Letters, June 13 2014

Scared by rise of the new party?

What a surprise that all of a sudden Tory and Labour councillors have decided to form an alliance in order to stop the surge of power from UKIP. They must both be very scared by the rise of the new party, as I’ve never known them to agree on anything before! It’s no wonder the turnout is always so low for local elections, as the wishes of the electorate are ignored.

Call this democracy?



The town needs more housing

Caister correspondent Andrew Grant calls my comments “disgraceful” (Mercury, June 6). He is very much mistaken and I really think I need to spell out quite clearly for your readers the paramount importance of building affordable rented housing in the town to meet local need.

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Despite Mr Grant’s assessment of the current situation it remains a fact our Labour-led borough council has built about 20 council dwellings this year - the first for two decades after 12 years of Tory stewardship of community housing. Some were built in Gorleston, some in Bradwell and some in his village, Caister.

The need in Yarmouth however is even greater and there is an urgent need for one and two bedroom bungalows as planned for the old railway land at Salisbury Road/Drake Avenue. This would enable people in larger dwellings and suffering the imposition of the bedroom tax to down-size and release three bedroom council houses in Newtown for families with children.

Private housing development in the town typically only produces 10pc of affordable homes, whereas council-owned land put at the disposal of a well-respected housing association - Saffron - by contrast produces 100pc of homes to let to local people. The old municipal buildings, old fire and police station are currently being transformed into 29 dwellings and the old railway land would yield another 12.

Without the council using public land in this way to enable new public housing it would take the building of over 400 houses to produce the same benefit to those on our housing waiting list.

I have represented people in this town for three decades and this issue is one of the most important for the health and well-being of those on low income. I make no apologies for pointing out the Great Yarmouth North Against Development campaign - however successful it has been thus far - is a shameful nimby campaign based on a misrepresentation of facts and fanning of hysterical rumours about the housing being for “offenders” and “undesirables”.

The pedestrian access through the site was never going to be removed - in fact it would be substantially enhanced. Vehicular access for those properties who have over the years “appropriated” unofficial rear accesses were largely protected in the proposals. There was no “overlooking” because the bungalows would not even have been seen by adjoining properties.

I sincerely hope the scheme is approved on appeal. The value of houses in Blake Road, North Denes Road and Sandringham Avenue would be enhanced not reduced by a tasteful bungalow development. Also probably the number one most vulnerable remaining unprotected site in the town, with regard to an incursion by travellers, will have been suitably secured. It happened on the Beach Coach Station in 2012 and Cobholm and the nearby Beaconsfield recration ground in 2013. I rest my case.


County Councillor

Yarmouth North and Central

Good point about the atheists

Mr Huggins makes a good point about the atheists (and sinners) having no hope of life after death. The Bible says God’s heavenly city is a holy place, and only His people go there when they die: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practises a lie” (Revelation 22:14–15).

See why this atheist doctor turned to Christ: http://tinyurl.com/on269qo


Albemarle Road,


Keep abreast of Highway Code

When an individual passes their driving test they are asked to sign the paperwork for several reasons, one of which is they will agree to keep abreast of changes to driving rules and regulations, including the Highway Code

I would suggest a high number of drivers are not keeping up to date and in fact are unaware of changes since they passed their test.

In particular I would make reference to the Highway Code (Rule 219) Emergency and Incident Support Vehicles: “You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support Vehicles using flashing amber lights.

“When one approaches you, do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of the road. Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.”

I regularly observe vehicles stopping opposite each other, stopping all traffic in both directions, creating a chicane which the emergency vehicle cannot possibly squeeze through.

I have also witnessed cars suddenly braking and swerving to the left when the driver suddenly becomes aware of the emergency vehicle which all other drivers have seen minutes earlier (often the car/van driver was holding a mobile phone to their head). This, contrary to Rule 149, which they believe they are exempt from.

What would I do when I observe an approaching emergency vehicle? Firstly, I would briefly use my left traffic indicator or hazard indicators to let the emergency crew know I had seen them. This is not in the Highway Code but emergency drivers I have spoken with accept this type of signal might indicate the driver is paying attention. Secondly, I always keep a look out for an escape route/exit in case I need to avoid traffic that might endanger myself, so I would be looking for a lay-by, passing place, wide road, or similar area I could make use of to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. The last thing I would do on a narrow section of a single carriageway, is stop opposite another vehicle that has also stopped, because no-one is then going to get past.

Name and Address withheld

The Bible lacks in knowledge

Mr Huggins, that was almost the perfect answer, exactly what I was expecting from a Christian.

Atheism - full of despair, death, hate and no hope - according to Mr Huggins’. Let’s just do a quick round up of this week’s events:

In science - A new treatment for advanced skin cancer has been hailed as a paradigm shift after it boosted one year survival chances from just one in ten to almost three in four. In religion - Pregnant woman in Sudan ordered to be stoned to death due to apostasy to Christianity.

Which one of these fills you with hope Mr Huggins? Which one of these do you wish to see continue?

Nothing in this single life is beyond ridicule Mr Huggins. Not your views, not mine. What makes you think religion is beyond mockery? You say children are born free of sin but you seem to forget they are also born free of religion. Born into a world of critical thinking and free will until an adult forces their beliefs upon them. To use a similar sentence to what you used: “Religion doesn’t come naturally, it is taught”.

I’m glad I can live in a world free from fear of upsetting a mythical man and spending an eternal life suffering. I’m glad that, even without a god, I know what is right and wrong. I’m glad I feel the urge to question the who, what, why, where and when. Knowledge is empowering, and it’s something the Bible lacks in abundance.



Thanks for votes

Thank you to all the residents of Caister South who voted for me in the recent local elections. Your support was greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you all in the future.


Labour Party candidate for Caister South

Kenya journalism was one-sided

A fortnight ago my 14-year-old son was looking forward to a charity trip to Kenya. A trip that as a family we believed would have an impact on the way he saw the world and perhaps even on what he did with his life as he grew up.

A group of 51 students and nine staff from four Norfolk schools would take much needed clothes, blankets, books, sports equipment and stationery to some of the poorest children in Africa. They would have provided a large quantity of food in the form of porridge that can make the difference between Kenyan children going to school or not. They would also have brought to those children a sense that someone cared about them and, I hope, brought some fun, friendship and excitement into their lives.

We had talked with our son about the risks. The itinerary would have stayed within Foreign Office guidance. The children certainly weren’t going anywhere near the areas from which British holidaymakers have recently been brought home. We honestly believed that statistically the most dangerous part of the journey was probably the coach trip to Heathrow. Of course any parent who felt differently could simply have withdrawn their child from the trip.

Then came the headlines in the Great Yarmouth Mercury. The journalism was at best one-sided. The quotes from an “anonymous businessman” felt particularly desperate - there are plenty of British business people working in Nairobi who would put their name to their opinions. The accusation from that businessman that “custodians and organisers” had not properly researched the project is, in my opinion, verging on the libellous.

The Mercury message board carried further uninformed comment including the vilification of the organiser of the charity involved - someone who has dedicated several years of her life to providing opportunities to the young people of Norfolk and help to the young people of Kenya.

The story was followed up by the EDP and Radio Norfolk. The schools described how they were “continually harassed” by our local media, they feared the impact on their reputations if the story was picked up by the national papers. When head teachers start getting phone calls from the Department for Education demanding to know what is behind the media coverage it makes it very difficult for them to remain committed to the project. It was decided to cancel the trip.

This project was about developing dozens of young people in Norfolk into young leaders. Letting them learn what other parts of the world are really like and doing their tiny bit to try to make things better. Perhaps we would rather they grow up insular, small minded and scared to go out of their own front door.

What message does the trip’s cancellation send to the young people of Nairobi, when we are not even prepared to spend three nights in their city in a secure hotel with armed guards?

I am from Norfolk, I live and work here. I am taken aback by the response to this trip and the impact the media coverage has had on a Norfolk-based charity that has done so much good here and around the world.

The young people from Acle Academy and many of their parents and teachers have worked extremely hard, spending hundreds of hours between them packing bags in local supermarkets and working on other events. They have raised around £13,000 for the Kenya project and the related Porridge Appeal.

To their great credit, this impressive group of young people and their teachers decided to continue their charity fund-raising despite the cancellation of their trip. They spent last Saturday in Sainsbury’s in Yarmouth, packing customers’ shopping and hoping for a donation. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they’d decided not to bother. The response of the customers who had heard about their situation was hugely positive.

My son is desperately disappointed he will lose the opportunity to go on this trip. He is also very angry he feels he is losing it because of the unbalanced way it has been covered by his local newspaper. You may feel you have performed a valuable service to this community - I do not.



Flegg’s invite for your memories

Did you attend Flegg High School? If so we would like to hear from you. As part of our 50th anniversary we are planning to release a special edition of the school magazine, one that will feature separate message pages from the previous decades.

If you attended Flegg and would like to get involved and share your memories please get in contact with the school via email principalsoffice@flegg.norfolk.sch.uk or 01493 749349.

The school will also be holding an open day later in the year for all old Flegg students to come and tour the site so please keep an eye on our website where we will advertise the event: www.flegg.norfolk.sch.uk

We would also appreciate any old photographs of lasses, sports days, school outings, music and drama.


Flegg High School,


Store recycles yoghurt pots?

A few weeks ago, I recall our MP Mr Brandon Lewis was admonished for saying (in an article on recycling) that yoghurt pots could be recycled in Great Yarmouth. It was thought this was not the case. For some months now, Sainsbury’s recycling area at their St Nicholas Road store has had a container marked “Mixed Plastics” and yoghurt pots are clearly listed. So Mr Lewis was quite correct, although I understand they are not yet acceptable in the green bins.


Well Street,

Great Yarmouth

Sorry state of paddling pool

Gorleston paddling pool has been left to go the same sorry state as the boating lake. It must make sense to keep the maintenance up on these attractions. So now it will take more money which the council say they haven’t got to bring them back to their former glory.

When my son was little I spent many days at the paddling pool which I’m sure parents would love to do in the school holidays. It seems all the council is interested in is keeping the seafront nice from the pier to the Pleasure Beach. The north end is clearly forgotten about. Such a shame because it is a lovely walk around the lake and Waterways, is this area not part of the so called Golden Mile?



Empty shops due to high rents

Going to Great Yarmouth over the years I have noticed recently there are several shops empty, especially down the Victoria Arcade. Other shops I have noticed empty are the Soundgear shop over in Southtown and in the centre of town and down Regent Street. I believe the reason for this is because of the high overheads and rent.


St Margaret’s Way,


Remembering the evacuation

June 2 is the day at which so many memories flood back. I was just 10 years old and in Form 2 at the high school when my parents took me to the station to join the rest of the school to set off to an “unknown destination.” My brother, Ken Fielding, was with the Grammar School boys.

Today I telephoned Andrew Fakes to ask if he knew many others with similar memories as obviously we are a dying breed, and as I don’t live in Yarmouth I haven’t kept up with local people as much as I would have liked. Victor Stowers is an old friend but sadly no longer with us.

As I get older I begin to understand increasingly what it meant to our parents to say goodbye to us, when invasion was expected every day, and as my mother said later, “We didn’t know if we would ever see you again.” My older brother Tom had just joined the RAF.

I have a written memoir of that time, as no doubt have many people. My memories seem very clear to me, though possibly they are not accurate, just perceptions. I was extremely fortunate in having wonderful billet parents, and was talking to their daughter only last evening. She was a nine month old baby when I arrived.

This letter is one of those spur of the moment things.


Nee Fielding


Love the letters!

I love the letters pages and love to read all letters and their views. I love the letters on religion too. So don’t stop them.



Great Yarmouth

Empire building is in bad state

I feel quite disappointed the old Empire building in Great Yarmouth is being left in such a bad state. It’s dull, dirty and it’s such a shame as it is a beautiful building. Several other premises have made the effort to tidy up the seafront. Surely the owner should be approached and asked to do it, the council seems to clamp down on other buildings so why not this one? It is a disgrace to Yarmouth. Please get it sorted, it’s a real eyesore.


The Pastures


Enjoy art for the pleasure it brings

As Cllr Shrimplin writes: “Art is welcome in the Ormesby bus shelter.” Indeed, many years ago we had lovely scenes, sometimes humorous, legally painted in our shelter by a local artist, the name escapes me. They really brightened the place up.

We also had a dear lady, not with a candle but with a bucket and mop, Hilda, who faithfully cleaned the shelter regularly as a treasured volunteer. So ease the rope of regulations and enjoy art for the pleasure it brings.


North Road,

Ormesby St Margaret

Evolution not based on proof

I was bemused by the BBC reporting Prof Richard Dawkins as saying: “Parents should stop reading fairy stories to their children, stories such as the frog turning into a prince.”

He had earlier made a statement that to teach the Bible is true to children is “mental abuse” and should be stopped. Yet he is one of the main evangelists for the truth of evolution, which states that out of nothing a big bang caused the universe to come into existence. Then after a magic wand of millions of years a chemical soup caused life to begin and behold eventually we have human beings.

All of this from nothing, I ask you? Is he serious? Is not what he preaches a fairy tale? For it is not based on any proveable fact or proof.


Common Road,


Well done to all in D-Day parade

My grandad Donald Brown attended the D-Day parade in St George’s Park wearing his medals with pride. I posted a photo of him on my Facebook page and within minutes he had over 170 likes/comment.

Well done to everyone who took part and we respect and thank you all.



What happened to Last Post?

To mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the Borough of Great Yarmouth, alongside the Royal British Legion, organised a parade and service in St George’s Park last week.

Such an important occasion to remember all those involved on that day and a crucial opportunity for the local youth and community organisations to join the civic procession and representatives from the Royal British Legion in marking this anniversary.

But, what a disappointment! There was disorder and disorganisation from the start. The marching contingent were lined up unnecessarily early and thus followed a lot of shuffling and fidgeting.

When the parade marched through the park, the marine cadet band who, having led the procession were positioned so far away from where the service was taking place, they could not hear nor see the ceremony and were left choking on the fumes from an ice-cream van parked and trading right in the centre of the proceedings.

Clearly, no parade organiser felt it appropriate to move this van elsewhere either before or during the event.

When the main part of the service had ended and the band led the parade through the park to the memorial, once again, neither public nor many of the participants could watch the wreath laying because no plans had been made to position all in a sensible way.

At the fundamental point when the Last Post was to be played, no bugler or trumpeter stepped forward and in fact, neither the Last Post nor Reveille sounded. How could such a significant element of the service be forgotten?

Great credit should, however, go to the young man at the front of the band, who decided very quickly as to when he should bring the parade to a halt.

Come on Great Yarmouth, surely we can do better than this.

Name and Address withheld

Seeking Harrison family history

Jennifer Harrison b1947 (now Jennifer Bailey, retired teacher living in Somerset) and Jack Harrison b1938 (birth name Keith, retired pilot now living in western Scotland) are trying to find out more about their ancestors.

Jennifer is doing the research and has already made some amazing discoveries about her husband’s family. She hopes to have the same success for the Yarmouth connections.

Both Jennifer and Jack were born in Gorleston. Their parents, also from Yarmouth, were Joe Harrison (birth name Ailwyn) 1915-1988 and Win (Winifred) Sutton, 1915-1980. Joe was chief reporter at the Yarmouth office of the EDP from circa 1945 to 1978.

Joe Harrison had two siblings, Victor Marcus, 1906-1986, and Sheila Bessie, b1922. It is believed Sheila might have married to become a Huntley. As far as is known, Victor never married.

Winifred Sutton had four siblings, Dick (Richard John) b1911, naval officer thought to have died at sea in the war; Anne b1921 (never married); Ted (Edward Ernest) 1924-91, school teacher and Barbara (now Davis) b1926. Anne and Barbara both live in the southwest of England.

Jennifer and Jack would be grateful if any Mercury readers could throw light on the Harrison’s and Suttons. Snippets, however small, would be welcome. Please email Jack at jack.harrison@gmail.com



Where are our missing cats?

I thought I would contact you because something strange is going on. I live in Trinity Place, Great Yarmouth and yesterday I let my cat out and haven’t seen him since. Then I found out the lady four doors down from us has also lost her cat. I rung the local vets who told me four are missing from the same area and all are tabbies.

Apparently an elderly woman was wandering around the other day making odd enquiries about cats but she might be completely innocent. But these cats would come home if they could. Strange.



Continue to help

I would like to thank all local residents of Bradwell for voting and supporting me in the local elections. I will continue to help those who ask and be a strong advocate for Bradwell in the Town Hall.


Bradwell North