Letters, October 23 2015
Jury is out on Marina Centre
I think Paul Masters, Letters October 9, is a little premature in congratulating the new management of the Marina Centre for “turning a loss into a viable business”. The new pricing structure has only just been introduced and has not been favourably received by all; I believe the jury is very much still out.
Not that I wish them anything other than success. We need a vibrant and up-to-date leisure facility in the town.
I just hope that Sentinel can be persuaded to introduce more flexibility into their pricing, to take into account the differing requirements of various sections of the community.
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Re-think £100k spend on ice rink
As ward councillor for the town centre I’m dumbfounded by a decision by the Conservatives to put a temporary ice rink in the Market Place at Christmas that it is projected to cost residents £100,000 on the premise it will increase footfall.
That’s right, a £100k subsidy to bring ice skating to the Market Place. Such expenditure from reserves cannot be sustained on gimmicks that do not add to the overall long-term marketability of the town centre.
I urge the council to put this decision on ice, and think again on how to spend taxpayers money to support the town centre for the long term.
Cllr LEE SUTTON
Central and Northgate ward
Remarks raise many queries
As I have no allegiance to any political party I prefer to support any councillor or authority working for the good of Great Yarmouth and on reading the letter from Cllr Castle assessing his achievements and contribution to the long-running controversy I hoped he would be able to shed some light on the events of recent years.
I am not sure I understand his reference to Freemasonry or its relevance to the matter in hand but the other content seems to be quite informative. The councillor’s remarks did raise a great many queries in my mind and I would really appreciate it if he could spare a little time to answer some of them, so for convenience I have numbered them.
1 Are reports the deepwater outer harbour is subject to surge in certain weather conditions making it difficult or even impossible for vessels to moor, true, and is this why there seem to be only three non-working ‘jack-up rigs, which do not require a quay, stationed there for a very long time?
2 How many local people are employed by the port company?
3 Would the proposed third river crossing, presumably a bridge, prevent any sizeable vessels from proceeding upriver and would the connecting road link add to the confusion on the large roundabout adjacent to the retail park?
4 Will there be any benefit to the town if the current port operator sells it on?
No doubt there are many other residents with similar concerns so this will provide an opportunity for Cllr Castle to enlighten us all.
In conclusion, as a fair minded person, I must say I find the references to Mr John Cooper unfair and distasteful. He is as much entitled to voice his opinions as any of us. Love him or loathe him I do not recall any of his remarks in the Mercury over the years being proved wrong or even misleading and, to be specific, where has he “re-written history”?
Sad loss of our coastal footpath
I read your interesting article about the new coastal path between Hopton and Sea Palling (Friday, October 2).
This is a timely announcement as several of us, including the disabled and families with young children, have recently been denied footpath access between the end of the road at the Long Beach estate, Hemsby and the Winterton Valley Estate.
This footpath had been enjoyed for well over 20 years and was deemed to be for the public to use. Sadly it was blocked at both ends in April and access lost.
Perhaps in this new emerging atmosphere of the wish to share our coastline and the desire to encourage walker commonsense will prevail and the footpath will be opened once again.
Winteron Valley Estate
Station housing is a great idea
I normally disagree with everything MP Brandon Lewis says or does, but I must agree his vision for Great Yarmouth Railway Station is a great idea and one that I am certain would work and very much improve the area, which is the gateway to the town. So well done Mr Lewis, and may your vision come true.
P J MANTRIPP
Leman Road, Gorleston
Dad speaks very highly of Paget
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff on ward 5 at the James Paget Hospital for all their help in looking after my dad who was recently admitted for an emergency operation.
I know the hospital is often perceived as not up to standard however my dad speaks very highly of his stay on this particular ward so please print this letter as a way of expressing our gratitude.
Mrs KEELEY BRIGLAND
Maybe wolves would help?
Just to make it clear to P Cullum that there are only two cats residing on our road, one of those moved in from another area, but like everyone else P Cullum and the local environmental rangers have not answered the question why is it okay to fine me for not clearing up after my dog?
And I guess if I allowed my dog out and it attacked one of these cats I again would be prosecuted. While I would not condone animal cruelty of any kind maybe a few wolves could help.
Caister on Sea
Let’s hope right decision is made
The residents of the Great Yarmouth area will be affected by the proposed actions of GYBC, Pulse Fitness and Sentinel Leisure Trust concerning the future of the Marina Centre.
The concept plans are now being finalised, partly based on the results of the public consultations and the 300 surveys that were returned to the Marina Centre. The bulk of the findings are being collated from the review made by Neil Allen Associates on the borough council’s sport, play and leisure strategy.
We understand that Sentinel have to produce a business plan showing they can reduce the fee paid to them per annum, for managing the Marina Centre, to nil over a period of time until the facility is self-sufficient. In addition the council’s borrowed £6m must be repaid.
If the “state of the art” gym and fitness centre, that is set to replace our bowls club, and the other “improvements” do not attract the very high numbers Sentinel are expecting, the projected income will not be met. What happens then? Who will have to meet the shortfall?
A borough council representative, at their joint meeting with the bowls club committees on October 14 agreed that they were “taking a huge gamble, with no guarantee of success. He said the final plans, once agreed upon, simply had to work and be financially viable.
Let’s hope for all concerned, especially Great Yarmouth Indoor Bowls Club, that they get it right.
Appeal to trace my relative
I am looking for Graham Richard Barwick, nicknamed Bo, who has lived in Great Yarmouth for a few years now. I have not seen him in years but his last known address was Yarmouth. He will be in his 60s now.
If anyone can help, please call 07917 016136 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What a state for us to be in
What a council we have, we pay 70p a hour for our parking on the Market Place, only to find it’s gone up to 90p. Then we’re told free parking at weekends and after 4pm on weekdays.
I park on the market on Saturday to be told it is not free here you have to pay, this is for less than half the size of the normal spaces, but I can go over the road and park free. So now we have half the market to park which we have to pay for.
There is half a bridge at Vauxhall, and left half painted.
I have reported to the council that the drains are blocked with grass and this is why it is flooding into people’s gardens on the road so the council came to our aid and guess what? They filled it up and we now get a swimming pool.
I have lived here nearly 60 years and watched the town deteriorate, Try and do something apart from forcing shops to shut, it’s hideous to call it a town centre and definitely not worth paying parking fees. Wake up councillors.
Other resorts are ahead of us
Just read in Friday’s Mercury by our local MP that we are second compared to Blackpool. I wonder just what planet he is on. Brighton is ahead Devon is ahead of us even Rhyl and that is just a few.
Many businesses in the town are talking a vast downturn this year some as much as 30pc and that is on last year which was a bad year.
I wonder just when is someone in the council going to stand up and be counted, maybe they are just interested in the money they receive for being there.
I was talking to someone at the weekend who had asked a council officer if he could have some sort of permit to take photos of what few holidaymakers we had. He asked in 2014 and he still has not come back to the person.
I spent a number of weeks looking at doing something on the beach and sent a email to the tourism people but I heard not a thing. Will the town go like the outer harbour? I would not like to think so. Will we see tourists in five years time unless someone does something? I think not.
Late holidaymakers come and all is closed; bet they will not come back, and remember one bad word leads to hundred.
MICHELLE P SWIFT
Young people feature heavily
Last week’s Mercury was a lovely edition for featuring our young people today. First Class 2015 contained such lovely sunny photographs of young children who hopefully will maintain their hopeful and delightful countenances all through their formative years and result in the Graduation held in Great Yarmouth Minster for Degrees, Certificates and Diplomas holders.
Education can be a divisive issue with the goal posts being removed and set down somewhere else with the regularity of rain. But it cannot be emphasised enough how important it is and in this issue there was a very interesting article about Great Yarmouth College investing in happiness courses.
This I think is a wonderful concept as so many of our young people are plagued by mental health issues and anything that obviates this is to be welcomed and encouraged. A sense of well-being often helps the person to reach out to other people in a meaningful and proactive way. In our sometimes fractured and distant society, this has been never more needed or desired.
This paper, as I reiterate, resonated with an embarrassment of riches as I read another very inspiring article about the team of young Interpreters at Lynn Grove Academy who are supporting other students where English isn’t their first language. What a wonderful initiative and congratulations to Christina Dack for implementing this.
Theresa May would have us believe that we gain very little from immigration in our country, obviously this is not the case and these young people will be hugely instrumental in proving the opposite. Alison Mobbs, the headteacher, should be justifiably proud of these students and her teaching assistant for making it possible.
As a school governor and an examinations invigilator I love and relish reading about young people and how they are progressing through our education system.
It was smiles all round and for me personally there was a lot of laughter at my school reunion of “girls” who attended St Louis Convent High School which is faithfully and very well organised by Mary Lovewell-Blake every two years. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Furzedown Hotel last Sunday and the walls resonated with much merriment and sentences prefaced with “Do you remember?”
Friendships gained in schools do last a lifetime and the ethos gained from the Sisters of St Louis have always held us in good sway.
Hopefully the children photographed will also look back on their schooldays with affection and relish every moment which are over far too soon.
JUDITH A DANIELS
Wonderful show by dance school
Through your column I should just like to express my thanks to Jayne King and all students of The Dancers School for putting on such a wonderful show last weekend, The show entitled Journeys in Dance was exceptional and what a journey it took us on...from penguins in Antarctica, Bollywood, Russia, Hawaii... the list goes on.I was so impressed by how the show flowed and the professionalism of all who took part, from the babies right through to the adults. The costumes were beautiful and added to the glamour. Thank you once again and a big well done to you all.
Pension goes up, benefit is cut
My wife and I are in our 80s and all our generation have paid a good proportion of our wages in tax etc. This year my pension went up by about £3 a week, and this amount was promptly cut from my pension credit, leaving me 28p worse off.
When I was 80, my guaranteed credit was removed meaning I could no longer get free dental treatment.
I have now received a letter from the housing department, who are very nice and thoughtful people to deal with, saying that as our joint income now exceeds a modest figure of £2 above a certain limit we will lose some 20p on our housing benefit. Clearly the government is honouring its promise not to penalise pensioners.
Home-Start is here to stay
It was with great concern that Trustees of Home-Start Great Yarmouth and District read the report in last Friday’s Eastern Daily Press, within the article “Spending on children’s services could be slashed” that: “Other proposals would see… funding for the charity Home-Start... scrapped.”
This is far from the truth as Home-Start schemes in Norfolk are about to be issued with a further contract to provide a volunteer home-visiting service to families with children under the age of five, for a further year until April 2017. There remains the possibility the level of funding from children’s services may be reduced, but not scrapped.
Norfolk County Council are currently attempting to bring the numbers of children in care within the county down, by increasing the extent of early intervention support. The service that Home-Start provides is exactly this type of service and is demonstrably helping the council to achieve these aims.
We would like to allay the fears of any staff, families, volunteers or referrers in the area, who may think that our service is to be terminated. The funding received from Norfolk County Council children’s services is significant, and much appreciated, but is by no means the only funding we receive. We are extremely grateful to the many trusts and other organisations, such as NCC Public Health, BBC Children in Need, Great Yarmouth Community Trust, Awards for All, Norfolk Community Foundation, The Ellerdale Trust and The Geoffrey Watling and Henry Smith charities who provide us with considerable levels of funding, in addition to the local clubs and societies who kindly donate to us.
Our fundraising committee also holds a range of events to raise funds for the organisation.
We have been supporting families in the area now for over 20 years and have strong foundations. We do not plan to terminate our service!
Chair of Trustees
Home-Start Great Yarmouth and District
My letter was a tribute to man
With reference to Mr Castle’s letter of last week (Is this history being re-written) I would like to emphasise that my own letter to which he refers was in tribute to the recently departed Port Engineer Mr Symonds, who, not only was a champion of the Seafarers Mission which I ran for many years, but a good friend of the port community and the borough of Great Yarmouth as a whole.
It is disappointing that Mr Castle cannot see fit to pay some sort of respect to Mr Symonds before putting his opinions of self-praise across. Quite simply, to cut through Mr Castle’s rhetoric of the port through his eyes as in his letter, I would suggest he publicly “comes clean” about his involvement as chairman of the Great Yarmouth Port Authority in locking up Port records to the public with relation to the years 2000-2007.
Mr Castle’s other involvement at GYBC and NCC levels with regard to being chairman of Great Yarmouth Port Authority hardly backs up his public statement of having “no baggage or vested interests” as he is claiming.
JOHN L COOPER
Retired Port Welfare Officer
I was attacked by loose dog
I wholeheartedly agree with farmer Richard Hirst’s plan to try and ban off-lead dogs and their irresponsible owners from his farmland.
I am not a dog owner but I regularly used to walk these fieldside paths to enjoy the surrounding countryside and wildflowers, but not anymore – being someone who was attacked and bitten by an out of control dog on one of these paths. My enjoyment of these walks has been completely ruined.
Official notices have been put up but torn down and discarded. If some of these owners are approached about these dogs they are very intimidating and abusive. Good luck Mr Hirst. I hope your plan results in success to preserve your farmland, livelihood and responsible people’s enjoyment.
Mrs G HARVEY
Ormesby St Margaret
Time to take new approach to town
Being an ancient member of the local populace, I feel competent enough to say that with the passing of the many years listening to the waffle and side-stepping debates about dualling the Acle Straight now is the time the whole subject was put to bed.
I feel the final outcome would be one giant bottleneck with a road that good drivers would be afraid to use.
The final word at the present: “Nothing will be done at this moment of time.”
Let’s make another approach into Great Yarmouth. This could be started with the construction of the third river crossing with a road carrying on from it westerly over the Yare by a bridge at its narrowest point, incorporating the Reedham railway line. Then onto the B1140 road around the Freethorpe area, to join the A47 wherever is best.
This route into the town would be greeted with a far pleasanter sight than that at present.
Once here they would pay to park but the ticket would be transferrable and coer all parking areas in the town. Shall we say £5 for three hours which when run out can be recharged at whatever area you are in.
This would encourage visitors to see different aspects of the town creating various other parking spaces. It could even open up the South Denes beach area.
What if the Windmill, and the Empire Cinemas were re-opened showing continuous cartoon film shows for children who would be accompanied of course! Rain or shine this would keep things moving. Pipe dream or reality?
Tories achieve their ‘share’ goal
Third time lucky For Tories, but unlucky for residents. The Conservative minority administration supported by an alliance of UKIP councillors have finally achieved their goal, for GYBC to share a chief executive with another council.
First attempt with South Norfolk District Council - failed.
Second attempt with Breckland and South Holland District Councils - failed.
Third attempt with North Norfolk District Council - achieved.
This decision is bad news for the residents of Great Yarmouth, and the risks involved around this interim appointment are not to be underestimated. The savings to be made will be relatively small, and at the moment there has been no business case produced to support this appointment.
The Labour Group believes residents deserve better than this, and that Great Yarmouth should be led by its own chief executive in these difficult times for local government with unprecedented cuts, combined with the prospect of devolution, and all the challenges this brings.
Cllr TREVOR WAINWRIGHT
No loos? We’ll bring buckets
Reference the newly announced East Norfolk Coast Path project which will stretch from Sea Palling in the north to Hopton via Winterton, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in the south. What a good idea this is for the health and well-being of all ages to be able to walk this new way once it has materialised.
All generations, including mine, should find the proposed path a wonderful resource; an attraction in beautiful natural surroundings, good for spotting seals in winter, as many can testify. It is not just good for locals but for visiting hikers and tourists alike that would stimulate the local economy once well-known.
There is one fly in the ointment however, and that is the policy by Great Yarmouth Borough Council to close 12 of the borough’s 22 public toilets including the one at Winterton, unless alternative means can be found by the parish council or local businesses to run them. This example of austerity cuts is said to save the council £140,000 a year by the closure of 12 toilets – we do not think this is acceptable to anyone visiting the area, yet alone pensioners who cannot easily find a bush or tree on the sand dunes near Winterton to squat behind!
The situation at Winterton now is the toilets remain open while the Dunes Cafe remains open and are then locked at closing time because they now are cleaning them instead of the council. This means in the winter when they only open at weekends in the middle of the day, the toilets are closed during the week.
Our members think this is a retrograde step and these toilets in particular should be retained open every day in daylight hours all year by the borough as a valued public service. It should not be hived off to a willing local business who have no choice but to accept the deal as they have no toilets of their own, and neither do the local coastwatch station also situated there.
We have visited this beautiful area on one of our mystery minibus trips, and intend to do so again on Saturday, November 7, this time asking members to bring a bucket or commode for a photo-opportunity at high noon to highlight the situation.
Maybe locals can rally there with us on that day – if so they might bring something else in lieu!
CHRISTOPHER J BROOKS
Chairman, Anglia Region Pensioners Association
Discrimination against bowlers
With regard to the possible demise of Great Yarmouth Indoor Bowls Club I believe the borough council’s strategy for redeveloping and updating the sport, play and leisure facilities in the borough was conceived as early as December 2013 with the Key Milestones report. Further meetings, approximately 10 – of the steering committee during 2041/15 culminated in a final report in May 2015.
During this time there was no communication or consultation with GY Indoor Bowls Club. This is a clear violation of our rights as stakeholders, as is the borough council’s lack of due consideration to the age group of our members, and the impact of their decisions on our quality of life.
Our executive committee was first made aware of the threat of closure of the club on September 1 and the club members were given only two weeks to see the plans, pop in to any of the four informal consultation slots, 6-8pm, and make any comments. This was disgraceful treatment.
We were informed that the reduced income from the bowls club made our facility “unsustainable” as it requires “significant” investment.
At the second meeting on October 14 with representatives of the council and Sentinel Leisure Trust (unfortunately the councillor concerned was unable to attend) questions were left unanswered or side-stepped, However, some interesting facts emerged:
1 During 2014/15 the Bowls Club generated £20,000 (Marina centre figure) and that was a reduced income.
2 Over 34 years that equates to a minimum estimate of £600,000.
3 How much of this has been invested in the bowls club? Very little. No comparable figures were available with regard to members of other facilities at the centre. No membership numbers, amount of usage or financial input.
4 As taxpayers we helped to pay for the building of the Marina Centre and its facilities in 1981. It was primarily for the use of residents.
5 We have continued to subsidise the Marina Centre through borough council taxes, their payments to outside operators, £450,000 pa and interest on loans.
6 It has been suggested by the council that if we would like to come up with a business plan perhaps we could stay at the Marina. Should we really be expected to do this? No. In that case perhaps we would like to underwrite any losses. These were considered outrageous suggestions.
This is discrimination against the bowlers and their inability to participate in other health-enhancing sport. Quote: “The redevelopment will benefit everyone”.