Letters, October 16 2015

Station wrong site for homes

I know there is a shortage of housing in the borough, but using the railway station as a housing development site just doesn’t make sense, (Mercury, 9 October). Access is difficult at the best of times even now, with traffic from Asda thrown into the mix.

Mind you, you would expect a housing solution to what is essentially a transport problem from Brandon Lewis, who has far weightier matters to occupy him as housing minister at Whitehall.

A hotel on the site, as at Kyoto in Japan and here at King’s Cross, would make a lot more sense, combined of course with an integrated transport system where you get off the train and there is a bus, or even a tram, to whisk you away - just as they do in other countries like the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Don’t we have any transport planners of their calibre in these parts?

I suppose the tram idea gives me away here as the past is always comforting, the present confusing and the future potentially calamitous.


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Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Bulldoze station for a new one

I have just read about Mr Brandon Lewis’s idea of flats being built over Great Yarmouth railway station. I think it would be a dreadful move. It is a shame the station was built in that way but of course that was the style of that era.

I suggest if any money is to be spent the station should be pulled down and a more attractive building put up, one more suitable for the purpose. Mr Lewis has his head in the clouds and jumps on any bandwagon available.



Is this history being re-written?

It really wouldn’t be the Mercury letters page without a submission from John Cooper attacking the running of our local Port – or the attempt to rewrite history concerning the construction of the Outer Harbour (Great Man and a Great Port Era, Mercury, October 9).

The truth is that by the 1990s the Port was in big trouble. The Norfolk Line ferry operation had moved to Felixstowe, Birds Eye had moved to Lowestoft and the lack of a deep-water facility to cope with larger vessels was even threatening Yarmouth’s future position as the key offshore base for Southern North Sea Oil and Gas operations.

The Port Authority of course had a big plan for a new Outer Harbour but seemed to harbour the wholly unrealistic aspiration someone else would fund the £100m cost whilst only they could actually run the new harbour. Something had to be done to move things along – and fast.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council had developed its 2020 Vision for what was needed to deliver a prosperous future for Yarmouth in the 21st century and at the heart of that were key infrastructure improvements including the development of a new Outer Harbour and better road and rail links to the rest of the country.

Norfolk County Council had also set up for the first time an economic development committee identifying the “key site strategy” for developing the Norfolk economy and also correctly prioritising the need for a deep-water facility at Yarmouth and the development of our regional airport in Norwich. I became the first chairman of that committee, joined the Great Yarmouth Port Authority as a director in 1995 and also chaired the Norwich Airport Company between 1996 and 1998.

By 1999 patience was fast running out. There was still no sign of any breakthrough with the Outer Harbour scheme. Port Authority meetings were all-day affairs and increasingly it appeared there were two secretariats running the show.

That is when my time came to move things forward. Local councils, business folk like George Darling of Gardline, trade unions and the oil and gas sector were all anxious to see change. But in the end – and to my surprise – it fell to me to be chairman precisely because I had no baggage or vested interests. I was not a Freemason, didn’t run a business in the Port but I was seen as a “safe pair of hands” and providing community “buy-in” as a high-profile local Labour county councillor.

It is quite remarkable in the end how quickly the EastPort project was brought to fruition between 1999 and 2005. The secret of our success was to be scrupulously cross-party in all that we did. From the outset we enlisted the support of the Labour, Lib-Dem and Conservative leaders at County Hall and kept them in the loop.

The shell Eastport Company was chaired by Richard Jewson with fellow directors drawn from a number of major Norfolk companies. The new Port manager Alex Woods was effective and Peter Hardy was seconded from the county council and refashioned the project to reduce its scale to affordable proportions. He also excelled in steering a way through the “red tape” and obstacles thrown up by the various civil servants we had to deal with. By the time I was removed by local Conservatives in 2004 – because of the change in political control at County Hall – the funding for the Outer Harbour was by then assured by the Tony Blair Labour government and it fell to my successor Steve Eldred to complete the transition.

The Outer Harbour against all the odds had been constructed and opened during the world recession. International trade plummeted and the anticipated ferry and container traffic didn’t arrive. However the deep water facility has helped grow new businesses like SeaJacks and bolster the energy sector in Yarmouth such that the port is successful currently despite the low oil prices depressing offshore activity. The South Denes peninsula is full of cars by day with all the workers involved with energy and port-related enterprises.

I was proud to play my small part in making sure Yarmouth got that Outer Harbour and as county councillor for Yarmouth North and Central I am continuing the fight to get the A47 Acle Straight dualled and the Third River Crossing built from the Harfreys Link Road into the South Denes. We need to stop knocking Yarmouth and stop knocking our Port. We need to unite our community to ensure we get the infrastructure Yarmouth and Gorleston need to secure prosperity.


County Councillor for Yarmouth North and Central

Well done and thanks for care

I wish to thank all the district nurses at the East Coast Community Healthcare Centre Shrublands Medical Centre on Magdalen Way, Gorleston. These dedicated health care professionals did a great job healing my leg ulcers over the last year.

I also want to thank the reception staff who went the extra mile and always made me welcome and assisted me whenever I needed their help and were very friendly but very professional. Thanks everyone.



Children need to walk to schools

A recent poll has revealed children hugely value walking to school for the social time with friends and family, just like their parents and grandparents did. But less than half of children now get this opportunity.

Walking is a free and healthy option for children yet walking rates continue to decline. It’s not too late to turn things around if we act now. Walking to school can help children and parents build activity into their daily lives and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We need to invest in the walk to school now, before the inactive children of today become the unhealthy adults of the future.

I have pledged my support to Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking and I’m urging the Prime Minister David Cameron to prioritise walking in the upcoming spending review. I would encourage others to do the same through the Living Streets website.


East Road,

Great Yarmouth

Young skaters before profit

I am writing in support of Retroskate skating club who I understand are facing losing their skating rink in the proposed changes to the Marina Centre on Great Yarmouth seafront. The people who are proposing these changes should take time to go and see how hard the management train the children to a very high standard and are recognised by the National Skating Competition who rate the club and its trainers very highly.

They would also see how happy and ambitious the members are in what they do.

The club has attained many national honours in the skating world. How very sad that the council of Great Yarmouth are putting the pusuit of profit before the members and the hard working management. Where do they go to continue their rollerskating future?

Come on you councillors, don’t do to these kids and their dedicated trainers what you did to the bowls club members who are now without the facility to enjoy the game they love.

Please put people before profit and allow this wonderful club to continue and flourish for the sake of the children.


Junction Road


Free parking as barrier broken

Being an 81-year-old pensioner, I obviously don’t have money to throw away. I had an appointment on Monday last week at the JPH and the first half an hour of parking is free.

I was there for three-quarters of an hour and the charge for the car park was £3, yes £3. When I got to the barrier, that was not working, the arm was up and everyone got out free.

I still have the ticket, perhaps the person in charge, on a very large salary, would like to make the effort to sort this car park out. I await the reply in the Mercury letters pages.


Address withheld

Station housing not the answer

Who on earth would want to live on top of a railway station? Granted the station and the area is more of an industrial backyard than a bright welcome to a seaside resort but flats and housing would improve that? I think not.

The refurbishment and/or development should be of the footfall kind, the ones that would draw people to come and use the area ie retail or recreation. The pressure in London to squeeze use out of every square inch bears no comparison to Yarmouth where plenty of brownfield sites and ex-office space lies unused.

Surely there must be better solutions.


North Road,


Lots of people like having cats

In reply to Mr R Thurlow’s letter, September 18. He seems obsessed with having the last word on stating people do not like cats eg he does not like them, and says his neighbours and people on his road do not like them either.

Well, how come there are cats that live on his road because if they are messing in his garden they must live around there – so some people nearby like cats.

Just because a few people he knows don’t like cats R Thurlow assumes that the world does not like cats. He should watch Pussy Galore (not the James Bond movie) or some of the other cat programmes on television, or attend a cat show to see how wrong he is.


Burgh Castle

Can’t find words to praise enough

My friend was taken ill at 3am on Wednesday, October 7. He managed to call an ambulance. He was taken to the James Paget, where he remained until he passed away Sunday lunchtime. I cannot find the words to praise the hospital enough. They showed true professionalism in patient care.

They were understanding, no short cuts, nothing was too much trouble, and they had time for visitors. When they were approached, they did not sidestep or give a quick answer then run. They listened, and responded to visitors, however long it took.

And the food was also very good, other patients were telling me. There was not much left on plates when the patients were finished. The patient’s son, and me, were offered no end of teas and coffees, together with sandwiches at lunchtimes. I am referring to Ward 15.

A few years ago, a Facebook friend of mine, and a close relative, had to be admitted. They were poorly treated. I can only think they sorted the bad apples out of the barrow and left only the good ones. Ward 15: Absolutely brilliant. Julie Hunt counselled my friend’s son in a very professional manner, and very caring.


Potters Drive,


Ferry would see more tourists

Two headlines jumped out at me in last week’s Mercury: Borough in top 20 deprived areas and Super Casino update.

Once again it highlights the sad state of our borough. Is it a coincidence that the delay on the long awaited The Edge has any bearing on the above two headlines?

If I was thinking of spending £millions on a super casino, a 200-bed hotel, 600-place car parking, and a multi-screen cinema, I would look at the facts. The borough is in a deplorable state by being on the list of 20 most deprived in the country and having no ferry service as detailed in the 2005 Harbour Revision Order to bring into the Outer Harbour continental tourists.

We will not have a successful tourist trade until we have a successful port.


Burnt Lane,


Anyone recall Gerald Hawkins?

Enquiries are being made into the life of Gerald Hawkins but no information about his life in Great Yarmouth has been found.

Professor Hawkins pioneered investigations into how prehistoric monuments, famously Stonehenge, were orientated with reference to astronomical observations. He was born in Yarmouth in 1928 and was educated at the Grammar School with which he may have been evacuated to Retford. He may have had direct links with Yarmouth until at least the 1950’s when he emigrated to the USA.

Would anyone who can provide information about Gerald’s life in Yarmouth, or who can provide a lead, please let me know through the Mercury, by email at yarco41@aol.com or by telephone on 0151 724 2047.



Energy Museum for the port?

I was very interested in reading Helen George’s letter about the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger and delighted to look at the Museum on line.

For a number of years I have been discussing the advantages of having an Energy Museum in Great Yarmouth which would look at the whole history of the production of energy and its uses. Great Yarmouth has not only led the way in the production of gas and oil but it has a nuclear power station down the coast, expanding solar farms on land and has one of the first wind turbine farms off its shores.

An Energy Museum would not only be an attraction to visitors but would be an educational environment for our children and adults. It could host conferences and hopefully stimulate research about energy - perhaps in association with the University of East Anglia. In addition, I see such a building being used to educate individuals and businesses into how they can save money by not wasting energy.

Such an energy museum would have the following advantages:

Increase the number of visitors to the area throughout the year; be a source of information about all aspects of energy; encourage youngsters to train for jobs in the energy industry; educate individuals and businesses in the need and the ways to conserve energy; provide first class conference facilities; be a centre for research into different aspects about energy.

Margate has benefited from its Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and received nearly a million visitors in its first two years. Perhaps an Energy Museum could do the same for Great Yarmouth.

On Wednesday, November 18, there will be an all-day conference in St George’s Theatre on “What is the Role of Cultural Heritage in Regenerating Seaside Towns”. The production of energy is part of our heritage and if there is enough interest I will arrange for one of the discussion groups to discuss the above topic.

Tickets for the conference may be obtained from St George’s Theatre or 01493 331484. They cost £10 and include a buffet lunch and refreshments.



hedarey and hedarey and

Brandon Lewis is to be congratulated on his original and clever idea for turning our station into the next great building project for this town. A block of flats which I hope will be finished before the conversion of the old tax offices which seems to be on hold.

Perhaps Mr Cameron had ordered his troops to make sure there is accommodation for the thousands of refugees that have been promised a home.

However, Mr Lewis has promised to stimulate the town and try and bring jobs. The only jobs from a building project will be one for the builders, and will they be local?

I have seen Brandon Lewis stand in Parliament and state that Great Yarmouth is second only to Blackpool in terms of visitor numbers. If this is the case then the best use of the station should be made.

We could have a hotel, or a hotel and casino, restaurants, bars and the actual transport hub could be improved eg Bournemouth has a train, bus and road terminal ferry to Holland, and this would increase train and coach business.

What I believe should happen to the station is that in this county we one of the best heritage railways in the country which are enjoyed by both railway enthusiasts and tourists and we are lucky our station is a blank canvas.

We can either build a station in the old style and make the line to Norwich a heritage line, as there are some fantastic stations in between and they can run vintage trains and rolling stock. Or go for the modern theme, completely for tourists and children with Thomas and friends, Hogwarts etc and then you can have themed hotels, bars, restaurants etc. A mixture of business, pleasure and housing would be right for the town as well as overhauling an obvious eyesore.


Nelson Road Central,

Great Yarmouth

Can you share your premises?

The Great Yarmouth Older Peoples Network is working in partnership with other organisations to engage with older persons. Our aim is to provide information and where possible, help, for carers and the older population.

We would welcome interest from traders in Gorleston High Street who would be willing to share a part of their premises for us to have a permanent space to enable us to engage with local people.

Please contact us is you would like further information or are interested in helping your local community. Contact us c/o Comeunity, 135 King Street, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2PQ.


Great Yarmouth Older Peoples Network

Going up, but hard to get out!

At last, someone has found out what’s wrong with Great Yarmouth! We are not using our vertical space.

Looking at the placement of the suggested piece of a vertical rise of flats and homes on the railway station leads to the question where would the residents exit to.

Without using the old Vauxhall Bridge, we would have to exit left towards the Acle Straight, using that busy roundabout to get back into Yarmouth, causing more overuse of this road junction.

When assessing accommodation these days, you must count motor cars. Houses we need, but additional traffic on Acle New Road roundabout we do not! In this part of Yarmouth we have not got the infrastructure. There must be another more straight-forward way into Great Yarmouth.


Gonville Road,


Building not blot on the landscape

I’m appalled to read of Brandon Lewis’s scheme to erect housing on top of Great Yarmouth’s Vauxhall Station. On such a scale it would be wheelie bins everywhere and even more vehicles needing parking spaces.

If he’s so blown away with what’s happened in London with so-called housing connected with the Crossrail development, perhaps he should move, to be among the buildings which please him. With the lack of space in London the only way is usually up or down, which we don’t need in Yarmouth.

Vauxhall station is a low-line single -building, which is not a blot on the landscape. I would expect anyone coming to Yarmouth from the south would think the town hasn’t a station, so insignificant it is.

It’s a pity he didn’t put his energies into securing a coveting loan of funding, to cover the cost of the complete refurbishment of the iconic Bute Bowstring Bridge, whilst all the manpower and equipment was in place, to save waiting for the ‘fund pit’ to grow to enable the second part to be completed. Now that would have made an elegant entry, also to have made it vehicle friendly as originally intended, and tidy up the southern approach.

So what’s next on his mind, housing on top of Tesco and Asda? They are flat-topped buildings? Personally I could see a rooftop garden/seating area above the station, where the station café could spread to, with reasonable views and passenger waiting area also. With the proposed, but delayed re-signalling of the area, it would seem that Vauxhall station would be lucky to keep a couple of tracks in the platforms. A far cry from when Yarmouth was great.



Memories of the Beverley Sisters

Your story about the Beverley Sisters reminded me of when I was a young trainee police constable stationed in the Golders Green area of North London during the mid 1960s.

A colleague and I after finishing a 2/10pm shift had been for a drink at a local bar named The Refectory and then gone for a coffee at a nearby Wimpy bar near Golders Green tube station.

As we were sitting at a table, with the Irish manageress, who welcomed police customers at that time of night, near the main entrance to the bar a red Jaguar car pulled up outside and three glamorous blondes alighted and entered the bar.

The manageress immediately left our table to tell the ladies that unescorted females were not allowed service at such a late hour. When I told her the blondes were the Beverley Sisters she said: “I don’t care who they are.”

The ladies then saw at the next table a very respectable middle-aged man and asked him if he would agree to allow them to sit with him and he readily assented. They obviously thought my colleague and I were far too young for their company and I sadly missed my claim to fame.



Grateful for the skilled nursing

I am writing this letter on behalf of my family to share with Mercury readers our recent experience of the James Paget.

Sadly, just over two weeks ago, my mum suffered a massive stroke and was taken to the James Paget by ambulance. Despite the care given, she passed away on September 29.

We felt compelled to write after the treatment and care given from the paramedics, A&E staff and staff on Ward One stroke unit. Throughout the six days, every member of staff treated by mum with dignity and compassion. Not only did they care for my mum as the patient, but also us as her relatives.

A friendly smile, a warm hello, or comforting touch meant so much during those difficult times.

Nursing staff on the stroke unit were never too busy to listen or to care, and they may not have known my mum before she became ill but they treated her like the wonderful, amazing woman she always had been.

NHS staff may sometimes come under criticism but maybe we should all stop and ask ourselves whether we could do their job. I know I certainly couldn’t but as a family we are so grateful that the James Paget has such dedicated, skilled and compassionate professionals to care for a loved one.

Thanks to all those involved in the care of the late Sue Lea.


and Lea family

Is the council denying poverty?

Regarding the Mercury’s report that Great Yarmouth is one of the most deprived areas in Britain and the council’s response, it is not clear if the reported statement was agreed to by the entire council. Perhaps this could be clarified?

I can’t believe Labour councillors would subscribe to what appears to be a convoluted attempt to put a gloss on the dire situation of many in this town. Poverty is not relative as the statement implies.

The empty stores, empty offshore storage yards and increasingly full foodbanks are, for those on the receiving end, absolute. It is a feature of poverty that neither towns nor their inhabitants can actually “improve their relative position” to any meaningful degree. Rather, people get stuck, often for years, in poor conditions they have no resources to get out of.

Where is the social and economic mobility when the Tory-led council cannot even get a reliable bus service set up to serve Gapton Hall? If you have a job there, most likely low paid in catering or retail, you either cycle or drive, not options for many. There are people who cannot afford the high bus fares in this area anyway and have to walk miles, whether to get to a low paid job or even to attend a foodbank.

Great Yarmouth’s plight is symptomatic of years of failure on the part of Conservative govern-ments (and their New Labour imitators). The Conservatives’ record on the economy has been abysmal: Margaret Thatcher bequeathed three million unemployed to the country, a figure which has not decreased as we still have two million unemployed plus one million reliant on Tory foodbanks. The cutting of Working Tax Credits will add to this misery. And wasn’t it a Tory chancellor who assured us this was a “price worth paying”?

The sell-off of council housing has been a bonanza to private landlords who receive billions in housing benefit, many tenants having to ‘top up’ their rent from meagre benefits. Now housing associations are being targeted and their assets seized for a further give away.

Crippling student debt is in the billions, never to be repaid nor to be written off. Now this government wants China to provide the UK’s energy for decades to come and at a guaranteed high price to the UK consumer.

Jobs and quality training are needed in this area, neither of which are available through the Jobcentre. That place is not fit for purpose, despite regular missals from its managers. One example of a way forward would be the cost effective provision of facilities for software engineering businesses to set up here. Meanwhile, the council’s statement sounds like nothing more than poverty denial.



Silver Sunday was big success

Thank you to all those who joined Soundwaves Community Singers in celebrating Silver Sunday at Hemsby Village Hall on October 11. We hope you enjoyed the singing, the atmosphere and afternoon tea. Thanks also to the people and the following businesses who donated gifts for the raffle: East Coast Restaurant Scratby, Miss MTX Hair and Beauty, Hemsby Fish and Chip Shop, Crafts With A Difference Hemsby, Edding UK, Clatterpot Studio, Glass-Rainbows, California Tavern, Winterton Fish Bar.

Thanks to the Norfolk Broads Lions and the Mason’s Lodge of Confusion, Soundwaves were able to provide the Silver Sunday free of charge, as with all Silver Sunday events, and to serve free afternoon tea, pay for the hall hire and present each person with a small gift in recognittion of their contribution to our communities. Not least of all, thanks must be given to all those who helped on the day, particularly on the door, in the kitchen, on the PA system and calling the raffle.


Soundwaves Community Singers

We’re all there to support sufferers

I would like to thank everyone for coming to my Macmillan coffee morning last month. I wish to thank the landlord of the Turnstone and the local people of Hopton as together we raised £452.12 which I think is a fantastic amount for a great cause. It’s such a great cause and I just want those going through cancer to know we’re all there to support them one way or another.



Pro-active in fight against fouling

I write, following an article in last week’s Mercury, to pay tribute to Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Environmental Rangers and to encourage the public to help in the fight against dog-fouling.

Dog-fouling is an issue across the UK. But keeping the streets clean is one of the borough council’s priorities: because it is a public priority, because dog mess carries potential health risks, and because our economy relies on a positive visitor experience.

We have a particularly proactive, zero-tolerance approach to enforcing dog-fouling and other environmental crimes, employing three Environmental Rangers who seek to bring to justice those irresponsible few who blight the environment for everyone else. The whole of the borough is covered by the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, meaning those who fail to clear up after their dogs can incur a fine of up to £1,000 in the courts.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has one of Norfolk’s best records for enforcement on environmental crimes, including dog-fouling and fly-tipping. During 2015, for dog-fouling alone, there have so far been six successful prosecutions and seven Fixed Penalty Notices issued.

This is an heroic achievement for a small team of Environmental Rangers who have lots of other responsibilities. It is even more praiseworthy when I explain that, in order to take successful enforcement action, the borough council must be able to prove that a certain piece of dog mess came from a certain dog, and that the owner turned away without intending to pick it up.

But our three Environmental Rangers cannot be everywhere all the time, so I must continue to appeal to residents to provide intelligence about any dog owners seen breaking the law.

What we need is strong evidence – not necessarily photographs. For example a description of the dog and person walking it, the location, date and time of the incident – and then the Environmental Rangers are able to target the right areas or individuals in their investigations.

Anyone who witnesses an environmental crime in the borough or has information that may help to identify an offender should contact the Environmental Rangers on 01493 846478.


Cabinet member for the environment

Great Yarmouth Borough