into the office because he was a few seconds early at a delivery. And he said, like the postman, “Why can’t we just use pencil and paper?”

In another local store (where, I must say here and now, they are all hardworking and helpful), I commented on the fact there were flies on the iced buns, and suggested they cover them. It turned out they are not allowed to “use their initiative”, or their brains and I was left with the impression permission would have to be given from “up above” to do anything different. I’m sure the “up above” was not the immediate staff, but someone much higher than that!

Finally, having applied for my Blue Badge renewal, (on paper, because the online one was confusing), I was asked for such ridiculous things as which specialist operated on my back. I finally got a renewal of the badge after I sent two letters, and also a complaint afterwards, asking why all this was necessary. I have had no reply yet.

Each person I have spoken to has the same opinion; money is being wasted on things which would have been better managed if we had control of our own country. We would have the chance, as one person put it, “to try and make Britain great again.”


Norwich Road,

Caister on Sea

We are still in the European Union

I thought it might help confused readers to provide a map of where we are, based on the rules as they are written.

Firstly, we haven’t left the EU yet. That will begin when we formally trigger Article 50. The EU27 (formerly “our European partners”) will meet without us, and present their position to the UK. We will then begin negotiations.

Article 50 is not a trade agreement. It’s probable the two years of Article 50 will be spent figuring out how to create rights for UK citizens living in the EU (and vice-versa) and what rights those would be.

After this, in about 3-5 years’ time, the process of withdrawal begins with an Act of Parliament. This will require a rewriting of the British legal system, in order to extract or amend 40-years worth of EU law. It’s a neat piece of legal science fiction, a bit like extracting your grandfather’s DNA from your body. Nobody quite knows how this will happen, or how long it will take.

However, the UK will be formally out of the EU. It is only then that we can formally begin trade talks with the EU. During this period we will be under WTO rules, so the cost of all EU imports and exports will be considerably more expensive. We will also have parallel renegotiations of all of our 85 other trade agreements. This ought to take about 10-20 years, on top of the five already mentioned.

Interesting times.


Vienna, Austria

Greyfriars is much needed service

Thank you for reporting on the council migh send a letter of opposition to the closure of the Greyfriars health centre. Two weeks ago I wanted to sign the petition but was informed the health contract had already been cancelled I believe it was run by Malling Health?

Last Saturday we had to take our granddaughter to Greyfriars at 6pm, she was seen within the hour and given a prescription that helped her straight away. On that night the centre was full of old, young, British and foreign people and all were treated with respect and were also all seen within one to one and a half hours.

On Sunday, June 26, 2016 I sent an email to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, voicing my concerns about the closing of Greyfriars and asking for it to be looked into. I have had a reply to say they had received my email.

I then looked up our local MP Brandon Lewis, Housing Minister of State and was surprised to see he had agreed with the closure, I have asked him to reconsider his decision and mentioned I had heard that approximately 8,000 houses were to built in the area, also that this is a holiday town and much-needed Greyfriars is essential for all our health.

My own doctors, Central Surgery, has just taken on another surgery; it is almost impossible to get an appointment. The James Paget Hospital could not possibly cope with more outpatients.

I emailed Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, mentioned all of the above and have asked, under the Freedom of Information Act, for patient figures for Greyfriars for the last five years plus if they are closing Greyfriars because of money then they would have to shut down the whole of the NHS. As yet I have not had any reply from Mr Lewis or the CCG of course it’s early days and these are busy people but I think the welfare of the community should have a very high Importance.



Join us to host our French ‘twins’

On a school report, many years ago, the French master put: “Speaks French with a Yorkshire accent”, which made me think that when I visited France they wouldn’t understand me. However, I am pleased to announce on my four-day trip to Rambouillet last month with the Great Yarmouth Twinning Association, I had no language problems with the French, only, as is usual with the English.

Never mind, it was all good fun and well organised by the Great Yarmouth Committee, who should be congratulated on their efforts to organise such a splendid 60th anniversary event. We met and stayed with French families, keen to make our visit a success and visited several interesting places, near to Paris, which included a gala dinner, theatre performance, music festival, concert by a string quartet, castle gardens and a barbecue in the grounds of Rambouillet Castle. We also visited a natural park where we studied the marsh and bog life of fish, mosquitoes and frogs.

The cost of the four days in France was minimal and it was good fun. I should recommend joining the association, if you want a break from Great Yarmouth, whether or not you want to keep in touch with the language. The French are coming to Great Yarmouth in September. Why not be one of those, who welcomes them?



Action needed on EU Article 50

If it was not so serious it would be laughable; we had David Cameron in parliament shouting at Mr Corbyn “Go”, only to have the Tory government dragging their heels over Article 50. We need some action now. One is as bad as the other.

We have Brandon Lewis, in the GYM telling us the next two years will be difficult, haven’t the past six years been difficult? Steadily getting worse with fewer places in schools, doctors’ appointments nearly impossible, extended waiting times for hospital appointments, no money to repair our roads, lower skilled Brits cannot find work because of free movement.

Two weeks and all that has happened is squabbles! Absolutely no sign of leadership makes us a laughing stock around the world. I say to the government get on with it!

We should expedite Article 50 now! The longer we wait the more people will start to think the government will renege on the promise to exit the EU.

Some sign that Brexit is starting to operate could be by removing the 47,000 foreign criminals from our prisons and deporting them.

British companies that need certain skills that cannot be found in the UK should recruit from any country that can fill the post.

For all the unskilled jobs now filled by economic migrants should be filled by indigenous Brits now on benefit. Remember 43 years ago we had the National Assistance Board, bring it back, we must bring order to the army of unskilled unemployed.

If Britain is to stay in limbo until the Tories makes up their minds on who leads them, take note: the general feeling regarding MPs is they are in politics for themselves.

Henry VIII broke Britain away from Rome, and we never looked back. Brexit will take us out of Europe, we will not look back.


Burnt Lane,


Let grass verges grow and be wild

Letter writers have been complaining about the use of so-called safe pesticides that leave a horrible brown mess everywhere. The council and the general public spray this so-called harmless pesticide to just about everywhere now, to obviously save money.

Go on the internet and you will see a lot of strong views on this subject. No wonder our wildlife is rapidly vanishing and coupled with just about everybody cutting the verges, greens and gardens. We will soon have a whole generation who will not have a clue to what real countryside looks like.

Finally, if the council needs to save money do without cutting the greens, verges etc and give the bees, butterflies and grasshoppers a fighting chance. Ignore the moaners who think the countryside should look like a garden catalogue.

If there is money left over the pick up the litter that is now a national disgrace and please could we have our toilets back.


Butt Lane,

Burgh Castle

History played part in my vote

The Brexit result is in - get over it. Both campaigns relied heavily upon the script of the Mad Hatter’s tea party with much mud-slinging, claims, counter-claims and innuendo, although a few half truths were thrown in when an attempt was made to show responsibility.

I was one of the majority of elderly people (alright, I’m old) who voted for Leave. I must apologise to younger people for doing so because the majority of them wanted to stay within the EU.

My way of life has been set by events which have occurred throughout history and my vote was cast by a desire for independence, national identity and controlled immigration. Why not?

I was brought up in a country which was predominantly white Anglo-Saxon and Christian (are these racist words?) where everything had its place, remained in place, and where there were no conflicts of religion or race.

Young people aren’t really old enough to have fixed mind-sets, they take little heed of history so are less liable to be influenced by it.

They view the world through the screens on their smart phones and their life is very much right here right now while they freely accept the ideals of international community. Why not?

But my generation remembers those who came before and recognises with immense gratitude their bitter struggles and sacrifices over hundreds of years to get us where we are and make us what we are today.

I, for one, don’t want this legacy compromised in any way by those who would foster alien concepts or seek to introduce changes which suit their own restrictive way of life.

Young people now face their own struggle to install a governance which carries them into the future and I wish them well but perhaps they will forgive an old man for trying to hold on to his English identity for a while longer.

However, I have to admit Tony Blair’s vision of turning this country into a multi-cultural society is well into its third act and this will send me and my like-minded cronies into extinction sooner rather than later.


Hill Avenue,


Wise words from Brandon Lewis

Many congratulations to our MP Brandon Lewis for his very wise comments in last week’s Mercury regarding the EU result and of course the result must stand and we must leave the EU and the country must start to unite.

Calling for a second referendum is just insane and very wrong and demeans our democratic process and must never be allowed to happen because when we vote we must all abide by whatever the result may be if we like it or not and it is as simple as that.

And as Brandon Lewis said we must now move on and all politicians must work together and unite and also start listening more to the British people because sadly they still seem so out of touch and all parties must do their best to secure a good deal with the EU.

I have no doubt in my mind that in the long term our country will be much better off by coming out of the EU. And if all politicians listen to the words of Brandon Lewis and act accordingly and unite we will all be fine and have nothing to worry about.

At long last we can take control of our country once again and prosper.


Leman Road,


I would be fined for illegal parking

Once again we have traveller problem in Great Yarmouth. They are now on the field behind the Salisbury Road school.

Not long ago they were on the Marina Centre car park. If I did that I would have paid a fine for illegal parking. They come here every summer and spend a free holiday before they are moved on.

The council should make them pay because the tax payer had to pay to clear up the mess they leave behind.

We don’t need this in Great Yarmouth. Nothing is gained by giving in to visitors like these. It is time something was done about it.


Perebrown Avenue,


Charge travellers for site clean up

A bill is on the way for the clean up of the illegal travellers site, and I would like to ask our MP Mr Brandon Lewis if the travelling community could be made to pay for this.

A levy or ground rent charge could be made against each van, payable to the local council for the clean up of the site once vacated. Communal waste bins could be placed nearby. I am sure every resident is fed up with the lack of respect from the travelling community to just camp anywhere, dump a load of rubbish and disappear. Before anyone says well this or that, there are towns and villages who do this and guess what, very few travellers turn up at Stonehenge, and in some areas of Derbyshire.


University Crescent,


The UK needs its friends and allies

What a difference a viewpoint can make and being a Remainer for the EU, I naturally agreed with the sentiments of your correspondents in favour of this. Andy Grant of Vote Leave naturally had another take on the result. His exultation of Yarmouth being the fifth highest vote to leave was my mortification and despair compounded by the fact my sister lives in Edinburgh, which was the second highest vote to remain.

I certainly wasn’t oblivious to the faults of the EU, in fact it badly needed reforming but in saying this Britain should have been one of the leading countries to facilitate this and take its rightful place in the forefront of any necessary reforms and changes.

I think both sides will agree that it was a campaign which factored in so many lies and exaggerations, that the electorate became completely confused by its mendacious complexities. I was fortunate I had made my mind up from the outset but I felt genuinely sorry for the people who became muddled and disorientated by all the conflicting stories.

No Mr Grant, I am not an ultra remainiac but I am very concerned about the fact Britain will in the future isolate itself and become insular as a result. This is a dangerous world and we need all the friends and allies we can muster, it appears to me to be a wilful departure when life today spins on the next horror story of a suicide bomber or atrocity.

To say now that the future is unknown is an understatement because we are definitely lacking a man or woman in power with a viable plan. This I feel in some ways was a protest vote in a country where people do feel marginalised and disenfranchised, it was kicking at the draconian austerity measures which have hit our councils and public services so hard and this is fair comment. But really the EU was in essence a different proposition and in its chequered history has contributed many beneficial and good things as well, including immigration which has had an unfair and divisive press often with too much negativity surrounding it.

It is also true that a large percentage of young people feel demoralised and upset by this result, I think in essence they felt European and enjoyed fully the marvellous and life enhancing opportunities out there. But we now need to get on with it and yes there is a big world out there with opportunities and new avenues to be explored, let’s just hope they are the rights ones for Britain and our future.


Winifred Road,


Cameron is the better candidate

De ja vu? True or false? What if, now that Brexit has delivered its punch, we all calm down and welcomed David Cameron back as our Prime Minister?

Now the sword of Damocles has moved from above his head what better candidate is there to do the job? He is still a young man! Who better amongst us could find that friendly ear?


Gonville Road,