Letters, September 26, 2014

Why is school to be an academy?

It is with much sadness I learn Stradbroke Primary School in Gorleston is to become an Academy with the Inspiration Trust. I would be grateful of some clarification on how Academies change and manage the education and care of pupils that the staff, governing body and Norfolk County Council Education cannot. The website of The Inspiration Trust does not offer much help.

Stradbroke Primary School, I believe, is the oldest established school in Gorleston. It was built in 1876 and has over the years been remodelled into a building offering the very best of facilities on this site. Stradbroke is renowned for being a “family friendly” school, generations of families have attended, and each child having been given a good all round education to achieve the best of their ability.

I do realise finance plays a very important role in running a school and a “business management style “does have advantages, but not to overwhelm the academic role.

How can changing a school name, provide a new uniform, which are, to name two of the proposed improvements, improve Stradbroke children’s education? All members of staff work extremely hard, together with parental support and other outside agencies, to educate the young people of Gorleston.

It is all too often the headlines in the media about Ofsted and standards in education. Policies in education are constantly changing and head teachers, staff and governors are continually being instructed to review and alter the way to present the school curriculum. Let them get on with the job of teaching, stop the constant meddling with “new ways” which are often re-inventing the wheel!

Have the views of parents been heard, or more importantly listened to and considered fairly? Who makes the decisions to become an Academy?

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Time for us to be year-round resort

The trouble with Great Yarmouth is that a lot of the businesses are stuck in the past and the owners set in their ways. Seaside towns should not be just seasonal and close for the rest of the year, it’s out of date,

Yarmouth should be open all year round, not just in the summer or on bank holidays or for a week when the school half terms are on. Okay, the trade is not as high in the low seasons, but it would be there and give late or early holidaymakers, and even residents, somewhere to go in the spring and winter.

What real difference will staggering holiday make? It could even bring them more business.

There should be flexibility on holidays, the schools should liaise with parents and they can hash out the best weeks for these staggered holidays.

The children would benefit because there is no long six-week gap between terms and they won’t forget what they learnt, judging by the amount of spelling mistakes and bad grammar I see in a lot of written articles, comments and letters, this generation and the ones that follow desperately need lessons in the English language.

I believe shortening the summer holidays will do two other things: remove the boredom from a lot of kids who have to find something to do for six weeks, and cut down on a lot of vandalism and anti-social behaviour which occurs because the kids have nothing to do.

Regent Road shops are closed after the summer season. Why?

The seafront is closed. Why?

Restaurants are closed. Why?

I can’t believe businesses are moaning about the change in holidays without testing the water. So open up your business, start with weekends then expand, find out what trade you get in the pre and post season months.

The American Diner decided last year to open every weekend throughout the year instead of closing for the winter, they seem to be doing okay.

Albert Jones should be concentrating on sorting out the casino and hotel or give the franchise back and let someone else do it instead of keep delaying it. When the nice weather started this year, the Pleasure Beach stayed closed. There could have been more than six weeks of patrons but no, it remained closed until the usual yearly opening, so lost money there.

Perhaps it too should open at weekends, obviously in lousy weather and high winds some of the rides can’t be used, but the rest can.


Great Yarmouth

Couple’s visa news welcome

In a week of terrible news (young Hannah Witheridge), it was good to hear that Arlene Watty is to be granted a visa, after such an uphill stressful struggle.

It seems strange that in this age of national minimum wage and zero hour contracts that someone needs to earn in excess of £18,600 to allow a spouse and loved one to stay in the UK. Even more stranger that politicians (some very senior) can employ non UK residents as nannies with little or no red tape?

It’s obvious that Arlene has contributed to the economy and social care at her job in Hemsby and I’m sure we all wish them well in putting this mess behind them and getting back to a happy married life together?

There was no mention as to whether their cause was brought to the attention or intervened by their local MP?



Thanks JPH for hip operation

On September 13, I had a total hip replacement at the James Paget University Hospital. Being a member of staff, you could probably say I was a little biased toward the trust, but far from it, as I would be the first to complain if I thought a process had not been followed.

From beginning to end I was treated with dignity, compassion and professionalism. I felt nothing was too much trouble to make my stay a good one. The staff were extremely busy throughout their shift but always had the time to make sure I was comfortable and hydrated.

I had lots of questions and the staff were happy to take the time to explain to me in detail to ensure I understood everything that was going on, which helped put my mind at ease.

I would like to thank Mr Cohen and his orthopaedic team for a very successful procedure, the nurses and healthcare assistants on the ward for their dedication, the domestic staff including catering and the unsung hero’s HSDU (Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit) - my department - without whom my operation would not have been possible.

Thanks Team.



Cleaner took role of informant

I read the item on Crimestoppers with interest and I wonder if many are aware of how the system worked when it was first introduced at Yarmouth. There was at that time, a small department, the collators office in the police station. This was where all records of known criminals and details of crimes were maintained. The idea being that all details were collated together to assist in the apprehension of criminals.

The office was run by a uniform PC and a civilian clerk under the supervision of the Chief Detective Inspector. For a long time it was either PC Nobby Clarke and later PC Malcolm Wild who worked with a civilian clerk, who was me, a civilian. Insp Mike Cole brought the idea of Crimestoppers from the US on an exchange visit.

Many senior officers were concerned because at that time it was considered unethical to pay rewards for information. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Constabulary had reservations.

As I was a civilian I assisted and was able to approach various business people to explain the scheme and request donations. These included banks, accountants, garages, pleasure parks and stores. Representatives attended periodic meetings of the Crimestoppers panel.

Most of these representatives were helpful and were often called upon to pay the rewards when a successful arrest was made, one of these was Jim Carter. We had a dedicated telephone line and bought an answering machine.

We had to be particularly careful when assessing the source of the examination eg if the caller was a juvenile, or in some cases the information given was just a grudge call. When payouts were made, care had to be given in the sighting of the rendezvous. Panel members were often dealing with unsavoury clientele. When possible, unknown to my senior officers I watched the payouts from a distance in case of trouble.

Each week we liaised with the press in highlighting a particular crime we thought would catch the public interest so we would get a result. We designed a Crimestoppers coaster, and had many hundreds printed and distributed to licensed premises and hotels. After a time local and national media showed great interest and 11 different police forces sent senior officers to see how our system worked. One BBC team recorded a full length programme in which Baroness Helena Kennedy QC questioned the ethics of the scheme at that time.

By then, when Crimestoppers press teams came, I understood the format of their programmes. They usually wanted shots of the Town Hall and the Haven Bridge area, as well as a scan of the market usually taken from the roof of Woolworths.

One such day, Bill Hamilton brought a BBC team. They arranged a mock payment to an informer on the footpath at Haven Bridge. One of the panel and myself stayed on one side of the bridge and the camera crew filmed from the opposite side. We arranged for our informant to approach us on the bridge.

Sid, a cleaner at the police station, took the part of the informant. They explained to him he should approach us, give his codeword identity, collect his reward and then walk away. Our “informant” approached us, gave the codename and I gave him an envelope containing the reward (just paper). All went well until he took his envelope, turned to the camera and said, “Thank you, was that alright?” We had to do the shoot again.

At this time, many other police forces started to show interest.

We continued to get financial backing from local sources and we were concerned our capital fund was only getting minimum interest, so after considerable correspondence with the Charity Commission we were eventually granted full charity status.

After four years or so, we received correspondence from the Metropolitan Police, informing us about Crimestoppers and asking if we wished to participate. We sent a suitable response.



Bowls festival is again a success

We have just completed the 69th Annual Bowls Festival and I must say it was once again a very successful tournament blessed with brilliant weather which attracted large crowds to the greens.

May I say a very big thank you to our valued sponsors: SpecSavers Great Yarmouth, The Independent Newsagents, 3 Norfolk Square, Beach Terrace Cafe, Notts Bowls Shop, Pub on the Prom, Great Yarmouth Mercury and EDP, Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, Brewers Chips Salon, Princes Tearooms and Astro Communications for the continued support.

Also thanks to my hard working committee; the umpires, the markers and the greenkeepers for preparing the greens. I would also like to say a big thank you to everyone who gave prizes and bought tickets for our tombolas which helped raise a record amount of £4,330 which was presented to the renal unit at the James Paget Hospital.

Special thanks must go to the Moore family of Jimmy, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Lewis for their contributions to the charity.

I look forward to seeing you all for the 70th festival next year.


Tournament Manager

Co-operation please Cllrs

Re the Town Hall row: Seems like the gang of four have kept everything to themselves. Seems they have not told the other members they are considering a committee system.

If they had, UKIP should have known this fact and there would have been none of the backbiting comments in the Mercury article last week. A little more co-operation with all members would not go amiss.


Claydon Grove,


Church climber feat spectacular

The climber Les Grimpeurs Perdus who abseiled down St Mary’s church tower on Regent Road, Great Yarmouth, on Sunday afternoon was spectacular. Ascending the face of buildings with no aids or tools except his hands was equally amazing.

I was surprised that such quality entertainment was completely free and interested to know how street entertainers of this calibre, are able to perform, with no apparent charges. I was privileged to witness his pre-display limbering up, flexing his body in ways, I am sure the Creator had not intended, evidencing his fitness, subtleness and agility. I gather he had travelled from France to provide this entertainment. It is my hope that this is not the last we shall see of him.

On another note: This summer I have not seen the street entertainer and puppet man John Perry in either Great Yarmouth or Norwich. John has been a regular feature of Gentleman’s Walk Norwich for several years and more recently, Regent Road. Local street performers also say they have not seen him.

If anyone knows of his whereabouts, or if you read this letter John, perhaps you could reply, just to confirm you are safe and well.


Beccles Road,


Gateway to town is neglected

Last week I and three friends from Norwich went to the races at Great Yarmouth racecourse. We were most impressed by the course and its facilities. They compare vary favourably with others.

My friends arrived by train. They had not done so for a number of years. They were most impressed by the refurbished upstream span of the Vauxhall Bridge and thought it would have made an excellent gateway to the town if only the unrefurbished downstream span, a true eyesore, was in the same condition.

Their impression somewhat reduced, they left the bridge and headed down the path from the bridge to the North Quay. That path is narrow and surrounded by an unattractive chain link fence on one side and sadly neglected railings with a rampant vegetation behind on the other.

When I met them soon after they had reached North Quay, my friends said how sad it had been to see that the refurbished span had been let down by the unrefurbished one and by the path.

Initial impressions of a town are important. Tackling the neglected features of this gateway to the town, to which I have referred should be a priority. Those who were responsible for refurbishing the upstream span of the bridge have shown what can be achieved to improve this gateway to the town. I urge that their example is followed.




Services stretch in the villages

I would like to point out a few basics, concerning new proposed developments in Caister and Hemsby. Where are all these families going to send their kids to school?

I don’t believe there are enough places as it stands, as for doctors and dentist surgeries, I went to my doctors the other night, yes at 7pm, what does that tell me? My dentist well, I cancelled a check-up and could not get another one for at least a month. As for social services, well I don’t know anything about this situation, but I am sure we would struggle.

I understand that Caister is already the biggest village in England, if not Great Britain (source: Wikipedia). How many more dwellings are required before it becomes a town with its own council.

How about building some new schools, dentists, doctors or care homes as well, say per every 100 dwellings proposed.



Out There was outstanding

Congratulations to all the artists and performers involved in this year’s Out There International Festival held in Great Yarmouth during last week and weekend.

This was the largest international festival of circus and street arts in Europe and was an outstanding credit to those at Seachange Arts. A special mention must go to Joe Mackintosh the Chief Executive of Seachange and his wonderful team for bringing such a spectacular success to the streets and performance arenas of the town. During the weekend Great Yarmouth felt cosmopolitan and the streets were brought to life with large numbers and exciting performances.

The festival highlighted the aspirations of the Council and town in helping our aim of engaging the local community, increasing participation in the arts and raising the image of Great Yarmouth both locally and internationally.

In my many conversations with the performers I was impressed how they spoke of Great Yarmouth in glowing terms and confirmed how this festival is the highlight of the year.

Well done Seachange Arts and thanks to all the Great Yarmouth Council officers and employees who helped to make the weekend a success. I am already looking forward to the 8th Out There Festival in 2015.


Cabinet Member Culture, Heritage and the Arts

They wait at ‘no stop’ bus stop

There is a bus stop on Mallard Way in Bradwell that has not been in use for at least two years. We notice some people are still standing at this stop waiting for the bus (which never arrives),

The stop still has the sign attached to the post, which is confusing strangers to the area. After two years I would have thought the bus company would have removed it by now. Only recently we have had to direct a person to the other side of the road to another stop just in time for them to catch the bus.



Uncaring care for the elderly

Have we turned into an uncaring society for our elderly who have worked all their lives and paid their taxes, only to get second best?

My dear mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s which as a family was hard to come to terms with as she has always been the mainstay of the family. We have had to fight to get the care she deserves and expects, however due to limited government funds we are told her duty of care had been poor. We as a family are supporting her to give her quality of life, but how many elderly out there are on their own and cannot fight for what is best for them.

Anyone who is involved with Alzheimer sufferers will know they have to have routine, and consistency. Unfortunately this is not the case with the company that supplies care for my mum. They have limited time to spend on a visit, new carers arrive sometimes on a weekly basis, often late and not turning up at all, which happened last week when no one turned up to get mum out of bed.

So, when we went to visit mid-morning we found her in a urine-soaked bed very distressed and upset. The previous night she had a carer who had only worked for the company for two weeks and had no idea of her needs and put her to bed with no night pads in between the blankets, instead of in the bed, on her.

Administration staff shouldn’t be sitting in their ivory towers and not knowing the work pressure of the carers.

If you are reading this and had the same experience don’t push it under the carpet, report it so in the future our elderly will receive the care they deserve, because one day it could be you.

Name and address supplied

An offence to block driveway

In response to the letter from J F Lambert (Mercury, September 19) Confusion over Drive Blocking.

If a driveway has a dropped kerb (with or without yellow lines) Great Yarmouth civil parking officers can issue a penalty charge notice for “Being Parked Adjacent to a Dropped Footway”

In the last 12 Months 184 fixed penalty notices have been issued for this contravention.

If a drive is being blocked residents would need to phone 01493 846358 during working hours (8am to 5pm Monday to Friday) and on weekends and bank holidays 01493 330369 and an officer will endeavour to get to the property asap, and issue a penalty charge notice although GYBC have no powers to remove vehicles.

If a resident has an urgent requirement and it is an emergency to use the car, and their drive is blocked, they need to contact the police as this is obstruction, and the police will deal with it accordingly.

I hope that clears up any misunderstanding.


Magdalen Ward