Letters, November 6 2015

Our bus station not welcoming

I fear most councillors and our MP rarely use the bus station. It is a key point for millions of bus trips of both locals and visitors, and is not fine nor a welcoming place. (Mercury, October 30).

The Mercury in 2011 carried a story of a range of issues. Most have still not been addressed. Does the much heralded electronic signage provide real time details of the progress of buses rather than just list when they are due? Norwich has the up-market version. Does Yarmouth? Why was a display of departure bays not included in the original plan? Is it clear where the bays are?

The stop outside BHS has no signs. Norwich has a display that lists which services serve which estates. Why not Yarmouth? Why does the profitable and heavily subsidised bus industry not do more? The Government seems to tells us how the private sector can provide so much better than anything the public sector can.

The bus station is concrete grey, poorly lit, filthy with bird poo and chewing gum. The few litter bins are dirty. There could be more seating. The seats do not always match the queue. The taxi rank stop often causes tail backs when the buses cannot get into their bay. Sometimes caused by coaches occupying the bay - surely they could park elsewhere - near the park perhaps?

The toilets are poorly located for the bus station and up a dingy alleyway and locked at night. The safety railings may not have been painted for years and some show damage. The roofs of shelters could have a clean to remove long deposited debris. Weeds are growing in the pavement! A largely empty noticeboard is uncared for. I am not even sure the shopping centre signs do much for the area.

It is hard to see with the next Government funding cuts how much of an upgrade can happen. We should have aspired to something like Norwich. Local councillors seem to accept mediocrity.

Most Read

Our MP is obsessed with the rail station, used by a minority (250k people a year, mainly well-off ones). A secret shoppers’ survey claims it is fine! This is another example of the private sector not delivering and taking our money..


Victoria Street,


Remember the mine clearances

While the nation remembers our war dead on Sunday I would ask we include in our thoughts the men commemorated on the memorial at Great Yarmouth Racecourse. These men, from the Royal Norfolk Regiment and the Royal Engineers, were based at the racecourse in 1940 to lay defensive landmines on local beaches against an expected German invasion following Dunkirk.

They were not to know the invasion never occurred but were prepared to risk, and sadly lose, their lives to protect our shores. The memorial was dedicated on 13 April 2011 and unveiled by the late Sidney Gibbs who served alongside those killed.

As the memorial is situated inside the racecourse there can be no Ceremony of Remembrance held there but those killed deserve to be remembered with all others who sacrificed their lives in other theatres of war.

There will be a Remembrance Service held at the Landmine Clearance Memorial on the Green at Mundesley at midday on Sunday, November 8.

The 26 Royal Engineers remembered there were killed while clearing those same, and similar, landmines from our beaches following the Second World War.

The deaths occurred from Hopton to Holkham and without their efforts we would not be able to safely use that beautiful coastline.

Locally, three men were killed at Yarmouth, two at Caister near to the site of the new lifeboat shed, one at Winterton, eight at Horsey, and three at Waxham, all between January 1944 and July 1946.

Mine clearance continued into the 1950s, and two Royal Engineers were killed at Trimmingham as late as May 1953.

Two of these soldiers are buried in Caister cemetery, Lance Sgt Charles Gunnell (26), 4th Bttn Royal Norfolks killed on mine laying duties and Sapper Arthur Howsham (22) RE while clearing mines. By chance these two men are buried in diagonally adjacent plots.

One can only speculate as to whether, by some cruel hand of fate, one was killed by a landmine laid by the other. We should, and we will remember them.



Parkruns are a popular sport

Your splendid coverage over the last two weeks of athletics events, ranging from the excellent local 10k race to the exploits of local runners far and wide, has been marred only by the absence of the Parkrun report for each of those weeks. Yet in many respects it is the latter which is the real grass roots event and a match for any of the others.

Just to put things into perspective: Parkrun is entirely free to enter, runs occur throughout the country, there are no big corporate sponsors and a team of volunteers turns out week after week, rain or shine.

By way of contrast, if you wish to enter next April’s London Marathon under the aegis of Lord Seb Coe’s Foundation Charity you have to raise at least £5,000.

Oh Lordy! It seems that we are becoming a divided nation even in the field of sporting endeavour.


Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Please buy the Legion Poppies

As we are now in the season of remembrance of our fallen servicemen and women, I notice a lot of people are wearing homemade poppies, either knitted or sparkly ones. While the homemade poppies are attractive and display the makers’ artistic talent is the real reason for wearing the poppy being lost?

As most people are (hopefully) aware, the Royal British Legion sell their little paper poppies at this time each year to raise funds in support of our servicemen and women who have given so much and in many cases everything in the cause of our freedom throughout the years from conflicts from the First World War to the present day.

We must remain aware of the support our injured service personnel need even though our combat role in Afghanistan is now ended and not forget them now they are no longer seen on the news. 1 Royal Anglian Regiment has just returned from Kabul from a mentoring role.

I am sure a lot of the homemade poppies are probably sold and the proceeds go to the RBL and they are nice to see, but we have to ensure the support is given to our people and the Poppy does not become merely a seasonal fashion accessory.



Drivers at fault on the Straight

Yet another serious accident on the Acle Straight and the cry goes up to dual this dangerous road. When, oh when, will people realise there is no such thing as a dangerous road.

The Straight is an inanimate object, it does not suddenly start undulating, causing collisions between vehicles. It is the drivers at fault. It is no good calling for lower speed limits, drivers will still break them. Putting overtaking restrictions on the road will not have much effect as people will still pass slower vehicles.

Until people start driving according to traffic, weather and road conditions the accidents will not stop. I have been driving since I was 17 and have seen all sorts of accidents caused by bad or inconsiderate driving. Perhaps it might be a good thing to bring re-testing for all drivers, perhaps every 10 years. Those who fail the re-test should then have a course of lessons to bring their driving up to the required standard.

I do not claim to be a perfect driver, and yes, I have been involved in a serious accident - in 1972 and it was my fault - but I think most of today’s road users are getting worse and worse.

No amount of restrictions or dual carriageways will change things.


Oaklands Close


TVs advertised but none on sale

As quite a few other people I have just been to Aldi to buy one of the highly advertised 55ins HD TVs.

I was one of the first in the queue and after not being able to see the TV anywhere I asked the staff as to their whereabouts.

But I was told there was only one available and that it was already sold! How was this possible, I asked as I was one of the first through the doors and the reply was sorry I don’t know! Is this false advertising?



Since sending this letter, Mr Burchett has contacted Aldi head office and has been informed a TV is waiting for him to pick up.

Lowestoft port forward-thinking

I refer to David Wilkinson’s letter last week. On Saturday, the EDP reported the success of Associated British Ports Lowestoft and its chase for the Galloper wind farm contract; all East Coast ports are on the up: Aberdeen, Humberside, Teeside, Harwich, Kings Lynn. The future of our port is due to market forces he says, but I feel it is because Great Yarmouth Port Authority, Great Yarmouth Port Company, NCC and GYBC have their own agenda and they have no interest in pulling together.

He likened me to a dog with a bone because of tenacity. We, Great Yarmouth Port Users Association, Bourne Leisure, Hopton Save Our Beach Group and of course our local group eventually forced a public scrutiny.

So David should know how the various bodies, including those mentioned as well as the Marine Management Organisation and Department of Transport drag their heels when dealing with a controversial issue, and yes it has taken eight years. I am working on the premise that if you believe in something you should see it out to its finality.

I would have thought David would know the difference between the sale of the port, and the sale of shares of the company that manages the port.

We could end up with yet another venture finance company running the port.

It is out of the question that Yarmouth port could be a tourist attraction as there is nowhere where people can view the outer harbour! And why should they, there is nothing to see.

For weeks now it’s been a parking lot for wind energy positioning rigs. So for all Cllr Castle’s posturing we have yet another year where the promised surge of employment has come to nothing.

David said: “Giving financial support in part available from New Anglia, one might anticipate Cllr Castle is likely to win the debate given that a number of prospective buyers ought to come forward if his optimism is to be believed.”

Well “ought” and “likely” will not win a contract; news stories are saying that Lowestoft is the favoured port for the Galloper wind farm announcement, which will start in November, with Great Yarmouth not mentioned at all. Lowestoft is forward thinking as is their MP.

We have a council blustering profusely on what could be when other councils don’t talk they just get on with it after consulting the views of stakeholders and the local community.


Burnt Lane,


Marriage history is complicated

The wedding supplement, “St George’s open for weddings,” refers to the licensing of the premises for civil marriages. The history of marriages, if any, at the old chapel is rather more complex than the article suggests.

The church was consecrated in 1715 and closed by the Church of England in 1959. Throughout that long period it was a chapel-of-ease to the parish church, St Nicholas, now the minster.

The rule of the Anglican Church authorities was all marriages took place in the parish church. This was probably a consequence of the Marriage Act 1753, the purpose of which was to regularise the solemnisation and registration of marriages throughout England.

An important feature of the act was that it embodied the principle there are no secret or private marriages in England. Consequently the registers are in no sense confidential. It is also the reason, over 260 years later, that it is a requirement of law that at marriages in hotels and country houses etc, there will be directions to the part of the premises where the ceremony is to be so any person who wishes to be present may be so. For all that, every ceremony is, in the eyes of the law, a pubic affirmation.

The effect of the rule that marriages take place in the parish church required some couples to be married not in the church they attended, but in one with which they had no personal connection. Accordingly it admitted of some exceptions and it is possible for other churches to be licensed for marriages. In Yarmouth, St Paul’s, Newtown, was one of these exceptions.

Yet apart from St John’s, which was licensed towards the end of the last century, and St Peter’s, the other Anglican churches in the parish never were, including St George’s, St James’s and the long-vanished St Andrew’s on North Quay. Around the same time, across the river in Cobholm, St Luke’s was, for these purposes, put on a similar footing to St John’s.

Between the destruction of St Nicholas’ Church by bombing in 1942 and its re-consecration in 1961, St Peter’s was the acting parish church and licensed for marriages.

Until the licensing of St John’s, a small number of marriages took place there under a very old enactment indeed, the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1953, a statute of King Henry VIII, still in force, which confers upon the Archbishop of Canterbury the power to authorise marriages according to the rights of the Church of England at any time and in any place. Now, it is possible in the period of 1753-1959 some marriages took place at St George’s and at other unlicensed churches in the town. In the case of St George’s it is possible that between 1715-1753, marriages took place there – the other churches, of course, had not been built.

I can only say that in over 40 years at Ferryside, I never came across a single instance in the registers dating from the inception of the current registration regime in 1837.

In 1964, St Peter’s was acquired by the Greek Orthodox Church and re-dedicated to St Spyridon. I remember a few years later the Orthodox priest at the time exclaimed to me with evident satisfaction, “The Queen! She give us the Church!” Which when you think about it, was correct. Her Majesty would have been present at the meeting of the Privy Council when the order making the transfer was made.

Years ago, a national newspaper in a fit of exasperation when there had been an official blunder concerning a marriage, observed: “It should be possible for a couple to get married without its becoming a bureaucrat’s paradise”.

What is important of course, is the first couple to be married at St George’s under the new dispensation have a splendid day! Their’s will be the first civil marriage ceremony at St George’s. It is certain that no marriage ceremony has taken place there since 1959, it is possible that none has taken place there since 1753 it is even possible that no marriage ceremony has ever taken place there.


Kensington Court,


Well done on dementia sign up

Congratulations to the JPH for signing up to John’s campaign which aims to give carers of those living with dementia the right to stay with them when in hospital.

Through no fault of there own, people with dementia can become confused when in strange locations. This can be disconcerting for other patients and visitors in the hospital, as well as staff unless they have received adequate training.

Some 12 years or so ago the then Great Yarmouth branch of the Alzheimer’s Society presented the JPH with a fold up bed specifically for carers to stay so they could support both the person and staff. They also presented a combi TV with a training video for staff dementia training. This was flexible and allowed staff to watch at convenient times.

At that time JPH staff did not receive training in dementia, and Jo Fuller in conjunction with the branch introduced a dementia training session for any JPH employees that volunteered to attend. Since then dementia has been an area of continual development for all employees at the JPH.

We are fortunate our local hospital, the JPH is forward thinking and provides an excellent service for us all, whatever our health problems.

I find it positive that many users now write letters in the Mercury praising the service they have experienced at the JPH. It is not many years ago that the letters were mainly negative about experiences.



Our bus station needs a clean

Cllr Bernard Williamson is right, the signs installed at the bus station in Great Yarmouth are an improvement but has he been there lately? It will never be a pleasant waiting area until it is given a thorough deep clean!



No ‘ice’ xmas for roller skaters

This council is living in cuckoo land; they are spending money on a real ice rink for a few days over Christmas and are not helping Great Yarmouth’s roller skating sport, which has been in Yarmouth since the 1960s.

The roller skating facilities could be moved back by the Wellington Pier. The base is still there and all it needs is a building over it. The council wastes public money on an ice rink, they should be helping Retroskate. I hope the public reads this letter and supports Retroskate. Please don’t support the ice rink.


Caister on Sea

The villainous parking fees

As a Bond fan I couldn’t wait for the launch of Spectre last week which left me shaken and stirred – for the wrong reason.

I’m not talking about the extraordinarily high standard of the 24th in the series which deserves all the credits which have been heaped upon it nor the quality of the digital projection and sound in the Hollywood Cinema but the exorbitant parking fee demanded by our borough council.

You might be forgiven for thinking that arch villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld had dreamt up this scheme to take over the seafront and repel all visitors!

As the film unusually opened to the public on a Monday to coincide with the London premier, the Hollywood still charged its generous normal Monday rate and we paid just £5.50 for our ticket making this one of the best bargains ever offered.

But in marked contrast, at the tea stall car park opposite the cinema at the bottom of Euston Road, incredibly the parking charge was almost as much at just under a fiver. Naively I had expected parking would be free after 6 pm, or perhaps have a modest reasonable evening charge of a quid or two. But no. The overnight rate didn’t kick in until 9pm to which had to be added another two hours because we arrived at 7.45 for an 8 pm start.

I’m going to be kind and suggest that perhaps councillors and their advisers haven’t realised what an unfair and unattractive tariff system they have managed to create and the impact it has. I want to support my local cinema but do I need to spell out the obvious comparisons of Norwich where you can get either free parking or a very reduced flat rate which operates from 3pm (ideal for cinema or theatre) while at Lowestoft the Marina Theatre, which is also showing the Bond film, it is actually supported by Waveney Council with totally free multi-storey and ground floor parking (which also benefits the Lowestoft Players Bethel Theatre and patrons of the Hippodrome Bingo).

A bit of commonsense is needed and if the council can’t manage it then send for Miss Moneypenny who always seems to sort out 007’s financial problems.


Lowestoft Road,


Central beach maintained well

I should like to congratulate GYB Services on the way that Yarmouth Beach - the Central Beach and the popular “day tripper” beach just to the north of the Britannia Pier - was maintained during the 2015 season.

The water’s edge was kept very well and was predominantly sandy and smooth, best for a decade. The beach of course is twice as wide as it was 25 years ago and would benefit from a “skim” by pushing down the top layer of sand to just below the high water mark as that would restore the beach to its 1980s standard removing wind blown small pebbles back down the beach to restore a pure sand quality for the promenade end of the beach. I think that this could be achieved with a “low-tech” tractor with attachment solution.

Tea stalls at the North Beach are less happy as the beach where marram grass has been allowed to proliferate are complaining about rubbish and lack of beach management.

Because of the width of the beach now there is pressure for strategic “walkways” down the beach near to the Wellington Pier, the Jetty and just north of the Britannia Pier so that people with prams or limited mobility can get to the water’s edge more easily. The PoNY community association in North Yarmouth want something very similar in the Waterways/Boating Pool area.

With 2016 in mind there is already a problem arisen owing to autumn weather/tides. There is a 2ft/2ft6ins drop at the high tide mark - around the front timbers of the Britannia Pier - much as we had three years ago. That may need dealing with next Spring if winter storms don’t level it.


Great Yarmouth

Where is nice sweeper man?

Once upon a time we had a very nice man who swept the streets in Bradwell. He kept all the leaves clear so people would not slip on them. Now he is nowhere to be seen and the streets are dirty with rubbish, dog poop bags that have just been dumped, and all sorts of rubbish. That man used to keep everywhere clean. What happened to him? The money that is being spent on an ice rink could be spent on other things, what a waste.



Singalongs kept war spirits high

In 1915, the Gorleston Pavilion Theatre, formerly the Shelter Hall, was closed just in case there was a full audience and a Zeppelin attacked. Now in 2015 it is still going strong with various good entertainments on offer. Heroes this week is a chance to singalong times which put spirits up in both wars.