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In defence of motorhomes

PUBLISHED: 15:39 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:25 03 July 2010

MAY I, as a motor caravan user of many years, be permitted to answer the complaints raised by M Randall? (Mercury, July 10).

I sympathise with him if too many motorhomes are parking outside his home but would he have reacted the same had they have been "normal" cars?

Many people have a motorhome in lieu of a car so they can enjoy the best of both worlds ie a means of transport and a holiday in one vehicle.

MAY I, as a motor caravan user of many years, be permitted to answer the complaints raised by M Randall? (Mercury, July 10).

I sympathise with him if too many motorhomes are parking outside his home but would he have reacted the same had they have been “normal” cars?

Many people have a motorhome in lieu of a car so they can enjoy the best of both worlds ie a means of transport and a holiday in one vehicle. There is an “unwritten” code which most motor caravan users adhere to and within that code is the requirement not to park in residential areas if possible, not to discharge your “grey” water on to the street and certainly never to discharge one's effluent anywhere other than an appropriate disposal point.

As motorhomes have on board waste water tanks and cassette toilets if anyone is so discharging waste then that is indefensible.

I have checked along North Drive from Euston Road to the northern end and nowhere can I see a sign preventing motorhomes from parking thereon. The waiting restriction bans traders, coaches and HGVs and “camping” but does not specifically preclude motorhomes from parking on North Drive for a period of no more than 24 hours.

Under that wording I would have no qualms in parking on North Drive in my motorhome during a day visit. I am sure we would not be expected to stay on a campsite at a cost, on average, of £20, if one was merely visiting a location for a day but herein lies a problem which is unique to the UK. Motorhomes are apparently not encouraged by local towns as they are on the continent.

Because of the unwelcome feeling we get in the UK my wife and I only use our motorhome for day trips in this country and take all our three main holidays per year on the continent. Perhaps M Randall will lobby the local council to provide an “Aire” within the town to encourage day visitors and to stop them parking outside his home.

Finally, I see no problem with a disabled user of a motorhome using a “blue badge” because it is still a “motor vehicle” notwithstanding the fact that it is not a car.

MIKE PARKE

Beccles Road,

Gorleston

TO add to your report in last week's Mercury about the fate of the White Horse public house, this is the latest casualty in a long list of closures due entirely to government policy and the greed of breweries.

These are just some of the closures in the last two of three years; the Barking Smack; Blackfriars Tavern; Bricklayers Arms; Burton Arms; The Gallery Bar; Quayside Tavern; Rasputins; The Ship; East Suffolk (Croppers); Two Bears; White Horse Inn; White Lion; and the Elephant and Castle. Also there have been pubs which have closed for a while and later re-opened including The Crown; Old White Lion; Prince consort; Suspension Bridge; Star and Garter; Anson Arms and Magdalen Arms.

I believe that these things will only get worse and I foresee a few more closures over the next year.

MR P HUBBARD

St Mary's court

Great Yarmouth

THROUGH the pages of this paper I would like to thank on behalf of the Great Yarmouth dockers everyone who attended the “no to casualisation” demonstration which took place on Thursday, July 9.

In no particular order I would like to thank the people of Yarmouth; union officers from Unite especially Victor Brazkiewicz for organising this protest; Yarmouth and District Trades Council; fellow Yarmouth port workers; retired Yarmouth dock workers; those who addressed the demonstration; dockers from Hull, Immingham, Grimsby, Ipswich, Felixstowe, Thames Port, Tilbury, Dover and Southampton. I hope I have not left anyone out, if I have I apologise.

The struggles will continue, plans are afoot for more action days. We have a petition going and there is a petition on Facebook - Petition to stop the sacking of Great Yarmouth Dockers. We hope that East of England Development Agency, Norfolk County Council, Yarmouth Borough Council, Unite, International Transport Federation, our MPs and MEPs and the good people of Yarmouth can help change EastPort's actions and make them see sense for the good of the borough.

I look forward to the continued support from the good people of Yarmouth and all other parties in the hope of success.

No to casualisation. Yes to permanent employment. Proud to be a docker.

STEVEN DREW

Shop Steward and Branch Secretary

Great Yarmouth Dock Workers, Unite the Union

THE controversy concerning Caister's pay and display car park and the free one on Gorleston Cliffs seems to have degenerated into a playground argument, the basis if which “it's not fair, why should they have a free one when we can't”.

Gorleston Cliff car park is open to everyone and people use it to sit a while and enjoy what is now the only unspoilt view of the sea.

It is not used as a long stay car park as people come and go in the same way they used to at the harbour's mouth.

In this caring society it's such a pity that some want to curtail other people's pleasure just because they cannot get their own way.

PAULINE LYNCH

Mill Lane

Bradwell

WE read in the media and on the internet, various reports concerning the outbreak of swine flu and the affects it can have when people catch the virus. Over the weekend, it was put on Facebook that three Gorleston children are in quarantine at home. These children attend the same school as my granddaughter and she visits her grandmother and I on a daily basis.

A lot of parents who are worried kept their children off school because they are frightened - and my granddaughter was kept away too. It has now been confirmed the virus has affected some children at the school, but what worries me and others like me who have a terminal illness is why are we being kept in the dark. More importantly, why do we have to wait so long to have the preventative injection until mid autumn?

In my opinion, the powers that be are being complacent and playing with peoples lives, so is it not time they got their act together or will we have many more deaths before something positive is done.

FRED LEARMONTH,

Gorleston

AFTER reading the article in last week's Mercury regarding George Star I was appalled to think this gentleman had been through such a trauma of losing his friend Alan Austin in the fire, then receiving a bill for his care.

I have been a carer in the community for some years for both George and Alan and can only think that George must be devastated.

I must end this letter by saying isn't it a shame George is not an MP as he could have claimed for this bill on expenses.

Name and address withheld

I HAVE written this letter as a relative of one of the remaining dockworkers threatened with redundancy, and would like to question the lack of visibility of our MP Tony Wright and members of the borough council who have been involved with EastPort since its inception. As Great Yarmouth is a traditional labour stronghold it would be assumed that our Labour MP would have been a lot more pro-active and visible during this debacle that is coming to a head in our port. The apathy in the town is astounding considering that this port is so long awaited with the promise of job creation. I am also amazed that the prospective conservative parliamentary candidate Mr Brandon Lewis has not seized the opportunity to round on our local Labour party for their apparent lack of input in saving these jobs in what could become a sweeping national change of casualisation in other industries. It is also amazing that the bosses of Eastport have not commented.

It remains to be seen when this port does starts working with these casual workers how long it will be before the first fatality occurs as it will surely do. As taxpayers who have funded this white elephant we deserve some answers, and I find the lack of explanations absolutely disgusting.

Name and address supplied

ON April 30 this year I met Jeff Leak and Laura Hulbert so that Mr Leak could brief me on plans for the Drill Hall and to ask me to chair meetings with the users groups. I declined as I was not prepared to be a “heat shield” for the youth work team.

After a bit of discussion it became clear that there was no intention to consult with user groups. I bluntly stated that any meeting with the user groups would be to tell them what is going to happen.

The term “consultation” implies the opportunity to influence outcomes. It becomes clear that Ms McPahil shares Mr Leak's strange view of the process of consultation when she says there is nothing to consult about yet. She surely meant that she would not tell people what decision had been made until she could present it as a fait accompli after the bid for funds had been made.

Yes the Drill Hall is subsidised, but then so is every other youth project or those provided by Norfolk County Council's adult social services. Even after the youth work team has destroyed all that has been built up on behalf of young people by volunteers over the years, the youth club would still need to be subsidised. Their books will not balance just through the income from the young people making use of the facility that will in fact cost more to provide.

It is funny that none of the 50 or so young people who attend sports sessions on Saturdays were consulted about the loss of their activities, Fortunately, not all of these young people attend at the same time or we would not be able to cope.

Can I ask Ms McPhail makes public the questionnaire and responses? I strongly suspect questions were loaded and responses were what could be expected from friends of those asking them. Working with only eight young people after two years does not bode well. Can she compare the methodology of her survey to that of the Play Development Officer who receive nearly 2,500 replies, or was it just chat on the school bus with no records kept?

If we were to give each of the young people attending the badminton and basketball sessions 20 forms to be filled in and returned by their age mates, would she be influenced by 100, 400 or maybe 1,000 against the proposal? I think not.

Consultation seems to be a process of scratching around for evidence to allow her to get that part of the cost of the Drill Hall that supports people with disabilities, unemployed or senior citizens out of the Eastern area youth work team's budget. The young people kept off the streets and out of trouble by the efforts of a few volunteers seem to count for nothing. They are just collateral damage.

JIM WEST

Albany Road

Great Yarmouth

I SHOULD like to reply to the writer from Acle who has such a poor opinion of Norfolk police officers. I have been a serving officer for over 20 years, and have been stationed at Great Yarmouth, Caister and Acle in a variety of roles. I have seen many changes to the local force and the national service, some have been to the good and some less so but what has never changed is the speed and enthusiasm some people have to jump in and criticise their local police officers.

The gentleman from Acle feels he has all the answers; perhaps he should be aware that Norfolk officers are already precluded from promotion, competency payments and the right to apply for certain roles if their sickness record is less than accurate. The sickness record of various areas and departments are published in force on a regular basis and senior officers are quick to visit officers reporting sick, and this has gone on for several years.

He should remember that the 10 days quoted is an average and most officers have many less some never have sickness from one year to the next. In a force the size of Norfolk with only 1500 officers it only takes a few people, genuinely sick with serious illness and off for perhaps weeks to push the average up. We do not have 20,000 officers like the Met.

Rather than criticise he should simply be glad that he lives in the safest county in the country, according to independent figures, where reported crime has fallen and detection rates have risen progressively over the last few years. I hope when I retire I shall continue to support those colleagues still serving rather than criticise with ill founded argument. We have enough critics without those who should recognise the pressures of our role turning on their own.

Name and Address withheld

YOUR correspondents' letters (July 10) from Mr Kenny alleging that Norfolk Police have been complacent for many years on the issue of sick leave and the view of Emilia Shurmur that the Chief Constable is being heavy handed in dealing with the same issue, merit clarification.

Firstly, harking back to the 1980s when police sick leave was universally high, fails to mention the bulk of the police service worked an unremittingly early, late, night shift pattern with the start of the duty day being either 6 or 7am. It is an undisputed fact that levels of sickness are much higher amongst shift workers than it is for people who work in an office, 9-5, Monday to Friday.

However, changes such as far fewer staff working round the clock as a result of targeting resources at time of need.

A much higher proportion of police work being unit based, providing officers with greater interest and responsibility have had the reverse effect and together have led to significant falls in sickness.

Mr Kenny is drawing comparisons between Norfolk and the Met; but the two forces operate quite differently and therefore he is not comparing like for like. Between the 1980s and now, Norfolk has tried various shift patterns with the working day varying between 8 and 12 hours. Sickness does not select on which day it is going to occur. Therefore a significant number of staff falling ill on a, "longer," working day will skew data.

Similarly viruses occurring in one year and not the next, or a virus affecting a particular age group will also skew data. Albeit the practice among all forces is to try to arrive at a mean annual average by dividing the number of hours absent by way of sickness by the number of staff employed the end result is by no means accurate. It is just a rough guide, no more than that.

The Chief Constable has announced he is transferring 100 staff from desk duties back onto the beat, working shifts again! This together with the much heralded Swine Flu pandemic will make the sickness figures for the next few years a statistic nonsense. Another correspondent in 20 years time will look back at Norfolk's sickness figures for 2009/10 in total disbelief and again point the finger at the Chief Constable for his utter complacency.

As far as Emilia Shurmur's assertion that the Chief Constable is being rather heavy handed in dealing with sickness amongst his staff, she is totally wrong. A hardcore of staff, as any manager will tell you, is responsible for the majority of uncertificated sick leave. It is this group the Chief Constable is aiming his sights on, not the work force in general.

Support for police staff has never been better so Emilia's fears of staff being picked on unnecessarily are totally without foundation.

BRIAN GARE

Gorleston

FOR those of you who left Flegg High School, Martham in 1987, we are holding a school reunion at The Kings Head, Ormesby St Margaret on August 1 at 7.30pm. It does promise to be a fantastic night. For more details email me at shellyshearing@btinternet.com.

SHELLY SHEARING

Nee Bowler

MAY I through your paper just say to First buses what a disgusting service it provides to the residents of Caister estate. They have the nerve to introduce this new bus ticket to outer villages at ridiculous prices and not even turn up, or worse, wave to the bus queue as they pass us by.

Why have they put on silly little buses that can carry only a handful of passengers when you have to collect from Martham, Hemsby, Scratby then Caister. Where are the double deckers that can carry this volume of people? This service is disgusting and outrageous and we had better not complain as you have not the time to answer the phone when we call. Come on Firstgroup, pull your socks up and give us the bus service we are paying for or you, working hand in hand with council, will force us to get back in our cars and pay the parking charges.

Mrs LISA SHARP

Caister

I HAVE just returned home after spending a week in Great Yarmouth which unfortunately was spoilt by a gift shop owner.

I purchased a fridge magnet for £2.99 and as I only had one £20 note I apologised and was told by the person serving me, “that's fine”. As he gave me change for £10 I bet it was fine. When I told him I gave him a £20 note he took £10 out of the till and said it was mine. It has taught me one thing, in the future if I have £20 notes I will mark them so I can prove my point. This sort of thing gives a town a bad name and leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

I did warn other hotel guests of this shop.

MRS E ALLEN

Hadston

Northumberland

OVER the August Bank Holiday 29th to 31st, Martham Local History Group is organising an exhibition at Martham Parish Church of Schooldays in Martham. We wonder whether any of your readers, who attended the old Martham village school had any connection with it, may have photographs or any other memorabilia, even school reports, which they would be willing to contribute or loan for the exhibition. I would be very pleased to hear from anybody who would like more information. Please contact me on 01493 740379. The profits from the exhibition will all go to the fund for the renovation of the Church Hall which was originally built as a schoolroom for village children.

ANN MEAKIN

I HAVE nothing but praise for the eye department at the James Paget University Hospital and also for the doctor who on July 3 at 11.30am referred me to the eye clinic obtaining appointment for 2pm the same day.

On arrival I found an empty department as there was no clinic, but I was soon faced by a nurse who called my name at once. The receptionist appeared and booked me in. I was then called by the nurse and given an eye test and drops. After 20 minutes a consultant arrived and gave me a full eye scan and further tests. I was so impressed I just want to say thank you, I just can't believe the department was available for one patient. Let is be known to one and all how lucky we are to have the JPH and its brilliant staff. My daughter, who lives in Essex, remarked you would not get that kind of service even if you went private.

MRS O FOX

Belton

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